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Then They Came for Me: Martin Niemöller, the Pastor Who Defied the Nazis

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9780465097869: Then They Came for Me: Martin Niemöller, the Pastor Who Defied the Nazis
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"First they came for the Communists, and I did not speak out-Because I was not a Communist..."
Few today recognize the name Martin Niemöller, though many know his famous confession. In Then They Came for Me, Matthew Hockenos traces Niemöller's evolution from a Nazi supporter to a determined opponent of Hitler, revealing him to be a more complicated figure than previously understood.
Born into a traditionalist Prussian family, Niemöller welcomed Hitler's rise to power as an opportunity for national rebirth. Yet when the regime attempted to seize control of the Protestant Church, he helped lead the opposition and was soon arrested. After spending the war in concentration camps, Niemöller emerged a controversial figure: to his supporters he was a modern Luther, while his critics, including President Harry Truman, saw him as an unrepentant nationalist.
A nuanced portrait of courage in the face of evil, Then They Came for Me puts the question to us today: What would I have done?

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About the Author:
Matthew D. Hockenos is the Harriet Johnson Toadvine '56 Professor in 20th-Century History at Skidmore College. The author of A Church Divided: German Protestants Confront the Nazi Past, he lives in Round Lake, New York.
Review:
"[A] clear-eyed biography.... Hockenos's portrait sheds valuable light on a man and a society willing to overlook the sins of a leader whose interests initially seemed to dovetail with their own."―New Yorker

"A supremely nuanced account of an enigmatic figure."―Winnipeg Free Press

"Hockenos provides an honest view of Niemöller's heroic and not-so-heroic sides."―CHOICE

"Using extensive research, Hockenos writes a nuanced, well-rounded analysis of Niemöller's transformation from fervent nationalist and supporter of the Nazi regime to opponent of Hitler's attempts to control the Lutheran Church in Germany."―Library Journal

"Hockenos's impressively nuanced study captures a major 20th-century religious leader and his contradictions."―Publishers Weekly

"A valuable study in individual resistance to tyranny."―Kirkus Reviews

"In this engaging biography, Matthew Hockenos explores the many lives of Niemoller as he evolved from U-boat captain to clergyman to critic of Hitler to defender of the German people. Combining historical empathy with honest critical analysis, Hockenos masterfully demonstrates how a deeply flawed religious activist challenged an authoritarian political leader and changed the course of history."―Matthew A. Sutton, author of American Apocalypse

"Martin Niemoeller is best-remembered as an outspoken critic of Nazi Germany. As Matthew Hockenos shows in this penetrating and fast-paced biography, he was also an ardent early supporter of Hitler. By showing how strongly Niemoeller identified the Nazi regime with Germany's spiritual as well as political rebirth, Hockenos asks us to rethink what we understand about the nature of consent and opposition in Nazi Germany."―Nicholas Stargardt, author of The German War

"In this riveting and searingly honest work of humane scholarship, Matthew Hockenos shows how a deeply flawed figure can nevertheless bequeath a moral legacy of timeless relevance. The complex, if 'ordinary,' Niemoller merits a superb biography, and now has it."―James Carroll, author of Constantine's Sword and The Cloister

"Niemoller sunk Allied ships and called out for a Führer. He put God above Germany even though it was the same God who had cursed the Jews. In many ways, he was 'too German' and 'too Lutheran'--even in a concentration camp for the dissidence of his sermons, Niemoller volunteered to fight in Hitler's army. Hockenos makes sense of these jarring contradictions, portraying a remarkable, self-critical man in a highly readable but also critical biography. Readers will turn the pages of this book just as history turned the pages of Niemoller's life."―Peter Fritzsche, author of An Iron Wind

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