Read the following quote from Martin Niemöller (1892-1984), a German pastor who lived during the rise of Adolf Hitler: "First they came for the communists, and I didn't speak out because I wasn't...

Read the following quote from Martin Niemöller (1892-1984), a German pastor who lived during the rise of Adolf Hitler:

"First they came for the communists, and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a communist.  Then they came for the socialists, and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a socialist.  Then they came for the trade unionists, and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a trade unionist.  Then they came for me, and there was no one left to speak for me."

Reply and discuss Faber's confession.  How does Faber describe himself to Montag? What connection can we make between Faber and the real-life Martin Niemöller?

Asked on by iisac

1 Answer | Add Yours

mwestwood's profile pic

mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

When Montag arrives with his book, Faber asks if he may hold it. As he turns the pages fondly, reading a random passage here and there, he reminisces about how he reveled in books as a boy. 

"Lord there were a lot of lovely books once, before we let them go."

Much like the Reverend Martin Niemöller, Faber confesses that he perceived what would happen in the future, but he, too, said nothing. 

"I'm one of the innocents who could have spoken up and out when no one would listen to the 'guilty,' but I did not speak and thus became guilty myself." 

Again, much like Niemöller, who spoke not for the communists or the socialists, Faber kept silent when he could have spoken up as an innocent who would have been listened to as he defended those who were accused, but he remained silent. And, finally in the end when the books were burned, he "grunted a few times and subsided" because there were no others with whom he could shout, just as Niemöller was left with no one to speak for him when the Nazis came.

Because he did not decry the crimes of burning the thoughts of great minds, of destroying the records of a culture, Faber confesses himself a coward, just as the Rev. Niemöller was a coward for not speaking out when the Nazis began their persecution of anyone who dissented against them. 

Sources:

We’ve answered 318,915 questions. We can answer yours, too.

Ask a question