Indigo Blue


Heidi Banerjee

Heidi Banerjee
August 02
Early Childhood: Green meadows and blue sky... clouds are passing by. It is summer,beautiful,hot summer. We children lie in the grass looking into the endless sky, wondering about the clouds... whether they are moving... or we children...watching them. It is summer. Quiet solitude... before the storm breakes loose changing everything that had been giving meaning so far...

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APRIL 9, 2012 5:36PM

Günter Grass: "What must be said"

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When Günter Grass published his new poem last week he caused a scandal.


If you happen to visit this post,see for yourself.

I translated this poem immediately after it had been edited in the German Newspaper.



Why do I keep silent,don't mention it for too long,what is obvious,and in strategic games trained,at which end the survivors are merely footnotes?

Is it the claimed right of the first blow which by a mouth hero oppressed and led to organized jubilation,the Iranian people could be erased?-because in whom's might resort construction of the the atomic bomb is suspected?

But why do I forbid myself to name the land in which for years-although secretly-a growing nuclear potential is available but without any official control,because no one is given access?
The general tabu of this fact to which my silence is subordinate,

To me it is a burdensome lie and pressure

which has punishment as result

if neglected.

The verdict"antisemitism" is common.

But now,from my country which is guilty of very own crime against humanity without comparison,every now and then be caught up with,to be confronted,again and businesslike with swift lips

as reparation declared,another submarine is to be delivered to Israel,with the specialty it is to be equipped with all-destructing war heads in order to lead to one single-not proven-atomic bomb,but fear used as proof,

I say what needs to be said.

But why did I keep silent?( so far)

Because I thought,my heritage

(-which is afflicted with a never to be erased stigma)

forbid the fact as outspoken Truth to force upon Israel,

the country to whom I feel attached to and I want to remain so.

Why do I say it as late as now

having grown old and writing with last ink;

the Atom-Might Israel 

endangers the already fragile World Peace ?

Because it needs to be said,what might be too late tomorrow,

also because we Germans...afflicted enough,

could become deliverer/supplier of a crime which can be predicted,and through which our joined guilt by no means of common excuses can be erased.

And admitted:I will not keep silent any longer,because I am weary of the hypocrisy of the West;also it is to hope for many who will free themselves from silence,to summon(request)the causator of the

predictable danger to abandon the danger of violence and at the same time to be adament that an unrestricted and permanent control of the Israeli atomic potential and Iran's atomic

construction site by an international instance be allowed by both governments.

Only then,everyone will benefit,Israeli and Palestinian,more so,all people who live in this by madness occopied region,close by close like enemies, and which will at last help us,too.

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For those of you capable of reading the poem in German,I will add it for you to this blog post.
Grass' Gedicht im Wortlaut "Was gesagt werden muss"

04.04.2012, 12:03
Das Gedicht von Günter Grass

Günter Grass warnt in der "Süddeutschen Zeitung" vor einem Krieg gegen Iran. In seinem Gedicht mit dem Titel "Was gesagt werden muss" fordert der Literaturnobelpreisträger deshalb, Israel dürfe keine deutschen U-Boote mehr bekommen.

Warum schweige ich, verschweige zu lange,
was offensichtlich ist und in Planspielen
geübt wurde, an deren Ende als Überlebende
wir allenfalls Fußnoten sind.

Es ist das behauptete Recht auf den Erstschlag,
der das von einem Maulhelden unterjochte
und zum organisierten Jubel gelenkte
iranische Volk auslöschen könnte,
weil in dessen Machtbereich der Bau
einer Atombombe vermutet wird.

Doch warum untersage ich mir,
jenes andere Land beim Namen zu nennen,
in dem seit Jahren - wenn auch geheimgehalten -
ein wachsend nukleares Potential verfügbar
aber außer Kontrolle, weil keiner Prüfung
zugänglich ist?

Das allgemeine Verschweigen dieses Tatbestandes,
dem sich mein Schweigen untergeordnet hat,
empfinde ich als belastende Lüge
und Zwang, der Strafe in Aussicht stellt,
sobald er mißachtet wird;
das Verdikt "Antisemitismus" ist geläufig.

Jetzt aber, weil aus meinem Land,
das von ureigenen Verbrechen,
die ohne Vergleich sind,
Mal um Mal eingeholt und zur Rede gestellt wird,
wiederum und rein geschäftsmäßig, wenn auch
mit flinker Lippe als Wiedergutmachung deklariert,
ein weiteres U-Boot nach Israel
geliefert werden soll, dessen Spezialität
darin besteht, allesvernichtende Sprengköpfe
dorthin lenken zu können, wo die Existenz
einer einzigen Atombombe unbewiesen ist,
doch als Befürchtung von Beweiskraft sein will,
sage ich, was gesagt werden muß.

