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I have read and heard people read many different versions of "First They Came ..." and according to the Wikipedia article, it was originally published in English by Milton Mayer. This led me to wonder if the poem was first written out in full in German, which I have asked in another question. Here I was wondering, how the various differences evolved. The version I have heard is:

First they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—

Because I was not a Jew.

[Stanza break]

Then they came for the Communists, and I did not speak out—

Because I was not a Communist.

[Stanza break]

Then they came for the Catholics, and I did not speak out—

Because I was not a Catholic.

[Stanza break]

Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.

The version on Wikipedia is:

First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—

Because I was not a Socialist.

[Stanza break]

Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—

Because I was not a Trade Unionist.

[Stanza break]

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—

Because I was not a Jew.

[Stanza break]

Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.

How did these differences evolve?

  • 1
    The Wikipedia article is pretty detailed and discusses the multiple versions. In what way do you find it deficient? – Gilles Jan 21 '17 at 22:56
  • @Gilles It does not explain the process or how those variations reached English. – Benjamin Jan 21 '17 at 23:00

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