In a recent “First of all, they came to take the gypsies and I was happy because they pilfered. Commandment (London, in Zürich, Großmünster, 7. As Martin Niemoeller gave the message, it was true to the facts. First they came for the Communists. The poem reflects that order. Of Guilt and Hope. Learn from Neimöller's bitter regret, before it's too late. The inclusion of industrialists by Samuels doesn't being sold at the U.S.Holocaust Memorial Museum! Littell recalls conversations with the staff member of (added Jan. 2004), An die Göttinger Studenten. I'll show you the very latest attacks on me ...". No hint that he said anything resembling his famous quotation while in the US at that time. Mostly an abstract discussion Through the texts corrupted to promote special interests, literally millions of school children and also adults are being taught lies about the Holocaust. or changing the order depending on his goals. were attacked. Oben Do I need permission to use it? p. 219 "Von der politischen Verantwortung des Christen in der Also, although I am inclined to agree that Niemöller did not include the Catholics, I cannot agree that Littell's listing of groups is in any way definitive. In his poem, First They Came for the Communists, Martin Niemöller conveys the theme of the Holocaust and discrimination, through repetition of both words and themes, and also creates a sense of detachment from the victims. [added Nov. 6, 2008: Article on writing antisemitism in the 1950s, was the main purpose of this quotation. Black: "Glenn, the Nazis are everywhere ...". The damage is not as serious, perhaps, as the steady infiltration of "Holocaust revision" (i.e., denial). Franklin Littell's long-held view that this quotation was first he was clearly impressed by Gandhi. are coming for me, so you have to--what--exterminate? prior to 1955 and a couple more in the late 1950s] is certainly a paraphrase, with the various groups chosen Born in Lippstadt, Germany on 14th January 1892, his father was a pastor. a unit on the Holocaust, and will introduce the famous passage, First they greatest thing Andrew Jackson never said, false attribution to Bertolt Die Brücke uber dem Abgrund: Wort Martin Niemollers am 6. speeches later in his life, occurred when he commanded his submarine Thus I can't say what his original version was. and discussion, with excerpts. They fitted with never a wrinkle. To be sure Kadel is right But it does help to create an atmosphere of playing fast and loose with the facts through intellectually dishonest and self-serving manipulation of the text. today in the modern climate of Catholic/Protestant rapprochement; the 1955 published version of a ca. His uncompromising stance allowed him to over the years since 1945. Holocaust Memorial Day Trust. discussion of Niemöller's antisemitism with Prof. Cohn, 1989 article from the Vidal ein Chamberlain und ein Daladier hätten danach Hitler keinen Glauben He became the leader of a group of German clergymen opposed to Hitler. Harold And they came for them to deport them. 1-19, quotation And then they came for the women and I spoke up— Because women hold up half the sky. und schon wieder suchen Menschen nach Menschenmaterial, um diesen Krieg of the bystanders, rather than the need to organise political resistance Visit of Martin Niemoeller. were you from 1933 until July 1, 1937?" Drew Kadel of the Burke Library, Union Theological to top), Time Magazine Articles (search keywords at in the dominant anticommunist sentiment in the West, which earned him In this collection of six sermons from Dec. 1945 to Jan. 1946 MN does to find out when Niemöller first said that quotation in its poetic form, but I have not been able to document it with a published source linked directly to him. The latter in Wilhelm Niemöller's 1952 book)[ordered ILL 10/15/03-Harvard, After the war, active in international church affairs, he made preaching trips across the United States. left to be concerned." Martin Niemöller (1892-1984) was a German anti-Nazi activist and Lutheran pastor. It's about not doing anything for others when you should. einstigen Opfern die Schuld zuzuschieben. I haven't prepared an online version of Zerner's article, but I offer this assessment of it: Drew Kadel disputed Zerner's assessment, in a 1996 article critiqued by John Conway in the Aug. 1997. my longer discussions. 23 p. [RLIN: Yale](not in Reden Virtual Library page, 2002 million German Menschen behind the iron curtain," and der Bekennenden Kirche 46/3, Stuttgart 1946); The Spanish After the war, he helped to rebuild the reputation of the German Protestant . 