Thursday, January 27, 2005

Then They Came for the Copts ...

First they came for the communists, and I did not speak out--
because I was not a communist;
Then 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 out for me.

Martin Niemoeller's message still carries a powerful moral impact. He was speaking of the culmination of the Nazi genocide of the Jews, so long ago now, that many have seemingly forgotten it.


  1. It isn't so much that people are forgetting it. Those who know about the Holocaust and have seen the footage and the photographs can never truly forget it. I can't even begin to think what goes through the minds of people who saw it first hand and especially those that suffered and survived it. The memories must be terrible to bear.

    I think the problem is that subsequent generations fail to educate people about the Holocaust or, indeed, WWII in general. Children are taught "modern" history these days, such as the formation of the European Union.

    A quote that sticks in my mind may be appropriate:

    "A people without a sense of history are doomed to repeat the mistakes of the past."

  2. I agree with you, TrustTyler, so I should probably say "seemingly" forget. The quote from George Santayana is certainly valid here - Those who cannot learn from history are doomed to repeat it.

    Gerda Lerner wrote: "What we do about history matters. The often repeated saying that those who forget the lessons of history are doomed to repeat them has a lot of truth in it. But what are 'the lessons of history'? The very attempt at definition furnishes ground for new conflicts. History is not a recipe book; past events are never replicated in the present in quite the same way. Historical events are infinitely variable and their interpretations are a constantly shifting process. There are no certainties to be found in the past."

    "We can learn from history how past generations thought and acted, how they responded to the demands of their time and how they solved their problems. We can learn by analogy, not by example, for our circumstances will always be different than theirs were. The main thing history can teach us is that human actions have consequences and that certain choices, once made, cannot be undone. They foreclose the possibility of making other choices and thus they determine future events."


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