Warum aber schwieg ich bislang?
Weil ich meinte, meine Herkunft,
die von nie zu tilgendem Makel behaftet ist,
verbiete, diese Tatsache als ausgesprochene Wahrheit
dem Land Israel, dem ich verbunden bin
und bleiben will, zuzumuten.

Warum sage ich jetzt erst,
gealtert und mit letzter Tinte:
Die Atommacht Israel gefährdet
den ohnehin brüchigen Weltfrieden?
Weil gesagt werden muß,
was schon morgen zu spät sein könnte;
auch weil wir - als Deutsche belastet genug -
Zulieferer eines Verbrechens werden könnten,
das voraussehbar ist, weshalb unsere Mitschuld
durch keine der üblichen Ausreden
zu tilgen wäre.

Und zugegeben: ich schweige nicht mehr,
weil ich der Heuchelei des Westens
überdrüssig bin; zudem ist zu hoffen,
es mögen sich viele vom Schweigen befreien,
den Verursacher der erkennbaren Gefahr
zum Verzicht auf Gewalt auffordern und
gleichfalls darauf bestehen,
daß eine unbehinderte und permanente Kontrolle
des israelischen atomaren Potentials
und der iranischen Atomanlagen
durch eine internationale Instanz
von den Regierungen beider Länder zugelassen wird.

Nur so ist allen, den Israelis und Palästinensern,
mehr noch, allen Menschen, die in dieser
vom Wahn okkupierten Region
dicht bei dicht verfeindet leben
und letztlich auch uns zu helfen.
I feel that there are forces pushing the Israelis and Palestinian people apart, the extremists and fundamentalists on both sides. That, to me, is the crux of the problem. Right-wing extremism on the one hand. Islamic fundamentalism on the other hand. Something like that...It is tragic, because i think that without the extremism, grassroots people mon both sides would find their way to reconciliation.
I feel that there are forces pushing the Israelis and Palestinian people apart, the extremists and fundamentalists on both sides. That, to me, is the crux of the problem. Right-wing extremism on the one hand. Islamic fundamentalism on the other hand. Something like that...It is tragic, because i think that without the extremism, grassroots people mon both sides would find their way to reconciliation.
I have a, perhaps naive, faith that the people of Israel and Iran will find their way to reconciliation. Their current governments and religious leadership may inhibit that process but I believe that eventually the hearts and minds of people can overcome any obstacle.
Thank you for this post and this look at what Gunter Grass is saying now.
rated with love
I’ve been reading “Pax Ethnica: Where and How Diversity Succeeds” by Meyer and Brysac. They described places in the world where diversity has thrived and give some guidelines—based on their research—for promoting civility in diverse societies. The first, and perhaps most significant, guideline reads, “Wherever feasible, choose peace rather than land, since the pains of partition and/or occupation invariable exceed the gains.”
Patrick Frank,
Romantic Poetess,
Beauty 1947,
thank you for your comments.

They are so important in order to help keep the world peace in balance.
You might have noticed that Günter Grass has been placed into one row with the SS and because of this there is obviously the presumtion that he must be of antisemitic attitude.

How much can a 17 yr.old soldier be made responsible of the horror of the Nazi-regime?

The truth is that no one with common sense would seriously be interested in a nuclear conflict,
no matter where it takes place.

My hope is that a lot of people will come and read Günter Grass' appeal and the comments you have added.

Beauty 1947:Thank you for the book link.I'll look into it.
Multiple thank-yous for this post, Heidi. Yes, I read Grass's poem both in the earlier several-places posted (or referred to) English translation (whose?, I wonder) and in the full German I am grateful to you for having posted here because I hadn't been able to find it elsewhere. I was distressed that the only post I'd previously found addressing Guenter Grass (sorry I don't know how to "do umlauts") was by someone whose bio identifies himself partly as "poet", whose post included an aside that the poem itself wasn't very well crafted. I was so glad to see that you'd responded there to that point, so thank you for that!

As to the basic issues: it feels to me by now that here on Open Salon it pretty much 'goes without saying' that vast numbers of us are trying to find what ways we can to address the life-threatening issues of war talk in this now so fundamentally "nuclear"-definded age. Let's see what we all can do, o.k.?

