First They Came For The Jews Analysis Essay


"The smallest minority on earth is the individual. 
Those who deny individual rights cannot 
claim to be defenders of minorities."
- Ayn Rand


"First They Came for the Jews"

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.


First they came for the hackers.
But I never did anything illegal with my computer,
so I didn't speak up.

Then they came for the pornographers.
But I thought there was too much smut on the Internet anyway,
so I didn't speak up

Then they came for the anonymous remailers.
But a lot of nasty stuff gets sent from,
so I didn't speak up.

Then they came for the encryption users.
But I could never figure out how to work PGP anyway,
so I didn't speak up.

Then they came for me.

And by that time there was no one left to speak up.

- Alara Rogers


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Then They Came for Me (A New Twist)

By Stephen Rohde, a constitutional lawyer and President of the ACLU of Southern California. Adapted from the original by Rev. Martin Niemoller (1937).

First they came for the Muslims, and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Muslim.

Then they came to detain immigrants indefinitely solely upon the certification of the Attorney General, and I didn't speak up because I wasn't an immigrant.

Then they came to eavesdrop on suspects consulting with their attorneys, and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a suspect.

Then they came to prosecute non-citizens before secret military commissions, and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a non-citizen.

Then they came to enter homes and offices for unannounced "sneak and peek" searches, and I didn't speak up because I had nothing to hide.

Then they came to reinstate Cointelpro and resume the infiltration and surveillance of domestic religious and political groups, and I didn't speak up because I had stopped participating in any groups.

Then they came for anyone who objected to government policy because it aided the terrorists and gave ammunition to America's enemies, and I didn't speak up because...... I didn't speak up.

Then they came for me....... and by that time no one was left to speak up.


"Upon further reflection, I have decided that I am irked by this. First, some background on the original context. It is worth remembering that this was said by a fellow who barely escaped execution after Hitler had executed about ten million people in his death camps, including about six million Jews. When this pastor talks about "coming for the Jews", he does not mean a few thousand here or a few hundred there - he means nearly a complete sweep of the Jewish population of Europe. To pretend that what we are seeing with the Bush Administration is somehow comparable to Hitler strikes me as deeply disrespectful to the memory of those who suffered real persecution.

Here is another example of how this poem can be trivialized. [original link refered to this web site from]"

on the web site

Now "They" Are Coming For Us

Repeal the Patriot Act Now!

Trivalized, my eye! Don't fall victim to the pseudo arguments of the ACLU. Such sentiment provided the very foundation from which the SS proceeded to perpetrate their horrendous crimes against their own people with impunity. The incremental escalation of denial of rights, liberty and the pursuit of happiness progressed from small carefully chosen, seemingly trivial ones, through apparently logical rational ones, all the way to genocide - one small step at a time. If you truly respect Freedom and the souls of the millions who sacrificed their lives, their fortunes and their sacred honor to purchase and maintain the reality we enjoy today, you must oppose every attempt to dilute or make obsolete any portion of the rights reserved unto the American people. The primary obligation of our Republic's Federal Government of Laws is to provide for the common defense. We must withdraw support of all types from those who would exchange liberty for security. Such people deserve neither.

Interpretation of law is not a word game. Meaning derives from context. Meaning persists - words evolve. Interpretation of old phraseology in today's context is fallacious. It thrives on revisionist history and disrespect for elders. Each time an extended family dissolves, true experiential history fades a little more. How do we know about the ancient Sumerians? They recorded their stories on fired clay tablets. How are our stories recorded - no longer even on paper - it is all digital 1's and 0's. Tried to listen to an 8-track tape lately? Consider what the telephone did to the practice of letter writing. What legacy are we leaving? What is our context? Oral traditions vanished long ago, the printing press finished them. Our future is  dependant upon vigilance and strict interpretation of the constitution - in its original context. As Elvis Costello wrote "There's no such thing as an original sin" - it's all been done before. The same old plots with new characters and technology.

The revisionists never rest. What actually facilitated the more radical steps in the rise to power of the SA and SS in Germany is certainly glossed over in subsequent renditions and even in the original poem attributed to Rev. Martin Niemoller. Remember one of the first concessions the Nazis asked of the German people - in the name of domestic security? "Relinquish all privately held arms - so that women and children might sleep securely at night." After that it was easy - just one popular cause after another, gradually evolving into the slightly objectionable and eventually to ghastly inhumanity.

Trivialized? Hardly. That is precisely the point. One small step at a time, steps so small and logical that no person who still retains their freedom will object and will probably even support them - until no one remains to assist you and your means of resistance are long gone. Soon even your will to resist is broken and yes, even you will participate when asked.

When persons such as Y. Goodman Brown publish their baseless characterization of people like Gail Davis as "very likely an anti-Semite" the accuser has become Nazi supporter - albeit unwittingly, through the timeless technique of "divide and conquer".

No rationally literate person can honestly deny that the Radical Islamic teachings of the Qur'�n allow for only three methods of dealing with infidels - infidels being clearly defined as Judeo-Christians:

1-Exact tribute from them,
2-Convert them to Islam, or
3-Exterminate them.

