Dec 262004
 

This page is still under construction, but I figured I’d put it up here while I’m working on it. There’s a bunch of notes and a timeline. If you have any information that you think would add to this or any comments, please feel free to contact me.

Time Line

September 1, 1931 – The Watchtower reaffirms its long held position that Zionism and the return of the Jews to Palestine is in fulfillment of Bible prophecy.

“God promised to restore Palestine to the Jews. The rebuilding of Palestine is now beginning and is well under way. This is being done clearly in fulfillment of prophecy uttered as promises from Jehovah. this alone should command not only the respectful attention but the profoundest interest of every one who believes that Jehovah is God. It was the great Jehovah, speaking through men who had faith in him, that foretold what we now see transpiring concerning Palestine. The privilege of living on earth at the time of the fulfillment of these prophecies cannot be overestimated. At once the Jew comes into prominence, and the history of the Jewish people becomes more thrilling than any fiction every written.” – The Watchtower, 9/1/1931, 270-271

May 15, 1932 – The Watchtower reverses its position on Zionism

Restoration of genuine worship of the living God in 1919 did not mean gathering together throngs of native or natural “orthodox” Jews in a so-called “Holy Land” (Palestine) under the slogan of “Zionism.” (John 4:21-23) Indeed, such a long-expected and popularly heralded event the earnest students of the Bible came to understand by 1932 as being not Jehovah’s way but only the way of self-serving men subtly stirred into action for creatures’ purposes and benefits. By the publication of Volume 2 of the book Vindication that year, Jehovah’s witnesses came to see that such a “back to Palestine” movement was by the spirit of Jehovah’s archfoe, Satan, who has deceived the entire inhabited earth. From the Scriptural viewpoint Jehovah’s anointed praisers, his singing watchmen “out of all nations and tribes and peoples and tongues,” were spiritual Jews, Israelites indeed, and were the ones restored to the holy place of Jehovah’s favor.” – The Watchtower, 5/15/55, p 296

January 30, 1933 – Hitler becomes Chancellor of Germany

April 4, 1933 – WTS offices in Magdeburg seized. – Awake!, 8/22/95, pp. 6-7

April 28, 1933 – Seizure order rescinded, property returned – Awake!, 8/22/95, pp. 6-7

June 25, 1933 – Convention in Berlin, Declaration of Facts adopted.

November 1, 1933, issue of The Watchtower “Fear Them Not.” – “It was prepared especially for the German Witnesses, exhorting them to take courage in the face of mounting pressure.” – Awake!, 8/22/95, pp 7-8

February 9, 1934 – J. F. Rutherford, president of the Watch Tower Society, sent a letter of protest to Hitler stating: “You may successfully resist any and all men, but you cannot successfully resist Jehovah God. . . . In the name of Jehovah God and His anointed King, Christ Jesus, I demand that you give order to all officials and servants of your government that Jehovah’s witnesses in Germany be permitted to peaceably assemble and without hindrance worship God.”

Rutherford set March 24, 1934, as the deadline. He said that if by that time relief did not come to the German Witnesses, the facts about the persecution would be published throughout Germany and the rest of the world. The Nazis answered Rutherford’s demand with stepped-up abuses, sending many of Jehovah’s Witnesses to the concentration camps that had recently been set up. Thus, they were among the first inmates of these camps. – Awake!, 8/22/95, pp 7-8

October 7, 1934 – all congregations of Jehovah’s Witnesses in Germany assembled to hear a letter read that was being sent to the officials of the Hitler government. It said: “There is a direct conflict between your law and God’s law . . . Therefore this is to advise you that at any cost we will obey God’s commandments, will meet together for the study of His Word, and will worship and serve Him as He has commanded.”

On the same day, Jehovah’s Witnesses in 49 other countries met in special assembly and sent the following telegram to Hitler: “Your ill-treatment of Jehovah’s witnesses shocks all good people of earth and dishonors God’s name. Refrain from further persecuting Jehovah’s witnesses; otherwise God will destroy you and your national party.” – Awake! 8/22/95, pp 8

Nov 9, 1938 – Krystallnact

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Jehovah’s Witnesses in the Divine Purpose, page 130 – After mentioning the June 1933 convention in Berlin, it says “There a prepared Declaration of Facts was presented to the 7,000 in attendance in protest against the Hitler government for their highhanded interference with the witness work of the Society, as was unanimously adopted.”

