On Speaking Up for Each Other

Venette Cook


Speaking Up for Each Other

by Martin Niemoller

In Germany they came first for the Communists,
and I didn't speak up
because I wasn't a Communist.

Then they came for the Jews,
And I didn't speak up
because I wasn't a Jew.

Then they came or the trade
unionists, and I didn't speak up
because I wasn't a trade unionist.

Then they came for the Catholics,
and I didn't speak up
because I was a Protestant.

Then they came for me,
and by that time
no one was left to speak up.

© 1945, Reverend Martin Niemoller.



Classroom Activites: Complete these sentences to think about what this poem means for you. Share your ideas with other students.


1. I have spoken up about

2. I have not spoken up about

3. People don't speak up sometimes because

4. I will speak up if

5. My friends will speak up when

6. We can speak up when

7. It is easier to speak up when

8. I will help others speak up if


The author of this poem, Martin Niemoller, was a Protestant minister in Germany during World War II. He was also a prisoner in Nazi concentration camps at this time. Later, he served as the presdient of the World Council of Churches during the 1960s. He lived from 1892 to 1984.

Find more information. Use newspapers, the Internet, your local library, or information you can learn from your classmates. Learn more about:

  • World War II
  • The World Council on Churches
  • Concentration Camps
  • Martin Niemoller
  • Resistance Movements
  • Civil Disobedience
Share you information in an oral report, a journal, or a written report.


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