I "wuz" drafted is his story. He says he first was in a labor unit, then he tried to join the navy (submarines) and then "found himself" in the Waffen SS. That may well be. This division was mainly formed from conscripts. For a long time the Heer (German Army" succesfully resisted allowig the SS to draft Germans, but late in the war that broke down. Pat Lang
"During the war the organization was presented as a multinational force protecting Europe from the evils of Communism. In addition, training emphasised unit cohesion and mutual respect between officers and men, rather than strict discipline. In the Waffen-SS, it was not a requirement to salute officers and a more casual salute was adopted (the right arm raised vertically from the elbow – a relaxed version of the Heil salute. This salute is portrayed in many war films). Added to this, the practice of addressing a superior as Herr ("Sir") was also forbidden, with everyone up to Himmler being addressed simply by their rank. Wiki – Waffen SS
Actually the Waffen SS was not part of the Wehrmacht at all but rather was a party militia which received greater and greater government support as WW2 turnd into a maelstrom from the German point of view. The ethos of the Waffen SS was formed in its earliest days when Freikorps front line veterans of WW1 made up the cadre. Such men have little patience with things like saluting and "sirring" all the time. The more formalistic trappings of military life are more appealing when "motivating" troops is the first priority.
The Waffen SS more resembled the Pasdaran or the Syrian saraya difaa' (protection companies) than Napoleon's Guard or Saddam's Republican Guard which were army formations rather than formalised militias. Pat Lang
This was Grass's outfit, one of the higher quality "late" Waffen SS divisions. Along with its "twin" SS Panzer Division "Hohenstaufen" it held the bridge at Arnhem in "Operation Market Garden." You remember. Maximilian Schell played the corps commander (2nd SS Panzer Corps?). He looked like maybe he had transferred from the Heer (army) in search of promotion. Some did.
Some of you folks will sort me out on this but I have doubts about Grass's "legend." Kurt Waldheim has been hounded unmercifully for having been a staff lieutenant in an Army Group headquarters in the Balkans.