Grass: Israeli entry ban reminds me of Stasi (JERUSALEM POST) By REUTERS, JPOST.COM STAFF 04/12/12)
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BERLIN - Nobel Prize-winning German author Gunter Grass, embroiled in
a war of words with Israel, has likened its decision to prevent him
from entering the country to a similar ban once imposed on him by the
leader of East Germany´s dreaded Stasi secret police.
In a comment sent by Grass to be published in Thursday´s edition of
the Sueddeutsche Zeitung newspaper, the author said Israel, former
communist East Germany and Myanmar were the only countries to have
imposed travel bans on him.
He said only Myanmar seemed to offer a glimmer of hope for change,
referring to Israel as an "unchecked nuclear power" that viewed
itself as immune to criticism.
Grass, 84, caused a storm earlier this month by publishing a poem in
the Sueddeutsche in which he attacked Israel as a threat to world
The poem was criticized in Germany as "anti-Semitic" and prompted
Israel´s Interior Minister Eli Yishai to declare Grass "persona non
Grass is for many the voice of a German generation that came of age
in the Nazi era and bore the burden of their parents´ guilt for its
horrors, especially the Jewish Holocaust.
But the writer who for decades urged Germans to come to terms with
the Nazi past lost much moral authority after his belated admission
in 2006 that he once served in the Nazi Waffen SS.
Grass said the travel ban reminded him of the decision by Stasi
secret police chief Erich Mielke to prevent him from visiting East
German courts finally convicted Mielke, dubbed by East Germans
as "the Master of Fear", in 1993 not for Stasi activities but for
murdering two policemen in 1931 while he was a communist agitator.
"Now the interior minister of a democracy, the state of Israel, has
punished me with a travel ban and the tone of his justification ...
reminds me of the verdict of minister Mielke," Grass wrote.
He added: "I still see myself irrevocably connected to the country of
Yishai on Wednesday issued a statement rejecting the comparison made
by Grass. "There is no doubt that Gunter, as one who came out of a
tyrannical regime, usually knows how to identify one. However, this
time he´s wrong," Yishai said in a statement, making reference to to
the author´s having served in the Nazi Waffen SS.
Yishai said that he would be happy to expalin to Grass in a neutral
nation why someone who had served under the Nazi Heinrich Himmler
would not be able to enter a state whose people he had advocated
The interior minister added that his only mistake was not issuing the
entry ban on Grass immediately upon taking up his position, but
added, "better late than never." (© 1995-2011, The Jerusalem Post
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