„When the Nazis came for the communists,
I remained silent;
I was not a communist.

When they locked up the social democrats,
I remained silent;
I was not a social democrat.

When they came for the trade unionists,
I did not speak out;
I was not a trade unionist.

When they came for the Jews,
I remained silent;
I wasn't a Jew.

When they came for me,
there was no one left to speak out.“

—  Martin Niemöller, Als die Nazis die Kommunisten holten, habe ich geschwiegen; ich war ja kein Kommunist. Als sie die Sozialdemokraten einsperrten, habe ich geschwiegen; ich war ja kein Sozialdemokrat. Als sie die Gewerkschafter holten, habe ich nicht protestiert; ich war ja kein Gewerkschafter. Als sie die Juden holten, habe ich geschwiegen; ich war ja kein Jude. Als sie mich holten, gab es keinen mehr, der protestieren konnte. "First they came..." – The origins of this poem first have been traced to a speech given by Niemöller on January 6, 1946, to the representatives of the Confessing Church in Frankfurt. According to research http://www.history.ucsb.edu/faculty/marcuse/niem.htm by Harold Marcuse, the original groups mentioned in the speech were Communists, the incurably sick, Jews, and people in occupied countries. Since then, the contents have often been altered to produce numerous variants. Niemöller himself came up with different versions, depending on the year. The most famous and well known alterations are perhaps those beginning "First they came for the Jews" of which this is one of the more commonly encountered: 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. Another variant extends the comparisons to incude Catholics and Protestants: In Germany they first came 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 to speak up. Other translations or variants: 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 . . . they came for me . . . And by that time there was no one left to speak up. Twenty-five years later Niemöller indicated that this was the version he preferred, in a 1971 interview. When the Nazis came for the communists, I did not speak out; As I was not a communist. <p> When they locked up the social democrats, I did not speak out; I was not a social democrat. <p> When they came for the trade unionists, I did not speak out; As I was not a trade unionist. <p> When they came for the Jews, I did not speak out; As I was not a Jew. <p> When they came for me, there was no one left to speak out. When the Nazis arrested the Communists, I said nothing; after all, I was not a Communist. When they locked up the Social Democrats, I said nothing; after all, I was not a Social Democrat. When they arrested the trade unionists, I said nothing; after all, I was not a trade unionist. When they arrested me, there was no longer anyone who could protest. First the Nazis came… First they came for the communists, and I did not speak out — because I was not a communist; Then 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 out for me. Online source for German quote: Martin Niemöller Stiftung, 22.09.2005, Wiesbaden http://www.martin-niemoeller-stiftung.de/4/daszitat/a31
Original

Als die Nazis die Kommunisten holten, habe ich geschwiegen; ich war ja kein Kommunist. Als sie die Sozialdemokraten einsperrten, habe ich geschwiegen; ich war ja kein Sozialdemokrat. Als sie die Gewerkschafter holten, habe ich nicht protestiert; ich war ja kein Gewerkschafter. Als sie die Juden holten, habe ich geschwiegen; ich war ja kein Jude. Als sie mich holten, gab es keinen mehr, der protestieren konnte.

Martin Niemöller photo
Martin Niemöller4
1892 - 1984
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