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.
Friedrich Gustav Emil Martin Niemöller (14 January 1892 – 6 March 1984) was a German anti-Nazi theologian and Lutheran pastor. He is best known for his statement “First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out because I was not a Socialist … and there was no one left to speak for me.”
He was a national conservative and initially a supporter of Adolf Hitler, but he became one of the founders of the Confessing Church, which opposed the nazification of German Protestant churches. He vehemently opposed the Nazis’ Aryan but made remarks about Jews that some scholars have called antisemitic. For his opposition to the Nazis’ state control of the churches, Niemöller was imprisoned in Sachsenhausen and Dachau concentration camps from 1937 to 1945. He narrowly escaped execution. After his imprisonment, he expressed his deep regret about not having done enough to help the victims of the Nazis. He turned away from his earlier nationalistic beliefs and was one of the initiators of the Stuttgart Declaration of Guilt. From the 1950s on, he was a vocal pacifist and anti-war activist, and vice-chair of War Resisters’ International from 1966 to 1972. He met with Ho Chi Minh during the Vietnam War and was a committed campaigner for nuclear disarmament. Read more…
What did German preachers opposed to Hitler say in their Sunday sermons? When the truth of Christ could cost a pastor his life, what words encouraged and challenged him and his congregation? This book answers those questions.
Preaching in Hitler’s Shadow begins with a fascinating look at Christian life inside the Third Reich, giving readers a real sense of the danger that pastors faced every time they went into the pulpit. Dean Stroud pays special attention to the role that language played in the battle over the German soul, pointing out the use of Christian language in opposition to Nazi rhetoric.
The second part of the book presents thirteen well-translated sermons by various select preachers, including Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Karl Barth, Rudolf Bultmann, and others not as well known but no less courageous. A running commentary offers cultural and historical insights, and each sermon is preceded by a short biography of the preacher. More Information…