“First 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 for me”.
The haunting, wise and instructive quotation above from German Pastor Martin Niemoller has been very much on my mind recently. Pastor Niemoller knew exactly what he was talking about. His wise words were derived from intimate knowledge of the nature of the Nazi beast in Adolf Hitler's Germany and were issued as an apologetic warning to all of humanity to never again stand idly by while brutality and violence is meted out against other members of the human race. No matter their religious beliefs, nationality, political affiliations or colour an act of brutality against one group of human beings is ultimately an attack on all human beings.
Niemoller was no pacifist. He was a U-Boat commander for the German Navy during World War One. He refused to carry out the armistice order to all U-Boat Commanders to hand their submarines to the British. He was stripped of his position and drummed out of the German Navy for insubordination.
Not many people will know that Niemoller initially welcomed the emergence of Hitler and the Third Reich. He, like millions of other Germans at the time, saw only the positive side of Hitler's National Socialist Party promises. To promote and encourage Christianity and Christian beliefs for instance. A particular attraction to him after he decided to follow in his father's footsteps and become a Christian preacher.
The promise of full employment. The promise to stand up for German interests. The promise to make Germany a great and proud nation again and lift it out of the 1920's chaos of severe economic depression, hyperinflation and mass unemployment. The similarities with Trump and his Make America Great Again rhetoric are frightening.'
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