I Will Not Be Silent

The Riesenrad, the ferris wheel that is one of the symbols of the city of Vienna

By Jonathan Spira on 15 January 2021
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Over the past nine weeks, the capitals of the two countries I call home – Austria and the United States – experienced domestic terrorist attacks.

In the November 2nd attack in Vienna, it was a lone gunman, a 20-year-old Islamic terrorist who managed to kill four people and wound 23 others.  The attack was carried out in such a manner that the police originally believed that there were multiple shooters.

Some eight weeks later, on January 6, 2021, thousands of Trump supporters stormed the Capitol while Congress was in session to formally count and certify the Electoral College vote in favor of Joseph Biden as the 46th president of the United States.  Five people died as a result of the attack and dozens were injured, some severely.

While the fallout from the Vienna attack was nowhere as great as the fallout from the August 1981 attack on the Stadttempel in Vienna – a mass shooting and grenade attack that killed two and injured 18 and had been orchestrated by members of the Abu Nidal Organization  – the two together, along with the promise of further disruptions and violence in Washington, D.C., such as the “explicit internal warning that extremists were preparing to travel to Washington to commit violence and ‘war’” as the inauguration draws near, has been too much for one person to bear.

While I cannot take direct action to combat to the acts of sedition incited by the current president, a man whose supporters are “domestic terrorists” in the words of Senator Lindsay Graham, a staunch Trump supporter, I will also not be silent.

The words of the great German Lutheran pastor Martin Niemöller kept coming back to me. Not the words in the poetically translated English-language version of what he said and wrote, but rather the original.

“I was silent,” he wrote.

“When the Nazis arrested the Communists, I was silent; I wasn’t a communist.

“When they locked up the Social Democrats, I was silent;

“I wasn’t a social democrat. When they summoned the unionists, I was silent; I wasn’t a trade unionist.

“When they picked me up, there was no one left to protest.”

In the coming days, please take the the words of Pfarrer Niemöller to heart and let your conscience be your guide.

(Photo: Accura Media Group)


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