Netanya Academic College has withdrawn its offer to award an honorary doctorate to Nobel Literature laureate Guenter Grass because he served in a murderous Nazi unit in Germany during World War II.
Grass, who became a voice of morality in postwar Germany for urging Germans to confront their Nazi-era crimes, dropped a bombshell earlier this year when he revealed that as a teenager he'd fought in the Waffen SS, the Nazi elite guard.
During the war, Waffen SS units ran death camps in which millions of people perished.
Only two weeks before he disclosed his SS past, the writer met with college representatives, including vice president David Altman, to discuss the degree ceremony. Grass candidly discussed his past in the Hitler Youth, a paramilitary group to which many young Germans belonged, but gave no indication of his impending disclosure, Altman said.
The revelation prompted the college to call off plans to honor him.
"We wanted to know why he did this, and why he, a man of conscience, hid it for so many years," Altman said. "We felt we needed an explanation."
Grass's confession this summer prompted calls for him to return the Nobel Prize he won in 1999.
Former Polish leader Lech Walesa, a Nobel Peace Prize winner, urged Grass, an honorary citizen of the Polish city of Gdansk, to return his honorary citizenship.
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