I had sent the translation to very few people pointing out,though, that I was not concerned about the polished translation,rather than sticking closely to G.G.'s words.
The translation you are refering to is to find at Flylooper's blog post.
I was in a hurry to get the translation done and also leave a comment at Flylooper's post.
It is interesting howthe thread continues.
The point is that Günter Grass ' "poem" is more of an appealthan anything else.What is the point in criticizing his craft?This in my opinion is much beside the point as this had not been the initial intention of this old gentleman.It is an outcry,an appeal and nothing else.If I wanted to analyse the poem,I'd have to say that the upruptness-the thoughts,sequences pushed in between the main stream-are an indication for Günter Grass' honest and heartfelt desparation.I'm sure,if asking for craftsmanship,this could have been used by G.G. bring the urgency of the nuclear danger into focus.
Don't worry about the ü; I have it on my keyboard whereas you don't.Thank you for your comment.I appreciate it very much since it is my belief that Günter Grass said what many people are not courageous enough to say.
Agreed, Heidi, on all points. Thank you (and "welcome home", two days late). ;-)
Sorry everyone.While doing the translation,one very important sentence had gone lost.
I filled in the lacking sequence.
[r] we need more to voice their "weariness of the hypocrisy." thank you for this. the outrage against the poem underlines ferocious crony faux-passionate gamesmanship and/or soul-less enthrallment to those profoundly unworthy of trust and power. best, libby
Thank you,libby,your comment helps bring the discussion into balance.Everyone trying to cut this man to pieces or judging on his poem is in my opinion someone who honestly believes to be better .
As I have said earlier,at some place,the appeal of G.G. is to be taken seriously.Whether or not the poem is good,in my view is out of focus.
► 55:53► 55:53
Conversation with History:Roya Hakakian
heidi, i posted the following on flylooper's and markinjapan's blogs, fwiw, best, libby

Israel’s 23-day assault on the Gaza strip in late 2008, early 2009 1,385 Palestinians dead, 318 of which were under the age of 18. (5,300 more Palestinians were also wounded.)

... not blaming Israel for this?????? Human shield bullshit and the Gazans should blame their own leadership??????

Let's spin reality 180 degrees and blame the victims!!!! Why not, Hillary and Obama are on board, the NYT and big American media, Congress. Just because the entire Arab world with all its in-fighting is completely on the same page about the injustices against the Palestinians, let's swill the koolaid for minimization and rationalization of ethnic cleansing and genocide and apartheid.

This is the tribalism cronyism I was referring to.

What about R2P when Gaza War happened? Humanitarian bullshit for all people from the US government? What a farce that is. Hillary's calls out Israeli settlement building as "unhelpful"???

Chris Hedges called out “unconscionable use of lethal force” Israel so easily resorts to whenever challenged and its easy and flagrant lying thereafter to cover up its anti-humanitarian crimes. Hedges stressed Israel wants the world to know it will always play hardball to achieve its needs. It devalued the lives of these unarmed peace activists without caring what the rest of the world thinks.

Zee on serious injury of an American art student protesting the Gazan flotilla slaughter in the West Bank.

"An American solidarity activist was shot in the face with a tear gas canister during a demonstration in Qalandiya, today. Emily Henochowicz is currently in Hadassah Hospital in Jerusalem undergoing surgery to remove her left eye, following the demonstration that was held in protest to Israel’s murder of at least 10 civilians aboard the Gaza Freedom Flotilla in international waters this morning."

"21-year old Emily Henochowicz was hit in the face with a tear gas projectile fired directly at her by an Israeli soldier during the demonstration at Qalandiya checkpoint today. Israeli occupation forces fired volleys of tear gas at unarmed Palestinian and international protesters, causing mass panic amongst the demonstrators and those queuing at the largest checkpoint separating the West Bank and Israel."

"“They clearly saw us,” said Sören Johanssen, a Swedish ISM volunteer standing with Henochowicz. “They clearly saw that we were internationals and it really looked as though they were trying to hit us. They fired many canisters at us in rapid succession. One landed on either side of Emily, then the third one hit her in the face.”"

"Henochowicz is an art student at the prestigious Cooper Union, located in East Village, Manhattan."


Sustained demonization of the Palestinian people by the Israeli leadership to help justify its anti-humanitarian treatment of them in their subsistent, ghetto-ed existence in Gaza.

Israel rails against Palestinian terrorism, while constantly justifying its own as self-defense of itself as victim in spite of its awesomely disproportionate use of force in every act of rationalized retaliation.


