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July 23, 1965 - Image 15

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1965-07-23

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Gunter Grass' 'Dog Years': Powerful Novel About Post-War
Germany, Christian-Jewish Friendship, Adolph Hitler's Dog

In German, the new novel by
Gunter Grass appeared under the
title "Hundejahre." In a splendid
translation by Ralph Manheim,
Harcourt, Brace and World (757
3rd, NY 17), the long 570-page book
now appears in English rs "Dog
Years," an exact Anglicizing of
the title.
It is exactly what the title states:
the story about a dog, how it fled
from its owner, Hitler, the involve-
ment in the dog story of many
characters whose activities reflect
the conditions that existed because
of Hitler.
And it is much more than that:
it is a social study of human and
of Christian-Jewish relations in
Germany. It is a commentary of
hatred and it has elements of love.
"Dog Years" characterizes a
friendship—between the Christian
Walter Marten, who is an ath-
lete and the lover of sports, and
the half-Jew, Eduard Anselm, the
maker of scarecrows, the artist.
A strong friendship develops be-
tween them. They become blood
brothers. Yet, Walter, who be-
gan as a Communist then turned
Nazi, wearing an SA uniform,
suddenly became the abuser,

Kops' New Novel:
Discouraging Note

Bernard Kops is one of the
young, rebellious British Jewish
writers who is making his mark
as a novelist, whose "The World
Is a Wedding" received wide ac-
Like others of his generation of
young Jewish writers, Kops turns
to Jewish themes. It is based on
the experiences he had personally
gathered and on his impressions
of young Jews in his native land,
their relations with their parents
and their families.
His newest novel, "Yes From
No Mari!s Land," published by
Coward-McCann, 200 Madison, NY
16, does not offer a pretty picture.
It is the story of Joseph Levene
who is on his deathbed, suffering
from cancer. His daughter and
son, his second wife and a friend,
his son's non-Jewish fiance, visit
him in the hospital, and the scenes
are gloomy. They would be, of
course, under the circumstances,
but in this instance it is due to
the discourtesies that emerge from
family squabbles, the recurring
memories that haunt Joe of his
first wife, the tension created by
his son's impending mixed marri-
And there is a resentment
against another son who is in
Israel and has not come to see Joe.
The "Yes" in the story is Joe's
affirmation to a desire to live, to
go home, not knowing the serious-
ness of his own illness. Then there
is Joe's resentment of the nuns
who are attending him as nurses
in a Catholic hospital. There is
crudeness in this objection to the
non-J ewish environment. And
there is a lack of dignity in hand-
ling the Jewish aspect of life. For
instance, we read in the Kops
"Circumcision and burial were
the atavistic means of roping you
into the Ghetto community; of
making sure that you were one of
the tribe."
There isn't even the apology one
often hears that circumcision also
has been adopted by non-Jews; or
the recognition that death is an
universal suffering, yet for Joe's
son, "the sons had to make Kosher
the act of burial . ."
That's how many of our younger
Writers have reacted to Jews and
Jewry. It is on this that Kops and
his new generation of writers are

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ings Plan. It helps their employees
help themselves and their country
with U.S. Savings Bonds.

Friday, July 23, 1965-15

calling Eduard "SheenySheeny
Sheeny," knocking out his teeth.
There is the evidence of re-
morse. In the third portion of the
book—Materniads--Walter Matern
makes a tour of post-war Ger-
many, seeking vengance, seeking
Eduard and Conciliation.
There are two other portions to
the book: the first giving a de-
scriptive account of the two heroes
in the story, the second containing
love letters, the third being the
collection of Materniad experi-
ences which are, philosophically,
a superb account of the human
elements, interpreted by the able
As part of the third part, Gunter
Grass has included a play in which
the dog aspect is elaborated upon
and in which there is a discussion
of the Jewish element and the

