Sunday, October 09, 2005
Sign, Sign, Everywhere a Sign
With all due credit to German Protestant Pastor Martin Niemoller (and my thanks to my friend Renee for buying me a copy) here is his poem from 1946 reflecting on his personal experience with the “slippery slope” (please note the “Tinder for Fascists” posting for reference) concept that I often mention in my postings:
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 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 for me.
Of course Pastor Niemoller was referring to the Nazis in Germany who marched millions off to their concentration camps. With eerie managerial precision the Nazis catalogued their prisoners via symbols sewn to prisoners’ garments. Some examples of the color-coded symbols used by the Nazis as cited with Pastor Niemoller’s poem included:
Yellow on Yellow (Star of David) – Jews
Pink Triangle – Homosexuals
Brown – Gypsies
Purple – Jehovah’s Witnesses
Red – German Political Prisoners, Communists, Socialists
Black – Vagrants and Lesbians
Green – Habitual Criminals
Blue – Emigrants (my German/Danish ancestors immigrated to the USA around 1880 which is a blessing)
There were numerous other symbols used to designate prisoner classifications so perhaps they had a sign set aside for you?
Yours for freedom,