This week in Christian history: John Wesley arrives in America; Protestant martyr; anti-Nazi pastor tried

Martin Niemöller put on trial by Nazi regime – Feb. 7, 1938

Martin Niemöller(1892-1984), famed anti-Nazi German theologian. | (Photo: Wikimedia Commons/Jan Arkesteijn)

This week marks the anniversary of when notable Lutheran pastor Martin Niemöller, famous for creating the “First they came for …” poem on Nazi cruelty, was put on trial for his anti-Nazi sentiments.

Originally sympathetic to Nazism, Niemöller was spurred on to oppose the Third Reich due to its increasing interference in Protestant churches.

Eventually, Niemöller was arrested in July of 1937 and was jailed for several months until his trial finally began.

After being found guilty, Niemöller was eventually sent to the infamous Dachau concentration camp, where he spent four years until the end of World War II.

Niemöller is most remembered for his famous "first they came" confession, whose wording, while varied, is often rendered as follows:

"First they came for the communists and I did not speak out because I was not a communist.

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.

Finally, they came for me and there was no one left to speak out."

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