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Persecution of Jehovah’s Witnesses Under National Socialism
Jan. 30, 1933 Adolf Hitler is appointed Reich Chancellor.
Feb. 28, 1933 The so-called Reichstag Fire Decree is passed.
Mar. 5, 1933 Out of their religious conviction Jehovah’s Witnesses decline to participate in Reichtag elections, resulting in harassment and mistreatment in many places. Jehovah’s Witnesses refuse to give the Hitler salute or to pledge allegiance. Later they refuse to participate in any state organization, such as the Hitler Youth, the Nazi People’s Welfare, the Reich Air-raid Association, and the German Labor Front. The Nazis view their refusal to perform military service as especially hostile to the state.
March 1933 The German branch of the religious association is restructured and new societies are formed: the »Norddeutsche Bibelforschervereinigung« (North German Association of Bible Students) and the »Süddeutsche Bibelforschervereinigung« (South German Association of Bible Students.) Paul Balzereit becomes the head of the German section. Attempts by Jehovah’s Witnesses to negotiate with the German government to continue their religious activities fail, and various states ban the Bible Students’ Association.
April 7, 1933 The »Law for Restoration of the Career Civil Service« is passed. Apart from the Witnesses’ refusal to join the German Labor Front, this law results in the loss of work for many and destroys their livelihood.
Apr. 10, 1933 Ban of the Bible Students’ Association in Mecklenburg.
Apr. 13, 1933 Ban of the Association in Bavaria.
Apr. 18, 1933 Ban of the Association in Saxony.
Apr. 19, 1933 Ban of the Association in Hesse.
Apr. 24, 1933 The police and SA occupy and search the offices and printing plant at the Association’s headquarters in Magdeburg.
Apr. 26, 1933 Ban of the Association in Lippe and Thuringia.
Apr. 28, 1933 Intercession of the Brooklyn headquarters with the American government results in the temporary recovery of the Magdeburg office from German authorities. However, confiscated material is destroyed.
May 15, 1933 Ban of the Association in Baden.
May 17, 1933 Ban of the Association in Oldenburg.
May 19, 1933 Ban of the Association in Braunschweig.
June 6, 1933 Ban of the Association in Lübeck.
June 24, 1933 Ban of the Association in Prussia.
June 25, 1933 Mass rally in Berlin-Wilmersdorf by invitation of the Magdeburg headquarters, attended by 7,000 Jehovah’s Witnesses. Passed Declaration to invalidate accusations against the association, and reveals leadership attempts at reaching an agreement with the new rulers in Germany. This course fails.
June 28, 1933 Ban of the Association in Bremen.
June 28, 1933 Second occupation of the Magdeburg headquarters.
June 28, 1933 Ban of the Association in Hamburg.
Sept. 7–9, 1934 Reacting to increasing persecution of Jehovah’s Witnesses, the religious association organizes an international convention in Basel, which is also attended by ca. 1,000 followers from Germany despite the ban. Attempts to negotiate with the German government have failed. The unrestricted resumption of missionary and propaganda activities as well as establishing an illegal organization are decided.
Oct. 7, 1934 Massive campaign of foreign protest letters by Jehovah’s Witnesses inundate German officials.
Jan. 9, 1935 The first documented case of a Witness, Anna Seifert, incarcerated in Moringen concentration camp.
Apr. 1, 1935 Nonuniform measures in German states hinder systematic suppression of activities by Jehovah’s Witnesses. This results in Reich prohibition on April 1, 1935. Simultaneously, the Watch Tower and Tract Society in Magdeburg is dissolved and state and local governments are instructed to confiscate the assets of the association via circular decree of July 13, 1935.
Spring 1936 From this time onward, the persecuting authorities make use of a further means to force the followers of the »teachings of the Bible Students to surrender their convictions. Many times custody is taken away from parents via court decision to stop a »subversive« influence. Between 1936 and 1946, at least 860 children were affected by this measure according to Jehovah’s Witness sources.
June 1936 The Gestapo forms a special unit for surveillance of Jehovah’s Witnesses.
Aug.-Sept. 1936 The first mass arrests of Jehovah’s Witnesses throughout the Reich are implemented. Despite increasing persecution (up to mid–1937, at least 17 Witnesses die during interrogations and in prisons) and the loss of the organization’s leadership, the association is able to reorganize.
Sept. 4–7, 1936 Lucerne convention of Jehovah’s Witnesses passes a resolution denouncing the persecution of Jehovah’s Witnesses in Nazi Germany.
Dec. 12, 1936 About 100,000 copies of the Lucerne protest resolution are distributed in various German cities; the campaign is repeated in February and March 1937.
Dec. 1936 In Moringen concentration camp, female Jehovah’s Witnesses refuse to work for the Winter Relief Campaign, resulting in isolation as well as prohibitions on receipt of all mail and packages for months.
1937 During the year Jehovah’s Witnesses in concentration camps are included in instructions for »recidivist offenders.« They are penalized with heavy labor assignments and growing harassment. In Dachau concentration camp they are imprisoned in »Isolation,« a barrack separated by barbed wire from the rest of the camp. This »model« is later implemented in Sachsenhausen concentration camp.
