Niemoller Redux

Here's a modern-day video version of Reverend Martin Niemoller's poignant poem about life in pre-war Nazi Germany, when various groups of people were being rounded up and sent off to the camps.

Niemoller - himself an anti-Semite - was a Lutheran minister who in a disturbing parallel to many of today's mainstream clergy (who are again quite sympathetic to the socialists) at first actually supported Hitler because he was an anti-communist. As time marched on, the Nazi state turned against religion (as all totalitarian states must, so get ready!) and Niemoller became a thorn in Hitler's side as a leader of a group of clergy who opposed the Nazi's. He was arrested and sent to concentration camps for the duration of the war.

He displayed prominent post-war guilt for the Nazi regime (far more than was necessary given his own suffering at their hands) but appeared to have learned little if anything about human nature, for he also became an ardent pacifist and immersed himself in the peace and anti-nuclear movements. He even paid a visit to to that renowned peacenik Ho Chi Minh during the Vietnam War, a la Jane Fonda.

Niemoller's poem was more than an expression of his own guilt - it was also a stinging criticism of the intellectual class in Germany, who (in another disturbing parallel to modern times) managed - if they were ever unsympathetic at all - to be quite muffled throughout the Nazi regime.

Niemoller's personal moral confusion notwithstanding, it's a great poem. Here's the original:

"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."

And the video:

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