Jehovahs Witnesses and the Third Reich: Sectarian Politics Under Persecution by M. James PentonSince the end of World War II, leaders of the Jehovahs Witness movement in both Germany and elsewhere have steadfastly argued that Witnesses were united in their opposition to Nazism and did not collude with the Third Reich. Documents have been uncovered, however, that prove otherwise. Using materials from Witness archives, the U.S. State Department, Nazi files, and other sources, M. James Penton demonstrates that while many ordinary German Witnesses were brave in their opposition to Nazism, their leaders were quite prepared to support the Hitler government.
Penton begins his study with a close reading of the Declaration of Facts released by the Witnesses at a Berlin convention in June 1933. Witness leaders have called the document a protest against Nazi persecution, however closer examination shows it contained bitter attacks on Great Britain and the United States - jointly referred to as the greatest and most oppressive empire on earth - the League of Nations, big business, and above all, Jews, who are referred to as the representatives of Satan the Devil.
It was later, in 1933 - when the Nazis would not accept Witness blandishments- that leader J.F. Rutherford called on Witnesses to seek martyrdom by carrying on a campaign of passive resistance. Many ultimately died in prisons and concentration camps, and postwar Witness leaders have attempted to use this fact to assert that Jehovahs Witnesses stood consistently against Nazism.
Drawing on his own Witness background and years of research on Witness history, Penton separates fact from fiction during this dark period.
Jehovah's Witnesses and the Third Reich/Nazi Connection - James Penton
Nazi Persecution of Jehovah's Witnesses
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November 6, Facing Stephen Spielberg's camera, Joseph Kempler describes a barracks within the Nazi camp where he was a prisoner. Surrounded by barbed wire, its inmates, wearing purple triangles, were not allowed to mix with others. They were Jehovah's Witnesses. Imprisoned because of their faith and active resistance, they were often isolated so they couldn't preach to others.
Jehovah's Witnesses suffered religious persecution in Nazi Germany between 19after refusing to perform military service, join Nazi organizations.
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Letter to the Chancellor of Reich. At the beginning of and particularly from October of that year, the movement entered logic of combat against the Nazis by means of the printed sheet. James PENTON in Apocalypse Delayed reports that in June the persons in charge of the Watchtower tried to charm the Nazi regime by the affirmation of their honesty towards the principles of the National Socialist government and by anti-Semitic declarations in a Declaration of Facts. Evidence of the authenticity of the declaration as well as the letter. The seat of the Jehovah Witnesses does not dispute the authenticity of this letter and affirms that it was written by the local German leader of the Students of the Bible at the time. The declaration was officially published by the movement in the Yearbook.
Jehovah's Witnesses suffered religious persecution in Nazi Germany between and after refusing to perform military service , join Nazi organizations or give allegiance to the Hitler regime. An estimated 10, Witnesses—half of the number of members in Germany during that period—were imprisoned, including who were sent to Nazi concentration camps. An estimated died in custody, including who were executed. They were the first Christian denomination banned by the Nazi government and the most extensively and intensively persecuted. Unlike Jews and Romani , who were persecuted on the basis of their ethnicity, Jehovah's Witnesses could escape persecution and personal harm by renouncing their religious beliefs by signing a document indicating renunciation of their faith, submission to state authority, and support of the German military.