Niemoller, Martin

   Niemoller was a leader of the German Evangelical Church (Confessing Church), which opposed the German attempt to Nazify the churches in Germany. In particular, it protested the Aryan Paragraph, which was used to purge converted Jews from positions in the churches. A World War I hero who served as a U-boat commander, Niemoller was ordained as a pastor in 1924. At first, he welcomed Adolf Hitler’s ascension to power, but he quickly became an opponent of the regime. In 1934, Niemoller formed the Pastor’s Emergency League, and in 1937 he assumed leadership of the Confessing Church (Bekennende Kirche). Subsequently, he was arrested on Hitler’s orders for his refusal to capitulate to Nazi intimidation, and incarcerated first at Sachsenhausen and then Dachau, where he was imprisoned for seven years.
   As was the case among many of the leaders in the Confessing Church, Niemoller’s anti-Judentum was grounded in traditional Christian religious prejudice against the Jews. Many Christian clergy in Germany were indifferent to the growing persecution of the Jews. They believed that the Jews, in first rejecting Jesus as the Christ and then crucifying him, had brought their punishment upon themselves. Niemoller and his colleagues opposed the Nazi persecution of Jewish converts to Christianity on the basis that the racial definition was antithetical to Christianity and negated the salvational effects of baptism. Consequently, most of those affiliated with the Confessing Church were reticent in challenging Nazi anti-Semitism but protested the treatment of Jewish converts to Christianity. Niemoller was released from Dachau by the Allies in 1945. Subsequently, he joined other leading German churchmen in issuing the Stuttgart Confession of Guilt (1945), a statement of repentance for their failure to confront the evils of Nazism. A few years later, before an audience of college students in the United States, Niemoller expressed his famous cautionary words: “First they came for the Jews. I was silent. I was not a Jew. Then they came for the Communists. I was silent. I was not a Communist. Then they came for the trade unionists. I was silent. I was not a trade unionist. Then they came for me. There was no one left to speak for me.” The quotation adorns the wall of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C.

Historical dictionary of the Holocaust. . 2014.

Look at other dictionaries:

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  • Niemöller, Martin — ( 1892 1984 )    Lutheran bishop and opponent of the Nazi regime    German Lutheran bishop Martin Niemöller was born on January 14, 1892, in Lippstadt, Westphalia, Germany, the son of a Lutheran minister. As a young man, he was a pioneer of the… …   Encyclopedia of Protestantism

  • Niemöller, Martin — (1892–1984)    Rebel.    Niemöller was born in Lynstadt, Germany, and he was educated at the University of Münster. He served in the German navy in the First World War and he was ordained to the Lutheran ministry in 1924. A successful pastor, he… …   Who’s Who in Christianity

  • NIEMÖLLER, Martin — (1892 1984)    First World War naval hero and LUTHERAN minister who was a leader of the CHRISTIAN opposition to the Nazis and was imprisoned in Sachsenhausen and Dachau. He was the President of the EVANGELICAL CHURCH in Hessen and Nassau and the… …   Concise dictionary of Religion

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  • Martin Niemöller — Martin Niemoller on a postage stamp, painted by Gerd Aretz in 1992 Born 14 January 1892 Lippstadt, Germany Died 6 …   Wikipedia

  • Martin Niemöller — sur un timbre d Allemagne de 1992, dessiné par Gerd Aretz. Emil Gustav Friedrich Martin Niemöller, né le 14 janvier 1892 à Lippstadt et mort le 6 mars 1984 à Wiesbaden, est un pasteur …   Wikipédia en Français

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  • Martin Niemöller — Martin Niemöller. Martin Niemöller (14 de enero de 1892 – 6 de marzo de 1984) fue un pastor luterano alemán. Se graduó como oficial naval y durante la Primera guerra mundial estuvo al mando de un submarino. Después de esa guerra mandó un batallón …   Wikipedia Español

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