From:The Diary of a Young Girl
Written by Anne Frank
Doubleday/Bantam Books, 1967
first published in 1947
first US edition, 1952
One of the most famous Holocaust poems of all time, "First They Came for the Jews," was written by a Lutheran pastor and theologian, Martin Niemöller (1892–1984).
After recanting his support for Hitler and Nazism, Niemöller was arrested and confined to the Sachsenhausen and Dachau concentration camps from 1938 to 1945. He narrowly avoided execution and was liberated by the Allies. He stayed in Germany and worked as a clergyman, pacifist, and anti-war activist. In his 1946 book, Niemöller talked publicly of Germany’s guilt for what had happened to the Jews. He was one of the first Germans to do so.
Here's his poem:
First They Came For The Jews
by Martin Niemöller
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.
I found the text of the poem and information about Niemöller on this page at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum site.
Accessed on October 29, 2018. (verified October 19, 2021)
Here is a modern adaptation:
When they came for the Jews and the blacks, I turned away
When they came for the writers and the thinkers and the radicals and the protestors, I turned away
When they came for the gays, and the minorities, and the utopians, and the dancers, I turned away
And when they came for me, I turned around and around, and there was nobody left...
(published in Hue and Cry, 1991)
You can find more adaptations here:
Or write your own.
Shooting and killing praying people in a synagogue . . . because they were Jewish. I never thought that could *really* happen. But it did. In 2018. In the city next door to mine.
I’m (still) struggling with how to turn my anger, fear, pessimism, and grief into action. I signed up to make phone calls for Everytown for Gun Safety. https://everytown.org You can, too.
(10/19/21) On October 8, 2021, the director of curriculum and instruction for the Carroll Independent School District in Southlake, Texas, told a fourth grade teacher to “make sure that if you have a book on the Holocaust, that you have one that has an opposing … perspective.” Find the article here.
-—stay curious! (and caring)