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29 October 1897 – ) was a German Nazi politician and Reich Minister of Propaganda of Nazi Germany from 1933 to 1945.
Greger recalls: “He was in the black uniform of the SS Totenkopfverbände, in shining black riding boots and with all kinds of silver on his collar. He was still the same fellow, though, smiling placidly and saying little.” (Kindle location 677) Greger “found out after the war” that the SS Totenkopfverbände was “in charge of the concentration camps where such terrible things happened” and he could not imagine his “mild mannered and slow witted childhood friend in the role of a brutal prison guard.
But a uniform and a little power have changed so many men before.” (Kindle location 681) Being a part of the Waffen-SS was considered something to be proud of, even though towards the end of the war youths were forcibly recruited into the SS.
The theme of Wehrmacht innocence is reflected in West German culture, politics, and media from the 1950s onwards, which perpetuated the concept of Hitler’s elite, along with the SS, being the only ones at fault.
Not until the 1980s and 1990s was the role of the Wehrmacht in atrocities on the eastern front brought to light.In his memoir, Peeling the Onion (2006), he reveals his willingness to join the Waffen-SS in 1944, serving as a Flakhelfer (anti-aircraft bomber).It caused a lot of indignation among the German public, as he had kept this information to himself.With this in mind, we turn to Günter Grass (1927-2015), one of Germany’s best known authors.Grass was a supporter of the social democrats and often a moralising figure in German public life.Not everyone wanted to be a part of the SS; some were coerced into joining, whilst others looked forward to it.Therefore, talking about the memory now in light of its controversial connotations is difficult for cohort members and many attempt to emphasise the reasons why they joined.Placing Grass’s memoir into the larger body of writings, his memory is no different and not out of place.Yet, he is one of the only ones whose self-representation relies on feeling guilty for having been in the SS.Many boys aspired to become soldiers, as the culture of the early twentieth century surrounded boys with images of militarism.When the war came to an end, the German army (Wehrmacht) was able to manoeuvre itself to appear as heroes.