First they came …
In 1976, Niemöller gave the following answer in response to an interview question asking about the origins of the poem. The Martin-Niemöller-Stiftung (“Martin Niemöller Foundation”) considers this the “classical” version of the speech:
There were no minutes or copy of what I said, and it may be that I formulated it differently. But the idea was anyhow:… All of that was not our affair.
Then they came for the …, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a …
Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.