I know of no similar prescription held by the Muslims against any other world religions - major or minor.

This appears to be a clear-cut declaration of war hiding behind a "peaceful" religion. Just as Saddam attempted to hide behind the skirts of his most oppressed "supporters". The Plains Indians in America hunted Bison by wearing wolf skins. This tactic allowed the hunters to mingle with the herd - wolves were no threat to the powerful bison. Most know to "beware the wolf in sheep's clothing". We must also beware the hunters in wolf's clothing. All is not always as it seems. Perception is not reality, style will never prevail over substance.

The truth is out there. America must awaken to the reality confronting us and quit bending over backwards for the likes of the Stephen Rohde and the ACLU. Don't be distracted by their campaigns such as "enforcing" the separation of Church and State. That is just another divide and conquer ploy, probably not even of their own making. To the ACLU it is no more than a profitable academic exercise. But to the millions of Americans who sacrificed their all so that we may realize their dreams of freedom, it is an extremely dangerous dalliance. To those who would destroy America it is a golden opportunity easily exploited in the name of fairness and security. The founders of our nation wisely and effectively prohibited the establishment of a state religion but even the Deists among them celebrated the importance of the Judea-Christian roots of Freedom and Justice. These ancient laws are the foundations of civilization.

Equality is objective - fairness is subjective. Objective reality is guaranteed. Perceived reality is subjective - it changes constantly.

Many have forgotten the history of the ancient family feud which we must guard against even today lest we fall victim to its nearly genetic hatred. What would Abraham have done could he have foreseen the death and destruction inflicted upon their families by the descendants of these two brothers? 

Freedom exacts a high price and so carries an even higher responsibility. No one who enjoys it is exempt from that obligation. We never know when or whom will be called upon to make the next installment. More than 3000 persons paid the price for all of us one sunny morning two years ago. It would be the ultimate treason of conscience if we allow their sacrifices to be squandered in pursuit of "security".

With each piece of our constitutional freedoms traded for the mere promise of security, the 9-11 hijackers creep ever closer to ultimate victory. Our panicked pursuit of security will accomplish their goal - the destruction of the "Great Satan" - not from without but from within. Consider the hunter in wolf skins within our circle.

Obviously the author of should double up on his own layers of tin foil if he thinks he can successfully trivialize American patriots who call attention to the pernicious onslaught mounted against our freedoms - or mention Black Helicopters - by simply referring to us as simple minded conspiracy nuts.

We don't need an "Act" to recognize a disembodied wolf. We only need to be aware they are on the prowl.

- Richard Saunders, �2003

see  for reference

"First they came ..." is a poem written by German Lutheran pastor Martin Niemöller (1892–1984). It is about the cowardice of German intellectuals following the Nazis' rise to power and subsequent purging of their chosen targets, group after group. Many variations and adaptations in the spirit of the original have been published in the English language. It deals with themes of persecution, guilt and responsibility.

The text[edit]

The best-known versions of the speech are the poems that began circulating by the 1950s.[1] The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum quotes the following text as one of the many poetic versions of the speech:[2]

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.

Niemöller created multiple versions of the text during his career, but evidence identified by professor Harold Marcuse at the University of California Santa Barbara indicates that the Holocaust Memorial Museum version is inaccurate because Niemöller frequently used the word "communists" and not "socialists."[1] The substitution of "socialists" for "communists" is an effect of anti-communism, and most ubiquitous in the version that has proliferated in the USA. According to Marcuse, "Niemöller's original argument was premised on naming groups he and his audience would instinctively not care about... The omission of Communists in Washington, and of Jews in Germany, distorts that meaning and should be corrected."[1]

Niemöller's earliest speeches, written in 1946, list the Communists, incurable patients, Jews or Jehovah's Witnesses, and civilians in countries occupied by Nazi Germany. In all versions, the impact is carefully built up, by going from the "smallest, most distant" group to the largest, Jewish, group, and then finally to himself as a by then outspoken critic of Nazism. Niemöller made the cardinal "who cares about them" clear in his speech for the Confessing Church in Frankfurt on 6 January 1946, of which this is a partial translation:[1]

When Pastor Niemöller was put in a concentration camp we wrote the year 1937; when the concentration camp was opened we wrote the year 1933, and the people who were put in the camps then were Communists. Who cared about them? We knew it, it was printed in the newspapers.
Who raised their voice, maybe the Confessing Church? We thought: Communists, those opponents of religion, those enemies of Christians - "should I be my brother's keeper?"
Then they got rid of the sick, the so-called incurables. - I remember a conversation I had with a person who claimed to be a Christian. He said: Perhaps it's right, these incurably sick people just cost the state money, they are just a burden to themselves and to others. Isn't it best for all concerned if they are taken out of the middle [of society]? -- Only then did the church as such take note. Then we started talking, until our voices were again silenced in public. Can we say, we aren't guilty/responsible? The persecution of the Jews, the way we treated the occupied countries, or the things in Greece, in Poland, in Czechoslovakia or in Holland, that were written in the newspapers
I believe, we Confessing-Church-Christians have every reason to say: mea culpa, mea culpa! We can talk ourselves out of it with the excuse that it would have cost me my head if I had spoken out.