Israel refuses to take precautions to protect the lives of civilians in its military actions in complete defiance of the Geneva Convention.

The siege that Israeli defense Minister Ehud Barak is flatly denying at the moment -- “there is no humanitarian crisis in Gaza" -- THIS IS BULLSHIT.

Alan Goodman:

"At the end of 2008 and beginning of 2009, Israel launched a one-sided massacre of Gaza, delivering weeks of collective punishment to the people of Gaza, destroying schools and shelling hospitals, killing some 1400 Palestinians, and locking down the 1.5 million people of Gaza in what is called the world’s largest outdoor prison. Efforts to break the siege of Gaza, including the Gaza Freedom March a year after the massacre, have been blocked by Israel and Egypt, with the full backing of the U.S. government."

Israeli storm troopers attacking the flotilla ship in international waters was a crime under international law.

The massacre on the Mavi Marmara is a crime to enforce an ongoing great crime. Amnesty International’s current Annual Human Rights Report states that Israeli’s siege on Gaza has “deepened the ongoing humanitarian crisis. Mass unemployment, extreme poverty, food insecurity and food price rises caused by shortages left four out of five Gazans dependent on humanitarian aid. The scope of the blockade and statements made by Israeli officials about its purpose showed that it was being imposed as a form of collective punishment of Gazans, a flagrant violation of international law.” According to a recent World Health Organization (WHO) report, there has been an increase in malnourishment, now at over 10 percent of children in "Gaza, because of a chronic lack of protein, iron, and essential vitamins. Israel's 2008-2009 invasion damaged 15 of 27 hospitals in Gaza and damaged or destroyed 43 of its 110 primary health care facilities, none of which have been repaired or rebuilt because of the construction materials ban. Some 15-20 percent of essential medicines are commonly out of stock. And Israel's sadistic lockdown means that the people in Gaza are not allowed to leave and are totally cut off from family and friends outside."


Abdeen Jabara on the forever troubling, anti-humanitarian and dangerous construct of Zionism:

"First, there can be no doubt that any group or members of that group should not be obliged to relinquish its particularism, religion, culture, language or expression of self where those characteristics do not violate the rights of others. The Jews or any other national or religion-ethnic group should be free to maintain their specific expres sions of their individual or collective consciousness of existence. To the extent that Jews or any other people are prevented or prohibited through discriminatory legal structures from doing so, they have the right to resist and rebel. They have the right to undertake a struggle for change of the system which denies them equal rights."

"There is only one unconditional rule attached to the right of national liberation. No man or people may achieve national liberation at the expense of another people. Given this fact, any movement including Zionism which seeks to solve the national problem of one people at the expense of another may not properly be called a movement of national liberation."


Account of Pam Bailey of Peace Action I heard speak:

"Bailey had recently lived in Gaza for five months or so. It is not easy for “internationals” to spend time in Gaza, she confided. She gave up a lucrative corporate job to do humanitarian work for Gaza. She decided to become more than an “intellectual” liberal, and to walk the spiritual walk. She managed to get over there and fell in love with the people, and embraced first hand the horrifying restrictions on that comparatively tiny population of people collectively being punished by Israel.

"Bailey stressed how the United States is profoundly responsible for what is happening to the Gazans both financially and politically. Our unconditional support of Israel against UN sanctions (40 vetoes so far), our $3 billion a year support for military weaponry when Ms. Bailey points out Israel is the eighth largest exporter of weaponry in the world? The over-the-top pro-Israel bias, especially of our lobbied Congress and administration.

"Again, as all three speakers stressed, if only citizens of the world could experience their commonality as human beings hostility against “specter enemies” would dissipate. But sadly, Ms. Bailey pointed out that the Gazans are profoundly isolated from the international community and even the citizens of Israel. The Israeli government keeps them in their open-air prison and prevents the natural acculturation that would occur with communal integration. This separation beefs up the spirit of tribalism and nationalism of many Israeli people. It seems to justify for them the Gazans being forced to live a subsistent ghetto life.

"Palestinians are a wonderful, resilient people, Bailey asserted. But so few can appreciate this. She flashed a picture of a sweet faced, bright-dark-eyed little girl across the screen. She is painfully thin, Ms. Bailey explained and added the little girl had ceased talking after she was awakened one morning in her little bedroom when Israeli commandos drove the family from its home. No warning. The ugly right of might, apparently.

