First published in CommUnicate issue 316.
German Department Associate Professors Jim Jordan and Steve Lamb recently met Günter Grass, author of The Tin Drum and Nobel Laureate for Literature. As board members of the Ernst Toller Society they were in Neuburg, Bavaria, representing the University at a ceremony to award Grass the Ernst Toller Prize for his contribution to literature and politics.
They witnessed at first-hand the controversy surrounding Germany’s leading contemporary writer and campaigner against fascism, following the revelation in his recent autobiography of his brief membership of the Waffen SS as a seventeen-year-old. Emphasising his close affinity to first world war volunteer Toller (‘we both converted to pacifism after experiencing the horrors of war, for both of us literature is the means to create a more humane society’), Grass described the award as 'a courageous decision and a confirmation of both my literary work and my commitment to my country.' Jordan and Lamb were able to acquaint Grass with the key role both writers play in Warwick’s German syllabus.