1933 Letter from the Watchtower Society to Adolph Hitler
BIBLE AND TRACT SOCIETY
PUBLISHERS OF THE BIBLE STUDENTS ASSOCIATION GENERAL OFFICES: 117 ADAMS STREET BROOKLYN NEW YORK, U.S.A. GERMAN BRANCH:
WACHTTURMSTR.1 – 19
POSTSCH.-K.: MAGDEBURG 4042 TELEPHONE, MAGDEBURG 405 56,405 57, 405 58
RADIO AND CABLE ADDRESS: WATCHTOWER MAGDEBURG
Most Honored Mr. Chancellor:
On June 25, 1933, a 5,000-delegate convention of German Bible Students (Jehovah’s Witnesses), representing several million Germans who have been friends and followers of this movement for many years, was held in the Sporthalle Wilmersdorf in Berlin. The purpose of this meeting was to find ways and means of making known to you, Mr. Chancellor, and to other high government officials of the German Reich, as well as Lander [state] governments, the following:
In some parts of the country measures are being taken against an association of earnest Christian men and women which has positive Christianity as its foundation. Because of their origin, these measures can be regarded as nothing less than the persecution of one group of Christians by another, since the accusations which trigger them [the measures] are levelled from clerical, especially Catholic, quarters and are untrue.
Absolutely convinced of the full objectivity of the government departments and officials dealing with these matters, we nevertheless recognize that because of the volume of our literature on one hand and because of the heavy workload of the relevant case workers on the other, the content of our literature and the purpose of our movement are judged in large part incorrectly, specifically in accord with the views-which cause prejudice-that our religious opponents bring against us.
For this reason the matters discussed at the convention have been set down in the attached declaration of the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society in order to convey to you, Mr. Chancellor, and to the senior departments of the governments of the German Reich and the Lander as documentation of the fact that German Bible Students intend only, as the sole objective of their work, to lead mankind back to God and to witness to and give honor to the name of Jehovah, the Almighty, the Father of our Lord and Redeemer, Jesus Christ, here on the earth. We are secure in the knowledge that you, Mr. Chancellor, will not let such activity be disturbed.
German Bible Student congregations are generally known as havens of true reverence for the Almighty and as ardent custodians of careful biblical research. Local police authorities must always affirm that Bible Students definitely have to be counted as among those elements of the country and people that love and support order. Their only mission is the recruitment of human hearts that love God. The Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society is the Bible Students’ organizational mission center (for Germany: with head offices in Magdeburg).
The Brooklyn administration of the Watch Tower Society is and in the past has been outstandingly friendly to Germany. For this reason, the president of the Society and seven members of its Board of Directors in the United States were sentenced to 80 years imprisonment because the president refused to use two magazines published by him in the United States for war propaganda against Germany. These two magazines, “The Watch Tower” and “Bible Student” [The Bible Students Monthly] were the only magazines in the United States which refused [to publish] war propaganda against Germany and were, for this reason, outlawed and suppressed in the United States during the war.
In a similar manner, the administration of our Society not only refused to participate in the horror propaganda against Germany, but it took a position against it. This is emphasized by the attached Declaration which refers to the fact that the circles which led [in promoting] horror propaganda in the United States (commercialistic Jews and Catholics) are also the most eager persecutors of our Society’s work and its administration. These and other statements in our Declaration are meant to serve as a rejection of the slanderous claim that the Bible Students are supported by Jews.
The representative convention of these five thousand delegates took notice with great satisfaction of the statement by the governing president of Magdeburg that the connection between Bible Students and Communists or Marxists, claimed by our clerical opponents, cannot be substantiated (and thus is slanderous as well). A relevant press report in the Magdeburg Daily News No. 104 of May 5, 1933 says:
A government declaration regarding the occupation of Bible Student House.-The government press center announces: “Police occupation of property owned by the Earnest Bible Students Association has been ended since no incriminating material regarding a claimed Communist activity was found.”
