Jehovah’s Witnesses and the Holocaust

While most are aware that Jews were persecuted and experienced the horrors and death at concentration camps of Hitler and his Nazis, not all are familiar with the fact that there were significant other groups who were also hounded and thrown at large into the camps. In visiting Dachau, the vivid mental image of Gypsy’s standing at-attention with his face straight ahead in the daily line up, is indelibly inscribed in the recesses of my mind.

Standing in that very spot, some sixty years later is something that one cannot forget, and visiting the concentration camps at least once during one’s lifetime should be a goal of everyone. This is especially true in view of the fact that history, in some respects, has repeated itself in countries such as Cambodia, with Duch (pronounced doik), one of the notorious camp commandants during the 1970s, and his trial just abated, waiting for sentencing. And of course, other places on the earth since the 1930s and 40s where specific ethic or social groups have been targeted.

This is a comment from the Midwest Center for Holocaust Studies this thought, “While in Auschwitz I, we were able to tour the museum that is housed in the barracks. I was reminded of the horrors that were experienced by not only Jews, but homosexuals, Poles, Jehovah’s Witnesses and prisoners of war. Walking through buildings that house various artifacts, recovered after liberation, I learned just how personal the events of the Holocaust are and how they impact us each differently, depending on our personal experiences. Having a five-year-old daughter, I found it extremely hard to view the suitcases, dolls, spoons, and shoes from children.” Midwest Center for Holocaust Studies, Education Educator’s Forum.

In many public schools in New Jersey, attention is given to the Holocaust by grade school teachers on a regular basis. In today’s children’s culture, that is, a culture of silly and trivial movies for children, a sobering remembrance of what violence really means can be of value to children, and help them to appreciate the sanctity and gift of life.

In the case of Jehovah’s Witnesses had been persecuted, not for who they were in terms of nationality, but because they refused be a part of Hitler’s party, salute the national flag, or be any part of the Nazi effort. Jehovah’s Witnesses could leave the camps, only needing to sign a paper to renounce their faith, but very few did so, rather, they lived or died in the camps, but at the same time, didn’t hate their persecutors, but instead to pray for them, as Jesus encouraged his followers, or witnessed to them, and their fellow non-Witness captives, about the wonderful hope of God’s kingdom. Hope can sustain us through the most onerous trials.

This was written by John Scott, who is also one of Jehovah’s Witnesses. US Holocaut Museum pages on Jehovah’s Witnesses: Holocaust Teacher Resource Center, and at Jehovah’s Witnesses

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