terry: good evening. here are the headlines at this hour. gunther gass dies at age 87. and german chancellor merkel opens the world's largest industrial trade fair. tributes are pouring in for germany's greatest writer -- for one of germany's greatest writers, gunther gass. he had a body of work that
includes his masterpiece, the tin drum. he was a polarizing figure, criticizing political movements on the left and right. seen for decades as an embodiment of he served in the ss during world war ii. steve: it is his literary magazine he will be remembered for. the german president embracing for capturing the fears and longings for generations. >> he made an appearance to celebrate the opening of the state -- of a stage adaptation of his most popular work, the tin drum. edit just on whether the question of ordinary germans were responsible for nazi germany. >> it is as if evil spirits came along and seduced the poor german people.
as a teenager i knew that was false. >> born in 1927 he fond in world war ii, eventually taken prisoner by u.s. forces. he trained as a stonemason and studied art. in the 50's he joined a group of writers known as group 47. he became one of germany's most influential authors. >> he wrote the tin trauma, a truly great novel. i devoured it when you -- devoured it when i was a young girl. >> dog years, cat and mouse, the founder. it is hard to imagine our modern culture without him. reporter: he became active in politics in the 60's.% he became from friends with the chancellor. he advocated a germany free of fanaticism and the terror cap -- and totalitarian ideologies.
>> many in the younger generation have come to categorize gunther as admonishing or cautionary. but my generation knows he served as a father figure for the fingers and writers of our emerging republic. reporter: at the height of his fame he received the nobel prize for literature in recognition for his life's work. then in 2006 came the shock. he admitted he was a member of the elite ss during world war ii. the revelations and the fact he kept them secret for so long raised a storm of controversy. >> if people want to judge me they may do so. >> he was outspoken and remained controversial to the end. he published a poem harshly criticizing israel. it drew widespread condemnation.
gunther had a passion for breaking taboos. with his death germany has lost one of its most strident voices. terry: we are joined by bill c smart from our culture desk. let's begin by talking about the writer. what made him so important. >> it is his ideas that history neglected. he told them in such good stories, who is a great storyteller very shocking at times. also the literary critics talk about him breaking new ground. he was one of the first realist. he didn't like his work to be categorized as either fact or fiction. it was a blend of these two
things. he also mixed up poetry prose put recipes in his stories, put illustrations in his stories, so very innovative as a writer. steve: whited his work the tin drum resonates so profoundly? guest: it shocked the germans. some of them were disgusted by it. the german people weren't victims of the not tease rather than being involved themselves. the tin drum talks about life the german invasion of poland with ordinary people deeply involved. it is great with his character a boy trapped in the body of a three euros but with the mind of
an adult with his tin drum and a cry that can break glass. he's telling the story from a mental asylum. it is very wacky. there is a scene where an official uses a horses headed to catch eels. there are eels swarming -- six stages long, shocking imagery's of sex and death. it is a great book. >> he believed it was important for a writer to be engaged in public political discourse. tell us about that aspect of his life. guest: when he felt strongly about an issue he put it into publicly about it. many big issues, not only the nazi past. refugees in germany, he headed back his membership of the party because of their assignment policy.
he wrote about reunification of germany. he was quite opposed to germany becoming reunited. and there would be a loss of east german art culture the school system. he felt there was a lot that could have been gained there. the latest thing is a -- is great work. poland criticizing israel for deploying nuclear capable subs to israel and warning israel could possibly carry out a nuclear strike against iran. terry: he never shied away from taking a stand on moral issues. late in life we found out he has some very significant skeletons in his closet. guest: yes he was as a teenager
and as the ss elite nazi unit. he was never involved in the murder of -- he was never directly involved in the great atrocities. he said he kept quiet for so long. before he died he wanted to speak up and say this was part of him. that's what made him such a great writer. terry: thank you very much. a short while ago i spoke to the ambassador of germany and asked him how he saw the 2012 poem what must be said concerning relationship with israel. >> i criticized the poem. terry harshly.
