Jehovah`s Witness/Please offer your thoughts
I have read your responses enough to know that you are very well-read and fair. You will take a particular quote and find the context of it to find its intent. I need your help because I have stumbled upon a series of quotes, and since I do not have a WT CD, I can't look them up for context.
The first is this. "The terrible persecution of Jehovah’s witnesses by Hitler, worse than that he inflicted on the Jews, took place." WT 1966 15th Oct page 635.
Without context, this claim seems ludicrous. Some of the statistics that have been quoted from the WT are:
1,000 Witnesses executed
1,000 died in prison and concentration camps
The Watchtower, December 15, 1950, p. 500: "Already during the Hitler regime about 1,000 Jehovah's witnesses were executed as traitors, because they not only refused to serve in the war but openly opposed Hitler's authority. Another 1,000 of Jehovah's witnesses died in prisons and concentration camps."
2,000 Witnesses died cruel deaths
The Watchtower, February 15, 1951, pp. 105-106: "That is why during the Nazi regime in Germany from 1933 to 1945 Jehovah's witnesses in that land refused to heil Hitler! as their Fuehrer or Leader, and went to concentration camps and prisons, where 2,000 died cruel deaths, and of the 8,000 that came out alive, 2,000 were invalided for the rest of their lives."
10,000 Witnesses were tortured
The Watchtower, June, 1, 1960, p. 327: "Hitler failed to break them in prisons and concentration camps where he tortured, 10,000 of them, and the Communists are failing to do it in their frightful prisons and slave-labor camps."
Over 4,000 Witnesses died
10,000 Witnesses were put in concentration camps
The Watchtower, January 1, 1964, p. 13: "Hitler, a Roman Catholic, the arm of his church in Germany, forbade Jehovah's witnesses to preach the kingdom of God, and these modern-day Christians had to say to Hitler's Gestapo police: 'Whether it is righteous in the sight of God to listen to you rather than to God, judge for yourselves.' They kept preaching even though 10,000 of them were put in concentration camps and over 4,000 died there. The rest nearly starved to death. The war's end aided their survival."
203 Witnesses executed
635 Witnesses died in prison
A total of 6,019 Witnesses was arrested
The Watchtower, February 1, 1976, p. 82: "a total of 6,019 had been arrested, several of them two, three, or even more times, so that, all together, 8,917 arrests were registered; and these persons served sentences amounting to 13,924 years in prison. Many of these faithful men and women were put into concentration camps and thus collectively spent 8,078 years undergoing vicious treatment there. A total of 635 died in prison, 253 were sentenced to death, with 203 of these actually being executed."
203 Witnesses executed
635 Witnesses died in prison
A total of 6,019 Witnesses was arrested
The Watchtower, July 1, 1979, pp. 7-8: "By way of illustration, please consider the years 1933 to 1945, when Adolf Hitler's "Third Reich" tried to exterminate Jehovah's Witnesses in the German Reich. Their activities were banned and 6,019 were arrested, several of them two, three or more times. Two thousand suffered in concentration camps. A total of 635 Witnesses died in prison, 203 being executed."
To me, without context, the number keeps dropping.
Total number of arrests (some were arrested many times): 8,917
Total number in concentration camps: 2,000 (down from 10,000)
Died in prison: 635 (down from 4,000)
Actually executed: 203
Can you please put these seemingly contradicting quotes into context for me and please explain how the persecution of the Jehovah's Witnesses by Hitler was worse than what he did to the Jews?
Thanks for your question,
Sorry for the delay.
