“Yes, I Am Guilty, but it's Not What You're Thinking”

Ray McGovern

by Ray McGovern | June 19, 2013

The following remarks were given by Ray McGovern (Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity) at the Emergency Forum at Cooper Union on June 19, 2013.

I lived in Germany for 5 years and I had all manner of talks with Germans, young and old, asking them: How could it possibly be? How could it possibly happen, in one of the most cultured, educated peoples in the Western World, how could you let happen what happened? Guess what they said? “We couldn’t say anything.” We face a situation like that now. Some of you know about Dietrich Bonhoeffer, the Lutheran minister who did try to do something about it [applause].

There was another fellow whom you may not have heard of. His name was Haushofer, and he was a Geologe, a geologist at the University of Berlin. He had tenure, and some of you know what tenure means. It meant the same in Germany. He had tenure because he kept his mouth shut. But he had a conscience, and so when he saw his friends being wrapped up and put in concentration camps, he decided he had to do something and he spoke up and got quite a following around him. And he was wrapped up himself like Bonhoeffer and put into jail in Berlin. Now in Berlin, they would either hang you or shoot you if you were condemned to death for espionage or whatever it was. They hung Bonhoeffer and they were going to shoot Haushofer but before they did this, the Germans were very orderly and they said you have to sign a confession and Haushofer wouldn’t do it. They shot him anyway and as they picked him up off the floor a little zettel, a little piece of paper [fell out], and it was his confession, and it was composed in the form of a sonnet. I’m going to share it with you, it’s very brief.

Doch bin ich schuldig, aber anders al Ihr denkt.
Yes, I am guilty but it’s not what you’re thinking.
Ich musste früher meine Pflicht erkennen;
Ich musste schärfer Unheil Unheil nennen.
I should have recognized my duty earlier; I should have more sharply called out evil.
Mein Urteil habe ich zu lang gelenkt.
I put off my judgment far too long.
Ich habe gewarnt, aber nicht genug, und klar.
I did warn but not enough, and clear.
Und heute weiß ich, was ich schuldig war.
Today, I recognize what I was guilty of.

Dr. King said famously, there is such a thing as too late, folks. As I look out at you tonight, I see a recognition that it is getting to be near that time. We’re not going to be obedient, servile Germans, and we’re not going to be conned by the upper crust.  We’re going to seek the truth, we’re going to find it, and then we’re going to act on it. Thank you very much.