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First they came for the…

First they came for the Communists


This poem is famous. Martin Niemoller who wrote it in 1945, less so.



First they came for the Communists,
and I didn’t speak up,
because I wasn’t a Communist.


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


Then they came for the Catholics,
and I didn’t speak up,
because I was a Protestant.


Then they came for me,
and by that time there was no one
left to speak up for me.


Niemoller was a German u-boat captain in WW I. He became a pastor and turned against Hitler very early, in 1933.



Something is missed if one doesn’t understand that the words come from a man who also declared that he “would rather burn his church to the ground, than to preach the Nazi trinity of ‘race, blood, and soil.'”


In 1934, he was one of the leading organizers at the Barmen Synod, which produced the theological basis for the Confessing Church, which despite its persecution became an enduring symbol of German resistance to Hitler.


He survived two concentration camps, narrowly escaped execution, and after the war, was an active pacifist and religious figure. He died in 1984 at age 92, peacefully and of old age.

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