Sixty-seven years ago, to this day, the Auschwitz concentration camp was liberated. Today marks its commemoration, and many countries around the world will recognize and remember it. Rowan Williams has a short video on this memorial day for the UK and exhorts watchers to speak on behalf of the stranger. In passing he mentions an important figure for the Confessing Church, Pastor Martin Niemöller. I thought it would be good to share Pastor Niemöller’s well-known poem.
First 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 for me.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer, though not a prisoner at Auschwitz, has a statement that is marked at the ruins of St. Nicholas’ Church in Hamburg, Germany.
The statement reads:
No man in the whole world can change the truth.
One can only look for the truth, find it and serve it.
The truth is in all places.