What has to be said (Was gesagt werden muss)

English translation

What has to be said

Versions: #1#2#3#4#5
“Why am I silent, kept secrets for so long

of what is so apparent when playing planning games,
that in the end as survivors
we become event footnotes.
It is a claimed right to strike first,
that could wipe out the suppressed Iranian people,
coerced to cheer by a loudmouth hero
under the suspicion that in his sphere of influence
an atomic bomb is under construction.
But why do I forbid myself,

to name that other land,
in which
 for years—although kept secret—

a usable nuclear potential has grown

beyond control, because 
no inspection
is allowed?
The universal silence around this fact,

under which my own silence lay in 
I perceive as a burdensome lie
and coercion, a potential source of future penalty,
if disregarded;
the judgment of “Anti-Semitism’s” is familiar.
But now, when my own country,

guilty of unique crimes,

that have no equal,
again and again is brought to task,
merely for commercial reasons
called with quick lip service reparation,
wants to deliver an other U- Boot to Israel
Its speciality is,
to deliver devastating warheads
to there, where the existence
of a single atomic bomb is suspected, without proof,
but where suspicion serves as proof,
I say, what has to be said.
But why was I silent for so long?

Because, I thought my origin,

marked with an ineradicable stain,

forbade me to attribute this fact 
as definite truth
to Israel, a country
 to which I am
and will remain attached.
Why am I saying it now,

in my old age with a last drop of ink:
Israel’s nuclear power endangers
the already fragile world peace?

Because it has to be said now,
tomorrow it could be too late;
and because we—as Germans, already
 burdened enough—could become
 an accessory
to a foreseeable crime,
therefore;In sharing guild
the usual excuses
would not work.
And granted: I am not silent anymore,

because I’ve had it with the West’s hypocrisy
and one can only hope,
that many too 
may free themselves from their silence,
 challenge the instigator with the perceivable danger

and to abstain from violence

but at the same time demand,

a permanent and unrestrained control

of Israel’s atomic power

and Iranian nuclear plants 

by an international authority

accepted by both governments.
So all will be helped, the Israelis and Palestinians—
even more,
 all people, that live in this mad occupied zone
side by side as enemies
and in the end, us as well.”
Submitted by Bela on Tue, 10/04/2012 - 02:18
Author's comments:

This translation is a close as possible to the German sentence structure and meaning.The best way to read it is to take a pause after each comma. Notice that most of the paragraphs are single sentences. This is typical German.

thanked 34 times
Guests thanked 34 times

Was gesagt werden muss

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


dunkelheit     April 10th, 2012

Could you change the language from "Transliteration" to "English"?

brightswan     April 10th, 2012

Hi Bela -
Welcome to Lyrics Translate!
if you would please, delete and paste this:

"“Was gesagt werden muss”,
By Günter Grass
Translated by Bert Lux

What has to be said"

into the "author's comment" area - it makes the translation hard to get through. Use the "edit" tab at the upper left side of your page. Thanks!