Jehovah’s Witnesses in the Divine Purpose pp 130-1 – “Seizing the Society’s property at Magdeburg was a flagrant violation of international property rights, because title was held by our American corporation. In a effort to regain control of the property, an appeal was made to the United States Department of State urging a protest against this highhanded action of the German government. As a result of the negotiations that ensued between the State Department of the United States and Germany, the German government entered an order for the release of all the Society’s property and turned it back into the possession of the brothers there.”

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An Appeal for Understanding

Hitler became prime minister of Germany on January 30, 1933, and a couple of months later, on April 4, 1933, the Magdeburg branch office of Jehovah’s Witnesses was seized. However, the order was rescinded on April 28, 1933, and the property was returned. What would happen next?

In spite of the evident hostility of the Hitler regime, Jehovah’s Witnesses organized a convention in Berlin, Germany, on June 25, 1933. Some 7,000 persons assembled. The Witnesses publicly made their intentions clear: “Our organization is not political in any sense. We only insist on teaching the Word of Jehovah God to the people, and that without hindrance.

Thus Jehovah’s Witnesses made a good-faith effort to state their case. What were the consequences? – Awake! 8/22/1995, pp. 6-7

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Not Anti-Semitic

Thank you for not hiding things that you regret having said. Although I would like to have read an apology for this statement, your this-was-the-context explanation was adequate. Please carry on with your fine work, knowing that your readers appreciate the depth and honesty of Awake! W. H., United States

The reader refers to statements in the “Declaration of Facts,” a resolution adopted in 1933 at a convention in Berlin, Germany. (See “Jehovah’s Witnesses – Courageous in the Face of Nazi Peril,” in the July 8, 1998, issue of “Awake!”) As the article noted, nothing said in the 1933 declaration was intended to express or condone hostility toward Jews, and we regret it if some statements give that impression today. If anyone back in the 1930’s interpreted the “Declaration of Facts” to mean that Jehovah’s Witnesses were anti-Semitic, this misimpression could easily have been corrected by observing the courageous and compassionate acts of individual Witnesses in behalf of Jews. Moreover, Watch Tower Society publications were among the first to expose and express outrage at the treatment of Jews in Europe. – ED
. – Awake!, 9/8/1999, p. 30 “From Our Readers”

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*** g95 8/22 7-8 The Evils of Nazism Exposed ***

Witnesses’ Resolute Stand

Despite these initial attacks, Jehovah’s Witnesses stood their ground and publicly denounced the oppression and injustice. The November 1, 1933, issue of The Watchtower featured the article “Fear Them Not.” It was prepared especially for the German Witnesses, exhorting them to take courage in the face of mounting pressure.

On February 9, 1934, J. F. Rutherford, the president of the Watch Tower Society, sent a letter of protest to Hitler stating: “You may successfully resist any and all men, but you cannot successfully resist Jehovah God. . . . In the name of Jehovah God and His anointed King, Christ Jesus, I demand that you give order to all officials and servants of your government that Jehovah’s witnesses in Germany be permitted to peaceably assemble and without hindrance worship God.”

Rutherford set March 24, 1934, as the deadline. He said that if by that time relief did not come to the German Witnesses, the facts about the persecution would be published throughout Germany and the rest of the world. The Nazis answered Rutherford’s demand with stepped-up abuses, sending many of Jehovah’s Witnesses to the concentration camps that had recently been set up. Thus, they were among the first inmates of these camps.

*** g95 8/22 8-9 The Evils of Nazism Exposed ***

Witnesses Expose Nazi Atrocities

As Jehovah’s Witnesses had promised, they began exposing the atrocities occurring in Germany. Witnesses around the globe repeatedly registered protests with the Hitler government.

On October 7, 1934, all congregations of Jehovah’s Witnesses in Germany assembled to hear a letter read that was being sent to the officials of the Hitler government. It said: “There is a direct conflict between your law and God’s law . . . Therefore this is to advise you that at any cost we will obey God’s commandments, will meet together for the study of His Word, and will worship and serve Him as He has commanded.”

On the same day, Jehovah’s Witnesses in 49 other countries met in special assembly and sent the following telegram to Hitler: “Your ill-treatment of Jehovah’s witnesses shocks all good people of earth and dishonors God’s name. Refrain from further persecuting Jehovah’s witnesses; otherwise God will destroy you and your national party.”

The Nazis responded almost immediately by stepping up their persecution. Hitler himself screamed: “This brood will be exterminated in Germany!” But as opposition intensified, the determination of the Witnesses stiffened correspondingly.