As far as I can determine there are no clear records as to numbers
of JWs in Germany or occupied nations during that time. To the best of my knowledge the WTS had some input into the information in the holocaust museums. The following is from http://www.ushmm.org/wlc/en/article.php?ModuleId=10005394
. Notice that the number of JWs was not known. Please note the bold
Of the 25,000 to 30,000
Germans who in 1933 were Jehovah's Witnesses, an estimated 20,000
remained active through the Nazi period. The remainder fled Germany, renounced their faith, or confined their worship to the family. Of those remaining active, about half were convicted and sentenced at one time or another during the Nazi era
for anywhere from one month to four years, with the average being about 18 months. Of those convicted or sentenced, between
2,000 to 2,500 were sent to concentration camps, as were a total of about 700 to 800 non-German Witnesses (this figure includes about 200-250 Dutch, 200 Austrians, 100 Poles, and between 10 and 50 Belgians, French, Czechs, and Hungarians).
The number of Jehovah's Witnesses who died in concentration camps and prisons during the Nazi era is estimated
at 1,000 Germans and 400 from other countries, including about 90 Austrians and 120 Dutch. (The non-German Jehovah's Witnesses suffered a considerably higher percentage of deaths than their German co-religionists.) In addition, about 250 German Jehovah's Witnesses were executed -- mostly after being tried and convicted by military tribunals -- for refusing to serve in the German military.
It seems from that, that there were possibly about 10,000 JWs that had some sort of prison sentence,but maybe not all ended up in the camps. Perhaps it is the 10,000 (about half of the 20,000 active JWs) that was mistakenly used as the number that went to the camps.
Another article related to the one above can be found at http://www.ushmm.org/wlc/en/article.php?ModuleId=10006187
Last Night I was watching the a program called “knocking” from about 2005 or 2006. It was done by a journalist who told the story of a young JW that needed a kidney transplant and a Jew who serviced the holocaust who became a JW after the war because of the JWs in the prison camps he was in. In that program it said 10,000 JWs were put into concentration camps.
I will give background on a couple of article the rest do not need to be put into any context
In The Watchtower, December 15, 1950, p. 500 the article was about JWs being banned in communist countries and that similar things had happened in the past. The quote that you have seen is from a news paper as the article states
Read the following translation of a dispatch appearing in the newspaper Stockholms-Tidningen, September 18, 1950:
“JEHOVAH’S WITNESSES IN EASTERN ZONE SUFFERING TERRIBLE TORTURE
“HANNOVER, Sept. 17.—(ST) Having arrested nearly 1,000 of the more noted among Jehovah’s witnesses in the Eastern Zone, the People’s Police are now searching high and low for all members of this so strongly resistant sect in order to definitely liquidate the sect as such. Their leading preachers have been sentenced to 25 years of hard labor, and so have the members of their families, and one has to face the possibility that, so long as the Communist government is in power, all of Jehovah’s witnesses will disappear into prison.
“Academy students who have fled from the Eastern Zone are reporting about all that which the authorities have done, but hitherto without success, to break the open and fanatical opposition of the sect against the Communists. Jehovah’s witnesses have been ill-treated and tortured in the most horrible way without renouncing their faith, which is to the effect that Christ is to be acknowledged as the highest and only authority and that they do not want to submit to any human power.
“With the mass-arresting of Jehovah’s witnesses these people have now, for the second time within a couple of decades, donned the martyr’s crown—and they know what that means. Already during the Hitler regime about
1,000 Jehovah’s witnesses were executed as traitors, because they not only refused to serve in the war but openly opposed Hitler’s authority. Another 1,000 of Jehovah’s witnesses died in prisons and concentration camps, and all who have afterwards been describing life in those camps have in their books given Jehovah’s witnesses the very highest recognition.”
The figures are what is quoted in the newspaper Stockholms-Tidningen, September 18, 1950: and notice one word that I highlighted about
The Watchtower, February 15, 1951, pp. 105-106 is an article in relation to the release of the NWT. It is a letter from the WTS to a publication called “The Vindicator” and is in response to an article that the appeared in “The Vindicator”
An Open Answer to “The Vindicator”
Dec. 26, 1950
3111 Grover St.,
Fort Worth 6, Tex.
Attention of E. C. Fuqua, Publisher.