the result was he contacted me and said i was criticized from all size -- from all sides. but your criticism is something i can live with and discuss and i would like to have a personal discussion with you. we met more than once and the correspondent. the way he criticized israeli policies and occupied territories doesn't bother me. i also grew with him. but there were certain things in his home which were unacceptable for me. they have the means to destroy iran. i said this was ridiculous. but i insisted in my article and all my interviews that he was never an anti-semi.
i have many reasons to say that. of i think that is the reason why he wanted to have a close and personal contact. terry: thank you for joining us. steve: despite an appearance by far right dutch politician -- organizers predicted as many as 3000 people would turn out to see him. the actual number put it at 10,000. islam belongs to germany. steve: let's go to florian nash. fill us in. florian: yes, he did.
i would assume the spirits isn't exactly what the bonita organizers had hoped or. -- what the gita organizers hoped for. it was quite a short appearance obviously he said things that went down well with the followers. he is showing the world how to do it, how to address things that other politicians aren't willing to address. all in all he was moderate by his standards. i would assume the peg followersida -- pegida followers hope for a good more of the spectacle. i think both sides wanted to gain support or give each other support.
one has to know the numbers have been dwindling over the past weeks and months. they are far away from their all-time high turnout in january when 25,000 people came out. today police say maybe 10,000. far less than those 30,000 that were expected at -- were expected. they wanted to gain publicity by this very well known infamous islam critic. he is quite isolated in his country in the netherlands. i was in the european parliament where his party is sitting. i really don't think there's much support. steve: we are going to have to leave it there, thank you very much.
it is official, hillary clinton has announced her second bid to become president of the united states. the former secretary of state and former first lady aims to break what she calls the highest and hardest glass ceiling by becoming the first female u.s. president. republicans responded by going on the attack, saying her past was a decades long record of secrecy and scandal. and the election won't be held until november 2016. >> the headline on the news ticker is surprise to most people. >> she has that it's that is going to make the difference. anything obama has started, she will finish it. it would make a good president.
reporter bang her tweed announcing she was running for the presidency, and her campaign video addressed everyday americans, the middle class. she says she wants to fight for them. at the age of 67 clinton can look back on decades of experience in politics. this is her second run for the white house. in 2008 barack obama managed to win out against her in democratic primaries. there is no sign yet of a serious democratic challenger. republican candidates are lighting up to take on the political veteran. and rand paul, a champion of small government led texas.
terry: welcome back. there are indications hostilities are escalating in eastern ukraine. kiev accuses pro-russian rebels of using heavy weapons that should have been withdrawn under the terms of the truths -- of the truce. steve: he is hosting counterparts from russia ukraine, and rants. terry: earlier in the day he dismissed speculation russia may be invited to the g-7 economic summit in june. he said russia's diplomatic isolation could be eased if the situation in ukraine improves. let's get the latest on those talks rum melinda crane -- from
melinda crane, who is standing by there. what is the most can be expected from the stalks? -- from these talks? melinda: he started out by giving a guardedly positive assessment of the cease-fire, saying it is mostly holding. he said the the agreement to end the conflict is much more than a cease-fire. he said we are here tonight to bring that process forward. he listed for milestones along the path that process. the first being holding elections in the separatist regions. the second one ensuring humanitarian relief for people in those regions. exchange of prisoners.
a pretty tall order but certainly the question of elections topping the agenda. terry: what are the obstacles they have to overcome, very briefly few can deco -- if you can you go -- very briefly if you can? melinda: only if elections had already been held. the separatists say they see it exactly the other way around. they say autonomy must precede the election. another one briefly. he have has been limiting access to these -- kiev has been accessing -- kiev has been limiting access to these territories.
terry: our chief political correspondent melinda crane covering the talks in eastern ukraine here in berlin. to sit down where voting is underway in a controversial parliamentary election. the voting is set to continue three days. the president cast his vote. steve: he has ruled over 25 years or -- ruled for 25 years unchallenged. bashir is the world's only city leader wanted on genocide charges. those charges relate to be dark for conflict. terry: we resent this exclusive report. reporter: he and his friends celebrate after voting for the incumbent president.
