Xavier University’s Office of Interfaith Community Engagement will present the second in its annual series of TOUCHING HISTORY. Last year’s event featured Dr. Franklin McCain of the Greensboro Four lunch counter sit-in.
Tonight’s event at 7pm in Kennedy Lecture Hall of the Conaton Learning Commons is open only to Xavier students and a few invited guests, not to the general public, but media may attend.
Sibylle Sarah Niemoeller von Sell will be special lecturer and guest of honor. Sarah Niemoeller was born to an aristocratic Prussian family, highly engaged in anti-Nazi activity. They ran an underground railroad to save Jews from deportation and were involved in the final plot to assassinate Hitler in July 1944. Sarah personally witnessed Kristallnacht in 1938. A member of the anti-Nazi Confessing Church in Germany, many years after the war she reconnected with and married her former pastor, Martin Niemoeller. Pastor Niemoeller spent 1938-1945 in Nazi prison and concentration camps and is best remembered for the poem which summarized his often-delivered homily –
First they came for the Communists and I did not speak out – because I was not a Communist.
Then 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 out for me.
"We at Xavier and our students are honored by the opportunity to hear from Sarah Niemoeller directly about her family's resistance against Nazism and protection of Jews, and to take to heart the resounding words of her late husband,” says Rabbi Abie Ingber, Founding Director of Xavier’s Office of Interfaith Community Engagement. “Hearing her recite those words will allow us to touch history and be inspired by it. Franklin McCain taught us last year that action could mean sitting down; Sarah Niemoeller will teach us that it can also mean rising up."