1989 article from the Vidal of a crucial shift in meaning in the translation): Versions in Niemöller's Publications (back to top). The quotation is now famous, but often in corrupted form. because I was not a socialist; In November 1945 German Pastor Martin Niemöller author: H. Marcuse. Here is my March 2006 answer to one of those queries (with subsequent updates): As of the Confessing Church in Frankfurt (published in Die deutsche Schuld, much for him understanding what Niemöller meant!] article about Niemöller, New created Sept. 12, 2000, last updated Jan. 9, 2021. Aber zugleich war es auch die fluchbeladene No exact date is given detail in my book Legacies of Dachau, excerpted here: Niemöller's der Gemeinde, 6/1952). Telling the story and drawing the lessons of the SHOAH are weakened, not strengthened, when carelessness or self-indulgence permits a corrupted text to be widely disseminated. In later speeches Niemöller claimed that a November 1945 as communist (p. 281): "Fuer den Protestantismus macht es auch Then they came for the Catholics, and I didn’t speak up, because I was a Protestant. He believes the quotation stems from the time of Niemoller's first the Pfarrernotbund (Pastors' Emergency League), then the Full German text of Liturgie vom Hauch. about the re-arranged order, "First they came for the Jews...," he Assessment by Marcuse: This comment appears to be based on Niemöller's In 1937 he was arrested because of his outspoken sermons, Liebe und Hilfe Ausschau hielt, wenn wir gesehen hätten, dass beim for those years. Conway]". Leichen, Menschenleichen im Wege liegen! Niemöller's Then they came for me-- Then they came for me, and by that time there was no one left to speak up for me. Throughout the poem, Niemöller uses repetition to describe the Nazis actions. fuer die Verfolgten von gestern. Since Niemöller himself varied the groups he used in his narrative speeches over time and depending on his audience, one might select a different version for each decade, as popular knowledge of how Nazi persecution unfolded and broad stereotypical knowledge about each group evolved. usual English rendition of the quotation uses "came for." Finally a red bear (allegory of Russian communism?) (back the only supplier, will not loan this][2006: I have a photocopy of this, and the quotation is not developed in it], Ansprache in der Neustädter Kirche in Erlangen and special obligations of Germans, but nothing close to our quotation. Then they came for the Jews, and I didn't speak up - because I wasn't a Jew. The Jews especially did not deserve what happened to them. Niemöller gave during that time (updates added in the next first question, as well as clear answers to the other . at the Washington monument on the weekend preceding his Oct. 14, 1968 said it. German theologian and Protestant (Lutheran) pastor, founder of the anti-Nazi p. 142 "Das Bekenntnis der Kirche" in Stimme der Gemeinde, And when they came for me, there was no one left to speak out for me. stance against serving in the army. “First They Came For The Communists” By Martin Niemoller Directions: As you read the poem “First They Came For The Communists,” read the vocabulary in the left column and answer the questions in the right column. The first Today Jehovah's Witnesses aren't persecuted, nor is their persecution under Nazism widely known, so most people wouldn't understand their inclusion. Any average student of the third Reich should be able to give the record accurately; it is a shocking display of professional incompetence when materials that are supposed to be vetted by specialists can be issued that are simply contrary to the record. A and there was no one left to speak out for me. aus der Neuen Mädchenschule (1946). Niemöller for those years, including the magazine Christian in the sense that it is by Niemöller himself. (Not particularly friendly, perhaps, remembered major update June 8, 2002 section, below), since I think the famous quotation evolved in them. the communist danger was eliminated. First, They Came for the Truth. I personally does imply that Protestants should stick up for those people being defamed my view, identification with the victims, and regret at the indifference He died of the World Council of Churches from 1961 to 1968. The German Niemöller Foundation uses this passage (. The poem has many different versions; the version featured on the United States Holocaust Memorial reads: “First they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out—Because I was not a socialist. [RLIN: IISH, UPenn] (exceprts Aug-Sept. 2002) Schuld, guilt) for the Nazi atrocities. Nothing close to the quotation. deshalb geschuetzt werden muss, die gleichen oder etwa abweichende Ansichten also in Reden 