Author Gunter Grass has sparked condemnation at home and abroad for the poem "What must be said"
Author Gunter Grass, pictured on April 5, has criticised in a German newspaper Israel's decision to bar him over his recent poem, comparing it to moves by the former communist East Germany and Myanmar. © Marcus Brandt - AFP/DPA/File
Author Gunter Grass has sparked condemnation at home and abroad for the poem
AFP
Last updated: April 11, 2012

Grass hits out at Israeli move to bar him over poem

Author Gunter Grass has criticised in a German newspaper Israel's decision to bar him over his recent poem, comparing it to moves by the former communist East Germany and Myanmar.

"I have been prohibited entry to a country three times," the 84-year-old Nobel laureate wrote, according to a pre-released copy of Thursday's Sueddeutsche Zeitung referring to the ex-German Democratic Republic (GDR) and a 1986 attempt to travel to Myanmar.

"In both cases the usual practice in dictatorships was carried out," he wrote in the short text entitled "Then as today -- my response to latest decisions" in the same newspaper which published his controversial poem.

"Now it is the interior minister of a democracy, of the state of Israel, who is punishing me with a refusal of entry and whose grounds for the imposed compulsory measure -- according to the tone -- recalls the verdict of Minister Mielke," he said.

He was referring to Erich Mielke who was head of the Stasi secret police in East Germany.

Grass continued that the GDR no longer existed.

"But as a nuclear power of unchecked extent, the Israeli government sees itself as high-handed and until now is not open to exhortation.

"Only Myanmar arouses some small hope," he said.

On Sunday, Israeli Interior Minister Eli Yishai declared Grass persona non grata in Israel over the poem published last week which branded Israel the Middle East's biggest threat to peace.

Grass has sparked condemnation at home and abroad for the poem "What must be said", in which he voiced fears that a nuclear-armed Israel would mount a "first strike" against Iran and wipe out its people, plunging the world into a new war.

Grass, author of the renowned anti-war novel "The Tin Drum", had pressed his country for decades to face up to its Nazi past.

But he shocked his admirers in 2006 when he admitted, six decades after World War II, that he had been a member of Hitler's notorious Waffen SS as a 17-year-old -- a late revelation that undermined his until then substantial moral authority in Germany.

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