The formula was unbeatable: You mix a very intelligent and very well read and knowledgeable Jewish holocaust survivor, whose family was murdered by the Germans and who chose to come in and live in post-War Germany, with drawn to authority Germans, grateful to Jewish intellectuals who settle in their country and you get a success story. Marcel Reich-Ranicki, a Polish Jew who moved to Germany in 1956 and became the country foremost literary critic died yesterday, at the ripe old age of 93. Germany is in mourning.
For years, Germans referred to the man as their Literaturpabst, their pope for matters literary. What tantrums of jealousy the man at the Vatican must have had because of the total deference this Jewish –of all things – so-called literary pope enjoyed. Reich-Ranicki instructed the Germans what was right and what was wrong, which book is good and which is not. On a regular basis, in his TV programmes and in his newspaper columns, he told them – often in the most abusive language - and shouted (his version of hell?) at them when disobeyed. They adored this Jew who shouted at them. Talk of role reversal.