Still quote of the moment, one more time: Martin Niemöller, “. . . I did not speak out . . .”


First 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 the Jews, and I did not speak out—because I was not a Jew;
Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak out for me.

Pastor Martin Niemöller

Martin Niemoller on a postage stamp, painted by Gerd Aretz in 1992 - Wikipedia

German theologian and Lutheran Pastor Martin Niemöller on a postage stamp, painted by Gerd Aretz in 1992 – Wikipedia

Some time this year school curricula turn to the Holocaust, in English, in world history, and in U.S. history.

Martin Niemöller’s poem registers powerfully for most people — often people do not remember exactly who said it. I have seen it attributed to Deitrich Bonhoeffer (who worked with Niemöller in opposing some Nazi programs), Albert Einstein, Reinhold Niebuhr, Albert Schweitzer, Elie Wiesel, and an “anonymous inmate in a concentration camp.”

Niemöller and his actions generate controversy — did he ever act forcefully enough? Did his actions atone for his earlier inactions? Could anything ever atone for not having seen through Hitler and opposing Naziism from the start? For those discussion reasons, I think it’s important to keep the poem attributed to Niemöller. The facts of his life, his times, and his creation of this poem, go beyond anything anyone could make up. The real story sheds light.

Resources:

Noted here in February 2011, and August 2011.

800px-Martin_Niemoeller

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5 Responses to Still quote of the moment, one more time: Martin Niemöller, “. . . I did not speak out . . .”

  1. […] cartoon on climate change denialism, and the bizarre logic some denialists use — no apologies made to Niemoller at XKCD’s […]

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  2. […] They’re coming for Texas science textbooks, again; please stand up and speak out for science, for accuracy, for good education. […]

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  3. […] Still quote of the moment, one more time: Martin Niemöller, “. . . I did not speak out . . .&… (timpanogos.wordpress.com) […]

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  4. chamblee54 says:

    Here is another post about this poem.

    http://chamblee54.wordpress.com/2012/06/25/motivational-recycling/

    My problem is when people use material like this to promote less than worthy causes. Some people want to change the world, and don’t mind hurting innocent people who get in the way.
    At Chamblee54, the text is just something to put between the pictures.

    Like

  5. JamesK says:

    Curious isn’t it how the Republicans are also going after the trade unionists. As well as them going after women, latinos, gays, and muslims, among others.

    Like

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