21 May 2016

Niemöller


First they came for the Socialists

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.

by Martin Niemöller

Martin Niemöller (1892–1984) was a prominent Protestant pastor who emerged as an outspoken public foe of Adolf Hitler in the nineteen thirties and spent the last seven years of Nazi rule in concentration camps.

21 comments:

  1. We have issues we should be speaking out about today.The economy where the rich are getting a bigger and bigger piece of the pie is a good place to start.

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    1. Shh! Keep quiet Red. They are watching you.

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    2. I have a little difficulty keeping my mouth closed!

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  2. I continue to quote this passage many times in my life. Sometimes just in my own head and sometimes to make a point in conversations that are troubling to me. This is real. This is what has happened over and over in the history of humankind and it continues to this day.

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    1. It is easier to say nothing - to turn one's head and walk by.

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  3. They would have to get past my two furry guardians and then have to contend with me to get me!!! I'm enough to scare them all off! And I sure as hell wouldn't back down or away!

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    1. I agree. I think that "they" would walk by your house. Put it down to a clerical error.

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  4. But here's the thing: he did speak out but no one acted on what he said and he ended up in the concentration camps too. It's easy to criticise those who didn't speak out (and I'm not, I emphasise not, suggesting here that you wouldn't have done so) but it's easier to look at these things with the perspective of hindsight in a country and at a time when speaking out is generally accepted. Fear is a great silencer.

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    1. I hear what you are saying Graham and as usual your response is well-considered. With hindsight, I hope that the German nation can see that there should have been more widespread bravery in defying Nazism. Then the fear would have been a less effective silencer.

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    2. Your hope was not in vain, Neil. The German nation (if you can even speak of "us" as a whole - we are so divided nowadays, culturally, politically and otherwise) holds people like Niemöller (he was not the only cleric to speak out against the Nazi regime; google Dietrich Bonhoeffer for instance) in high esteem.

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  5. Totally agree with Graham's comments above. Well said.

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    1. Should we applaud cowardice?

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  6. That's Protestants for you - never speaking out.

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    1. You must be a Catholic.

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    2. Lapsed Protestant and atheist

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  7. Thought provoking comments YP.

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    1. Is that a request CG?
      David Cameron ate my hamster.
      Donald Trump works as a drag artist in his spare time.
      The Earth is flat.

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  8. I really don't know how I would have acted, had I been an adult during that time. I'm afraid I would have probably been one of the cowards, trying to live my life as best as I could, closing my eyes to the unpleasant stuff around me and trying not to let it affect me too much.
    My granddad's Dad lost his job for not being in the party, and my granddad had to hand in his license for flying gliders for the same reason.
    Neither of them were heroes; they were not hiding anyone from persecution, or speaking out publicly against what they saw happening. My granddad's brother was physically handicapped, and my granddad and his father were glad they knew someone in Ludwigsburg's Civil Service who gave him a job that protected him from being deportet to an institution for handicapped people where euthanasia was practised.

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    1. Thank you for sharing this family information Meike. It is like a keyhole view upon some of the difficulties that the rise of Nazism caused for ordinary German people. Too often in Britain, when reflecting on WWII, we have seen a simplified cartoon-like version of what happened back then with Hitler being followed like a Messiah. Obviously it wasn't that simple.

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  9. YP - in answer to your question to me above:

    I think it is easy to say that we shouldn't from a perspective many years after the event. I don't think any of us has the right to make a judgement about events at that time. We have to face the fact that some of us are braver than others - it takes a huge amount of courage and some of us just haven't got it.

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  10. He is one of the true heroes...someone who spoke out when few people did. That takes unimaginable courage sometimes...

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