In a 'poem' published by several newspapers world-wide, the 85-year-old Nobel Literature Prize laureate alleges that not the Iranian but the Israeli nuclear arsenal presents a threat to world peace. Grass warns of a military strike by Israel that could "wipe out the Iranian people" and urges an immediate stop of German submarine deliveries to Israel.
The text, which was published simultaneously on Wednesday by several newspapers in Europe and the US and has triggered a lively debate in the German press, is entitled 'What has to be said'. In it, Grass - who became world-renowned through novels including 'The Tin Drum' and who in 1999 received the Nobel Prize for Literature - claims that Ahmadinejad was nothing more than a "loudmouth" and that Iran's intentions to build a nuclear weapon were "unproven". He also alleges that Israel disposed of a "growing nuclear potential" that was beyond international control. In Grass' words, the Israelis were planning to put nuclear warheads on submarines sold to them by Germany, and Germany could therefore become complicit in a "crime" that "is predictable".
In his poem, the long-standing leftwing campaigner says that "the nuclear power Israel is endangering the already fragile world peace" and accuses the West of "hypocrisy" in its dealing with the Iranian issue. He urges readers to end their "silence" and prevent the "causer of the present danger" to renege the use of force.
In a reaction, the Jewish publicist Henryk Broder called Grass "the prototype of an educated anti-Semite."
For six decades, Grass, who was born in 1927 in Danzig (Gdansk) and fled to West Germany after the end of World War II, kept secret the fact that in 1944 he became a member of the German Army's élite unit Waffen-SS. In 2006, he revealed that he had fought with the 10th SS Panzer Division Frundsberg until its surrender to US forces. In 2007, he published an account of his wartime experience including an attempt to "string together the circumstances that probably triggered and nourished my decision to enlist." The renowned German historian Joachim Fest told the news magazine 'Der Spiegel' about Grass's disclosure: "After 60 years, this confession comes a bit too late. I can't understand how someone who for decades set himself up as a moral authority, a rather smug one, could pull this off."