Nathan Homer Knorr - Post your story about him here

by VM44 47 Replies latest watchtower beliefs

  • VM44

    There have been much research lately into the biographies of CT Russell and "Judge" Rutherford, the first and second presidents of the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society, but not so much research into the biography of the third president of the WBTS, Nathan Homer Knorr.

    As there are many people still living, and who also post here at JWD, who knew Nathan Knorr personally, it might be worthwhile to start a thread about the life and personality of Knorr.

    So if anyone has any Knorr stories, please post them here. I will start off by posting some basic biographical information.


    Nathan Homer Knorr

    Born April 23, 1905

    Died Jun 8, 1977

    At the age of 16, Knorr joined the Society, and at 18 became a full-time preacher and worked at Bethel.

    Was appointed the secretary and treasurer of The Golden Age Magazine.

    In 1932, Knorr was made General Manager of all publishing activities. In 1940, he was made vice-president of the Pennsylvania Watchtower Bible and Tract Society.

    On January 13, 1942 he became the third president of the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society.

  • VM44

    Nathan Knorr with Rutherford and Hayden Covington.

    I believe this photo was taken at the 1941 St. Louis Convention. Knorr would have been about 35 or 36 years old at the time.

  • VM44

    Nathan Homer Knorr (1905-1977)

    With Frederick W. Franz at convention release of a New World Translation volume.

  • Cellist

    Well, I don't personally have any stories. I've heard a couple though. I can't remember the details, just the overall.

    The day before a D.C. was to start, the brothers were having trouble getting the sound system to work. They struggled with it all day and still didn't have it working by evening. Knorr in all his loving kindness said, "I don't care if you have to work all night. Have it working by morning." He then went off to have a good night's sleep. The brother who related this to me (he was there) seemed to be favourably impressed by the authoritarian manner. What I remember most about this story is that it made me cringe inside.


  • MerryMagdalene

    There is a rather interesting article giving one clergyman's view of the JWs, written in 1974, during Knorr's presidency. He is mentioned a few times throughout it, and it gives his birthplace as Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.

    Nathan Knorr argues that the persistence of the Witnesses in spite of severest persecution, mobbings, beatings, tar and feather outrages, imprisonment and even death, is nothing less than miraculous and a sure proof of their divine mission. That the fanaticism and obstinacy by which he himself would explain the reckless zeal of Mahomet's followers could apply to the Witnesses themselves does not seem to have occurred to him. Certainly the same inducements have been held out to them, a deadly fear of a greater evil happening to them should they quail before lesser fears, and magnificent promises of temporal rewards should they die in the cause of the prophets Russell and Rutherford!

    Nathan Knorr, in his official contribution to "Religion in the Twentieth Century", begins the exposition of his system by asserting that no man is leader of Jehovah's Witnesses, since "Jehovah God has appointed Christ Jesus as their Leader and commander." But he declares that Christ directs affairs through a "visible organization" with headquarters in Brooklyn, New York, USA.

    The visible head on earth of this visible organization is Nathan Knorr himself. He is surrounded by a Board of Directors, as the Pope is surrounded by a College of Cardinals. Throughout the world there are local congregations called "Companies," which meet in "Kingdom Halls." But each "Company" has "organizational servants" to oversee all activities. Full time field-workers, aided financially by the Society, are called "Pioneers," and there are over 6500 of these. Every active Witness of Jehovah, however, is regarded as "a minister ordained and commissioned by God, not by man," and must go from house to house selling books in the territory assigned to him by his superior officers.

    But if all are ordained, consecrated and commissioned by God, what is this but a hierarchy or an organized sacred body of men with a divinely-given and graded authority?


  • Forscher

    I am sure you noticed the canes that were being carried by Knorr & company in the one photo. There is a story behind that which is told on the net somewhere, though I don't have the site address. It seems that Covington talked about how they had to have those canes becaused a radical group was there to break up the convention. Rutherford had the canes handed out and told them all to go after the trouble makers when they started to disrupt the assembly. It seems that Knorr was a coward and ran when he got the oportunity to do so unobserved by Rutherford. Covington told the story years later to a researcher while he was DF'd and before he died. He never respected Knorr after that.

  • Forscher

    By the way, I did have the opportunity to meet Knorr at an assembly a few years before he died. I even have a picture of the event. I can't give the details since it could be used to ID me if the wrong person reads it, so, sorry folks!

  • Gregor

    The 'cane' story is true, an uncle of mine was one of the goons, I mean ushers, that was issued a cane with a weighted tip to discourage hecklers. The hecklers would try to sit up front to cause as much disruption as possible. They would be cracked over the head and then frog marched outside where they could receive further doses of spiritual food.

  • garybuss
  • Seeker4

    Wow, Gary, great photos!

    I met Knorr in the late 60s, early 70s. The one thing I remember about Knorr was his propensity to wear white socks with his suits, which made him look like a rube, bumpkin and a yokel, to say the least.

    I remember a talk he gave at Yankee Stadium around this time, where he counseled the brothers not to send young brothers with problems to Bethel in hopes that it would straighten them out.

    In regards to the story about the canes at the convention - it's true that Covington disliked Knorr, but it may be that Knorr disagreed with the whole cane thing and refused to go along with it, as opposed to his being a coward. Wasn't there, so I'm not sure. Covington liked Rutherford - partly, I think, because they were both men who liked to bully and boss people around.

    For more details on the story, and the interview with Covington, check out ex-JW Jerry Bergmann's website.


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