Persecution and Resistance of Jehovah’s Witnesses During the Nazi-Regime 1938-1945
(Posted to this site on 7/29 /2001)
This book contains a series of essays about the life and fate of Jehovah’s Witnesses in Nazi Germany.
The book begins with Henry Friedlander’s “Categories of Concentration Camp Prisoners.”
The book’s website includes the detailed table of contents and other information like the Forward, a Time Table, and ordering information.
The following is quoted, with permission, from the book’s Preface:
“We must be grateful for this book, deeply grateful. In essay after essay we read of the fate of Jehovah’s Witnesses in Nazi concentration camps. Some of the essays tell large stories. The other essays tell small stories of a few individuals – stories that illuminate the whole. Part of this work addresses the situation of the Witnesses in Germany. On this I will offer no comment. Rather, permit me in my brief preface to situate the Jehovah’s Witnesses within the totality of the Nazis’ victims and to speak specifically to what is distinct about their particular experience.
It was John Conway who first suggested that the Nazis victimized some people for what they did, some for what they refused to do, some for what they were, and some for the fact that they were.
. . .
Jews were victimized not because of what they did, nor because of what they were. They were targeted for destruction because of what their grandparents were. Thus, those who had converted from Judaism a generation before, Christian children of Christian parents, pastors, priests and nuns among them, were defined, segregated, isolated and murdered because they had “Jewish blood” within their veins, the inheritance of their Jewish grandparents.
Alone of all the groups targeted by the Nazis, the Jehovah’s Witnesses were victimized because of what they refused to do. They would not enlist in the army, undertake air raid drills, stop meeting or proselytizing. They would not utter the words “Heil Hitler.” Their dissent was irksome, disciplined and systematic. Even in concentration camps, if they signed the following document they could be released:
1. I acknowledge that the International Jehovah’s Witness Association is disseminating erroneous teachings and using religion as a disguise merely to pursue subversive goals against the interests of the State.
2. I have therefore completely left that organization and have also spiritually freed myself from the teachings of that sect.
. . .
5. I have been informed that should I violate today’s declaration, I will again be arrested.
One marvels at how few signed such documents.
. . .
Jews had no choice. Jehovah’s Witnesses did. As such, they are martyrs in the traditional sense of the term – those prepared to suffer and even to die for the choice of their faith. Their clear and convincing choice always deepens our understanding of Jewish choicelessness.
. . .
Ida E. King Distinguished Visiting Scholar of the Holocaust
Richard Stockton College