Martin Niemöller: Then They Came For Me


Martin Niemöller
Friedrich Gustav Emil Martin Niemöller was born on January 14th, 1892 and died on March 6th, 1984. He was a German national conservative who supported Adolf Hitler in 1934, but then when he realized what Mr. Hitler was up to and all about, be became one of the founders of the Confessing Church that opposed the nazification of German Protestant churches.
By then it was too late.
Mr. Niemöller was a Lutheran pastor, but what made him famous world-wide was his poem, which is carved in granite in the New England Holocaust Memorial which is worded differently than the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum [Washington, DC] …
Pastor Martin Niemöller has been erroneously referred to as a catholic priest in several articles and posts on the Web, but he was a Lutheran-Protestant theologian. He was most noted for his stance against the Aryan Paragraph, which was established by an anti-Semitic an Austrian nationalist leader by the name of Georg von Schõnerer in the Linz Program of 1882, when German sports-clubs, song societies, school clubs, et cetera included this paragraph in their membership contracts. This document was further enhanced in the legislation of Nazi Germany instrumental in its anti-Semitism movement. [See Holocaust racial laws]. 
The famous poem, according to Wikiquote, has been traced to a speech given by Pastor Niemöller on January 6th, 1946 to the representatives of the Confessing Church in Frankfurt.

Of course, because Pastor Niemöller became outspoken against the Nazi Party of Germany, he was imprisoned in Sachsenhausen and later to the Dachau concentration camp during the period of 1937 to 1945. It was a miracle he survived for so long and narrowly escaped execution. But his deepest regret was not able to do enough to help all victims of the Nazi. He was one of the people who initiated the Stuttgart Declaration of Guilt. Later in life he became a pacifist and even met with Ho Chi Minh during the Vietnam War, and was also committed in the issue of nuclear disarmament. His early life details and bio is at Wikipedia. Before becoming a Lutheran minister, he was an officer of the Imperial Navy of the German Empire of World War I and was assigned in 1915 to a U-boat. After the war he pursued the avocation of Lutheran pastor after marrying. However, he also studied Protestant theology from 1919 to 1923. He worked with Lutheran and Protestant clergy. He was quoted as having stated in regards to Jewish persecution:

What is the reason for their obvious punishment, which has lasted thousands of? Dear brethren, the reason is easily given: the Jews brought the Christ of God to the cross!

This was a traditional concept among Christian Germans [and even today, Christians have this attitude – ignoring the fact that Jesus was a Jew] during this period, which easily led to what culminated later when the Nazi gained power.
In the Wikipedia entry, the historian Raimund Lammersdorf considered Niemöller

An opportunist who had no quarrel with Hitler politically and only begun to oppose the Nazi when Hitler threatened to attack the churches.

After Martin’s release by the Allied forces in 1945, there were harsh attitudes toward Mr. Niemöller because of his earlier support of Adolf Hitler and some remarks he was quoted as saying, so much so that Alfred Wiener, a Jewish researcher into racism and war crimes committed by the Nazi questioned Niemöller’s motives. But Niemöller simply stated that his imprisonment by the Nazis for eight years had been the turning point of his life where he saw things drastically different. He believed that the church had not done enough to resist the Nazis.
In 1961, he became president of the World Council of Churches.
Here they are reproduced from the Washington DC memorial plaque:

First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out –
because I was not a Socialist.
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 for me.

The following is the wording on a plaque at the New England Holocaust Memorial:

They came first 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 trade unionists,
and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a trade unionist.
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 no one was left was left to speak up.

Other variants of the Niemöller poem has been published, but Niemöller’s preferred original version used in his speeches was:

In Germany, they came first for the Communists, And I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Communist;
And then they came for the trade unionists, And I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a trade unionist;
And then they came for the Jews, And I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Jew;
And then … the came for me … And by that time there was no one left to speak up.

Whatever the version, the gist of the concept is evident – and a warning to free nations of the world: Don’t wait until the problem is so big it cannot be corrected and never think that just because it has nothing to do with you for the moment, it won’t later. Americans thought that the Islamic fascist problem was somewhere else and didn’t need to involve Americans, but September 11th, 2001 changed that point of view; yet Americans are forgetting or purposely ignoring signs of a major threat that is infiltrating and permeating our society, as well as our political ideology. And the enemy is using this weakness. You read about the problems with Islamic extremist immigrants in England, as well as France – but did you not think that the problem could happen here? What is called terrorist cells are in place, and socialism has infiltrated our political structure. And what form is it taking in order to do this quietly?
If we, the People, insist that our elected officials adhere to the US Constitution and encourage freedoms like choice, than that will be the founding defense of such a thing occurring here. But if the public continues to vote for popularity in a candidate instead of what is laid on the table before them concerning that candidate and whether or not the candidate has character and acts upon what rhetoric is spoken – than this poem is the epitaph of what America once was.
As the old knight in the Indiana Jones film stated: Choose wisely.
What prompted this essay and examination of an historical figure was something that Roger Hedgecock wrote at World Net Daily, entitled They Came For Jessica, and I Will Not Be Silent
It concerns a female by the name of Jessica, whose comment to an Obama congressional candidate supporter brought the Secret Service to her door. Jessica wrote after the incident:

The fact that the volunteer lied, the fact that the Secret Service came to my house to question me about my thoughts and feelings and threaten to embarrass me to my neighbors and to go to court if I didn’t cooperate is not the tragedy here. Because the girl on the phone doesn’t have the pull to send the Secret Service to my home. Someone high in the ranks of a campaign working for a man who may be the next President of the United States of America felt comfortable bringing the force of the Federal Government to bear on a private citizen on nothing but the word of a partisan volunteer.

And Hedgecock justifiably wrote:

Taken together with the intimidation campaign against WGN Radio because it aired an interview about the Obama-Ayers connection, the use of local criminal prosecutors to intimidate TV stations in certain states to not run ads critical of Obama, and the use of race to rally black voters and shame white voters, the Obama campaign’s M.O. in Jessica’s case is a warning. The pattern is unmistakable. The drumbeat of jackboots echoes now faintly, but persistently, in the fall breeze.

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