Poem by Martin Niemoller – German Pastor & Theologian

Poem is by Martin Niemöller was a German pastor and theologian born in Lippstadt, Germany, in 1892. Niemöller was an anti-Communist and supported Hitler’s rise to power at first. But when Hitler insisted on the supremacy of the state over religion, Niemöller became disillusioned. He became the leader of a group of German clergymen opposed to Hitler. Unlike Niemöller, they gave in to the Nazis’ threats. In 1937 he was arrested and eventually confined in Sachsenhausen and Dachau. His crime was “not being enthusiastic enough about the Nazi movement.” Niemöller was released in 1945 by the Allies.  

His  statement, sometimes presented as a poem, is well-known, frequently quoted, and is a popular model for describing the dangers of political apathy, as it often begins with specific and targeted fear and hatred which soon escalates out of control.

First they came for the communists, and

I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a communist.

Then they came for the trade unionists,
and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a trade unionist.

Then they came for the Jews,
and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a Jew.

Then they came for me
and there was no one left to speak out for me”.

180 px

180 px (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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