(promoted from this discussion)

When Pastor Niemoeller was sent to the concentration camps, we wrote 1937; when the concentration camps were opened, we wrote 1933, and the people who were sent to the concentration camps then, were “Communists.”

Who cared for them? We knew about it– it was printed in the papers. Who raised their voice in response– as the Church of Witness? We thought then: Communists, those opponents of religion, those enemies of Christians.

‘Shall I be my brother’s keeper?’

Then they took the sick, the so-called incurables.

I remember a conversation with a man, who had taken up the Pretension, of being a Christian. He told me: “Perhaps it is the right thing. These unhealable people cost the country money, they are only a burden to themselves and to others. Isn’t it the best for all involved, when one casts them out of the Middle?”

Only then did the Church as such come to the matter. Then we spoke of things in strong tones, until such voices were again cut off and suppressed in public.

Can we say, we were not responsible?

The persecution of the Jews, the manner and way, which we treated the occupied lands, or the things which happened in Greece, in Poland, in Czechoslovakia or in the Netherlands, that were openly reported in our newspapers…

I believe, we Witnessing-Churchgoing-Christians, have every reason, to declare: ‘My Responsibility! Mea Culpa!‘ We cannot talk our way out of things, with the excuse, “it could have cost me my head, if I had said anything.”

It pleased us more, not to speak. ‘Without Responsibility’– that we are certainly not, and I keep asking myself, what would have come to pass, when in 1933 or in 1934– there must then have been some Possibility– if fourteen thousand evangelical Pastors, and every evangelical community that there was in Germany, had defended the Truth until death?

If we had said then, when Hermann Goering easily threw 100,000 communists into the concentration camps, in order to let them die– “it is not right!”

I can imagine, that in that case perhaps 30 to 40 thousand evangelical Christians would have lost their heads, but I can also imagine, that we would have saved the lives of 30 to 40 million people– for that is the price we have paid, today.

–Martin Niemoeller, remarks, 6th January 1946 (my translation)
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