Pastor Martin Niemöller

There are several versions of the well-known statement attributed to the German anti-Nazi activist, Pastor Martin Niemöller (his family name can also be writted without the umlaut as "Niemoeller"). The following is said, by someone who heard him speak at Columbia Theological Seminary in Decatur, GA, in 1959 (or 1960), to be what he actually said:


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.


What Martin Niemöller said appears in the Congressional Record, 14, October 1968, page 31636, as:

When Hitler attacked the Jews I was not a Jew, therefore I was not concerned. And when Hitler attacked the Catholics, I was not a Catholic, and therefore, I was not concerned. And when Hitler attacked the unions and the industrialists, I was not a member of the unions and I was not concerned. Then Hitler attacked me and the Protestant church — and there was nobody left to be concerned.

But someone who worked in the House of Representatives for years says that "stuff is just put into it [the Congressional Record] by Members of Congress and is not checked for accuracy, or even truth."


On 2005-07-11 a reader sent this message:

Please allow me to say that the Niemöller quote you have is not correct. The Nazi party did not come for the Jews until last. Correctly the order is Communist, Socialist,Trade Unionist,then Jews, then Pastor Niemoller. Thank you


Much information about Pastor Niemöller can be found at the following web pages:


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