As Wikipedia, that font of great knowledge says here:
Martin Niemöller was a German pastor and theologian born in Lippstadt, Germany, in 1892. Niemöller was an anti-Communist and supported Hitler's rise to power at first. But when Hitler insisted on the supremacy of the state over religion, Niemöller became disillusioned. He became the leader of a group of German clergymen opposed to Hitler. Unlike Niemöller, they gave in to the Nazis' threats. Hitler personally detested Niemöller and in 1937 had him arrested and eventually confined in the Sachsenhausen and Dachau concentration camps. Niemöller was released in 1945 by the Allies. He continued his career in Germany as a clergyman and as a leading voice of penance and reconciliation for the German people after World War II. His poem is well-known, frequently quoted, and is a popular model for describing the dangers of political apathy, as it often begins with specific and targeted fear and hatred which soon escalates out of control.Niemöller might have written this profound poem, though he is certainly given credit for it, and it reflects his views:
First they came for the communists, and I did not speak out—because I was not a communist;Regardless of its origin, this particular poem is prophetic in our time and in our country.
Then 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 out for me.
George Santayana was a Spanish citizen, living and studying many of his 89 years in the United States. He was a noted philosopher and writer. He had this profound statement to say:
Those who cannot learn from history are doomed to repeat it.As I watch what is going on in this country with our human rights commissions, I become increasingly concerned that Niemöller and Santayana are prophets for our times here in this great land I call home. If they are prophets for our times then I ask you all this question:
Will the last one out, please turn off the lights?And one more question, If Niemöller were arriving here in Canada today, would his poem look like this?
First they came for the unborn, and I did not speak out—because I was not one of the unborn;
Then they came for the pseudo-Nazis, and I did not speak out—because I was not a pseudo-Nazi;
Then they came for the Christians, and I then tried to speak out for all the voiceless—because I am a Christian;
But I was too late. They had too much momentum, and nobody listened.
Then they came for the Jews, and I could not speak out—because I was no longer here;
Then they came for the gays, and I could not speak out—because I was no longer here;
Then they came for the Muslims, and I could not speak out—because I was no longer here;
Then they fought among themselves for they found that the values they had espoused were built on sand.