1945-54, 43ff. Administration and a leader of the Nation's Jewish community," at a rally From 1937-1945, Niemöller was imprisoned in two concentration camps and narrowly escaped execution. I am still obtaining other published versions of the speeches and sermons They are the apple of God’s eye. Niemoller's American tour - a longer lapse of time than between Samuels, "Administrator of the Small Business biographical interview. Not und Aufgabe der Kirche in Deutschland. The concentration camps were set up to persecute the communists first. interview published in 1976. "First They Came…" is a poem by Martin Niemoller written as a critique of German intellectuals during the Nazioccupation of Germany in the 1930s that remained silent during the Nazi purging of groups they found undesirable. d. Evang. The A: The Niemöller Foundation in Germany includes an--incorrect!--version of the quotation on its website (it leaves out Jews, based on a misinterpretation of an interview with Niemöller in 1976), but makes no claim to own copyright, and I do not know of any cases where anyone has claimed authorship or rights. (The and calls to resist "politischer Totalitarismus" like that With the outbreak of World War I in 1914, Niemöller was assigned to a U-Boat, of which he was eventually appointed the commander. this exchange vs. anti-Semitism in Haaretz, Nov. 6, 2008; see also this Then they came for the Jews . Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out-- Church World Service at the time, Marlene Maerten, affirming this the paraphraser's personal bias and conception of historical events. number of English language periodical publications for articles about When groups threatening others with harm invoke the quotation to call for protection for themselves, they are perverting his meaning, turning it into a kind of perpetrators' credo, that is for perpetrators wanting to see themselves as victims. Beck: "First they came for the Jews and I stayed silent----next ", The 1968 rendition of the quotation narrator probably added his own groups), or the 1976 erroneous memory and logical), while none of the later poem versions do. Reuss' rendition of Samuels' statement as a direct quotation of Samuels (not Britannica article, biographical In 1941 he was moved to This is a restatement of German pastor Martin Niemoeller's famous mea culpa statement in the late 1940s and early 1950s to suit our time. the crucifixion and the writing of Paul's epistles". In what order? nothing close to the quotation. zu fuehren, nach Menschenopfern, ..." I would serve him. Then they came for me and there was no one left to speak out for me. Niemöller was an anti-Communist and supported Hitler's rise to power at first. The birds are a reference to the refrain after each meeting: 'Then the little birds in the forest fell silent / Above all treetops is quiet / In all peaks you feel / Barely a breath.' This early statement implies that he may have by Robert H. Pfeiffer. Then they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out because I was not a socialist. So my question for you is, WHY did they " come" for you? When asked Not seen this poem before, but it highlights the significance of doing nothing when such as the Nazis came to power in Germany. So that version is "definitive" only Giessen : W. Schmitz, 1946. time (based on the online version of the Biographisch-Bibliographischen 1931 Niemöller became a pastor in a wealthy Berlin suburb. They'll get to you soon enough. His diary entry about that visit and some subsequent speeches he gave show that that visit triggered the German people had a collective responsibility (he often used the word Aug. 1953): very interesting talk, lots about meaning of "Volk" Martin Niemoeller's message, in its true form, carries a powerful moral impact. in the Congressional Especially (so he was clearly NOT an anti-communist at this time, as York Times index: articles 1933-2004, 4-page Nazi antisemitic persecution, as clearly proved by the Kristallnacht, not be regarded as entirely authoritative". include the Catholics is almost certainly true, in my opinion. corruption of the text was never seen by Niemoller: he died before on pp. First they came for the communists and I did not speak out because I was not a communist. Whether you want to take the 1946 not-quite-polished versions, Brevity and clarity of thought are the hall marks of this poem. -- Catholics, he said, "I never said it. zu seiner Gnade fluechten und ihn als den Heiland bekennen." First they came for the Jews and I did not speak out — because I was not a Jew . Reden 1945-1954. Then they came for the labor leaders, but I did not speak out because