Polish right slams Grass birthday party in Gdansk

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GDANSK, Poland, Sep 29 (Reuters) Officials of Poland's ruling Law and Justice party in Gdansk will boycott the birthday celebrations of German writer Guenter Grass, who admitted last year that he had fought for the Nazi Waffen SS in World War Two.

Grass, winner of the Nobel Prize for literature, will celebrate his 80th birthday on October 4 in Gdansk, on Poland's Baltic coast, the city where he was born and where his most famous novel ''The Tin Drum'' is set.

City councillors of the conservative Law and Justice party said they had sent back invitations to the celebrations, which will last two days and include a conference on Polish-German relations.

''None of us will participate in this event,'' said councillor Kazimierz Kowalewski. ''We are still waiting for Grass to apologize and we don't see any reason for such a huge celebration for him. I am sure the money could be spent elsewhere.'' Grass, for decades a leading German moral voice, caused consternation in Poland and Germany when he revealed that he had joined the SS at the end of World War Two, though he insisted he never fired a shot.

Law and Justice officials tried to strip Grass of his honorary citizenship of Gdansk, known in German as Danzig, but failed to find the majority of votes on the city council needed.

The Waffen SS was a highly trained Nazi combat unit, initially of volunteers, which took part in the Holocaust and committed war crimes. By the end of the war, however, most SS members were drafted and many were under 18.

Grass made his confession shortly before publication of his autobiography, and many critics said he had timed the revelation to get publicity for the book.

REUTERS SW HS0934

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