On this day in 1938, Martin Niemöller was tried in a Nazi court for the crime of preaching a "rebellious" sermon. He was convicted and sentenced to seven months in prison. Hitler had him arrested again almost as soon as he was released. This time his resistance placed him in concentration camps at Sachsenhausen and Dachau until the end of World War II.
Niemöller was an ex-submarine captain, who after he entered the ministry had become one of the leaders of the Confessing Church which offered fierce resistance to Hitler’s repressive regime. Altogether he spent eight years in prison. Nonetheless, he apologized with deep regret in October 1945, after the war, for failing to speak out earlier and more strongly against Nazism.
Often he would say, "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."