Books: Independent Foreign Fiction Award: Outrages along the new wall: Ralph Manheim, who translated The Call of the Toad by Gunter Grass (Secker & Warburg, 14.99), died last year. The following is an extract from the novel

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The Independent Culture
SOON after the founding of the Cemetery Association the question came up of putting a fence between the parkland now known as the Cemetery of Reconciliation and the Engineering School and Polyclinic, but it was tabled as not urgent. Then flowers and wreaths began to disappear from fresh grave mounds, and worse, it was reported that the stolen goods, with the ribbons removed in the case of the wreaths, and in everv case very fresh, were being sold at stands in St Dominic's Market. Although the affected families were compensated for the loss, they complained and complained. When an urn was overturned, brutally and maliciously overturned, though not broken, the board of directors, which barely had the quorum needed to make decisions (members Karau and Vielbrand were absent on the German side), resolved - after too little discussion, at the insistence of Frau Johanna Dettlaff, who spoke of 'unspeakable outrage' - to protect the cemetery with a fence and moreover engage night watchmen, at the expense, it goes without saying, of the Cemetery Association.

By mid-August, posts were set up along Grunwaldzka, designed to support a six-foot fence later to be covered with greenery. The press was quick to take up the matter with headlines such as CEMETERY-CONCENTRATION CAMP, and GERMANS LOVE FENCES, and the suggestion that 'instead of wasting money on expensive wire, why not import sections of the now dismantled Berlin Wall into Poland duty-free, and set them up again for the defense of the German Cemetery?' Concluding with the slogan: 'We need the Wall]'

All in all, there was more laughter than recrimination. No sooner was the fence put up than parts of it were torn down. This was done carefully, avoiding damage to the materials, for the posts and wire reappeared, put to good use in the fencing of community gardens or the building of henhouses. The dismantling turned into a local fete.

'And yet,' writes Reschke, 'it's an ugly sight.'