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    domingo, abril 08, 2012

    What must be said - Was gesagt werden muss

    By Günter Grass

    P U L S E–”Freedom of the press is guaranteed only to those who own one”

    Why have I kept silent, silent for too long
    over what is openly played out
    in war games at the end of which we
    the survivors are at best footnotes.

    It’s that claim of a right to first strike
    against those who under a loudmouth’s thumb
    are pushed into organized cheering—
    a strike to snuff out the Iranian people
    on suspicion that under his influence
    an atom bomb’s being built.

    But why do I forbid myself
    to name that other land in which
    for years—although kept secret—
    a usable nuclear capability has grown
    beyond all control, because
    no scrutiny is allowed.

    The universal silence around this fact,
    under which my own silence lay,
    I feel now as a heavy lie,
    a strong constraint, which to dismiss
    courts forceful punishment:
    the verdict of “Antisemitism” is well known.

    But now, when my own country,
    guilty of primal and unequalled crimes
    for which time and again it must be tasked—
    once again, in pure commerce,
    though with quick lips we declare it
    reparations, wants to send
    Israel yet another submarine—
    one whose speciality is to deliver
    warheads capable of ending all life
    where the existence of even one
    nuclear weapon remains unproven,
    but where suspicion serves for proof—
    now I say what must be said.

    But why was I silent for so long?
    Because I thought my origin,
    marked with an ineradicable stain,
    forbade mention of this fact
    as definite truth about Israel, a country
    to which I am and will remain attached.

    Why is it only now I say,
    in old age, with my last drop of ink,
    that Israel’s nuclear power endangers
    an already fragile world peace?
    Because what by tomorrow might be
    too late, must be spoken now,
    and because we—as Germans, already
    burdened enough—could become
    enablers of a crime, foreseeable and therefore
    not to be eradicated
    with any of the usual excuses.

    And admittedly: I’m silent no more
    because I’ve had it with the West’s hypocrisy
    —and one can hope that many others too
    may free themselves from silence,
    challenge the instigator of known danger
    to abstain from violence,
    and at the same time demand
    a permanent and unrestrained control
    of Israel’s atomic power
    and Iranian nuclear plants
    by an international authority
    accepted by both governments.

    Only thus can one give help
    to Israelis and Palestinians—still more,
    all the peoples, neighbour-enemies
    living in this region occupied by madness
    —and finally, to ourselves as well.

    “Was gesagt werden muss” published in Süddeutschen Zeitung (4 April 2012)

    translation by Michael Keefer and Nica Mintz of Günter Grass’s “Was gesagt werden muss”

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