Apr. 22, 1937 Circular decree from Gestapo Berlin: »All International Bible Students Association followers released from prisons after serving their sentence are to be taken into protective custody; their transfer to a concentration camp can be requested if an explanation of the facts is submitted.« Thereafter, hundreds of Jehovah’s Witnesses are remanded to concentration camps. For example, in Moringen, the percentage of Jehovah’s Witnesses increases from 17 percent in June to 89 percent in December 1937. In other concentration camps, Jehovah’s Witnesses make up on average 5 to 10 percent of camp inmates in prewar years. Only in the women’s camps of Moringen, Lichtenburg, and Ravensbrück (until the beginning of the war) are Jehovah’s Witnesses the largest prisoner group. After the beginning of war, their proportion decreases drastically: Mauthausen concentration camp 5.2 percent (at the end of 1944: 0.12 percent), Buchenwald concentration camp 3.3 percent (at the end of 1944: 0.3 percent).
June 20, 1937 In the first half of 1937, a detailed report about persecution in Germany is assembled in Bern using information from Witnesses in Germany. The flyer is titled: »Open Letter — To Germans who believe in the Bible and love Christ.« This »open letter« is distributed on
June 20, 1937, in a mass operation throughout Germany.
Continued in next post......
Fall 1937 Second wave of mass arrests of Jehovah’s Witnesses. Despite regional successes in reorganizing local groups, Jehovah’s Witness activities stop throughout the Reich.
Dec. 20, 1937 In Moringen concentration camp for women, a »declaration« is introduced only for Jehovah’s Witnesses. After 1935 »declarations« were used in concentration camps as well as in prisons. After 1937, this is institutionalized by imposing subsequent detention (Nachhaft = protective custody arrest after completing a prison sentence) if the declaration is not signed. Before the war, this »declaration« was ostensibly signed more frequently. Estimates are that about 10 percent of Witnesses incarcerated in concentration camps signed and up to 50 percent in prisons. On December 21, 1937, this »declaration« is standardized on Himmler’s orders. It states: »Declaration. I have come to know that the International Bible Students Association is proclaiming erroneous teachings and under the cloak of religion follows hostile purposes against the State. I therefore left the organization entirely and made myself absolutely free from the teachings of this sect. I herewith give assurance that I will never again take any part in the activity of the International Bible Students Association. Any persons approaching me with the teachings of the Bible Students, or who in any manner reveal their connections with them, I will denounce immediately. All literature from the Bible Students that should be sent to my address I will at once deliver to the nearest police station. I will in the future esteem the laws of the State and join in every way the community of the people. I have been informed that I will at once be taken again into protective custody if I should act against the declaration given today.
1938 Standardized color symbols are introduced for concentration camp inmates. Jehovah’s Witnesses receive the purple triangle.
March 1938 Total mail ban for Jehovah’s Witnesses in concentration camps. Restrictions on receiving and sending letters are stamped by the camp postal censor: »The prisoner remains, as before, a stubborn Bible Student and refuses to reject the Bible Students’ false teachings. For this reason the usual privileges of correspondence have been denied him.
Oct. 6, 1938 Jehovah’s Witnesses in Lichtenburg concentration camp for women refuse to listen to a radio speech by Adolf Hitler on the occasion of occupying the Sudetenland. The SS drive the women out of their cell with water hoses. Many women do not recover from this torture.
1939–1940 During these two years, SS terror rages against Jehovah’s Witnesses in the concentration camps.
Sept. 15, 1939 August Dickmann, a Jehovah’s Witness, is publicly shot in Sachsenhausen concentration camp. The news of his execution is announced on the radio.
Dec. 19, 1939 In Ravensbrück concentration camp, female Jehovah’s Witnesses refuse to sew bags which they assume are to be used as gun holsters, and therefore war-related work. The SS unsuccessfully tries to break the women’s resistance with punishments such as standing at attention for days, withdrawal of food, and detention in darkness. This harassment continues until March 1940. After 1942 Conditions improve for Jehovah’s Witnesses in the concentration camps. For example, female Witnesses are »very sought after« as domestic help by SS leaders. They are even entrusted with childcare, although in many cases their own children had been removed from their custody.
March 6, 1944 Dr. Robert Ritter announces in a letter to the President of the Reich Research Council (Reichsforschungsrat) his plan to begin »genealogical investigations of the racial and genetic ancestry of Jehovah’s Witnesses in Ravensbrück concentration camp.
July 21, 1944 Himmler mentions in a letter his plan to settle Jehovah’s Witnesses after the war in the border zone adjacent to the Soviet Union, because their pacifist influence would result in Soviet »defenselessness.«
1933–1945 Of about 25,000 Jehovah’s Witnesses, 10,000 had been imprisoned for a various lengths of time; 2,000 of them in concentration camps; 1,200 had died or were murdered, including 250 Jehovah’s Witnesses who had been executed for refusing military service.
