The Story Of The Man Who Wrote The ‘First They Came For’ Poem You Keep Seeing On Protest Signs
There have been a lot of protests going on in the week since President Donald Trump took office. The Women's March on the day after his inauguration, the protests over the ban on travel from seven Muslim-majority countries, and protests online by government scientists who set up rogue Twitter accounts after their department's Twitter accounts were censored by the Trump administration.
A lot of those protests have some form of this poem either online or on protest signs:
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 original poem was written by a Protestant pastor who was an outspoken critic of Adolph Hitler. Martin Niemöller wrote the poem after WWII and after spending seven years in a concentration camp. He wrote the lines because he believed that Germans and the leaders of the Protestant churches helped the Nazis by not standing up and saying anything as millions of Jews and others were put into camps.
If you would like to read more about Martin Niemöller, click here.