Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Ending Hanukkah with First They Came...

photo © Mark Butkus 2004
For when there is on one left to speak for you.

As Hanukkah concludes at sunset, we take a look at Martin Niemöller's famous poem, First They Came... The poem speaks of political apathy and first saw the light of day in a speech delivered in the early days of 1946. After the dark years of World War II and the rise and fall of Nazi Germany.


First They Came...

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 for me.


— Martin Niemöller


A Lutheran pastor, Martin Niemöller was an early supporter of Adolph Hitler. He later led a group of clergyman who opposed Hitler after Hitler insisted on the supremacy of the Nazi state over religion. In 1937, Niemöller was arrested as an enemy of the state and was sent to various concentration camps until he was freed in 1945 by the liberating Allies. The speech from which First They Came... is derived from was delivered on January 6, 1946.