back to top
World

People Think This Quote Perfectly Shows How We Have Not Learned From History

"One must not wait till the snowball has become an avalanche."

Posted on

On Monday, Twitter user @Peine01 posted this quote from Erich Kästner, a German writer.

Diese Worte haben leider nichts von ihrer Aktualität eingebüßt.

"Unfortunately these words have not lost their relevance."

The quote reads:

The events from 1933 to 1945 should have been battled in 1928 at the latest. Later was already too late. One must not wait until liberty is called treason. One must not wait till the snowball has become an avalanche. One must squelch the rolling snowball. The avalanche can't be stopped anymore...

Advertisement

The year 1928 refers to the first federal election in Germany in which the Nazi Party could stand. Although the party gained only 3% of the vote, it marked the beginning of the Nazis' rise to power.

Kästner said the lines in 1958 at an event marking the 25th anniversary of the book burnings in Berlin on May 10, 1933, which he witnessed first-hand.

The quote resonated with many German people on Twitter, who are expecting to see Germany's far-right party Alternative for Germany (AFD) gain votes in the coming federal election.

"Very important quote on the week of the election!!!"

Since Monday, the quote has been retweeted over 2,000 times.

@Peine01 Merken! Und am Sonntag an der Wahlurne beherzigen!!! Bitte!!!

Mich erschreckt nicht nur die #AfD. Mich erschreckt auch, mit welch tendenziell schlimmen Leuten ich in diesem Land… https://t.co/FBA1LFEc1k

"I am not only frightened by the #AfD. I am also frightened by the kind of terrible people I am living with in this country. #AfDWähler"

And has inspired some to find other famous quotes that fit current world events.

Ich ergänze mit George Santayana (1863-1952): Wer sich weigert, aus der Geschichte zu lernen, ist dazu verdammt, si… https://t.co/lfoUBiNxul

"I add George Santayana (1863-1952): Those who refuse to learn from history are doomed to repeat them."

@Peine01 @anemlon >Geschichte wiederholt sich nicht, aber sie wiederholt ihre Lehren.

"History does not repeat, but it repeats its teachings." Richard von Weizsäcker. Officer's School of the Army, Hannover 28.06.1990

People outside Germany also found meaning in the quote.

Stop extremist nationalism early before it stops you. I assume this is about AfD but applies to Ukip-BNP, FN etc https://t.co/QoGEmbR8XB

This post was translated from German.

Karsten Schmehl ist Senior Staff Writer bei BuzzFeed und lebt in Berlin.

Contact Karsten Schmehl at karsten.schmehl@buzzfeed.com.

Rachael Krishna is a reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in London.

Contact Rachael Krishna at rachael.krishna@buzzfeed.com.

Got a confidential tip? Submit it here.

Promoted