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Poem about the Chernobyl Catastrophe (May 23, 1986)

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Downplaying by ignoramuses.
They see nothing,
they hear nothing,
they learn nothing.
They have only learned how to win elections.

What have we learned?
It is not enough to protest against the information chaos
and the government’s cloud of placation.
It is not enough,
because we were shown in a way more impressive than ever before,
the extent to which the politicians
cannot deal with the situation.
(And Chernobyl was just an accident.
Imagine if warheads were exploding.)

Leave the country? Emigrate?
But where to?
Now we can no longer say
that we didn’t know about anything.
We cannot flee and emigrate.
The world is becoming more and more our own prison.
The prison of nuclear progress.

If we do not do anything against it today
they will thank us tomorrow
for our silence and for being “reasonable.”
Each of us has to think about what he can do.
Each of us at his own place.
This time we won’t forget.

Source: Inge Aicher-Scholl (published anonymously), “Sie haben versagt” [“They Failed”], Die Zeit, May 23, 1986.

Translation: Allison Brown

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