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Why was Hitler so successful? Because the church rolled over and let him.


Germany had been beaten to the ground and humiliated after World War I. The Treaty of Versailles put such demands on Germany that it looked like it would never dig itself out. Its economy took a nosedive, and the ruling parties were ineffective.


Hitler wormed his way into the government and came to a point where he could rule as a dictator, promising the people that he would lead Germany out of disgrace and back into prominence.



But we all know what that meant for certain parts of the German and European populations. Systematic genocide.



Millions were killed for their religion.



And what did the church do? It rolled over, and not only let Hitler do it, in a number of cases, it promoted Hitler’s programs.


National pride and allegiance to Hitler overshadowed any allegiance to Christ and His church.


It was in the midst of this that a pastor named Martin Niemoller came to the attention of the Nazis.


Neimoller had been a German sailor during WWI, and to be quite frank, sympathized with the Nazis in the beginning, speaking against the Jews as having killed Jesus.


But in the mid to late 1930’s he saw the danger in how churches were being “nazified” and became part of a movement committed to keeping the church committed to Christ above all. This movement included Dietrich Bonhoeffer, who later died in a German prison camp for taking part in a plot to kill Hitler.


Neimoller survived the prison camps, and in 1945 gave the world this poem:


When the Nazis came for the communists, I remained silent;

I was not a communist.


When they locked up the social democrats, I remained silent;

I was not a social democrat.


When they came for the trade unionists,

I did not speak out;

I was not a trade unionist.


When they came for the Jews,

I did not speak out;

I was not a Jew.


When they came for me,

there was no one left to speak out.