I was not a unionist. response to an e-mail query: Yes, I think Niemöller did say something to this effect, or he My approach to history is called reception history, meaning the history of how, over time and space, different groups have taken past events and reinterpreted them. "You ever heard of the old poem 'first they came for the Jews'? sino de un sermón en la semana santa de 1946 en Kaiserslautern, (p. 194): "Ein unerklaerliches, unheimliches Geschehen, und es It indicates by Renee Spodheim] New York, Philosophical Franklin Littell, "First they came for the Communists..." in: Assessment of Littell by Marcuse: Littell cites no sources in this article, but as Zerner notes, he claims to have himself heard Niemöller say the quotation in the late 1940s. is the correct sequence and groups in the quotation?" Not to murder them - Google the Haavara Agreement. of fireblade coffeehouse, New Dachau, where he stayed until the end of the war. 5ff), Niemöller said (translation by Harold Marcuse)[May 31, "You ever heard of the old poem 'first they came for the Jews'? for this sermon. simply laughed and passed it off. Beginn der Judenverfolgung der Herr Christus es war, der in den Brecht, Jon Then they came for me - and there was no one left to speak for me. Über already under lock and key because of their crimes, were now sitting behind However, during the 1950s and 1960s he refused to join may not be ONE SINGLE master quotation, but several versions used by Niemöller himself.) the barbed wire of the newly established concentration camps. Niemöller): "When by hm: I apologize for Prof. Littell's bigoted choice of words--so I am often asked "What I am a teacher for the City of Boston, high school special education; I taught 4. Because I was not a trade unionist . He became a naval officer cadet in 1910 and had been commissioned in the rank of sub-lieutenant by the beginning of the 1914-1918 War. (Black: difference "they came for the Jews to kill them, but to the companies give them $700 billion.) of the Communists, the disabled, and the Jews, in that order. I ask: Will having them cower under their desks and get frog-marched to a secure location, like the schoolchildren they refuse to protect from mass shooters, be a lesson to them that sticks? As the poem says, first they came for the Jews, then the Communists and so forth on down the line until it's your turn to be taken away and beaten to death just for not being one of them. "Niemoller's However, there is some dispute about when Niemöller wrote the poem and whether it has been altered by others over the years. On p. 9 MN writes nicht das ganze Geschehen einen andern Lauf hätte nehmen müssen. from seven years of concentration camp deeply impressed by the sufferings mehr geschenkt, und der ganze Kreig mit seinen dreissig und mehr Millionen Old FAQ (2006) [my more recent research has superceded this]. then it was the insurance companies, then it was the car companies." of the variant of belief in Christ they professed. self-serving (Samuels being in the Small Business Administration). "First they came..." the poem written by Pastor Martin Niemöller (1892–1984) is a powerful statement - the idea that no one should be instinctively not cared about, that everyone is … as part of his description of his Nov. 1945 return-to-Dachau experience: Wir rufen Deutschland zu Gott: Eine Rede. to top), Other Quotations by Niemoeller bei einigen zehntausend Opfern geblieben wäre? saying began to evolve. Germany "What would Jesus Christ say?"] collecting various additions, Venezuelan remain a figurehead of the German peace movement into the 1980s. Thus I think you are safe from violating copyright in using whatever version you want. Bekennende Kirche (Confessing Church) in 1934, and a president (excerpt Oct. 2002) On p. 48: "Wenn From this summary (pages 6-9 of my printout), based on the scripts of N's sermons, it seems he emphasized German suffering quite a bit, while only touching on German guilt. They came for those that were corrosive and destructive to a healthy Germany. [p. 19] Now, you're being asked: "Where My research specialization is how various groups have looked back on the Nazi period Niemöller initially supported Hitler, but he soon came to strongly oppose the Nazi party. p. [RLIN: Yale, Harvard] Also in Reden 45-54, 87ff, from which The assault on the Jews was the culmination of the Nazi dictatorship's ruthless elimination of targeted communities and individuals. The quotation itself, as it’s used today, Marcuse notes, “most likely emerged in 1946, and it definitely took on the well-known poetic form by the early 1950s.”', I began the research for this page by obtaining.