Thursday, 30 September 2010

Small World

I really need to start talking a bit more about the memorial site. As you have probably guessed by now, my office is in the Protestant Church of Reconciliation, which was consecrated in 1967 by the Revd. Martin Niemöller, the renowned peace activist. He spent the early days of the Nazi regime relatively quietly, and some of his comments are seen to be anti-semitic. However, as time went on he became increasingly antagonistic and was interred in Sachsenhausen and Dachau Concentration Camps as a 'Prominenter' from 1937 through to liberation in 1945. After the war he helped to initiate the Stuttgart Declaration of Guilt, prepared by the German Protestant Church (EKD) in October 1945, and worked as a peace activist for the rest of his life.

I say all this because today, his son came in to play the Organ. He is in his late 70s/early 80s and apparently comes regularly to play in the Church his father inaugurated. He's a very nice gentleman as well, rather quiet but very friendly. It turns out that he used to go on holiday to Frinton on Sea, literally ten minutes drive from Walton on the Naze, where my family has spent almost every holiday since the mid 1990s. Small world. Then, in impeccable English, he said "Frinton is considered very posh.". Once again, spot on.

Martin Niemöller is best known for a poem he is credited with writing after the war. The exact wording is debated and has been misappropriated and manipulated by all sorts of political groups, but this is the text most often accepted and the one Niemöller himself preferred:

First they came...

"First they came for the Communists,

and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a communist.

Then they came for the trade unionists,

and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a trade unionist.

Then they came for the Jews,

and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Jew.

Then they came for me,

and by then there was no-one left to speak up."

1 comment:

  1. Brilliant, and love the bit about Frinton on Sea. Terri's maternal grandparents lived in Frinton, and her Uncle still lives there. We tried to spend a weekend in Frinton a while back, but it was too posh and expensive at the one B&B, so we had to go to Clapham. Anyway, keep up the good work, Roy - brilliant. Matt & Terri