Sheeny insult. Here Matern speaks
of Eduard as "a wonderful guy,"
indicating that, as the story ac-
tually relates, he often had to pro-
tect him. But he is challenged on
having shouted Sheeny at his
friend and the discussion leader
in the play calls on his assistant,
Walli S. to explain. And Walli
" 'Sheeny' is a contemptuous
term, meaning Jew, dating
roughly from the middle of the
19th century. It is thought to de-
rive from the Yiddish word
'shone,' meaning `fine,' lovely,'
`very good,' which is often over-
heard in conversation among
Jews, though what reason they
had for regarding anything as
fine, lovely, or very good has
not been established. Cf. the
popular jingle which developed

Death of Dr. Dering Recalls London
Libel Suit; 'Auschwitz in England'
Ably Records Famous Court Case

The death last week, in London,
of Dr. Wladyslaw Aleksander Der-
ing, who sued Leon Uris for libel
last year for mentioning him in
"Exodus" as "Dr. Dehring" who
performed 17,000 experiments with-
out anesthetics, draws special at-
tention to "Auschwitz in England,"
by Marvis M. Hill and L. Norman
Williams, published by Stein and
Day (7 E. 48th, NY 17).
As members of the bar in Eng-
land, the two authors are well
qualified to present, as they do in
this book, a detailed record of the
trial which resulted in a verdict
against Uris—damages of one half
penny — but Dr. Dering was at
the same time ordered to pay the
defendants' costs which amounted
to 20,000 pounds—$56,000.
In a foreword to this record of
a significant libel suit, Lord Den-
ning pays tribute to the press. He
states: "As the proceedings were
in open court (save for one witness
in camera), the newspapers were
entitled to report the names and
addresses of the witnesses who had
suffered these grievances. The Brit-
ish Press representatives willingly
agreed to keep them anonymous,
and did so." Lord Denning also
"While the trial was in prog-
ress, many thought: 'All this is
too horrible. Let us turn over
this page of history and forget
it.' Yet the truth should be made
known, if only to show how at
one time a civilized country re-
verted to barbarism, and thus re-
mind us of the perils that are
not far away."
And there is an important in-
troduction written by Alan U.
Schwartz, who co-authored "Priv-
acy" and "Censorship" with Mor-
ris Ernst. Schwartz explains that
American lawyers as well as lay
readers will learn much from this
book, and he states:
"Dr. Dering came out of ob-
scurity to claim he had been li-
beled because he was referred
to in the book ("Exodus") as
having performed experimental
sexual surgery, without benefit
of anesthetics, upon young Jew-
ish prisoners at Auschwitz. Be-
fore the trial was over, the spec-
ter of Auschwitz descended upon
the courtroom and affected
everyone in it. In castrating
men and removing the ovaries
from women, Dr. Dering thought
he did no wrong. As each vic-
tim of the Nazi horror stood up
to bear witness to his shame,
the legal issues in the case be-
came entwined inexorably in the
overriding moral question of
whether his position was justi-
fied. It is this theme which is
central also to the Eichmann
case and to so many of the
trials of Nazis since the war."
The Hill-Williams book is the
record of this important case which
resulted in a verdict for the accuser
only because the defense was able
to prove that Dr. Dering had parti-