Someone was alert enough to send us a copy of the November, 1950, issue of your paper, calling our attention to your editorial on page 8 with the heading “ANOTHER ‘NEW BIBLE’ COMING UP”. As we are the publishers for Jehovah’s witnesses against which your editorial has considerable to say we feel called upon to answer and set some things straight in your mind. Not expecting you to publish our answer in your columns, we are turning over a copy for publication in the official magazine of Jehovah’s witnesses, The Watchtower.
That we may confront you as well as Watchtower readers with what you published in derogation of these devoted Christians, we first copy here your initial paragraph:
“Jehovah’s Witnesses,” 70,000 strong, have just had a convention in New York, making a great noise. Their leader, Nathan H. Knorr, has promised them extremely interesting things for “the near future,” among which is the abolition of Hell as set forth in the Scriptures. This will ease many minds—those who had read enough of the New Testament to understand that there is such a place in store for the wicked. Now they may rest in complacence, seeing (?) that such a place, if it ever existed, is to be finally removed.
It was three months from the holding of the international convention of Jehovah’s witnesses in Yankee Stadium, New York, July 30 to August 6, to your November issue, and yet with all the time and opportunity you had to inform yourselves from all the publicity and convention releases setting forth the facts, you have the rashness to publish such a paragraph under such a heading. Certainly you destroy all confidence of informed people in the soundness of anything you publish by your statement, “Their leader, Nathan H. Knorr, has promised them extremely interesting things for ‘the near future,’ among which is the abolition of Hell as set forth in the Scriptures.”
First of all, Mr. Knorr is merely president of the Watch Tower Bible & Tract Society. He disclaims being the “leader” of Jehovah’s witnesses and points to Jesus Christ as our God-given Leader; and Jehovah’s witnesses acknowledge and follow, not Mr. Knorr, but Jesus Christ as Leader. That is why during the Nazi regime in Germany from 1933 to 1945 Jehovah’s witnesses in that land refused to heil Hitler! as their Fuehrer or Leader, and went to concentration camps and prisons, where 2,000 died cruel deaths, and of the 8,000 that came out alive, 2,000 were invalided for the rest of their lives. Concerning the “abolition of hell as set forth in the Scriptures”, Mr. Knorr never promised such a thing. He adheres strictly to what Revelation 20:14 says in the King James Version Bible (which we print and publish): “And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death.” It is God by Jesus Christ who long ago promised to cast hell into the lake of fire or “second death” and thereby abolish it.
It would appear that the writer of the letter was trying to make a point that JWs have no earthly leader, and to prove that point he uses the fact that many JWs died and were tortured By the Hitler regime because they would not acknowledge Hitler as their leader I can only go by the tone of the letter and suggest that the above figures again were estimates to make the point.
Of the articles in The Watchtower, June, 1, 1960, p. 327
and The Watchtower, January 1, 1964, p. 13
there is no context to consider. They are just statement made. My assumption
is, that the researchers that prepared those articles just looked back on what had been previously presented
The last two quotes from 1976 and 1979 seem to be based on different findings
You asked ...”Can you please put these seemingly contradicting quotes into context for me and please explain how the persecution of the Jehovah's Witnesses by Hitler was worse than what he did to the Jews?
It was not the numbers of JWs that is spoken of as being worse verses the Jews , it was the inhumane treatment that they revived in the camps. German hierarchy saw them (JWs) as being a part of superior Aryan race, not as an interior a race or sub culture such as a homosexual. So, of all the types of people put into concentration camps the JWs had a way out. All they had to do was sign a piece of paper denouncing their faith and they could go free. It was that easy. They did not have to be in the camps. Their refusal to submit to Hitler was something he could not tolerate, they supported another government, one ruled by Jesus as the article from The Watchtower, February 15, 1951, pp. 105-106 pointed out have no no leader but Jesus. Therefore we do not support any government. (nor will we fight against any government),
As members of the so called superior Aryan race, Hitler expected support form all his people. JWs would not say “heil Hitler”, nor would we support him in any way. That is the main reason that made him determined to break them or destroy them.
