Martin Niemöller Biography
(German Theologian and Pastor Known for His Most Famous Poem 'First They Came...')
Birthday: January 14, 1892 (Capricorn)
Born In: Lippstadt, Germany
Martin Niemöller was a decorated World War I submarine captain; a leading pastor who emerged as an outspoken opponent of Adolf Hitler and his racist ideology in the 1930s; and an ardent pacifist in the later part of his life. His poem ‘First they came…’ is a widely quoted piece of literature by peace activists and anti-occupation voices the world over. Surprisingly, he started off as someone who was sympathetic towards Adolf Hitler and his racist propaganda, owing to his nationalist conservative leaning, and even voted for the Nazi Party in two separate elections. However, all that began to change with Hitler’s attempts to racialize the church and Christian faith. For his outspoken remarks and activities, he was arrested and served seven years in concentration camps until he was rescued by American troops in 1945. Niemöller was transparent about his early nationalistic beliefs and expressed deep regret for his ineptitude to help victims of Nazi atrocities, for which he faced his fair share of criticisms. Nevertheless, he devoted the later part of his life towards promoting world peace and nuclear disarmament. He was especially vocal against the Cold War, American war on Vietnam and formation of NATO.