The Nobel Prize-winning novelist Gunter Grass has attacked Angela Merkel for her tough stance during the eurozone crisis, which he said had damaged relations with Germany's neighbours.
"In a short time, Ms Merkel has tarnished relations with all of our neighbours," said Mr Grass. These relations, 'The Tin Drum' author said, had now reached a "low point".
Speaking at a reading of his new book, an exchange of letters with Willy Brandt, the former German chancellor, the author compared the current emphasis on austerity measures with the approach of Mr Brandt, who, he claimed, would have emphasised reconciliation.
Mr Brandt was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1971 for his efforts to bridge the Cold War divide with the Soviet bloc.
In barbed comments aimed at Mrs Merkel's background in communist East Germany, Mr Grass said that she had received a "double education" in politics.
He claimed that she had learnt "assimilation and expediency" while a functionary in the East German Communist youth movement, and then learnt how to deal with the "strength and the punches of her rivals" under Chancellor Helmut Kohl.
Mr Grass, awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1999, has long been regarded as a moral authority in Germany, although his credentials were tarnished by the admission in 2006 that he had been a member of the Waffen SS. (© Daily Telegraph, London)