First they came for the…

 

barbed wire

First They Came for the Jews

First they came for the Jews
and I did not speak out
because I was not a Jew.

Then 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 me
and there was no one left
to speak out for me.

 

This poem was written by Martin Niemöller (1892 –1984), a theologian and Lutheran pastor. At first he was a supporter of Hitler’s policies, but then he came to oppose the Nazis. He was imprisoned for eight years at Sachsenhausen and Dachau and after his imprisonment, he expressed his deep regret about not having done enough to help the victims of the Nazis.
He also spoke of the need for forgiveness and confessed: “It took me a long time to learn that God is not the enemy of my enemies. He is not even the enemy of His enemies.

( American writer Anne Lamott once stated that when God hates all the same people that we hate, we can be absolutely certain that we have created God in our own image.)

This poem describes the passivity of German intellectuals as the Nazis eliminated group after group of targeted people. There are different variations and adaptations of this poem, because its message and its themes are universal: indifference, persecution, guilt, responsibility, the cowardice of those who just watch injustice without taking action against it and who may become victims, and no one will be there to help them.

Here is the translation of the poem into Italian:

Prima vennero per gli Ebrei
ma io non dissi nulla
perché non ero Ebreo.

Poi vennero per i comunisti
ma io non dissi nulla
perché non ero un comunista.

Poi vennero per i sindacalisti
ma io non dissi nulla
perché non ero un sindacalista.

Poi vennero per me
ma non era rimasto nessuno
che potesse dire qualcosa in mio favore.

(L.Z.)

 

19 thoughts on “First they came for the…

      1. I think so too. There seems to be too many people who are happily spreading their vitriol and seem to have a definite loss of empathy for people and problems that don’t affect them. As well as an inability or unwillingness to see the larger picture. 😞

        Liked by 1 person

  1. So true and ever topical: “…when God hates all the same people that we hate, we can be absolutely certain that we have created God in our own image.” I’ve never come across this quote not writer before, but these powerful words should be shouted with every new craze afflicting the world cyclically… En passant, grazie per essere passata dal mio blog 🙂🌷

    Liked by 2 people

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