“First they came …” is a famous statement attributed to Pastor Martin Niemoller(1892–1984) about the inactivity of German intellectuals following the Nazi rise to power and the purging of their chosen targets, group after group. The text expresses, in a condensed form, the understanding of history presented by Niemöller in a January 6, 1946 speech before representatives of the Confessing Church in Frankfurt
“THEY CAME FIRST for the Communists,
and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Communist.
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 Jews,
and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Jew.
THEN THEY CAME for me
and by that time no one was left to speak up.”