This speech was translated and published in English in 1947, but was later retracted when it was alleged that Niemöller was an early supporter of the Nazis.[3] The "sick, the so-called incurables" were killed in the euthanasia programme "Action T4". A 1955 version of the speech, mentioned in an interview of a German professor quoting Niemöller, lists Communists, socialists, schools, Jews, the press, and the Church. An American version delivered by a congressman in 1968 includes the industrialists, who were not persecuted by the Nazis, and omits the Communists.

In 1976, Niemöller gave the following answer in response to an interview question asking about the origins of the poem.[1] The Martin-Niemöller-Stiftung ("Martin Niemöller Foundation") considers this the "classical" version of the speech:

There were no minutes or copy of what I said, and it may be that I formulated it differently. But the idea was anyhow: The Communists, we still let that happen calmly; and the trade unions, we also let that happen; and we even let the Social Democrats happen. All of that was not our affair. The Church did not concern itself with politics at all at that time, and it shouldn't have anything do with them either. In the Confessing Church we didn't want to represent any political resistance per se, but we wanted to determine for the Church that that was not right, and that it should not become right in the Church, that's why already in '33, when we created the pastors' emergency federation (Pfarrernotbund), we put as the 4th point in the founding charter: If an offensive is made against ministers and they are simply ousted as ministers, because they are of Jewish lineage (Judenstämmlinge) or something like that, then we can only say as a Church: No. And that was then the 4th point in the obligation, and that was probably the first contra-anti-Semitic pronouncement coming from the Protestant Church.[4]


Main article: Martin Niemöller

Martin Niemöller was a German Lutheran pastor and theologian born in Lippstadt, Germany, in 1892. Niemöller was an anti-Communist and supported Adolf Hitler's rise to power at first. But when Hitler insisted on the supremacy of the state over religion, Niemöller became disillusioned. He became the leader of a group of German clergymen opposed to Hitler. In 1937 he was arrested and eventually confined in Sachsenhausen and Dachau. He was released in 1945 by the Allies. He continued his career in Germany as a clergyman and as a leading voice of penance and reconciliation for the German people after World War II. His statement, sometimes presented as a poem, is well-known, frequently quoted, and is a popular model for describing the dangers of political apathy.


The statement was published in a book by Milton Mayer, They Thought They Were Free (1955), based on interviews he had conducted in Germany several years earlier. The quotation was circulated by civil rights activists and educators in the United States in the late 1950s. Some research traces the text to several speeches given by Niemöller in 1946.[1]

Nonetheless, the wording remains controversial, both in terms of its provenance, and the substance and order of the groups that are mentioned in its many versions. While Niemöller's published 1946 speeches mention Communists, the incurably ill, Jews or Jehovah's Witnesses (depending on which speech), and people in occupied countries, the 1955 text, a paraphrase by a German professor in an interview, lists communists, socialists, "the schools, the press, the Jews, and so on", and ends with "the Church". Based on the explanation given by Niemöller himself in 1976, this refers to the German Protestant ('Evangelische') Church, and not to the German Catholic Church.[1]

However, as claimed by Richard John Neuhaus in the November 2001 issue of First Things, when "asked in 1971 about the correct version of the quote, Niemöller said he was not quite sure when he had said the famous words but, if people insist upon citing them, he preferred a version that listed 'the Communists', 'the trade unionists', 'the Jews', and 'me'."[5] However, historian Harold Marcuse could not verify that interview.[1] Rather, he found a 1976 interview in which Niemöller referred to a 1974 discussion with the general bishop of the Lutheran Church of Slovakia.[citation needed]


At the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C., the quotation is on display in a variation that substitutes "Socialists" for "Communists". The Holocaust Museum website has a discussion of the history of the quotation.[6]

A version of the poem is on display at the Holocaust memorial Yad Vashem in Jerusalem. The poem is also presented at the Virginia Holocaust Museum in Richmond, Virginia, the New England Holocaust Memorial in Boston, Massachusetts, and in The Florida Holocaust Museum in St. Petersburg, Florida.

See also[edit]



Further reading

  • Baldwin, James (7 January 1971). "Open Letter to my Sister, Angela Davis". New York Review of Books.  Quotation: "If they come for me in the morning, they will come for you in the night.”
  • Davis, Angela Y. (1971). If They Come in the Morning: Voices of Resistance. The Third Press. ISBN 9780893880224. 
  • Stein, Leo (2003), They Came for Niemoeller: The Nazi War Against Religion, Gretna, Louisiana: Pelican Publishing Co, ISBN 1-58980-063-X, retrieved 22 August 2012  First published 1942 by Fleming H. Revell Co. 

External links[edit]

Lt. Dennis Kelly reads an excerpt of Niemöller's poem during a Holocaust Days of Remembrance Observance service in Pearl Harbor; 27 April 2009

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