Originally posted by holywar
BTW - I am the only JW in my family (not including my husband and children).
Most of my family are Catholics.
My sister belongs to a different Christian church and we are very close. In fact, my whole family is very close.
some ex-jw bad experience does not represent all 7 million of us.
no-one is told to hate a disfellowshipped person. you might tell your child to avoid someone because you know from experience that your child may pick up bad traits from them. the same it is with disfellowshiping.
Originally posted by mellisamouse
[NOAH didn't go to some CHURCH, NOAH was spiritual, and listend to GOD, not MEN...if he listened to MEN he never would have built theark in the first place!
Abraham, all of those Guys, listened to GOD, not some RELIGION....
The people who are the most spiritual, most loving, LEAST hipocritical, are the ones who have LEFT organized religion of EVERY kind, INCLUDING the JW'S......
Sorry, but when Jesus said religion was wrong he meant ALL religion, so that circular reasoning the JW's try is just as crazy as thr trinity and garbage that isn't even in the bible etc..
Originally posted by mellisamouse
I know! Talk about dysfunctional....instead of trying forgiveness and NOT judging, like what Jesus tries to hightlight SO much, they are the MOST judgemental and unforgiving ever....
Originally posted by mellisamouse
Oh, you said you aren't interested 50000000 times, but we have no respect for your free will and beliefs, so we'll keep SHOVEING our crap down your throughts to count hours and save our OWN HINEY (in their heads)....but when people get fed up and finally close the door, you say.. "ohhh poor me. I'm being persecuted"
99% Of the so called "worldy" people out there who are spiritual, follow the bible 100% without ever READING it. They are just GOOD PEOPLE.
I don't see masses of you burning at the stake, or being whipped in jails, or brought into court and lied about, etc, etc, etc.....
Pray to God to see the REAL truth, and he will show you pretty fast, but you won't listen to him because it isn't written in some MAGAZINE....he'll show you scriptures to answer your question, but still! Not in a magazine, must not be the truth!
The modern day pharasees in their glory.
Originally posted by DaGeneral
Okay, maybe the word "hate" isn't quite accurate. However, it is MANDATORY for all "faithful servants of Jehovah" to shun disfellowshipped persons--except for possibly immediate family members who were "dissed."
Trust me, I've sat on judicial committees for people who unrepentantly associated with disfellowshipped ones, and the shunning is NOT optional (at least not while I was still in the Org.)
Many "cult" groups, which I consider JW of being, should be banned and shut down, they cause far far too much harm to be considered safe.
In the United States and several other countries, the legal struggles of the Jehovah's Witnesses have yielded some of the most important judicial decisions regarding freedom of religion, press and speech.
The resulting litigation has helped to define civil liberties case law in the United States and in most Western societies.
Former Supreme Court Justice Harlan Stone jokingly suggested "The Jehovah's Witnesses ought to have an endowment in view of the aid which they give in solving the legal problems of civil liberties.""Like it or not," observed American author and editor Irving Dilliard, "Jehovah's Witnesses have done more to help preserve our freedoms than any other religious group."
"The cases that the Witnesses were involved in formed the bedrock of 1st Amendment protections for all citizens," said Paul Polidoro, a lawyer who argued the Watchtower Society's case before the Supreme Court in February 2002.
"These cases were a good vehicle for the courts to address the protections that were to be accorded free speech, the free press and free exercise of religion. In addition, the cases marked the emergence of individual rights as an issue within the U.S. court system."
Before the Jehovah's Witnesses brought several dozen cases before the Supreme Court of the United States during the 1930s and 1940s, the Court had handled few cases contesting laws that restricted freedom of speech and freedom of religion.
Until then, the First Amendment had only been applied to acts of Congress and more broadly to acts of the federal government. Since the 1940s, the Jehovah's Witnesses have often invoked the Free Exercise Clause and Establishment Clause of the First Amendment to the United States Constitution to protect their religious beliefs and practices, such as proselytism, refusing to salute the flag or say the Pledge of Allegiance, and conscientious objection to military service.
Of the 72 cases involving the Jehovah's Witnesses that have been brought before the U.S. Supreme Court, the Court has ruled in favor of them 47 times. Significant cases have struck down laws making flag salutes compulsory, imposing limits of preaching in public (proselytizing), and instituting conscription—upholding a right to conscientious objection to military service.
Although the Jehovah's Witnesses did not win every case, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of Jehovah's Witnesses in several landmark decisions of First Amendment law. These helped pave the way for the modern civil rights movement.
Even the cases that the Jehovah's Witnesses lost helped the U.S. to more clearly define the limits of First Amendment rights. The cases brought before the Court by the Jehovah's Witnesses allowed the Court to consider a range of issues: mandatory flag salute, sedition, free speech, literature distribution and draft law.
These cases proved to be pivotal moments in the formation of constitutional law.
Jehovah's Witnesses' court victories have strengthened civil liberties including the protection of religious conduct from federal and state interference, the right to abstain from patriotic rituals and military service and the right to engage in public discourse.