the 33-year-old government official has never known another sudanese president. he is convinced bashir is the right man for the job area -- for the job. then we live in peace and security. -- >> we live for peace and security. we have seen how other countries haven't broken up as a result of the arab spring. preferred bank the 71-year-old faces no real threat at the race an is extending that is specter to extend his 25 will rule for another term. -- 25 year rule for another term. causing political and economic upheaval. in december 2013 sudan suffered
its most violent protest in years. thousands took to the streets after a weeks on end -- after weeks on end after a cartoon abolished oil subsidies. his government relented and called for national dialogue. negotiation's took place later in the year between the government and opposition. the domestic turmoil has continued. opposition parties called for the elections to be postponed but he refused leading to a major boycott of the vote. the sudanese conference parties taking part in the boycott. the party leader was in prison for four months. activists see no point in holding a dialogue the government. >> we have one goal, and that is to remove the president from power. this is what you want to achieve through protests and peaceful
means. we will continue until we get results. reporter: sudan is still shunned by the international community. nearly half of the population lives below the poverty line and unemployment is almost at 20%. terry: global military spending dropped slightly quinton new figures today. steve: that was largely due to major spending cuts in the united states. the rest of the world's spending has increased. terry: particularly european countries bordering russia healing the heat from the crisis in ukraine. >> a military parade. open up last year its military strength has grown significantly. defense spending has risen by 23%.
according to swedish research institutes, the crisis in ukraine could lost in into lasting change. taken it all to -- taking the baltic countries as an example and after years of saving they raised and spending on weapons. poland and the scandinavian countries are planning on raising their spending on defense. germany has set aside less money in its defense budget, but in the coming year that is likely to change. the biggest military spenders are located elsewhere. the united states spent the most by far in 2014. china and russia both raised spending significantly.
but saudi arabia saw the biggest increase, 17%. terry: india's prime minister is here in germany on a visit that is aimed at strengthening diplomatic and business ties. steve: he will be here on tuesday for talks with chancellor angela merkel. terry: it is the largest industrial fair and india is this year's partner nation. >> -- reporter: india's prime minister was greeted at the hanover fair with cheers from onlookers. his vision for manufacturing is clear, he wants to modernize his industry with help from merkel and german business leaders. one of india's main stumping blocks is investor trust.
the country has crushing bureaucracy. however hopes are high for future change. this year analysts expect the country's economy to expand by 7.5%. even beating china's growth rate. it is intended to be used in the electronics industry, working hand-in-hand with people. the goal is lending intelligence support to digital production processes. many are hopeful. steve: fervent speculation erected over the weekend after vw's influential board said he is keeping his distance from the
ceo. he has led the auto giant on a mission to expand its global footprint but he is under fire for low profit margins within the company's core car brand and for overlooking u.s. market developments. vw was the big news today in the business world. we resent this rap of today's trading from the frankfurt stock exchange. have year -- javier: an internal concept may put an end to the ceo of the company. this should not be a reason for concern since the stock has been consistently gaining in the last couple of months. there is other reason for concern, chinese export figures have been published and they are not that good. a 15% decrease in march compared to march of 2014 might mean that the chinese giant is slowing
down economic growth. and that is enough reason to be worried here at the stock exchange and at the international markets. steve: gunter grass has died. terry: he won the nobel prize for literature in 1991. steve: bye-bye. [captioning erformed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy. visit ncicap.org]
the french villagers who are helping after the germanwings crash, where the ukrainian revolutionaries have been fighting for freedom, and the british homeowners whose houses cost a pound. europeans are trying to come to terms with last week's terrible air crash in the alps. people all over the continent were shocked when a german aircraft, on its way back to germany from barcelona, crashed in france, killing all on board. the crash itself was bad enough.