Response: Resisters - Jehovahs Witnesses
Conformity to national law vs. Conscience, decency
1933-45: Interaction of 4 elements enabled that approximately 11.5 million undesirable were killed: Perpetrators: National Socialist German Workers' Party = NSDAP Nazi Party, controlled state; to create a European world dominated & populated by Aryan race; racial cleansing ideology, power, profited financially, displaced their anger from their own failures: party leaders, bankers, professors, military officials, doctors, journalists, engineers, judges, lawyers, salesmen, police, civil servants
Collaborators: helped effort; could be people who turned in a Jew or a business; supported the Nazis in some way.
Bystanders: ordinary people, play safe, comply with law, fearful to make a choice, docile; indifferent, inaction to prevent or stop Nazi terror and the Holocaust
Victims: chosen for persecution and/or extermination.
Jews, Gypsies, Slavs, mentally and physically disabled: persecuted because WHO they were.
Jehovah's Witnesses, homosexuals, political prisoners, dissenting clergy - because of WHAT they did
Germans accepted concentration camps, no parties, police state, brutalization: H. popular, restored pride, prosperity national economy, rearmed, reversed humiliation
Resisters: minority -by 1933 dangerous to oppose Nazism: fear, terror; any group action consciously taken in
opposition to Nazi laws, actions/intentions against victims
Jehovah's Witnesses: Jehovah=God Hebrew name. Bible Students, Christian group from start opposed Nazis; theology rejected: racism, ultra-nationalism, deification of state, Fuhrer; swear oath to state; make salute -heil Hitler, display swastika flag; join Nazi party; serve in army. Unafraid, courageously spoke out in face of tyranny, prejudice, propaganda, persecution, when nonconformity to Nazism often proved fatal, in Golden Age, Watch Tower
Apr. 1933: 1st religious association to be banned
Dec. 12, 1936 secretly distribute 200,000 copies of the Lucerne Resolution - freedom of belief & expression: JW literature, instrument of spiritual resistance denounced persecution of German Jews, communists, Nazification of schools, exposed criminal actions of Nazi state, its human rights abuses, antisemitic agenda, camp conditions:
How can one remain silent? in 1939 Consolation
1933-45 persecution - repressive Nazi measures: banned from civil service jobs; children expelled from schools, raised in reform schools; businesses seized; bibles burnt; members beaten. Refused conform to Nazism, 1000s JW sent to prisons, concentration camps: the only Christian group designated by own symbol - purple triangle
Buchenwald camp: JW inmates shared their bread rations with Jewish prisoners; offered choice: in exchange for renunciating their faith and a pledge of loyalty to the fatherland, a JW could walk away free from camp/prison.
August Dickmann, JW 1st conscientious war objector
executed by firing squad at Sachsenhausen
Churches silent on Jews persecution; happy to cooperate
with Nazi regime: Cross & swastika came close
Martin Niemoller: Pastor at Dahlem, refused to recognize control of secular authorities; arrested in 1937
Video: Jehovahs Witnesses stand firm against Nazi assault, 1996
United States Holocaust Memorial Museum