cipated in only 130 of the 17,000
cases mentioned in "Exodus." But
the contempt for the physician who
performed the inhuman operations
was in his having been ordered
to pay the defense costs.
In the summing up by Mr. Justice
Lawton, there were lengthy explan-
ations of Dr. Dering's motives, and
among "the signposts that led to
the evidence" is this resume:
"The defendants had sought to
establish by the evidence three
propositions of fact: (1) that Dr.
Dering performed 130 operations
on men and women, mostly
young, which were an essential
part of a vast series of experi-
ments on Jewish prisoners being
carried out by Nazi doctors for
the specific purpose of wiping
out for ever, in the territories
controlled by the Nazis, Jews and
those of Jewish blood; (2) that
Dr. Dering willingly performed
those operations, first, because
he was an anti-Semite and, sec-
ondly, because he wanted to in-
gratiate himself with the Nazis
in order to secure his release
from Auschwitz; and (3) that he
performed the operations which
he did perform, with callousness
and brutality."
The judges then pointed out
that it was never in dispute that
the Nazis were carrying out the
experiments; that there was a
moral side to the issue, and the
judge could not give the jury di-
rection on that score; and the judge
went into a long discussion relating
to the evidence regarding brutality.
When the request was made to
grant the right to appeal against
the jury's decision that Dr. Dering
pay the costs, the judge declared:
"I do not give leave."
These are mere details, but they
are indications of a result of the
presentation of facts regarding
cruelties that are certain for gen-
erations to haunt the conscience
of the people guilty of the worst
atrocities recorded in history.
The taking of orders, the com-
pulsion under which those like
Dr. Dering labored inhumanly,
-is one of the vital elements ex-
posed in the book. And there is
proof in the evidence offered
that there was no lack of resist-
ance on the part of the Jews
who were helpless under the
heels of the Hitlerites.
"Auschwitz in England" is part
of the history of the holocaust. It
is a record that contains valuable
data regarding the period of hor-
ror in Auschwitz and the people
who 'perpetrated the horror. The
reading of it will stirs souls, it
will move even the stony-hearted.
It burns into memory and will be
regarded as one of the most im-
portant portions of the history of
the brutal era over which a Ger-
man dominated and the weak like
Dr. Dering who took orders be-
came their tools in the crime of

early in the 20th century .. ."
And thereupon the chorus in the
play sings a partly filthy ditty
about "Jewish shinny, his legs
are skinny, Roman nose. . . ."
The dog element is important:
"Perkun sired Senta; and Senta
whelped Harras; and Harras sired
Prinz; and Prinz made his-
tory. . . ."
It is the history that was made
by Prinz that is so important, be-
cause Prinz became Hitler's favor-
ite dog and even Prinz fled from
Grass, in the generally magni-
ficent achievement in "Dog
Years," is superb in his descrip-
tion of details of the period when
"once there was a Fuehrer and
Chancellor," who celebrated his
65th birthday on April 20, 1945,
listing the Nazi dignitaries who
joined in the celebration, the event
climaxed by the call that went
forth from the Chancellery:
"Attention everybody ! Attention
everybody! Fuehrer's dog missing.
Answers to the name of Prinz.
Stud dog. Black German shepherd
Prinz. . . . The Fuehrer's dog is
Soon thereafter came the news
of Hitler's death, of the war's
end. In the interim there --are
descriptions of the search for
Prinz, "who left his master,"
who, "on May 8, 1945, swam
across the Elbe above Magde-
. burg almost unseen and went
looking for a new master on the
west side of the river." ,
There are interesting references
to and quotations by the novelist
from Otto Weininger's "Sex and
Character," belaboring the theme
that women have no souls, that
Jews are a feminine race and also
have no souls. But the many Jew-
ish factors in the Weininger com-
ments are of more than passing
interest. For instance, there are
the observations that there are
JeWish characteristics in anti-
Inevitably, among the race-hate
literature discussed by the anti-
Semites, are mentioned the Proto-
cols of the Elders of Zion, the
vilest of the fake documents
spread by anti-Semitic groups.
In the evaluation of Eduard An-
selm there are many notable fac-
tors—even unto the yielding when
it was suitable to Nazi salutes by
the half-Jew.
Gunter Grass' "Dog Years" is
one of the most powerful novels of
our time. It is a story—in fact, a
series of stories—with powerful
messages. It is one of the very.
great novels of our time.

Major Jewish Groups
in Mexico Housed
in New Headquarters

of the Jewish community in this
country, and many other Jews
from around the country, partici-
pated in the dedication of the new
building just completed by the
Ashkenazic community here, Nid-
ohe Israel, on July 13.
The new edifice, on Acapulco
St., will house the offices of vir-
tually all major Jewish organiza-
tions in the country. Occupying
quarters in the building, in addi-
tion to the Ashkenazic community,
will be the over-all Mexican Jew-
ish community, the Jewish Central
Committee, Zionist groups, Bnai
Brith, United Hias Service, the
Welfare Funds and other leading
philanthropic and communal or-


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