"Ms. Bailey said she and some internationals while they were there took the family back to visit their empty homestead at one point. The family was so excited just to see it, maybe take heart there was hope to return to it, they had a picnic of gratitude and celebration in spite of the ominous presence of the nearby watchtowers. Soon after, that one home, their dear empty homestead, was bulldozed completely. Specifically singled out from the rest. Ms. Bailey showed the pictures. A zero tolerance message sent. Zero tolerance for hope?

"She showed a picture of two charismatic looking male teens whom she declared were her best friends over there. She had wanted them to join her on the tour. They wanted to dream of someday leaving Gaza but did not believe it could happen. They don't even know what an escalator is Bailey mentioned. This seemed a startling but human revelation amidst Ms. Bailey's summary. Can any of us imagine their limitations, she asked. To not even have a hope of some day seeing the world? Bailey tried hard to get them visas. Apparently the US and Czechoslovakia are the only two countries that demand in-person interviews to acquire a visa, no videoconferencing. The boys would have had to go to Tel Aviv to apply. They are not be allowed to go to Tel Aviv.

"The blockade of Gaza has been in effect for 3 years now, she told us. 34% of Gazans live under the poverty level. 67% of the population is under 18 years of age. There are power outages 8-12 hours each day. 90% of the water is unsafe to drink. More and more restrictions are placed on the people. The most fertile wheat fields were confiscated recently. What self-supporting outlets are available to the Gazans are steadily being ripped away.

"The Gazans are informed of a change in rules and new restrictions by suddenly having live ammunition showered on them, as was done to earnest, hard-working women bent over the wheat fields one day recently. In the West Bank rubber bullets and tear gas are used (though as we have heard, those canisters are viciously aimed) but in Gaza, live ammo is used. Ms. Bailey said while she was there she had to watch one Gazan bleed to death before her eyes.

"Ms. Bailey explained that those infamous rockets sent against Israel are no longer sent. The ones the entire 1.5 million population is being punished for. And the population does exercise non-violent protest. Ignored by Israel. Unseen by the rest of the world, especially America.

"She showed pictures of incredible artwork made from broken glass of destroyed infrastructures done by one artisan. Artwork that would be highly marketable if the man could participate in Israel's nearby commerce or even beyond. The Gazans live on humanitarian aid and if not for the tunnels would starve to death, Bailey asserted, but they don't want to live on aid. They are proud and talented and want to be self supporting. It is the blockade that needs to end. They appreciate the massive amounts of humanitarian aid the flotilla freedom workers attempt to bring them. But they want OPEN borders. By the way, Ms. Bailey stressed, they were horrified and heartbroken by the deaths and woundings of those humanitarian activists on international waters on May 31st.

"Ms. Bailey ended her talk by encouraging Americans to not stay silent about the Gazan situation. She said she knew, often, people did not want to emotionally inconvenience their Jewish friends bringing it up. But she said it is a matter of morality. She encouraged us to write letters to the editors when bias is evident in their reporting. To contact our Congress, assert what pressure we can."
Thank you libby,I have read it there,but for balance reasons,it is good to be on this post too,because other OSers will be visiting this post.
Good poem, worth reading (I stuck to English, but it was still good).
as you might know,Günter Grass 'poem caused quite a controversy.
I myself stuck close to the text when translating it.That's why it is so difficult to read,even for myself.
On other occasions,I have done translation for the purpose of best understanding for the reader,but it takes high skill and a profound sense for either language in order to transfer the basic message.
However,when translating poetry,some of the beauty gets lost in translation.
Thank you for visiting.
Only when the children are no longer poisoned with hate! Great post!
tg within,

thank you for your encouraging comment.You managed to bring the whole truth into one sentence.
Yes,we have to teach the children peace,or there won't be any.
Thanks so much I always wondered what it looked like in German.
Thank you,Algis.I meant to respond to your comment earlier but I did not have access to OS for a few days.
The impact the poem has had might be exactly what G.G.had in mind.
We don't know who is pulling the strings on the world web and at what times,but I like to believe that Günter Grass put in a heavy weight which forced people into consideration before it would be too late and irreversible in damage..
So many ordinary people from those regions are just like us. And so many of their leaders spout religious hatred, masking political ambition, just like us. And our government continues to promote discord by selling weapons, and profiting financially. This is what what we, as ordinary people, need to start complaining about.
Thank you for commenting,Steven.
When looking at the momentary economic situation,the complaint is the only alternative to accepting the inevitable.
The crisis is boiling like the magma within a volcano before the eruption takes place due to excessive pressure.