Resistance Against Injustice In Martin Niemoller's Poem - First They Came

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Originally adapted from series of speeches Martin Niemoller himself delivered in 1947 after the Second World War, the poem First They Came has today become one of the most famous writings about resistance and protest around the world. The German born clergyman once held antisemitism views during the reign of the Nazi party in Germany until he met Adolf Hitler. It was then that it dawn on him that Germany was under strong dictatorship.

Consequently, Niemoller would go on to criticize and condemn the tyranny of Adolf Hitler and the Nazi party especially as it concerned Christianity. As it would be expected, Niemoller was imprisoned for seven years in concentration camp in Tirol, Austria before the US forces liberated Tirol and freed him. He spent the later part of his years preaching the collective guilt of Germans for the atrocities committed by Adolf Hitler. Niemoller died on March 6th 1984 at the age of 92.

The man dies in all who keep quiet in the face of tyranny ~ Wole Soyinka, Nobel Laurette

Although there are several versions of the poem, First They Came, the central message is consistent. There is a popular saying to the effect that injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. In that regard, the persona in Niemoller's poem regrets how he keeps mute when certain groups are being persecuted, assuming that it is none of his business, until the oppressors come for him. Unfortunately, there is none left to fight for him.

The brilliant poet awaken us to the need to always resist and speak up against tyranny and oppression and other forms of dehumanization because by so doing we help to safeguard our own freedom and help to preserve the rule of law.

The world is a dangerous place not because of those who do evil but because of those who do nothing about it. ~ Albert Einstein

First They Came (Full Text)

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

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