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Response to intaglio (Reply #111)

Sat Dec 15, 2012, 11:20 AM

114. No it's not

 

Last edited Sat Dec 15, 2012, 07:27 PM - Edit history (1)

No words were changed by a museum "with an agenda" (whatever that means).

Maybe the words were changed by a foundation with an agenda.

Here's a link to a historian who has researched this extensively:

I am often asked "What is the correct sequence and groups in the quotation?"
Here is my March 2006 answer to one of those queries:

There are in fact several "correct" versions. Niemöller named different groups when he first coined the saying, probably in 1946, than when it was revived in the 1970s and he was again asked about it.
In several 1946 speeches he mentioned the following groups (in this order, see below):
Communists
Incurably sick
Jews or Jehovah's Witnesses (depending on which speech)
People in countries occupied by Nazi Germany.
In 1976 Niemöller was asked about the quotation in an interview. The Martin Niemoeller Foundation in Germany takes his 1976 answer to be definitive [see: <http://www.martin-niemoeller-stiftung.de/4/daszitat>]. In his lengthy answer Niemoeller mentioned the following groups, and claimed that he started using the quotation only recently (namely at a 1974 event, which is demonstrably untrue, since it appeared in print as early as 1955, based on a 1951 interview with someone who quoted it) :
Communists
Trade Unions
Social Democrats
Jews who had become Protestant ministers (Niemoeller speaks of "Judenstämmlinge"--Jews by lineage).
My translation of the quotation on the Niemoeller Foundation page:
'There were no minutes or copy of what I said, and it may be that I formulated it differently. But the idea was anyhow: The communists, we still let that happen calmly; and the trade unions, we also let that happen; and we even let the Social Democrats happen. All of that was not our affair. The Church did not concern itself with politics at all at that time, and it shouldn't have anything do with them either. In the Confessing Church we didn't want to represent any political resistance per se, but we wanted to determine for the Church that that was not right, and that it should not become right in the Church, that's why already in '33, when we created the minister emergency federation (Pfarrernotbund), we put as the 4th point in the founding charter: If an offensive is made against ministers and they are simply ousted as ministers, because they are of Jewish lineage (Judenstämmlinge) or something like that, then we can only say as a Church: No. And that was then the 4th point in the obligation, and that was probably the first anti-antisemitic pronouncement coming from the Protestant Church.'
published in: Martin Niemöller, Carl Ordnung, and Walter Feurich, Was würde Jesus dazu sagen?: Reden, Predigten, Aufsätze 1937 bis 1980 (Union Verlag, 1980).
I don't think that that 1976 statement reflects what Niemöller had said in the 1940s--he was 84 years old, and he might have forgotten that he had used it in speeches more than 30 years earlier. The first documented reference to the precise quotation that I know of is in a book first published in 1955, which is based on interviews conducted some time between 1950 and 1954. In that version it is likely that the interviewee added his own groups, namely "schools" and "the press." In any case, researcher/author Milton Mayer quotes a German professor he interviewed who refered to Niemöller having said:

Communists
Socialists
schools
the press
Jews
the Church (see Mayer, below for full citation)
Note 3/15/11: I just received a flurry of emails from scholars and ultimately from the USHMM about the quotation. Apparently there is a controversy about whether MN included Catholics. It is quite clear from the 1976 interview (see my translation above) that MN meant ONLY the Protestant (Evangelical/Lutheran) Church. In fact, some Catholic clergymen spoke against the murder of the "incurably ill." And just by the way, according to figures compiled by Johannes Neuhäusler, one of Niemöllers prison-mates in Dachau, there were 447 German Catholic priests in Dachau (of 2720 total, including 1780 Polish Catholic priests). While this is a far cry from the "thousands" of Catholics some bloggers name, it is also vastly more than the handful of German Protestant clergymen (most from the Confessing Church) who were imprisoned for their principled stance.
Note 5/3/2010: I have found a few sources from the late 1950s and early 1960s that use the quotation. Three contemporary reviews of Mayer's book (Sept. 1955 AAAPS; Oct. 1955 ASR; Jan. 1956 AJS] did not mention the quote. HOWEVER, it was picked up in a pamphlet printed in defense of African-American activist Claude M. Lightfoot (1910–1986) in 1955: The Case of Claude Lightfoot, issued by the Lightfoot Defense committee, Chicago, Illinois, 1955 (google books--no content). Presumably from Mayer the quotation made its way into several educational publications in the 1960s. One of those publications is the 1958 edition of the Goodrich/Hackett stage version of The Diary of Anne Frank. It was added on p. 150 as one of the appendices with activities for students:
Frances Goodrich, Albert Hackett, and Anne Frank, The Play of the Diary of Anne Frank (Heinemann, 1958)(previous edition: New York: Random House, 1956), p. 150. (google books version--search for "communists" for example)
In this book the order is: Jews, communists, trade unionists, me; it also uses the phrase "I did not speak out" (as opposed to 'was uneasy' or 'kept silent').
An often cited published version of the quotation is the 1968 Congressional Record (see below). Howard Samuels, an official from a business organization, was testifying before Congress. He explicitly referred to Niemöller as the originator. I am quite sure that Samuels excluded and included certain groups to suit his own business agenda. In my opinion, Niemöller would not have named Catholics or industrialists at all. In 1968 Samuels named the following groups:
Jews
Catholics
Industrialists/Trade Unions [these are opposites--and industrialists were NOT persecuted!]
Protestant Church.
Thus the quotation was clearly well known long before 1974, the year in which Niemöller, in a 1976 interview, at that time thought he first said it. Whether you want to take the 1946 not-quite-polished versions, the 1955 published version of a ca. 1951 interview (to which the secondhand narrator probably added his own groups), or the 1976 erroneous memory by Niemöller himself as the "correct" version, is up to you.


http://www.history.ucsb.edu/faculty/marcuse/niem.htm

Seems that perhaps the one with the agenda may be you?

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