Tuesday, May 30, 2017

"First they came ..." (poem) by Martin Niemöller

1. Pastor Martin Niemöller (1892 - 1984)
2. The 'Star of David' and 'Hammer and Sickle'
3. Catholic church at Oberammergau, Germany

Pastor Martin Niemöller (1892 - 1984)
German Protestant Pastor Martin Niemöller [Photograph No. 1] was at one time a supporter of Adolf Hitler and the Nazis. For some, he was even antisemitic. Yet, before WW2 he came to oppose the Nazification of Germany's Protestant churches and especially the Nazis 'Aryan Paragraph'. 

For his open opposition to the Nazi control of Protestant state churches, Pastor Niemöller was imprisoned as a political prisoner by the Nazis, being held in Sachsenhausen and Dachau concentration camps. A survivor of the concentration camp system, Pastor Niemöller perhaps became best known in the post-war years for his poem, "First they came ..." which acknowledges people in Germany, including himself, had not done enough in the early years to oppose Nazism. 

In the English language there are slightly different translations and interpretations of Pastor Martin Niemöller's poem. Regardless of these slight variations, the themes of persecution, guilt and personal responsibility are evident in this poem. Intellectuals who were not Jews, or Communists, or Trade Unionists or Catholics, or other groups the Nazis opposed said and did nothing until it was too late ... 

To read a version of Pastor Martin Niemöller's poem, click on 'Comments'. 


Blogger ritsonvaljos said...

"First They Came .... "

First they came for the Jews
and I did not speak out
because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for the Communists
and I did not speak out
because I was not a Communist.

Then they came for the trade unionists
and I did not speak out
because I was not a trade unionist.

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

(Pastor Martin Niemöller)

[This version is taken from the Yad Vashem World Holocaust Remembrance Centre, Jerusalem]

Tuesday, 30 May, 2017  

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