Ludwig von Mises Institute

First they came…

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"First they came…" is a famous statement attributed to Pastor Martin Niemöller (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 of the quotation is usually presented roughly as follows:

First they came for the communists,
and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a communist.

Then they came for the trade unionists,
and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a trade unionist.

Then they came for the Jews,
and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a Jew.

Then they came for me
and there was no one left to speak out for me.


There is some disagreement over the exact wording of the quotation and when it was created; indeed, the content of the quotation may have been presented differently by Niemöller on different occasions.[1]

Notes[edit]

  1. Marcuse, Harold. "Martin Niemöller's Famous Quotation." University of California at Santa Barbara, Sep. 12, 2000.

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