Gunter Grass, by Marcus Brandt in the Guardian
The Gunter Grass poem was published in Germany. Our translation is by Norbert Jost. It is already stirring big controversy. Guardian headline: “Nobel Prize-winning author Günter Grass uses poem to say a nuclear-armed Israel is a threat to world peace.” Tom Segev says Grass is “pathetic” and is guilty about his Nazi past.
Why am i silent, conceal already too long a time,
What is apparent and has been simulated
in exercises, at the end of which we the survivors
may at best be footnotes.
It is the alleged entitlement for a first strike,
which could extinguish the Iranian people,
– subjugated by a big mouth and
directed to organized jubilations-
because one assumes
the making of a nuclear bomb.
Alas, why do i restrain myself
to name the name of the other country,
where since years – although kept secret –
a growing nuclear potential (is) available,
albeit beyond control, because inaccessible
for any examination?
The general silence of this fact,
which my silence has subordinated itself to,
i feel to be a burdensome lie
and as coercion, which promises punishment,
soon as it is not complied with;
the verdict “antisemitism” is ready at hand.
However, now, that my country,
which is confronted with its very own crimes
which are unique without comparison,
again and again and made to answer for,
is about to deliver, routinely and businesslike,
even though with a nimble tongue declared as reparation,
is to supply Israel another submarine, the speciality of which
is to deliver all-destructive warheads
to where the existence
of a single nuclear bomb is unproven,
only “proven” by the strength of fear,
I say, what must be said.
But why did i remain silent so far?
Because I was of the opinion, that where i am from,
which is stained with a never removable stain,
forbids me, to dare confronting Israel,
the country I am attached to and want to remain so,
with this fact as an outright spoken truth.
Why do I speak now only,
aged and with the last ink:
The nuclear power Israel endangers
the world’s peace, ever so delicate anyhow ?
Because it must be said,
what already tomorrow could be too late;
also because we – as Germans burdened enough –
could become suppliers of a crime,
which can be foreseen, and why our complicity
could not be made undone by any of the usual evasions.
And admitted: i do not remain silent anymore,
because i am weary of the hypocrisy of the West;
moreover, it is hoped,
may many free themselves of the bondage of silence,
demand from the originators of the discernible danger
the renunciation of all violence and
that an unhindered and permanent control
of Israeli nuclear potential
and of Iranian nuclear facilities
through an international entity
will be permitted by the governments of both countries.
Only this way, everybody, Israelis and Palestinians,
even more, all human beings, who live as enemies
next to each other in this region, occupied by madness,
can be helped – ultimately us, too.