Post-Script: Germany’s Colonial Legacy

Hamid Dabashi (@Lewis Gropp)

The recent controversy around Günter Grass’s criticisms of Germany’s arms trade with Israel is an interesting post-script to the Namibian genocide controversy. The Nobel prize-winning author has written a poem – called ‘What needs to be said’ – which argues that historical guilt is the reason for the sale of arms to Israel, a monstrous form of reparation for the Nazi genocide. As with the government response to Namibian claims for an official acknowledgement of the genocide, this controversy suggests Germany’s post-war guilt is being channelled in the wrong direction. The poem has elicited a spectrum of furious response, from a ban on travel to Israel (which you can’t imagine will dismay the elderly poet), to condemnations within his own country, and seems to have opened up new debates around the responsibilities of post-imperial countries. Continue reading