Nobel Prize Laureate Günter Grass, the most famous living German writer, published this poem today in the Süddeutsche Zeitung, The New York Times, La Repubblica and El Pais. The weekly Die Zeit had refused to publish it.
Why I am silent, silent for too much time,
how much is clear and we made it
in war games, where, as survivors,
we are just the footnotes.
That is the claimed right to the formal preventive aggression
which could erase the Iranian people
dominated by a bouncer and moved to an organized jubilation,
because in the area of his competence there is
the construction of the atomic bomb.
And then why do I avoid myself
to call the other country with its name,
where since years – even if secretly covered -
there is an increasing nuclear power,
without control, because unreachable
by every inspection?
I feel the everybody silence on this state of affairs,
which my silence is slave to,
as an oppressive lie and an inhibition that presents punishment
we don’t pay attention to;
the verdict “anti-Semitism” is common.
Now, since my country,
from time to time touched by unique and exclusive crimes,
obliged to justify itself,
again for pure business aims - even if
with fast tongue we call it “reparation” -
should deliver another submarine to Israel,
with the specialty of addressing
annihilating warheads where the
existence of one atomic bomb is not proved
but it wants evidence as a scarecrow,
I say what must be said.
Why did I stay silent until now?
Because the thought about my origin,
burdened by an unclearing stain,
had avoiding to wait this fact
like a truth declared by the State of Israel
that I want to be connected to.
Why did I say it only now,
old and with the last ink:
the nuclear power of Israel
threat the world peace?
Because it must be said
what tomorrow will be too late;
Because - as Germans and with
enough faults on the back -
we might also become deliverers of a predictable
crime, and no excuse would erase our complicity.
And I admit: I won’t be silent
because I had enough of the Western hypocrisy;
Because I wish that many will want
to get rid of the silence,
exhorting the cause of a recognizable
risk to the abdication, asking that a free and permanent control
of the Israel atomic power
and the Iran nuclear bases
will be made by both the governments
with an international supervision.
Only in this way, Israelis, Palestinians, and everybody,
all people living hostile face to face in that
country occupied by the craziness,
will have a way out,
so us too.
Translation by Alessandro Ghebreigziabiher