On the 4th of April 2012, the very day when Günter Grass’s anti-Israeli poem ‘What Must Be Said’ was published, my friend rabbi in Vienna found a Swastika badge in his vacuum cleaner after Pesach cleaning. It happened, of course, by a coincidence; just like by a coincidence is Grass notorious for his SS past; and again, by a coincidence did the owners of the rabbi’s flat left the badge in there. Any attempts of drawing connections here is a sure sight of persecution complex and an unnecessary digging up the past. The problem is that such coincidences take place.
Almost 70 years have passed. Today, when public apologies for Nazi crimes are being tendered on any suitable occassion by people born after the war and klezmer melodies are filling the streets of Berlin and Nuremberg, bringing up any Nazi topic seems to be a moveton, a mockery, a pointless agression. It is forgotten, since all of us wanted to forget it. Yet it’s still there. It is there because the SS soldier considers himself to be impartial enough to voice his opinion on the actions of the Jewish land. It is there also because many Israelis, provoked by Grass’ poem, are immediately starting to recall the past of 84-years old Nobel prize owner and his nation. Finally, it is there because of some people in Vienna, who neither decided to save the Swastika badge as a family relict, nor to get rid of it. It has been lying on the floor of their appartment, waiting till a rabbi find it during a Pesach cleaning. English translation of the poem: here