History, learn or repeat it

“Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it.” – George Santayana (1863-1952)

MARTIN NIEMOLLER (1892-1984)

 

A well known and respected Lutheran minister who made the choice to speak out against the foe, Adolf Hitler. He would spend the final seven years of Nazi dictatorship in a concentration camp for having the courage of his convictions. For finally speaking out

 

“First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out –

Because I was not a Socialist .

 

And then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out –

Because I was not a Trade Unionist

 

And 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.”

 

In the early days of the Nazi regime, this Lutheran minister supported Hitler. Later, he was to oppose the regime and imprisoned for seven years.

 

He frequently lectured in the Post War years extemporaneously and this how there came to be varying versions of the above poem.

 

Much controversy has surrounded the poem due to the long list of diverse groups in the many versions. His viewpoint was that Germans – in particular, he believed, the leaders of the Protestant churches, had been complicit through their silence in the Nazi imprisonment, persecution and murder of millions of people.

 

During a West German television interview in 1963 Niemoller finally spoke about himself. He acknowledged his own earlier antisemitism. He made a statement of regret for the burden he would carry for the rest of his life. Regardless, he was one of the earliest Germans to speak publicly about the broader complicity in the Holocaust and for what happened to the Jews.

 

In his book, Of Guilt and Hope (English Translation) published in 1946, He wrote: “Thus, whenever I chance to meet a Jew known to me before, then, as a Christian, I cannot but tell him: ‘Dear Friend, I stand in front of you, but we can not get together, for there is guilt between us. I have sinned and my people has sinned against thy people and against thyself.”

Life, we are all in this together. If we choose to remain silent, yes, it is a choice, we are complicit. 

Acceptance, Love and Peace,

Léa

…To the left

Despite the fact that I first published this here over three years ago, it seems imperative to reblog it now given current events in Virginia and elsewhere. 

“This is the biggest cemetery for Jews, Poles, Roma and Sinti. It must tell us that we have to come back here again and again. We must keep the memory of the worst crime in human history alive for those who were born later.”   –  Horst Koehler, Germany President

“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.”    –  Martin Niemöller 

This post is dedicated to the memories of Claire Magnani (who wanted it read but couldn’t hear it anymore), Manya and Meyer Korenblit, Chaim Nagelstein and too many others.

*

…To the left

Naked they cling to each other

Husband and wife parent to child

Lovers embrace

O mother, with infant at your breast

You must be cleansed

To the side of the large stone building

Lay the belongings

Of those who are to be cleansed

You who wear a yellow star

You shall be cleansed

Soldiers rummage through mounds of clothing

Items are catalogued

By the hundreds

They line up for the showers

Men, women, children

With paralyzing fear

They are herded through large doors

A small boy of five

With piercing brown eyes

Clutches his mother’s arm

As the gas permeates the room

Amid the screams

Comes the cry

“Hush mien kindelein hashem is with us”

And they are cleansed

And Germany is cleansed

And the ovens are cleansed

Made ready for those who will follow

Skeletal remnants of men

Must remove the remains

Of their brothers and sisters

Must pry the gold from their mouths

Must fill German coffers

Must kindle the fires with the bones

Of those they love

Germany must be

Cleansed

Purify

Pile another corpse into the ovens

Those hollow cheeks the vacant stares

Fire will purify

Cold grey ashes will not tell

Of what has been done

Thick black smoke fills the nostrils

With deaths stench

And violates the skies of Europe

Rich German soil harbors mass graves

And Germany will not be cleansed

*

NEVER AGAIN!

Bisous,

Léa