1933 Letter from JW's to Hitler and Nazi Party

by kwr 60 Replies latest watchtower scandals

  • Kent

    Many years ago, when I did run The Watchtower Observer, I was in contact with the Holocaust Museum that did ask for information about this. I did send them this letter, some documents about other material as well, like the Declaration of Facts where the Watchtower stated that many JWs did serve in the German army, etc. The Holocaust Museum never ansvered after they got the information.

    The general idea with the Holocaust Museum is not to tell what happened - but to make Jews victims, so they can keep on doing what they want, because of their victim state.

    My friends, nobody is interested at all. Check up who did pay for the new printing presses in Germany after the war, and who fixed the presses as well. The US Army! Why did Franz and Knorr live in a hotel for US Army officers only when visiting Germany after the war? Why did the Watchtower use US Embassy mail from Germany?

    Today, why do US presidents back up the Watchtower all over the world? Why are Watchtower lawyers invited to speak in congress?

    This is all about money and power, my friends. Like the Watchtower being a member of the UN, they still own the AID AFRIQUE, still a UN member, they own 50% of the shares of Rand Cam Engine, that produces weapons, they participate in political meetings all over Europe, just check up what their lawyers are doing, and what conferences they attend.

    The story about the Watchtower and Hitler is just the top of the ice berg.

  • Leolaia

    Just a few notes from Chryssides' paper:

    • The author categorizes Penton as "ex-member testimony" rather than as an "academic writer", setting aside Penton's academic credentials as a religious historian and leaving the impression that Penton gave only personal testimony rather than a researched thesis. The author's characterization of academic writers as "neutral" in opposition to both Penton and the Society also constructs Penton's criticism as based on his ex-member status rather than his research.
    • The author disputes that Rutherford changed his public stance on the Jews (as expressed in Comfort for the Jews [1925] and Life [1927]) by pointing to statements in his later book Salvation [1939] that seemingly reiterate earlier positions. But I think this seriously miscontrues the picture. In 1925, Rutherford defined Jews in the same manner as Pastor Russell did: "A Jew therefore is one who is the natural descendant of Jacob (Israel) and who has faith in the words uttered by Jacob concerning Judah" (p. 8), and went on to declare that Orthodox Jews "really are Jews" who would see their Zionist hopes realized (pp. 8-9). Those who are not "really Jews" are those who no longer believe in the Bible and in God, and the year before he also claimed that Jews who exploit others through commerce "are not Jews" (GA, 12 March 1924, p. 375). But there was a perceptible shift in 1932 when Rutherford abandoned the earlier Zionist prophetic hope and claimed that "this prophecy must have its chief fulfillment upon the true people of God's kingdom which are now on earth", i.e. Jehovah's Witnesses (Vindication, p. 257-258), with the unstated implication that JWs are the only Jews on earth today in the "biblical sense" (cf. the reference to "Jews, so called" in the same book). What was unstated here was stated overtly in 1934: "If one is a descendant of Judah, and has the marks outwardly of a Jew, and yet does not believe and serve God and Jesus Christ, he is not really a Jew and is not entitled to be known by that name" (Favored People, p. 4). In other words, the only ethnic Jews who are "really Jews" are those who happen to be Jehovah's Witnesses; Orthodox Jews would be disqualified. This same viewpoint is expressed in 1939's Salvation. In prophecy, "the 'Jew' refers to Christ Jesus and the faithful members of his body, the witnesses of Jehovah on the earth" (p. 155). So all the neutral and positive statements about "Jews" in this book are really applied to Jehovah's Witnesses. There is a clear shift in theological and eschatological stance towards the Jews during this period.
    • In connection with this, the author minimizes the anti-Jewish import of Rutherford's statements in the 1930s. He says: "Rutherford’s apparently derogatory remarks about Jews concern his criticisms of Jewish capitalists, rather than Jews collectively". But while Rutherford earlier criticized Jewish capitalists as a certain segment of the Jewish people ("the profiteering class" in the 1924 GA article), he most definitely did refer to Jews collectively in derogatory terms that emphasized their capitalist greed. He said that "Judah and the land of Israel had commercial intercourse with Tyre, and doubtless from Tyre the Jews learned how to cheat their fellow man" (Vindication, 1932, p. 70). Here Rutherford clearly was referring collectively to the Jewish people, not to certain prominent individuals in business. He also stated in the same book that "to this day the Jews have not repented of this wrongful act committed by their forefathers," i.e. rejecting their Messiah, Christ Jesus, for which "the Jews were evicted from Palestine" (pp. 257-258). This clearly refers to the Jewish people as a whole and repeats time-worn views in Christian antisemitism. Similarly, Rutherford also claimed that "the people now on earth and which are called Jews are a commercial people. Among them are some of the richest and most avaricious men the world has ever known" (Favored People, 1934, p. 5). Yes, Rutherford does refer to capitalist individuals here, but he also clearly views the Jews collectively in this way, as "a commercial people" who are not deserving of special attention in prophecy, as it would be unreasonable that "the Lord would extend his first favors to such people". Thus Chryssides' characterization of Rutherford's criticism is inconsistent with what Rutherford actually wrote. While sometimes "Rutherford is not tarring all Jews with the same brush" (as Chryssides puts it), other times he clearly does. I am also a little incredulous at Chryssides' attempt to discover a silver lining in Rutherford's statement that the president of the AMA is "the type of Jew who crucified Jesus Christ", as if such a statement implies a complimentary attitude towards other Jews.
    • There is absolutely no consideration of the Hitler Letter's approval of the statement in the Nazi Platform that grants religious freedom only to faiths that do not conflict with the interests of the German race, a statement that specifically singles out the Jews as manifesting a "materialist spirit" which must be opposed. These principles of the Nazi Platform are characterized as "just principles" in the Hitler Letter. The point is not that whether Rutherford really "subscribed to the Nazi notions that the Jews were sub-human or worthy of extermination," for clearly Rutherford was no Nazi, but that Rutherford and the German branch overseer gave their approval to objectionable views in order to ease the situation of JWs in Germany. This is an important point for criticism because the Society frequently criticizes other religions for doing similar things, for compromising Christian principles. Similarly, there is no mention in Chryssides' paper of the statement in the German verison of the Declaration of Facts (probably written by the branch overseer) that maligns the Jews and Catholics for "insulting the national government in Germany" and joining together to boycott the country because of the Nazi Party's "announced principle". The boycott sought to make Germany stop its own announced boycott of Jewish businesses (which fulfills the government's fight against the "Jewish materialist spirit"). This is what Joseph Goebbels had announced:

    "Tomorrow not a German man or woman shall enter a Jewish store. Jewish trade throughout Germany must remain paralyzed. We shall then call a three-day pause in order to give the world a chance to recant its anti-German agitation. If it has not been abandoned ... the boycott will be resumed Wednesday until German Jewry has been annihilated".

    The Declaration's reference to Jews in America "insulting Germany" (= Goebbels' reference to "false charges against the Nazis in the overseas press") and attempting an anti-German boycott aligns the Declaration with the Nazi position. Although the JWs through the Declaration declared themselves politically neutral, they did say that "we stand squarely for such principles ... advocated by the government of Germany", and the expressed alignment with the Nazi Party's "announced principle" a few paragraphs later can be read as an example of how the JWs "stand squarely for such principles". And with the accompanying letter approving of the Nazi position on "fighting the Jewish materialist spirit," I suspect that Hitler would have read the Declaration in the same way.

    • The author correctly notes that antisemitism can be defined in different ways, but he stops short of concluding whether Rutherford fits any of the relevant definitions. I would say that Rutherford was definitely not antisemitic in the same racial sense that the Nazis were, but he did express old-fashioned Christian antisemitism (e.g. the "Christ killers" meme), his characterization of Jews as "exploiting the peoples of many nations" (Declaration of Facts) and "controlling the greater portion of the finances of the world" (GA, 23 February 1927, p. 343) plays into the Jewish conspiracy meme, and his rants suggest that he did have prejudice towards Jews. That may make him "a man of his time" as Chryssides puts it, for as he says "reference to Jews as Christ-killers is hardly a distinctive tenet of Rutherford’s; it is a belief that has been taught within mainstream Christianity," but that does not make it any less antisemitic, and being a man of the 1930s does not get Rutherford off the hook, anymore than we would excuse the polite prejudice expressed towards blacks in the Jim Crow era. What is particularly notable is that Rutherford's statements got more extreme in the 1930s, the same period that antisemitic sentiment also increased substantially. Chryssides also suggests that it would be unfair to "single out Jehovah’s Witnesses for allegedly antisemitic statements," but such a fact should not be obscured as well (as the Watchtower Society did afterward, until they responded to the allegations in the 1990s). Since there were other religious groups who did not indulge in such rhetoric in the period, the fact that the JWs did is noteworthy. It is also noteworthy that the JWs expressed these views in Germany in a document that was directed towards avowedly antisemitic Nazi leaders. It is not unfair to point these things out.
    • Finally, Chryssides states that "if Rutherford had been writing in a post-Holocaust period, it would of course have been much less acceptable to claim that the persecution of the Jews was divine retribution for covenant breaking". He fails to mention that the Society made a very similar statement in 1946: "Much of their suffering has been brought upon themselves by their commercial, rebellious course of action. They will ever be a target of assault by Satan and his agents until Armageddon cleanses the earth of all opposers of Messiah-Christ. Therefore, their only hope is to accept Jehovah's Messiah, Christ Jesus, and come under the protection of his kingdom" (Let God Be True, p. 209). This was after the full facts of the Holocaust had been revealed. What is more, this statement was removed in the 1952 edition of the book.
  • Kent


