What Must Be Said by Gunter Grass

What Must Be Said

by Gunter Grass

HARDNEWS, April 2012

The controversial poem published in the Süddeutsche Zeitung has raised a storm across the world 

Why do I stay silent, conceal for too long

What clearly is and has been

Practiced in war games, at the end of which we as survivors

Are at best footnotes.

 

It is the alleged right to first strike

That could annihilate the Iranian people–

Enslaved by a loud-mouth

And guided to organized jubilation–

Because in their territory,

It is suspected, a bomb is being built.

 

Yet why do I forbid myself

To name that other country

In which, for years, even if secretly,

There has been a growing nuclear potential at hand

But beyond control, because no inspection is available?

 

The universal concealment of these facts,

To which my silence subordinated itself,

I sense as incriminating lies

And force–the punishment is promised

As soon as it is ignored;

The verdict of “anti-Semitism” is familiar.

 

Now, though, because in my country

Which from time to time has sought and confronted

Its very own crime

That is without compare

In turn on a purely commercial basis, if also

With nimble lips calling it a reparation, declares

A further U-boat should be delivered to Israel,

Whose specialty consists of guiding all-destroying warheads to where the existence

Of a single atomic bomb is unproven,

But as a fear wishes to be conclusive,

I say what must be said.

 

Why though have I stayed silent until now?

Because I thought my origin,

Afflicted by a stain never to be expunged

Kept the state of Israel, to which I am bound

And wish to stay bound,

From accepting this fact as pronounced truth.

 

Why do I say only now,

Aged and with my last ink,

That the nuclear power of Israel endangers

The already fragile world peace?

Because it must be said

What even tomorrow may be too late to say;

Also because we–as Germans burdened enough–

Could be the suppliers to a crime

That is foreseeable, wherefore our complicity

Could not be redeemed through any of the usual excuses.

 

And granted: I am silent no longer

Because I am tired of the hypocrisy

Of the West; in addition to which it is to be hoped

That this will free many from silence,

That they may prompt the perpetrator of the recognized danger

To renounce violence and

Likewise insist

That an unhindered and permanent control

Of the Israeli nuclear potential

And the Iranian nuclear sites

Be authorized through an international agency

By the governments of both countries.

 

Only this way are all, the Israelis and Palestinians,

Even more, all people, that in this

Region occupied by mania

Live cheek by jowl among enemies,

And also us, to be helped.

Tags: , , , , ,

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: