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Jehovah's Witnesses In The Divine Purpose

CHAPTER 24

Concentration Camps Fail to Still Lips Praising God

JOHN: From the moment a prisoner arrived at any of the German concentration camps his "initiation" began. This was to make him more "pliable." Especially were Jehovah's witnesses marked for attention. From the time of arrest and repeatedly throughout their internment efforts were made to force the Witnesses to renounce their faith in Jehovah and refuse to have any further contact with Jehovah's witnesses. A declaration was prepared by the SS officers and those in charge of concentration camps and was held out to the Witnesses to sign in return for their freedom. This declaration read:


I recognized that the International Society of Bible Students spreads out a doctrine of error, pursuing aims dangerous for the state, hidden behind religious actions.

I therefore turned off totally from this organization and freed myself completely from their doctrine.

I assure by this never again to be active for the International Bible Students Society.

I promise to deliver immediately every person communicating this doctrine of error in my presence or showing a tendency as a Bible student in some other way. I shall bring all Scriptures of the Bible students handed over to me to the nearest office of police.

In future times I shall respect all the laws of the state to be completely a member of the community of the people.

I, too, have been taught to expect my repeated arrest, in case of violating my declaration given today. a


Needless to say, few Witnesses signed this total abdication of association with Jehovah's theocratic organization.

One brother relates a typical "welcome" at one of the more infamous camps after he had already served out his sentence of five years in prison:


Now followed days of questioning by the Gestapo, whereby I was trampled on, spat at and beaten because I did not sign the statement to renounce my faith. Then I was transferred to the destruction camp of Mauthausen, Austria. There we were received at the station by the SS with fixed bayonets and accompanied by dogs and then along narrow pathways we went up to the camp in marching columns. The dogs were trained to incessantly nip the prisoners in the calves of their legs so that they screamed. In front of the camp we formed into ranks. Some were then called to step out of the ranks, asked the reason of their arrest, and got such clubs over the ears that they overbalanced. b


In this way seven brothers got three times twenty-five strokes with the steel-whip when they reached the camp of Neuengamme near Hamburg. The steel-whip was a stick of steel sewed into leather, and its effects were more dreadful than a cowhide. Here is the report:


Upon their arrival an SS officer cried out: "Where are the sky-comedians?" Nobody answered. "Where are the Bible worms?" Again no answer. "Well, aren't there any Jehovah's

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witnesses among you?" Now all seven answered simultaneously: "Here!" He approached the first. . . . Letting his steel-whip lightly caress his bald head he asked: "You there, how long will you still be a Bible Student?" The brother answered: "Till my death." "Sooo?" He was the first to go on the block to get twenty-five lashes with the steel-whip. Then the second, the third, till the last. Then the SS officer went again to the first . . . "Now, then! are you still a witness of Jehovah?" "Yes, till my death." A second time he had to go on to the block— again twenty-five strokes with the steel-whip. Then the second, the third, the fourth till the seventh. Then the SS officer went for the third time to [the first brother]: "Now, then! How long will you be a witness of Jehovah now?" It is difficult to describe the feelings of a man treated like this, but again the brother answered: "Till my death." Now he and the others had to go a third time on to the block and received twenty-five lashes with the steel-whip. c


Many times additional tortures were added to these "initiation" proceedings, as related by this brother:


I was then taken to the Sachsenhausen concentration camp near Berlin . . . The reception was connected with several hours of knee-crooking with the Saxon greeting (hands folded at the back of the neck). In the camp bath alternatively hot and then cold water was directed at us with hoses. After the bath we had to do sports, but of course not sports in the proper sense of the words; it rather amounted to murder, for many a prisoner, if he suffered from a heart ailment, remained dead on the ground. Three SS men commandeered: "Up! Down! Roll!" till we had to vomit, and all this on ground that consisted of dusty, black coal-cinder. Imagine to do this for an hour and sometimes longer and then stand still on the mustering grounds for hours in all weathers without permission to leave the ranks. d

INDUCTION INTO CAMP ROUTINE

Actual induction into the camp routine itself was made as torturous as possible. Jehovah upheld the faithful inductees:


We had to completely undress in the open air and wait there for two hours till one after another was called into the bath. There our heads were shaved. Those suspected of disease got a circle on their chests with charcoal and a cross above it, and they were never seen again. Now into the gas chamber which was also the shower-bath. From all sides icy-cold wind was sent through the ventilators till all the prisoners had been examined and shaved. After two or three days the windows were opened and two bundles of prisoners' clothes were thrown in. Each one took what he happened to find, the one pants, the other a cap, the third one a jacket and so on. This was repeated every day for about two weeks till everyone had what he was to have.

During this time office prisoners came to us to take our personal particulars. The forms showed that this was a camp to die and not to live. Through these prisoners from the office the other brothers learned that I had arrived and immediately two brothers visited me alternatively in the evening hours and brought me warm clothes and bread. During the last week in quarantine we were formed into a working commando, whereby some 450 men had to sleep in such a small room that we were six to every palliasse, one head up, the next head down etc. The bundle of clothes and the clogs constituted the pillow, otherwise they would have been stolen. It was like being in a vice. For me it was the worst thing I ever experienced. When I got up in the morning I thought with horror on the evening. Fortunately this lasted only a week. If one murmured something, the block elder ran over all the human bodies and hit with his cowhide like a madman at the place where the sounds came from, no matter whether he hit the right ones or not.

Together with about 2,000 men I was then sent to a small outside camp, of which Mauthausen was said to have had twenty-one. This was in Grossramming where we had to build streets. I lost weight daily and after three months I was completely exhausted and had water in my legs, which is the first sign that the end is near. Every day a number died from undernourishment and others just collapsed from exhaustion and died. Nobody was allowed to rest one minute during the work. Professional criminals and other rabble were our kapos appointed by the SS. These shouted constantly: "Move! move!" We were awakened at 4:30 a.m., had to wash together and, after the beds were "built" and the rooms cleaned, no one was allowed to go back to the barrack. If the bed was not "built" as prescribed, one could expect twenty-five strokes with the cowhide or otherwise to be beaten till blood flowed. Towards 6 a.m. we obtained black coffee, and if there was a piece of bread left from the evening before this was crumbled into it and then off to work. We had to walk half an hour to the place of work. We had to do earthwork or break stones. At 12 o'clock we received a quart of swede soup with a little horse meat or sausage in it. Together with the black coffee in the

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morning this was all the food for the whole day, from 4:30 a.m. till 9 p.m., and most of the time it had to be eaten standing. At 6 p.m. march back to the camp, whereby those who had died during the day or were exhausted had to be carried back by us to the camp. I often thought of Job's words: "There those weary in power are at rest. Together prisoners themselves are at ease; they actually do not hear the voice of one driving them to work." (Job 3:17, 18) All the others had to carry back a heavy stone into the camp till the whole mustering ground was surrounded with such stones.

I would also like to describe here a "de-licing" process, of which I experienced several. Every two weeks we were examined, and if the lice got too numerous the whole barracks were disinfected. In the midst of winter with temperatures below freezing point all the prisoners had to undress and leave their clothes in the barrack. Then all the doors and windows were plastered up and the prisoners had to go entirely naked through the snow up the hill to the washroom. There each one was sprayed with a certain acid which burned like fire. After this he had to jump into a big vat filled with 125 gallons of cold water. We had to dip twice and the burning ceased. Then one could wipe oneself dry a little bit and then go some 300 yards, entirely naked, to a barrack filled with straw and lightly heated. There we stayed till our barracks were ventilated. Because of our undernourished condition several prisoners died after each such procedure. e

HELPED BY JEHOVAH

In their physically starved condition their powers of resistance would also be weakened, but these faithful servants of God knew wherein their strength lay. One brother expressed it like this:


Being so often deprived of food and having to do heavy work every day, our physical strength was waning visibly. I was in such a state that I was hardly able to move my skeleton. Two brothers would support me under the arms when marching into the camp. Often I swallowed a handful of sand so that my stomach had something to do. Other brothers did this too. So we did everything possible to stay alive and thus brand Satan and his SS men as liars, for they often said: "Where is your Jehovah? Let him help you!" I must say that he helped us in a wonderful way. But we had one great wish, and that was to eat once more our fill. The person who has never suffered from hunger cannot judge this, for nobody could have lived on 300 grams of bread daily and a kohlrabi soup at noon with practically no fat in it unless Jehovah had given his blessing. And as they served a slice of blood sausage several times a week, which we refused, we were given nothing at all. Did not Jesus say: "It is written, 'Man must live, not on bread alone, but on every utterance coming forth through Jehovah's mouth'" ? I came to deeply appreciate those words, for it was in truth the spiritual food that could keep us alive. What an advantage if one had studied the Scriptures diligently before, so as to be able to draw from that reserve now ... I must say that it was the very spiritual food that helped me overcome the dreadful feeling of hunger, and other brothers can confirm this. f


As further evidence of the particular hatred manifested against Jehovah's witnesses, note this statement from a report of one of the brothers:


Of course the camp management punished us for our steadfastness. Thus for years we were not allowed to buy food although on the letterhead it was stated: "Everything can be bought in the camp." What an irony! Yes, the political prisoners, the professional criminals, the lazy and morally corrupt could buy all that was to be had in the camp: bread, jam and other things, and were also allowed to read papers.

The customary correspondence of two letters of four pages each per month was also forbidden to us. We were only allowed one "letter" of five lines per month, which was provided with a stamp reading as follows: "The prisoner is now as ever an obstinate Bible Student and refuses to renounce the heresy of the Bible Students. For this reason he has merely been deprived of the facility of the otherwise permitted exchange of letters." This stamp, which was also used upon the letters of our sisters, was for us evidence that the writer remained faithful and stuck to the organization. So we were less interested of the contents of the letter—for what could one say in five lines—but that stamp always caused us joy. g

FEMALE WITNESSES ENDURE

Even the female Witnesses were not immune from the inhuman treatment meted out by the "super men" of the Third Reich. Some of the women's camps were as notorious as the men's.


The happenings at the Ravensbruck women's camp show the vile practices carried out against

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Jehovah's witnesses by the Catholic SS troops. In this women's camp alone there were 50 Polish women in the truth, 15 Ukrainians, 10 Czechs, 10 Hungarians, 25 Hollanders, 2 Belgians, 500 Germans, and 300 young Russian Jonadabs that learned of the truth in the camp itself. Here nearly one thousand Christian women went through the tortures of a Catholic "purgatory". . . . Roll was called at five o'clock in the morning. . . . During the day these women were forced to do hard labor: digging foundations for buildings, constructing roads, carrying coal, handling heavy trunks and boxes in the luggage department, building barracks, and performing many other tasks too heavy for underfed, underclothed and badly-treated people. Because 495 of Jehovah's witnesses refused to make ammunition cases, they were sentenced to eight weeks in dark arrest (meaning confinement in a cell without windows). h


The physical torments received from the guards and other prisoners were not all these faithful witnesses had to undergo. The almost indescribable conditions of the camps themselves are pictured to some extent in this report from one of the female Witnesses who survived Auschwitz:


After I had been three months in the camp at Ravensbruck, I arrived with a transportation of about 100 other sisters at Auschwitz in June, 1942. The journey had taken two days by train. We were clothed in rags and wooden shoes. The camp was full of lice everywhere, and the plague of fleas was indescribable.

If any were ill they were sent immediately to Berkenau. There it was terrible. If one died, a sick person was laid on the same bed immediately. Everything was full of lice and covered with excreta. The attendance and treatment were carried out by undependable prisoners. This camp was called the "annihilation" camp because of the thousands and thousands who died here. The Jewish children were thrown alive into the fire. The Jews had to drive their own women and children into the gas chamber. For six weeks they had to dig a huge grave and then often had to throw their women into it, frequently when they were only unconscious. Then everything was burnt. Those who dug the grave knew that after the six weeks it would be their turn. The grave burnt day and night. There were five cremation ovens also in Auschwitz.

But to die of typhus or to "go up the chimney" would be considered a far more merciful death than to be eaten by rats. It is blood-chilling to even think of it, yet some of Jehovah's witnesses while still alive, being so weak they could not defend themselves, were actually gnawed to death by rats. To make it even worse these faithful Witnesses that were eaten alive by rats were poor, helpless women. They had been weakened by starvation and torture to the point where they could not defend themselves against this most hateful enemy, the rat. i

SEEKING ONE ANOTHER'S INTERESTS

Because of their steadfast devotion to the righteous principles required of true Christians, even in the concentration camps Jehovah's witnesses were soon recognized as those worthy of positions of trust.


It was generally known in the camp that Jehovah's witnesses were the most diligent, conscientious and honest people. It was therefore also for this reason that the commander and the other officials were shaved by one of the witnesses because they believed that a witness of Jehovah was incapable of cutting their throat when shaving them. They knew too that Jehovah's witnesses did not endanger their safety, wherefore they also used them in places where there was danger of flight. . . Almost all of the witnesses had ample opportunity of witnessing, so that the whole watch personnel up to the commander, as also all the other prisoners of the camp, are completely informed about the hope of Jehovah's witnesses. j


Because in many instances the brothers were trusted they would not betray this trust even though their guards acted as cruel monsters toward them. Here is an experience that illustrates that point:


On February 22, 1943, we were loaded on goods vans and via the Netherlands and Belgium sent to St. Malo in Northern France. In the course of the journey we made the following experience with a brother from Holland. He was assigned to bring food to the various wagons when the train stopped. Suddenly the train started and he was not able to board it. So he was there alone in Holland—not far from his place of residence! What should he do? Flee? But what will happen to the brothers in the train when the SS learn that one of the Bible Students fled? He decided to follow the train. Getting to a lineman's hut he was well fed first and then driven by trolley to the train which he boarded when it stopped again. Till then the SS had not even noticed that he was

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missing. This was a good witness and his behavior helped to consolidate the position of all the other brothers. After a few days sojourn in St. Malo we were loaded on boats and carried to Alderney in the Channel Islands. k


In spite of the almost unbearable treatment received by Jehovah's witnesses in these camps, such places as Buchenwald, Ravensbruck, Sachsenhausen, Dachau, Belsen and others actually became international assembly places of Jehovah's witnesses of Germany and of captives brought from Russia, Poland, Czechoslovakia, the Netherlands, Belgium, France, Norway and other countries. The German brothers had quickly developed to a high degree the art of spiritual communication through copies of The Watchtower smuggled in and passed from hand to hand. Now these brothers could lovingly render inside aid to their non-German companions in camps and prisons. This international family relationship of Witnesses suffering adversity together kept them spiritually awake to their privileges of service inside the camps and in planning for expanded activities of theocratic worship when days of deliverance would come.

During their internment the brothers were very close and did everything possible to ease each other's condition and to provide spiritual food for one another. Here is an example:


Beginning of 1943 a sister from the Ravensbruck camp came to Buchenwald in order to look after an imprisoned foreign princess, Princess Mafalda, second daughter of King Victor Emmanuel III. We knew that our sister was without spiritual food. I had the opportunity of reaching the special chain of posts that surrounded the so-called prominent prisoners and was able to persuade a sentry to let me see these two women every week against a payment of 50 Marks which I collected among the brothers. In order to do so I also required a special permit for doing work there, which in my quality as an electrician I was able to procure secretly. In this way we were able to take care of the sister and also to witness to the princess.

On August 24, 1944, our camp was bombarded by Allied aeroplanes. The target was the DAW armament works which were staffed by prisoners. Many prisoners and SS men were killed by this attack. We witnesses lived through anxious hours thinking of our sister whose abode was near the works. As we found out later, she had been taken to a trench together with the princess and high imprisoned officers under SS guards. Very near the trench one of the approximately 600 explosive bombs that were thrown down that day, fell and filled up the whole trench. All were killed except our sister whom we were able to pull out unhurt from the trench. What a wonderful escape! We wept for emotion and thanked Jehovah. In our ranks we had but two dead and twelve injured. l

ORGANIZED PREACHING IN PRISON BONDS

The brothers were also ever eager and watchful for an opportunity to spread the good news to others inside the concentration camps. As new spiritual food was received they were only too happy for an opportunity to give it out to their fellow prisoners. Notice this incident:


As new brothers came from time to time into the camp they brought new thoughts which they had received elsewhere through issues of The Watchtower. This allowed us to keep pace with the truth. When we were out of spiritual food we implored Jehovah together to send us new supplies. The next morning there was a new brother at the gate. He had a wooden leg and in that leg he hid the issues of The Watchtower of October 15 and November 1, 1938, with the articles "Fill the Earth." What a joy! Now we in the isolation began a regular Watchtower study till we were caught, when our isolation was broken up and we were spread over all the other barracks of the big camp. Why this? In order that we might publish to others in the camp what we had learned.

The witness work was quickly organized. Each one had enough work. We reported regularly on our activity. Soon there were immersions. Even the Memorial was celebrated. The emblems were not missing either, and all this in the Sachsenhausen concentration camp near Berlin. But Satan was watching too; sometimes he changed his tactics. So we were being given responsible positions. I was transferred to the tailor shop and the SS man who had plagued me formerly but had got a few years older now designated me as his attendant. He said he appreciated my steadfastness.

As I was with a Polish brother together in a barrack where there were only Poles, this

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brother became my interpreter. In the evening we gave discourses where many young Russians listened who later asked to be immersed. My discourses I prepared in the tailor shop where I had Watchtowers as reference material. These were kept in a little room without windows. I had asked Brother S-----to watch and give me a sign if an SS man should come.

Well, it happened that I was just deeply studying when the door was flung open and the Obersturmfuehrer himself stood in front of me. I still see him now how he said: "This pack has been locked up for years and now they are more active here than outside. Where did you get The Watchtower from?" — "A deceased Hollandish brother gave it to me." The small room was put upside down; but they did not find everything, for instance, my Bible. I had to follow him to the punishment barrack which was called "Death Block." He said: "Now you go up the chimney to Jehovah; now it's finished with your propaganda." He gave orders that I be especially watched. I was not to remain there alone. Soon [three other brothers] were brought there too. We encouraged each other, for the end of our captivity drew rapidly nearer, as the Russians [the army] were not far away. About two weeks before the evacuation of the whole camp we were released from the Death Block. We were grateful to Jehovah for the privilege of making the acquaintance of this place too. This block was always overcrowded. The hygienic conditions were terrible; it was full of lice and bugs. But here too the witness had to be given, and that was the real reason why we had to go there.

Of course we were glad when we could leave that block alive. m


The record of preaching activity within the walls of these camps is an encouragement to all who are interested in seeing the good news reach persons of good will regardless of their circumstances.

The concentration camps failed dismally, not only in the attempt to crack integrity by making the Witnesses sign a renouncement of faith, but also in the effort to still lips devoted to singing the praises of God and his kingdom. Miscellaneous reports mention witness work done in the camps, and one concerning Buchenwald informs that Watchtower magazines were even produced within the camp. There were also cases of SS guards turning from Nazism and dedicating themselves to Jehovah God and thereafter suffering with their former victims, Jehovah's witnesses. The following is quoted from a report from refugees from Germany in Sweden, dated June 9, 1945:


According to the consensus of evidence from fellow internees, Jehovah's witnesses had to undergo the worst treatment in the camps. One of these witnesses, a man from Flanders [Belgium], writes: "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. —Romans 8:37."

In the concentration camp at Neuengamme, near Hamburg, a great and well-planned offensive was commenced, in the greatest secrecy, in the beginning of 1943. This took the form of fully organized activity for the giving of the witness among the various inhabitants of the camp. Some of the brethren produced literature, and testimony cards were written in the different languages spoken in the camp, while special "shock troops" were formed for the purpose of bearing the testimony to all the internees in a methodical manner. In this way these were made acquainted with the message, back-calls were made on those who showed interest, book studies were commenced, and even regular lectures were arranged with the aid of an interpreter for Russians and Poles.

This powerful and organized testimony naturally aroused the enemy's wrath, but counter-measures were of no avail. However, towards the end of the year an order came from Berlin that Jehovah's witnesses were to be distributed among all the barracks, and that they were not to be permitted to be in the same barracks together. But instead of this being a hindrance to the work, possibilities for coming into contact with the other prisoners increased. In this way each block was thoroughly worked, and those of good-will who were met received regular instruction. Special Testimony Periods were arranged, with the result that time in the service for The Theocracy and testimonies given were increased. Some of the interested themselves began to take part in witnessing. . . .

FRUIT OF FAITHFUL PREACHING

In this camp a regular camp newspaper entitled News About God's Kingdom was published by Jehovah's witnesses. Among other things this contained information of the progress of the work in Holland, Belgium, France, Switzerland, England, etc. . . .

When special persecution was experienced by the witnesses an increased testimony and fur-

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ther conquests for The Theocracy resulted. In one camp the authorities tried to force the witnesses to do work for the military powers, but without success. One of their number was therefore taken away to be shot. When others in the camp saw his courage, and saw with what joy he waved to his friends, it made such a deep impression that as a result ten fellow prisoners took their stand for Jehovah. . . . In that same camp there were together 300 who accepted the truth, among them 227 Russian youths! n

A dramatic example of this oral preaching happened one day when the prison authorities caused a brother to be stood up against a wall before the assembled camp. He was told that if he did not stop what they called "propaganda" about God's kingdom he would be shot. They then handed him a microphone for him to announce to the camp his compliance with their rule. There he was with his back to the wall before a firing squad. The 40,000 prisoners were at attention at that climactic moment when he took the microphone in hand and began to speak. Compromise? Not him! He was one of Jehovah's witnesses and he used that occasion to witness about the kingdom of heaven. Yes, he was shot down in cold blood, but the report says in conclusion, "In spite of this the brethren carried on with the message, so that many young Russians accepted the truth and symbolized their consecration by baptism." o


Many other reports also tell of prisoners accepting the truth. In the one camp of Ravensbruck, for instance, 300 Russians and Ukrainians took their stand for Jehovah's kingdom. The continual preaching and teaching resulted in a great harvest among these unfortunates in the concentration camps. Men and women dedicated themselves to Jehovah God to do his will and symbolized such decision by water immersion. Even a water barrel served for this purpose in one camp. One report reveals:


Through the active preaching in the camp we found more and more people of good-will of whom many expressed their desire to be immersed. Jehovah blessed our efforts and prayers and so we had the privilege, even in our punishment block, to have two baptism ceremonies with the number of 26 baptized, most of whom were young Russian girls. As a whole, during the camp time we baptized 70 people of good-will. p


At times these took their stand under dramatic circumstances. One morning, for example, at the morning parade all of Jehovah's witnesses were ordered to step a few paces forward for special examination. The report continues:


It happened that a boy of nineteen years, who had quite recently heard the message, stepped forward from the division to which he belonged and took his place among Jehovah's witnesses. He was taken to the commandant of the camp, who threatened him with 25 strokes. The boy answered: "I have today taken my stand for Jehovah, and that holds good, not only despite 25 strokes, but even if you take my life." The commandant then shouted, "Bring an iron bar! In ten minutes' time he won't be a Jehovah's witness any longer!" The young brother endured even this treatment, however, and was later one of the most energetic publishers. q


In obedience to Jesus' command to observe the Memorial of his death, even in concentration camps, Jehovah's witnesses met on the anniversary of this date.


Everyone was told to be in the laundry at 11 p.m. Exactly at 11 p.m. we were assembled, 105 in number. We stood close together in a circle, in the midst a footstool with a white cloth bearing the emblems. A candle lit the room, as electric light might have betrayed us. We felt like the primitive Christians in the catacombs. It was a solemn feast. We expressed anew our fervent vows to our Father to use all our strength for the vindication of His holy name, to stand faithfully for The Theocracy and to willingly present our bodies as living sacrifices acceptable unto God. r


In Ravensbruck, too, the Memorial supper was celebrated. Even the sisters in that camp had a part in the preparation of the Memorial for 1945. They reported that 163 were present, of whom 109 partook of the emblems. Even those in the punishment block were able to participate. s

THE WORLD LOOKS AT THE WITNESSES

The treatment of Jehovah's witnesses in these concentration camps and the stead-

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fast devotion to their faith, which these faithful servants of God displayed, was publicized throughout the world. The book, Kreuzzug gegen das Christentum or Crusade Against Christianity, from which we have read some of our reports, related the persecution of Jehovah's witnesses during the first five years of Nazi rule. It was published in 1938 by the Europa-Verlag in Zurich and in 1939 by Editions Rieder, Paris. The world-famous author, the late Dr. Thomas Mann, in a letter dated August 2, 1938, to the Watch Tower Society's Berne, Switzerland, Branch office, said in part:


I have read your book and its terrible documentation with deepest emotion. I cannot describe the mixed feeling of abhorrence and loathing which has filled my heart while perusing these records of human degradation and abominable cruelty. Human speech fails in the presence of the unspeakable perversity revealed in these pages, on which are recorded the awful sufferings of innocent men and women who firmly hold fast to their faith. t


Also commenting on this book, the well-known French author, Madame Genevieve Tabouis, in a letter dated October 28, 1938, stated in part:


We experience the invasion of barbarians as in the fourth century. But, Attila's army was nothing in comparison with the apostles of Nazism and fascism. Nevertheless, 'the faith that transplants mountains' will triumph also over the barbarians of the 20th century. There is not the least doubt about it. Those who, today, are martyrized on account of their faith, certainly render it in suffering a greater service than a general can render at the head of his army.

We are grateful to you, Sir, for your publication. We are divided between the horror of the persecutions committed and admiration for those who endure them. u


A Swiss Protestant minister, Pastor T. Bruppacher, significantly wrote:


While the German church controversy enjoys the favorable interest of official Christendom, we here have an unobserved company, standing and suffering in the foremost posts. While men who call themselves Christians have failed in the decisive tests, these unknown witnesses of Jehovah, as Christian martyrs, are maintaining unshakable opposition against coercion of conscience and heathen idolatry. The future historian must some day acknowledge that not the great churches, but these slandered and scoffed-at people, were the ones who stood up first against the rage of the Nazi demon, and who dared to make opposition according to the faith. They suffer and bleed because, as Jehovah's witnesses and candidates for the Kingdom of Christ, they refuse the worship of Hitler and the Swastika. These peculiar Christians are accounted worthy to suffer for His name's sake, and they have humbly proved that they really know how to defend their high title —that of Jehovah's witnesses. Whoever permits these documents to speak to him in all their sincerity will begin to see the maligned Bible Students in a new light. He will not again judge them in his own self-righteousness. v


In Buenos Aires, under the date of February 6, 1938, the German periodical, Argentinisches Tagblatt, wrote concerning Jehovah's witnesses in the Dachau concentration camp:


They endure all punishments with stoic composure and even continue to successfully work amongst their fellow sufferers for their cause. w


Mr. B. Stuart reported in the Natal, South Africa, Daily News, July 15, 1939:


It is not generally known that the "Bibelforschers" [Bible Students or Jehovah's witnesses] constitute the sole obstacle within the old Reich which Hitler has not been able to sweep from his path . . . But, like a light that never flickers, this little body of Christian men and women stand steadfast in their faith, a thorn in the side of the Monarch of Munich and a living testimony to his mortality. x


A French journalist, Jean Fontenoy, was permitted a tour of a concentration camp in Oranienburg. A lengthy report appeared in the "Journal" and portions were republished in the Swiss newspaper St. Galler Tagblatt. This reporter relates the camp commander's description of Jehovah's witnesses and then writes:


This discussion had caused me to think and later, at noon, I referred again to this theme of the Bible Students and said, "You have here

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450 Bible Students in this camp, but do they really belong here? Most of them must be good and harmless people; they seem to me to be somewhat like saints, at any rate really harmless."

A Berlin official accompanying the party through the camp stated it is hard to find the secret places in Germany where the Bible Students' literature is still being printed; no one carries names or addresses and no one betrays another. When 250 were arrested at Hamburg and their papers and press were confiscated, and it was thought that this would stop the circulation of a certain magazine, within two weeks after the raid the paper reappeared as before and the police had not been able since then to discover the place where printed, nor any of the distributors. y


Many others, some of them fellow prisoners, have spoken of the steadfast devotion of Jehovah's witnesses to their faith. Among them was the niece of General de Gaulle, then head of the French government. In a letter to the Society she made these observations:


Gentlemen: I am very glad to be able to convey to you my testimony regarding the Bible Students whom I met in the Ravensbruck [Women's] camp.

Indeed, I have true admiration for them. They belonged to various nationalities: German, Polish, Russian and Czech, and have endured very great sufferings for their beliefs.

The first arrests began ten years ago, and the majority of those who had been brought into the camp at that time died from the bad treatment inflicted upon them, or were executed.

I knew, however, some survivors of that time and other prisoners who had arrived more recently; all of them showed very great courage and their attitude commanded eventually even the respect of the S.S. They could have been immediately freed if they had renounced their faith. But, on the contrary, they did not cease resistance, even succeeding in introducing books and tracts into the camp, which writings caused several among them to be hanged.

In my block I knew three Bible Students of Czech nationality fairly well. As a protest they refused several times, together with other members of their faith, to go to the roll call. I was present myself at very painful scenes where I saw them beaten and bitten by the dogs without their renouncing their resolutions.

Moreover, in faithfulness to their belief, the majority of them always refused to participate in war industries, for which attitude they suffered maltreatment and even death.

I regret being unable to give you all these details personally as you request, because I am at present really obliged to stay for a while in the mountains for my health; I hope that this information may suffice, however, and is what you desire to know.

Assuring you, gentlemen, of my best wishes, I remain, Yours sincerely,

[Signed] GENEVIEVE DE GAULLE. z

A FAITHFUL FAREWELL

The reports that we have considered this afternoon are only a fraction of those that have been published or that are in the Watch Tower Society's files. Our limited time makes it impossible to relate more. But in closing our session today I want to read just one more letter. It expresses in simple phrase the unselfish concern that many of those inside the camps had for their loved ones outside. It is the heartrending letter of a condemned brother to his wife:


My dear Erna, It is now my last night. My sentence has been read out to me and I have eaten my last meal. So when this letter reaches you my life will be fulfilled. We know that the sting has been removed from death and victory has been won over the grave. Naturally, this appears utterly foolish and ridiculous to most people; but that is of little importance. The hour will come when the name of the Almighty God will be vindicated and mankind will see it. When they ask today why he has not done this up till now, then we know it is because His power will thereby be demonstrated more effectively.

So, my dear Erna, I thank you for the part of my life that you have shared with me. In all life's circumstances you have been my ever-willing companion, and have accompanied me in affliction to the end. I have now reached the end, and I pray that you may also endure your burden worthily in the future—the reproach which has fallen on me, and which falls immediately upon you. And so I look once more into your serene and glistening eyes, and wipe away the last sorrow from your heart; and, in spite of the pain, lift up your head and rejoice, not about death, but over the life that God will give those that love Him.

Heartfelt greetings in love and true friendship, from your loving husband. aa



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