    Federal apologies

    Globe and Mail Update

    May 1, 2007 at 7:44 PM EDT

    Brethren in Christ, Hutterites, Doukhobors, Jehovah's Witnesses, Mennonites, Quakers, for 12,000 conscientious objectors who were placed in "postponement" labour assignments during the Second World War. Those who objected to postponement labour assignments were placed in labour internment camps.

  • richard


    Your last paragraph: it appears that the Society continued to be 'less than political correct' after 1946:

    "The persecutions the Jews suffered bear grim testimony to the accuracy of the Biblical warning as to what the Jews could expect if they went contrary to their maker, Jehovah God" Awake! (Dec. 22, 1956, p.20)

    “To this day the natural circumcised Jews are suffering the sad consequences from the works of darkness that were done within their nation nineteen hundred years ago. This illustrates what can happen to a whole nation that comes under the influence of that unseen superhuman intelligence, Satan the Devil.” (The Watchtower (Nov. 1, 1975, p.654).


  • rebel8

    Kent, which Holocaust museum did you talk to? I contacted the one in Washington, D.C.

    I kinda figured I wouldn't get a response because they would be embarrassed to make public documents that contradict their own portrayal of the wts. OTOH I didn't think they would object on the grounds that it conflicts with their portrayal of the Holocaust itself/Jewish victimization, since in fact the wts promoted victimization of the Jews.

    It would be awesome if there was some independent film maker out there who did an expose on the wts and its history.

    And regarding what richard just posted--OMG!!!!!1!1!

  • Leolaia

    richard....Those are rather interesting quotes! Do you have a scan of the 1956 Awake!?

  • Wordly Andre
    Wordly Andre

    Arbiet Macht Frei

  • Kent

    I believe it was the one in Washington DC. My impression is that they need anyone they can get to make the Holocaust worse than real life, and they really don't care if there is things like this. After all, the Watchtower is making a big case of themselves as "heroes" during the war, and one lie more or less really doesn't matter much.

    It's sad, but the Holocaust Museum is all about making some people victims - nobody is really interested in cold facts!

  • Jez
    KWR, you are right when you say:While you can find fault with this document none of the governments and churches in that era have unclean hands when it comes to anti-semtism and prejudice.

    However, JWs are taught that their organization is above all others, they make fun of other churches and other insitutions. They allow their members to make unsubstantiated and biased comments during the meetings about "worldly" institutions. When the whole time, they are no different and no better than the ones they scoff at and rub their hands in glee thinking about their coming destruction. They NEVER admit their wrongs. That makes them worse. That makes them standers in a 'place they ought not'. It makes them fullfill their own prophesies.

    I can't believe I once nodded my head, and automatically believed, because surrounding every comment made from the platform or the publications was the all powerful statement, "inspired by God". It blanketed and smothered every doubt I had because "if they say it, it is as if God himself is saying it."


  • rebel8

    I am writing a registered letter to the Washington museum director about this issue and their promotion of an organization that encouraged victimization of the Jews.

    The US federal government donated the land to build the museum. I am sure no US citizen likes paying taxes to support an organization who pretends to memorialize the Jews but instead promotes lies about an organization that is in bed with Hitler.

    If anyone else would like to encourage the museum to add the wts' documents to its archives, you can submit a suggestion online:

    You can ask them to acquire a 1933 Yearbook of Jehovah's Witnesses, the Declaration, etc., or at least copies of them.

    Perhaps a little advocacy will work. Coming from one person only, it will probably be ignored.

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