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Gunter Grass told to stay away from Polish synagogue

JTA

June 28, 2012 | 10:25 am

Günter Grass in 2010. Photo by Blaues Sofa

Günter Grass in 2010. Photo by Blaues Sofa

Gunter Grass, the Nobel Prize-winning poet banned from entering Israel, is being asked not to visit the Gdansk synagogue.

Grass, 85, will arrive on Friday in the Polish city of his birth to open an exhibition of his paintings.

“We wish to Gunter Grass very fruitful and pleasant stay in Gdansk,” Michal Samet, chairman of the Jewish Community in Gdansk, told the Gazeta Wyborcza. “There are so many wonderful places in Gdansk, the city has more than a 1,000-year history; certainly he will have a lot of things to see here. He was in our synagogue once, five years ago, and I think that would be enough.”

Earlier this year, Grass published in a German newspaper and other international publications his poem “What Must Be Said,” which condemns the German government of Chancellor Angela Merkel for agreeing to subsidize the sale of additional submarines “from my country” to Israel “justified as reparations.”

Grass also said that his reluctance until now to speak out against Israel was due to his own sense of connection with the Jewish state and that “the charge of anti-Semitism” is easily flung at those who criticize Israel.

In 2006, Grass admitted in an interview that he had joined the Waffen-SS as a teenager at the end of World War II. He was accused at the time of having hidden the truth for decades while at the same time pointing the finger at others for hiding their Nazi past.

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