Perspectives on Grass
Sir, – Sarah Honig (“The German robbed Cossack,” Another
Tack, April 12) states that Günter Grass “actually volunteered for the barbarous
Waffen-SS (branded a ‘criminal organization’ at the Nuremberg
Indeed, this sound ominous, but let us look at the
Grass was born on October 16, 1927. He was called up in the late
summer of 1944 when he was barely 17. He found himself in the 10th Tank Division
“Frundsberg” of the Waffen-SS. The following autumn and winter he was trained
as a member of a tank crew, and in March and April 1945 was involved in a
rearguard action of the German army in Lausitz until he was wounded on April 20.
He ended up in an American prisoner of war camp soon after.
is the story of Pvt. Grass during WWII. Now let us examine how we dealt
with the case of Dr. Hermann Abs, who during the war served as director of the
notorious Deutsche Bank.
In 1946 Abs was convicted as a war criminal by
the US military government. Some 20 years later, in 1969, the same Dr. Abs was
received with full honors here in Israel.
His pilgrimage to members of
Jerusalem’s high society, from the state comptroller to the president himself,
was daily reported in the columns of your newspaper. The facts about Abs were
confirmed by your respected journalist, Wim van Leer in 1986: “Hermann Abs’s
record was well-known to one and all here. But since we hoped to use his
influence to obtain loans and grants... this was conveniently ignored and the
red carpet rolled out.”
Pvt. Grass, on the one hand, and war criminal
Abs, on the other. What, one wonders, might be the conclusion?
Sir, – Günter Grass is right insofar as almost nobody talks about the
nuclear bombs Israel has, and almost everybody talks about the nuclear bombs
Iran does not yet have. But he is wrong, as he ignores the different statements
from Israel and Iran. Iran has threatened several times to extinguish Israel
whereas no Israeli citizen has ever threatened the people of Iran.
Sir, – My parents were rare people. Practically
the sole Shoah survivors from large families, they taught us, their children,
the following: “That we hate the Germans, we can’t help. But you have no
permission to hate them.” And I don’t, thanks to them.
So when you write
in your otherwise well-appreciated editorial “Shame on Grass” (April 9) that
“Jews cannot and will not bring themselves to forgive Germany for the
Holocaust,” you were not speaking for me.
The late Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach
had a message: If I had two hearts I would use one for hating and one for
loving; since I only have one heart I’d rather use it for loving. He explained
that after the Holocaust it was so easy to be angry, but we had to love the
world, bring hope and never give up on any human being.
went to Poland to give a concert someone asked him: Shlomo, how could you? His
reply: Someone had to bring the light there.
Although he was exceptional,
my hunch is that I’m not the only average Jew who does not and will not harbor
MOSHE-MORDECHAI VAN ZUIDEN
Sir, – I was offended
that Minister of the Interior Eli Yishai demeaned the State of Israel by
providing an official response to a senile, attention-seeking idiot like Günter
Grass (“Grass likens Israeli travel ban to Stasi,” April 12).
Now I see
that there is a much better way to respond: We should fix him up with Helen
Thomas (“Congressmen threaten PA aid over Thomas award,” April 12). This would
be returning good for evil since they are suited to each other in every
Sir, – I fully concur
with the cogent and irrefutable recriminations made by Isi Leibler (“Claims
Conference self-aggrandizement,” Candidly Speaking, April 8).
survivors we lived through horrific experiences, lost countless family and
friends, and worked hard to rebuild our lives and contribute to our communities.
Yet regrettably, many of our fellow survivors are sick and destitute.
Claims Conference, which is charged with the holy task of helping survivors live
out their final years in a semblance of dignity, is spending hundreds of
millions on projects favored by its non-survivor board members (including
concerts and subsidies for entertainment) instead of devoting available funds to
essential, lifesaving activities. The emergency committees for the poor in most
cases give out no more than $2,500 annually per survivor, which does not even
cover a full set of dentures or up-to-date hearing aid.
It is also
deplorable that precious restitution and/or compensation funds are spent on
irrelevant, costly lawsuits to impede journalists in their search for a balanced
view of underlying, painful actualities.
My organization counts over 900
registered members in 16 US states. We hold monthly meetings and issue a monthly
newspaper. We are a constituent of the national alliance HSF-USA, the Holocaust
Survivors Foundation, with over 20,000 members nationwide.
Yet we have no
control over the restitution and compensation funds obtained in our
Leibler ought to be commended publicly for his courageous and
The writer is president of
NAHOS (National Association of Jewish Child Holocaust Survivors)
Sir, – Regarding “Jordan to strip PA and PLO officials of citizenship”
(April 12), will there be a media campaign against “apartheid Jordan?” “Experts
say the new law would reduce Palestinian representation in parliament to less
than 8 percent,” you report.
Will the Western media extensively report
this concrete effort to deny civil rights to Palestinian- Jordanians? It’s
unlikely, since Israel is their favored target, regardless of the
Sir, – Regarding “Serving
together” (Editorial, April 11), whoa! This is not a question of throwing out
good kosher food paid for by the taxpayers, nor is it of the families being
deprived of their children’s presence at the Seder table. There are bases where
soldiers do not get enough food (yes!) and are supplemented by parcels from home
This is not about bringing secular and religious
soldiers together, either. Nor did they starve. But they were not given a
These young people, who put their lives on the line to defend us,
should have been asked, individually, whether they would eat the food or
They are entitled to be treated as the adults they are.
Sir, – I would like to point out
an error in the insert by the Jewish Telegraphic Agency about Mike Wallace, the
TV journalist who died last week (“Did CBS journalist, born to Russian Jewish
parents, have an Israel problem?,” Arts & Entertainment, April
It was erroneously stated that Wallace’s parents’ original surname
was Wallechinsky, whereas in fact it was Wallik. Apparently, there was a
confusion with the novelist Irving Wallace, whose parents’ name was
Whatever his original name, Mike Wallace was known to have
a well-documented anti-Israel bias.