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Austin Cline

Jehovah's Witnesses' Resistance to Hitler and the Nazis (Book Notes: Hitler’s Prisons)

By March 3, 2006

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It's a common conceit among Christians that their religion was in opposition to the Nazi regime of Germany. The truth, however, is that most Christians either went along with the Nazis or actively supported them. Just about the only Christian group that opposed the Nazis - and paid for it - were the Jehovah's Witnesses. How many other Christians supported them? Hitler’s Prisons: Legal Terror in Nazi Germany

In Hitler’s Prisons: Legal Terror in Nazi Germany, Nikolaus Wachsmann writes:

In 1933, individual German states outlawed the Jehovah’s Witnesses as ‘enemies of the state’, with a national ban following in 1935. Their persecution could build on a tradition of prejudice and paranoia against Jehovah’s Witnesses on the völkish right. In the Third Reich, this persecution became state policy.

Having sworn the oath of loyalty to Jehovah, the believers refused to acknowledge the claim to total control of society by Hitler and the Nazi dictatorship. The believers, who included a large proportion of women, did not practise the Hitler salute, boycotted political demonstrations, organisations and elections and the men also refused to serve in the German army after general conscription was introduced in 1935.

Their response to harassment by SA thugs and the police was expressed in growing criticism of the Nazi regime and open resistance in the form of leaflet actions. This reached a climax after an international Jehovah’s Witness conference in Lucerne (Switzerland) in 1936, when a resolution critical of Nazi Germany was passed and was soon distributed inside Germany.

Jehovah’s Witnesses actually took a stand against the Nazis and Nazi polices. Jehovah’s Witnesses actually took their religious beliefs seriously enough to be willing to pay a high price for upholding them rather than go along with the Nazis. They were just about the only Christians in Nazi Germany to make such a choice; strangely, all the other Christian denominations accept the condemnations of the Jehovah’s Witnesses rather than express support of any sort.

There are plenty of reasons to disagree with the Jehovah’s Witnesses, not just their beliefs but also the actions and policies of their leadership. In general, though, they tend to be consistent in their beliefs and to match their actions with their beliefs. Among religious groups, they seem to be among the least likely to compromise their beliefs in order get along with the broader culture. Other Christians could probably learn a thing or two from the Jehovah’s Witness on this score, if they weren’t so self-righteous about their own religious superiority.

 

Read More Book Notes from the Book Reviews on this site.

Comments
May 8, 2008 at 7:39 pm
(1) Jacqueline says:

I appreciate what you said about our being consistent in our beliefs and the least likely to compromise them. Jehovah’s Witness try to strongly adhere to the Bible and it’s principles as our guide. I am sorry you see us as self-righteous. It’s never been the intent, because again, the bible speaks out against the self-righteous Pharisees who did everything for show but not out of love for God or his principles. Perhaps you’ve come across someone who is overzealous to tell you what they’ve learned. If you see our meeting places they are humble and unpretencious, we don’t require a tithe and our ministers are not paid so they do this, along with having another job to support themselves or family. I hope I’m not sounding pretencious telling you how we try to be humble.Millions of Witness died for not giving up those beliefs (know as the Purple Traingle in Nazi concentration camps) as well as in other parts of world, even today.
Our religious philosophy is simple: let me know if you have a moment or visit your nearest Kingdom Hall. Thanks again.

November 15, 2008 at 11:14 am
(2) gene says:

I dont think he said witnesses were self righteous. I thought his comment in the last paragraph was about other religions.

September 4, 2009 at 4:52 pm
(3) areliz says:

I am very happy to see that Jahovah’s wittness’s do what they DO! I am happy to see that i am part of a great loving society BUT i always remember that all of this came to be ONLY because of OUR ‘helper’ Jehovah. AND i understood you said Others are self-righteous not Jahovah’s Wittness!!! :) thankz-
lizzy

February 26, 2010 at 1:47 pm
(4) rachel pendergraft says:

Jehova Witnesses supported Hitler until Hitler and the majority of Christian denominations decided that the Jehova Witnesses were undermining Christianity by claiming Jesus as prophet and not actually God. Read their own words below.

In 1996 the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society released a video entitled “Stand Firm”. This video along with countless articles published by the Watchtower Society have constantly boasted about the strict neutrality of Jehovah’s Witnesses during World War II and Nazi Germany. Most is true, and it certainly is commendable, and noble of the many fine witnesses that stood firm for their supposed integrity to Jehovah. But sadly, their loyalty, as sincere as it was, was to an organization, a self appointed “slave class of men.

At first the Nazi party did not threaten the Watchtower organization with opposition, and allowed them the freedom to preach their version of the “good news.” But as soon as the Nazi’s started opposing and putting pressure on them, the Watchtower Society took a 180% turn against the Nazi regime.

Instead of publicly admitting their own support for the Nazi party before opposition, the Watchtower Society suppresses and hides statements, such as the ones quoted below against the Jewish people in this 1934 yearbook. This is nothing short of dishonesty to
protect a man made organization. An honest and open reading of the below quotes truly shows the Watchtower Society’s compromise with Adolph Hitler in the 1934 yearbook of Jehovah’s Witnesses.

Thousands of Watchtower articles continue to quickly point out how the churches of Christendom compromised their integrity to Hitler and Nazi Germany, however they do not bring out, or admit to their very own compromise as shown here below. Apparently, by admission, this would make their organization in the same level as “Christendom”, which they interpret to be “Babylon the Great” of Revelation chapters 17 & 18. Finally, after many years in a 1998 Watchtower they have made admission to these statements, however this admission of guilt is completely negated as they hypocritically continue to discredit and condemn Christendom for the same actions she took.

Page 134: “The greatest and the most oppressive empire on earth is the Anglo-American empire. By that is meant the British Empire, of which the United States of America forms a part. It has been the commercial Jews of the British-American empire that have built up and carried on Big Business as a means of exploiting and oppressing the peoples of many nations. This fact particularly applies to the cities of London and New York, the stronghold of Big Business. This fact is so manifest in America that there is a proverb concerning the city of New York which says: The Jews own it, the Irish Catholics rule it, and the Americans pay the bills.”
Page 135: “The present government of Germany has declared emphatically against Big Business oppressors and in opposition to the wrongful religious influence in the political affairs of the nations. Such is exactly our position:”
Page 136: “Instead of being against the principles advocated by the government of Germany, we stand squarely for such principles, and point out that Jehovah God through Christ Jesus will bring about the full realization of these principles and will give to the people peace and prosperity and the greatest desire of every honest heart.”
Page 137: “A careful examination of our books and literature will disclose the fact that the very high ideals held and promulgated by the present national government are set forth in and endorsed and strongly emphasized in our publications and show that Jehovah God will see to it that these high ideals in due time will be attained by all persons who love righteousness . . . .
Page 138: “Let us remind the government and the people of Germany, that it was the League of Nations compact that laid upon the shoulders of the German people the great unjust and unbearable burdens. That the League of Nations compact was not brought forth by the friends of Germany.”
The Real Danger of the
Watchtower’s Admission to Compromise
Unlike most of the Protestant denominations and the Catholic church openly apologizing for their compromises and wrong actions they took, the Watchtower Society stand much more to loose by their
Finally, after many years of denial, in 1998 the Watchtower Society has made admission to these statements written in the 1934 yearbook. This admission of guilt is completely negated as they hypocritically continue to discredit and condemn Christendom for the same actions she took. In addition, this compromise of integrity, undermines their theology: the claim of God’s complete rejection of the entire realm of Christendom and the sole appointment of the Watchtower Society as God’s only channel of communication on earth, as the so called “faithful and discreet slave class.”
admission. Their very theology depends on it. They are caught in a theological interpretation backfire. Unlike most Christians who solely base their faith in God and Christ alone, Jehovah’s Witnesses, represented by the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society, boldly base their faith in this organization as God’s sole channel of communication on earth to all of mankind. They brazenly claim to be the “faithful and discreet slave class,” who were appointed as such in the year 1918, 3 and 1/2 years after their unique interpretation of parousia, Christ’s second coming, interpreting this to be an invisible presence of Christ where he rules invisibly, judging the nations and all religious organizations. For the Watchtower Society, to live up to their self appointment as God’s “slave class,” even though they admit and allow mistakes of imperfect men who make human errors, must still be clean, maintain integrity and act in proportion according to the mercy and justice of God. By their admission of out right written statements supporting probably one of the worst know men of evil, Adolph Hitler, one our centuries most notorious ethnic cleansing leader, does not go well with their divine appointment as God’s sole and only channel of communication to mankind on the planet earth, along with their claim of a complete rejection of the entire realm of Christendom as outcasts and subject to death by God.
Frequently the Watchtower will quote prophecies of Jeremiah and other prophets directed at the apostate nation of Israel who turned her back on YHWH and were in line for harsh disciplinary judgment, and apply their words to all of Christendom, lock, stock and barrel, with blanket condemnations. They on the other hand, as God’s sole appointed “faithful and discreet slave class,” maintained their integrity at all times, unlike all other Christian denominations on the face of the earth. Their admission and apology to their compromise of integrity and failure to obey God and show true agape love, compassion and conviction towards their fellow man, particularly the Jews, breaks down their very foundation theology and claim of being God’s only true people, his witnesses, on earth. Yet this is the truth and this is what happened,
To confirm that the above information is accurate, please see for yourself this 1934 yearbook in your local Kingdom Hall library.

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