Further: the Magdeburg Daily News No. 102 of May 3, 1933 [states]:
The representative convention of these five thousand delegate stressed that, following these circumstances, it would find it beneath its dignity to defend itself in future against the contemptible accusation of Marxist or Communist activity. The delegates refuted the accusations of our religious opponents, which are clearly a sign of religious competition.
They [the religious opponents] would prefer to throttle truthful herald of warning with slander rather than [use] the Word c God. Further, it was stated at the five-thousand-delegate convention-a expressed in the Declaration-that Bible Students are fighting for the same high, ethical goals and ideals that the National Government a the German Reich proclaimed regarding the relationship of man t God, namely: honesty of the created towards the Creator!
At the convention, it was stated that there are no opposing views in the relationship between German Bible Students and the National Government of the German Reich, but that, to the contrary, respecting the purely religious and apolitical goals and objectives of the Bible Students, it can be said that these are in complete harmony with the similar goals of the National Government of the German Reich.
Because of the supposedly harsh language of our literature, some of our books were banned. The five-thousand-delegate convention pointed out in this connection that the contents of our books that were objected to referred only to circumstances in the Anglo-American World Empire and that it-especially England-is to be held responsible for the League of Nations and the unjustified treaties and burdens placed on Germany. The things said in the above-mentioned spirit are therefore directed-whether in a financial, political, or Roman Catholic (ultramontane) sense-against the oppressors of the German people and country, not against the Germany struggling against these burdens. Thus the bans [on Bible Student literature] are made absolutely incomprehensible.
To those various German Lander in which there occurred bans on Bible Student religious services, prohibitions of prayer meetings, etc., those [Bible Students], who have waited for weeks for a just resolution of the situation which is stifling to their religious life, expressed the following:
We will continue to conform to the regulations of prohibition issued [against us] because we are confident that you, Mr. Chancellor, or the governments of the Lander, will lift these measures-by which tens of thousands of Christian men and women would fall victim to a martyrdom reminiscent of that of the original Christians-once the true state of affairs is known.
Finally, this five-thousand-delegate convention stated that the Bible Student-Watch Tower organization stands for the maintenance of order and the security of the state as well as for the enhancement of the above mentioned, religiously related high ideals of the National Government. In order to make this known above all to you, Mr. Chancellor, as the Leader of the German people, and to other high government officials of the Reich and the Lander, the sentiments expressed briefly above were set down in detail in the attached Declaration.
The attached Declaration was read [publicly] by the secretary of the five-thousand-delegate, Bible Student Convention, was approved unanimously [by Convention delegates], and was adopted with the instruction that a single copy of it and of the Convention Report be conveyed to the Chancellor of the Reich and to other high officials of the Reich and the Lander.
This is done with the most respectful plea that the request expressed in the Declaration be granted in a most positive manner: namely, to give a commission [drawn] from within our midst the opportunity of making a responsible exposition regarding the facts to you, Mr. Chancellor, or the Minister of the Interior, personally. Failing that, [we request] that a commission of men be appointed by you, Mr. Chancellor, who are not religiously prejudiced against us-that is of men who are themselves not by profession interested in religious matters but who would alone truly examine our concerns without prejudice and according to the just principles enunciated by the Chancellor of the Reich him self. By these principles we mean the statements in Section 24 of Platform of the National Socialist German Workers Party:
“We demand the freedom of all religious confessions in the state so long they do not endanger its existence or conflict with the ethical and moral beliefs of the German race. The Party, as such, represents the viewpoint of positive Christianity without associating itself with a specific confession. It opposes the Jewish-materialist spirit domestically and abroad and is convinced that a lasting recuperation our people can only happen from the inside out….”
We are firmly convinced that the National Government of German will find no reason to hinder our services or missionary activities if are judged, first, without religious prejudice and, second, according the Platform points quoted above.
With anticipation of an early, positive assent [to our requests] a with the assurance of our highest esteem, most honored Mr. Chancellor, we remain,
Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society Magdeburg