Germany: Gunther Weisenborn, DE R LAUTLOSE AUFSTAND

So much attention is paid to the horrors of Nazi concentration camps and to military plots against Hitler's life that we pay little attention to the civilian, non-Jewish opposition to Hitler.  How many remember Martin Niemoeller  a Protestant pastor born 1892, in Lippstadt, Westphalia? He was a submarine commander in World War I. He was anti-communist and initially supported the Nazis until the church was made subordinate to state authority. In 1934, he started the Pastors’ Emergency League to defend the church. Hitler became angered by Niemoeller’s rebellious sermons and popularity and had him arrested on July 1, 1937. He was tried the following year and sentenced to seven months in prison and fined. After his release, Hitler ordered him arrested again. he spent the next seven years in concentration camps in “protective custody.“ He was liberated in 1945 and was elected President of the Protestant church in Hesse and Nassau in 1947. He held the title until 1964. He was also a President of the World Council of Churches in the 1960’s.

Niemoeller was a pacifist who spoke out against nuclear weapons. He is best known for his powerful statement about the failure of Germans to speak out against the Nazis: “First they came for the Communists, but I was not a Communist so I did not speak out. Then they came for the Socialists and the Trade Unionists, but I was neither, so I did not speak out. Then they came for the Jews, but I was not a Jew so I did not speak out. And when they came for me, there was no one left to speak out for me.” He died in Wiesbaden in1984.

Source: Wistrich, Robert S. Who's Who in Nazi Germany. NY: Routledge Press, 1995.

We have discussed the Solf-Kreis, and the research on it by WAISer Eugen Solf.  He has kingly sent me a little.known book on the "silent resistance" to Hitler. Titled Der Lautlose Aufstand (1962) and edited by Gunther Weisenborn, it gives abundant documentation on these groups from 1933 to 1945. Information about the Solf-Kreis can be found on pp. 97 ff . There is a long bibliography and a long index of names, so that it is most useful as a reference work. Even official documents are chilling, such as that about a Dutch pianist condemned it death. Above all, there is a foreword by Martin Niemoller.

Ronald Hilton 2005


last updated: April 16, 2005