Gunter Grass – What Must Be Said

[youtube][/youtube]Is this writer an anti-Semite?

Gunter Grass – What Must Be Said


this is another translation of the same poem. Which in your opinion is more poetic?



Why have I kept silent – silent for so long

About something that’s plain to see

Something long rehearsed in war games

Something we will survive, if at all, as footnotes


It is the so-called right to a first strike.

That could wipe out the Iranian people –

kept in line and corralled to cheer by a loudmouth

whose land is believed to be building an atom bomb


Yet why do I stop myself calling that other land by its name

whose  nuclear capacity has been growing for years

secretly and out of control, since no-one may  inspect it?


We all keep quiet about the facts of the matter

I myself have kept in line, kept silent

But I find it is an incriminating lie and a coercion:

the punishment is there as soon as you break the rules.

The verdict of anti-semitism is familiar


But now, since my country from time to time

is compelled to confront its essential crime beyond compare

then delivers yet another submarine to Israel

(blandly declared as reparation

but done in an absolutely businesslike manner)

the submarine which specializes  in delivering  annihilating warheads

to a place where the existence of a single atom bomb is unproven

(but then fear turns suspicion into proof)

I say what must be said.


But why have I kept my silence for so long?

I believed the place I came from

Marked by a stain which can never be washed away

forbade me openly to speak the truth

I could not do that to Israel – the land to which I am bound   –

The land to which I will remain obliged.


Why do I say now, after all this time,

aged and with my last drops of ink:

The nuclear power Israel endangers

the already fragile peace of the world?

Because  something that must be said

 that tomorrow might come too late

and since we – already burdened enough as Germans –

could be sub-contractors to an outrage –

a predictable outrage – so our complicity

could not be redeemed with any of the usual excuses.


Granted – I am silent no longer

Because I am sick of the hypocrisy of the West

And hopeful that many will free themselves from silence

And bring the perpetrator of the perceptible danger

To renounce violence

And to insist that both countries agree to

an unhindered and permanent oversight

of Israel’s nuclear potential

and the Iranian nuclear sites

by an international body.


This is the only way for everyone – Israelis and Palestinians –

Indeed all the people of this region occupied by madness

who live cheek by jowl with their enemies

And in the end, it is the only way out for us too.