*** yb74 pp. 138-139 Part 2 – Germany ***

The effect that the letters, and especially the telegrams, had upon Hitler can be seen by a report written by Karl R. Wittig, attested by a notary public in Frankfurt (Main) on November 13, 1947:

“DECLARATION—On October 7, 1934, having been previously summoned, I visited Dr. Wilhelm Frick, at that time Minister of the Interior of the Reich and Prussia, in his home office of the Reich, located in Berlin, 6 am Köenigsplatz, since I was a plenipotentiary of General Ludendorff. I was to accept communications, contents of which were an attempt to persuade General Ludendorff to discontinuance of his objection to the Nazi regime. During my discussion with Dr. Frick, Hitler suddenly appeared and began taking part in the conversation. When our discussion obligatorily dealt with the action against the International Bible Students Association [Jehovah’s witnesses] in Germany up until now, Dr. Frick showed Hitler a number of telegrams protesting against the Third Reich’s persecution of the Bible Students, saying: ‘If the Bible Students do not immediately get in line we will act against them using the strongest means.’ After which Hitler jumped to his feet and with clenched fists hysterically screamed: ‘This brood will be exterminated in Germany!’ Four years after this discussion I was able, by my own observations, to convince myself, during my seven years in protective custody in the hell of the Nazis’ concentration camps at Sachsenhausen, Flossenbürg and Mauthausen—I was in prison until released by the Allies—that Hitler’s outburst of anger was not just an idle threat. No other group of prisoners of the named concentration camps was exposed to the sadism of the SS soldiery in such a fashion as the Bible Students were. It was a sadism marked by an unending chain of physical and mental tortures, the likes of which no language in the world can express.”

  2 Responses to “Notes on the Watchtower and Hitler”

  1. When I was a small child there was an entire section of the ministry school that dealt with the horrors of the JW’s in the concentration camps. I remember vividly, as though it was yesterday, the story of the witness couple in a camp. the husband heard his wife being beaten to death all night by the guards and all he had to do to save her was renounce Jehovah. He did not and she died a horrible and agonizing death. I must have been no older than 8 years of age.
    I began to have serious depression and anxiety, so much so that I failed the fifth grade and had serious health issues. I could not stop thinking about the horrible story. I questioned my own faith, that of a child, could I let someone torture my parents all night, hear their screams, and not save them by renouncing Jehovah. This question haunted me day and night. I felt unworthy of Jehovah and unworthy of my parents.
    I have two adult children, two wonderful children, and I left the JW’s when they were young so that they would never experience the horror of what I experienced as a child. This is just one example of the wrong that the JW’s have done to their faithful followers.

  2. Rebecca, all of Jehovah’s Witnesses know that we are not worthy of Jehovah any more than anyone else. However, Jehovah’s worthiness is so great that it overpowers our unworthiness through Jesus Christ. As a child, I learned the same history of Jehovah’s Witnesses under Nazi persecution that you did, and so do all other children among us.

    However, unlike you, I survived persecution myself during that childhood, in the form sexual, emotional, and physical abuse committed by extended family members and family friends.

    Talk about depression and anxiety, why don’t you? For me, that started in Kindergarten, because until then my sexual abusers had been school-age, and the last thing I wanted to be was like them.

    How many teachers threatened to hold me back? I suspect that each one of them would have, if only they could have coped with me and my undiagnosed symptoms any better than I coped with being school-aged.

    As I grew older, my sexual and emotional abusers were also older, and by the time I graduated high school, I had myself back a semester, trying to avoid becoming an adult, because long before then, that’s what my abusers had become. I would have held back an entire year, if only my school hadn’t force-graduated me at midterm.

    Through all this, I was labeled as a “problem child”, “lazy”, “immature”, and “undisciplined”. I was occasionally given prescribed drugs to treat symptoms, but never any attempt to cure what ailed me.

    As a result of all this – and more that I’m not telling you – I personally know how that brother endured what he did in the Nazi concentration camp: He had faith in Jehovah’s worthiness to compensate for his own unworthiness.

    You speak of wrong done by Jehovah’s Witnesses to our faithful followers, but what what wrong did we do? Do you blame us for what the Nazis did? Was it we who obsessed about the idea of your parents being tortured, and reminded you day after day, of a choice that you never actually faced?

    Also, to which faithful followers did we do the wrong? Were they the husband and wife in the Nazi camp, or was it someone who was so faithful to Jehovah that she renounced Jehovah when her grown children were small?

    I do not belittle what you endured as a child, but who really did that to you?

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