Im Krebsgang; Crabwalk

Im Krebsgang; Crabwalk (2002)

This novella revolves around the sinking of the Wilhelm Gustloff, a ship carrying German troops and refugees, in January 1945 by a Russian submarine. The Gustloff had previously been used to provide workers' holidays as part of the Nazi Kraft durch Freude [Strength through Joy] organisation. The novella explores the resurgence of right-wing extremism in the present. The narrator, Paul, is the divorced son of Tulla Pokriefke, who survived the disaster. The narrator follows the progress of his son Konrad, who is named after Tulla’s brother who drowned as a child in a bathing accident (in Hundejahre). Tulla, who is inclined to political extremism, is priming her grandson to safeguard the memory of the disaster. She buys Konrad a computer, and Konrad becomes drawn to the ideology of the extreme right. Wilhelm Gustloff himself was a Nazi functionary in Switzerland who was murdered by a Serbian Jew, David Frankfurter. These historical figures suddenly reappear as user names on an internet chatroom. The two users of the internet chatroom, ‘Wilhelm’ and ‘David’, exchange racist insults, and violence is imminent.

Further Reading

Pól Ó Dochartaigh, ‘Günter Grass’s Im Krebsgang as a German Memory Contest without Jews’, German Life and Letters 63 (2010), 194-211

Anja Henebury, ‘“Das Böse muss raus”: Witnessing and Testimony in Günter Grass’s Im Krebsgang’, German Life and Letters 68:1 (2015), 88-105

Elisabeth Krimmer, '“Ein Volk von Opfern?” Germans as Victims in Günter Grass’s Die Blechtrommel and Im Krebsgang', Seminar 44:2 (2008), 272-90

Stuart Taberner, ‘“Normalization” and the New German Consensus on the Nazi Past: Günter Grass’s Im Krebsgang and the “Problem of German Wartime Suffering’, Oxford German Studies 31 (2002), 161-86

Nicole Thesz, ‘Dangerous Monuments: Günter Grass and German Memory Culture’, German Studies Review 31 (2008), 1-31