Friday, April 6, 2012

Günter Grass and changing German attitudes towards Israel

The poet hopes his latest work, What Must Be Said, will prompt others to break their silence on Israel's nuclear weapons
Günter Grass
'Günter Grass says he had not spoken out previously because his nationality forbade it: any German breaking the silence on the Israel nuclear programme may be accused of antisemitism.' Photograph: Eamonn Mccabe

The anti-war poem published by Günter Grass is a subtle but straightforward example of a tendency in Germany that the historian Dan Diner has called "exonerating projection": the relativisation of the Holocaust through the implicit equation of Israel with Nazi Germany. In the poem, What Must Be Said, the 84 year-old Nobel prize-winner who was a member of the Waffen SS as a teenager imagines himself as a "survivor" of an Israeli nuclear strike on Iran.

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