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First they came...

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Have you ever heard of the poem “First they came…?” There are several versions of it, all for obvious reasons dealing with themes of persecution, guilt and collective responsibility in building a common future.

It was written by a German Lutheran pastor, Martin Niemöller (1892–1984), who despite being a Nazi sympathizer for some time, returned to his senses much earlier than most of his countrymen and became an outspoken public foe of Adolf Hitler. He spent the last seven years of Nazi rule in concentration camps.

The poem is about the cowardice of German intellectuals – no different than what we have been experiencing nowadays – following the Nazis’ rise to power and subsequent purging of their chosen targets, group after group. Just close your eyes, remember what happened to the Turkish military, academia, media, lower and higher judiciary, bureaucracy and let someone read you the poem “First they came…”
“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........

© Hürriyet Daily News