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Dolphin Submarine

“What must be said” by Günter Grass

Dolphin Submarine

Dolphin Submarine as aquired from Germany by Israel

Why do I stay silent, stay silent too long
about what is obvious and is practiced
in war games, at the end of which we
as survivors are at best only footnotes

It is the asserted right of the first strike,
which could  annihilate the Iranian people
– who are bullied by a loudmouth and
directed to an organized frenzy –
because it is suspected that an atom bomb
is being built in the land where he rules.

But why do I forbid myself
to name that other country
in which, for years – though also in secret –
a growing nuclear power is already present
but out of control, because it goes

The universal suppression of the facts,
to which my silence is enslaved
I feel as damning lies
And force. Punishment is promised
as soon as the silence is broken
with the usual verdict of “anti-semitism”.

But now, because my country –
which time after time has been confronted
with its very own unique and original crime –
once again and for base commercial gain
(if also dishonestly portrayed as reparation)
should deliver to Israel another U-boat
whose special feature is to guide
all-destroying warheads to the place
where there is no evidence of a single atom bomb,
but when there is fear of conclusive proof
I say what must be said.

Why though have I kept silent until now?
Because I believed that my provenance,
cursed with a stain that can never be expunged
forbids me from demanding the spoken truth
from the land of Israel, to which I am devoted
and will remain devoted.

Why do I say only now
aged and with my ink running dry
that the nuclear power of Israel endangers
a world peace that is already fragile?
Because we must say
what could already be too late tomorrow
and because we – as Germans, who are already burdened enough –
could be subcontractors to a crime
that is foreseeable, which means our complicity
could not be erased with the usual excuses.

And granted, I am silent no more
because I am tired of the West’s hypocrisy;
moreover it is to be hoped
that this will free many from silence
that they may call on the agent of a clear danger
to renounce violence and
at the same time insist
that an unrestricted and permanent control
by an international body
of the Israeli atomic arsenal
and the Iranian nuclear facilities
be authorized by both governments.

This is the only way to help everybody:
the Israelis and Palestinians and all
people who live cheek by jowl as enemies
in this region occupied by illusions;
this alone can help us, too.


Translated for deLiberation by Ed Walker


6 Responses to “What must be said” by Günter Grass

  1. searching April 10, 2012 at 8:06 pm #

    Hard to add anything. The poem says it all.
    Like this old song.

  2. pgg804 April 11, 2012 at 12:50 pm #

    In the old days when Germany defended her own interests they called their U boats “wolves’ as in a “wolfpack”. A “wolfpack” was a group of U boats that would attack a convoy or perhaps a destroyer. The wolf of course signifies something to be feared. But in today’s world Germany calls its U boats “dolphins’ as in the lovable dolphin from Flipper, an American television series from the 1960’s. And its “dolphins” are given to the lovable Israelis who are bristling with nuclear weapons and would probably like to drop one on Germany itself.

    In the old days the USA had the “War Department”. In 1947 they renamed the “War Department” and the created the “Defense Department”. With the possible exception of Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbor, the last time the USA defended itself against anybody was in 1812 in a war against the British. The USA was the aggressor in all its other wars since then.

    Propaganda has been taken to a new level.

    • searching April 11, 2012 at 5:30 pm #

      and now they are doing “humanitarian missions” ,
      or “bringing a peace” when attacking other countries ( Libya eg) under the flag of NATO or other ones.
      ” We will fight for a peace with such a might
      that a stone won’t be left on Earth unturned”.

  3. Chester April 11, 2012 at 1:53 pm #

    Günter Grass is clearly speaking as a friend of Israel: “the land to which I am devoted and will remain devoted”.

    The poem is primarily aimed at the Israeli government (but also the German government). It is not the poem but the hysterical reaction to it that is damaging to Israelis (and by extension, Jews).

    I think many Germans will feel relief that the taboo (you are not free to criticize Israel, even as a friend) has finally been broken.

    Only an artist of such international standing could have done this.

    A clear majority of Germans agree with Grass’s position.

  4. Jonathon Blakeley April 11, 2012 at 3:09 pm #

    A brave man, well done Günter. Let us hope many more come forth and break the silence.

  5. ariadna April 13, 2012 at 2:27 am #

    Lilian Rosengarten: