As I have previously blogged here, here, and here, I love Germany and I am fascinated by German history.  I love the German soccer team, Thuringian bratwursts, and Mahlkonig grinders.

I am not a fan of the lack of ice in beverages or the lack of free refills, but overall I like Germany a lot.   That is why I have chosen German history as the focus of much of my study.  Right now I am studying the Confessing Church.  Specifically this weekend I read a lot about Martin Niemoller.  During his lifetime he saw a lot more fame than Bonhoeffer, but has since faded in popularity as Bonhoeffer’s star has risen.  I am not making any value judgments about that, and I do not mean to compare the two.  I am thankful for both of them.  I have had a lot more exposure to Bonhoeffer through his writings.  This weekend was my first real exposure to Niemoller.  He, like any person in church history, had many faults, including some antisemitism.  Yet, he boldly stood against the Nazi regime.  He stood against the Aryan paragraph and its influence in the church.  He was put on trial and convicted, but instead of the short prison sentence he was supposed to receive, he was carted off by the gestapo to a concentration camp.  He would be held in three concentration camps until the end of the war.  Niemoller was a voice for change in Germany.  He stood for the true church against the Deutsche Christen.  I think one of the most inspiring things about Niemoller is his postwar transparency.  He repented for his sinful attitudes and inactivity so much that it caused a lot of embarrassment to many of his fellow countrymen.  I encourage you to read a biography of him, or his own writings.  You will not agree with everything, but if you ever find a book that you agree with 100 percent, you probably wrote it yourself.

Niemoller is famous for this quote:

When the Nazis came for the communists,
I remained silent;
I was not a communist.

When they locked up the social democrats,
I remained silent;
I was not a social democrat.

When they came for the trade unionists,
I did not speak out;
I was not a trade unionist.

When they came for the Jews,
I remained silent;
I wasn’t a Jew.

When they came for me,
there was no one left to speak out.

Martin Niemoller stands as a testament to standing for what is right, and for repentance for delayed obedience.  May Niemoller’s life serve as an example to us that calls us to stand against injustice.  We must not be bystanders.  We must be rescuers.  We must love our neighbors as ourselves.  Until later friends…

 

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