Bellow is a brief description of how the JWs were treated in an effort to break them. This sort of treatment did not happen to the Jews. (The program “Knocking” took a trip with the Jew that became a JW and some of his Jewish – non JW - family to Auschwitz and they mention some of the things in bellow)
Thereafter, the Nazi State unleashed one of the most barbaric persecutions of Christians in recorded history. Thousands of Jehovah’s Witnesses—from Germany, Austria, Poland, Czechoslovakia, the Netherlands, France, and other countries—were thrown into concentration camps. Here they were subjected to the most cruel and sadistic treatment imaginable. It was not unusual for them to be cursed and kicked, then forced to do knee-bending, jumping, and crawling for hours on end, until they fainted or dropped from exhaustion, while guards laughed with glee. Some were forced to stand naked or lightly clad in the courtyard in midwinter. Many were whipped until they were unconscious and their backs were covered with blood. Others were used as guinea pigs in medical experiments. Some, with their arms tied behind their back, were hung by their wrists. Though weak from hunger and inadequately clothed in freezing weather, they were forced to do heavy labor, working long hours, often using their own hands when shovels and other tools were needed. Both men and women were thus abused. Their ages ranged from the teens into the seventies. Their tormentors shouted defiance of Jehovah.
In an effort to break the spirit of the Witnesses, the camp commander at Sachsenhausen ordered August Dickmann, a young Witness, to be executed in the presence of all the prisoners, with Jehovah’s Witnesses out front where they would get the full impact. After that, the rest of the prisoners were dismissed, but Jehovah’s Witnesses had to remain. With great emphasis the commander asked them, ‘Who is now ready to sign the declaration?’—a declaration renouncing one’s faith and indicating willingness to become a soldier. Not one of the 400 or more Witnesses responded. Then two stepped forward! No, not to sign, but to ask that their signatures given about a year earlier be annulled.
In the Buchenwald camp, similar pressure was brought to bear. Nazi officer Rödl notified the Witnesses: “If anyone of you refuses to fight against France or England, all of you must die!” Two fully armed SS companies were waiting at the gatehouse. Not a single one of the Witnesses gave in. Harsh treatment followed, but the officer’s threat was not carried out. It came to be well recognized that, while the Witnesses in the camps would do almost any sort of work they were assigned, yet, even though punished with systematic starvation and overwork, they would firmly refuse to do anything in support of the war or that was directed against a fellow prisoner.
What they went through defies description. Hundreds of them died. After the survivors were released from the camps at the end of the war, a Witness from Flanders wrote: “Only an unswerving desire to live, hope and trust in Him, Jehovah, who is all-powerful, and love of The Theocracy, made it possible to endure all this and win the victory.”
Parents were torn away from their children. Marriage mates were separated, and some never heard from each other again. Shortly after he got married, Martin Poetzinger was arrested and taken to the infamous camp at Dachau, then to Mauthausen. His wife, Gertrud, was incarcerated in Ravensbrück. They did not see each other for nine years. Recalling his experiences in Mauthausen, he later wrote: “The Gestapo tried every method to induce us to break our faith in Jehovah. Starvation diet, deceitful friendships, brutalities, having to stand in a frame day after day, being hung from a ten-foot [3 m] post by the wrists twisted around the back, whippings—all these and others too degraded to mention were tried.”
Here is an interesting article from a Jewish
web site https://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/Holocaust/jehovah.html This web site also says
“In the Nazi years, about 10,000 Witnesses, most of them of German nationality, were imprisoned in concentration camps...... An estimated 2,500 to 5,000 Witnesses died in the camps or prisons. More than 200 men were tried by the German War Court and executed for refusing military service. ”
Another web site says ...“By 1934, the first of 6,000 Witnesses were sent to Nazi prisons and concentration camps. Many children were taken from their parents and sent to Nazi reform schools.” http://www.centralprint.net/jwtalks/Visitors/csmonito.html
So I have come to the conclusion that we never know just exactly
how many JWs were put into concentration camps as we do not know exactly
how many Jews died (we do have approximate)