Has anyone read "30 Years a WT Slave"?

by stocwach 10 Replies latest jw friends

  • stocwach

    It was written in 1971 by William J. Schnell, born in 1905 and was a dub from 1924-1954, holding many high positions within the org. from Bethel to direct one on one meetings with Rutherford.

    Interesting slant that I never really considered as a plausible possibility, but now it has me wondering:

    The main theme of his book is that the Society's main ulterior motive was to basically become a financial empire by selling books and publications. He speaks of constant meetings with charts, graphs, and goals, etc.--much like what you would expect in a big business sales meeting.

    To create a sense of urgency in the mind of the person shelling out the dough, the "end of the world" idea was keyed upon as the sole message, when in reality according to the author the insiders knew this was just a brilliant way to get the contributions to keep coming.
    In the meantime, while everyone was encouraged to not put their money into anything worldly, because the end was near, the Society was busy shelling out big bucks for their future expansion. No one however really noticed the anamoly however.

    He then speaks of the time around the late 1920s/early'30s when they were unable to sell books and publications in large quantities for a contribution anymore, because the householder was beginning to question there motives, so they deliberately decided they needed to make it APPEAR that they were religious martyrs by organizing into big groups in public places and promoting literature with the INTENT of getting arrested! The main charge brought upon them basically peddling without a license, but instead of the JWs taking the easy stance of pleading freedom of the press, they deliberately chose freedom of religion, and thereby got the exact reaction out of the public, and the sympathizing unwary again began to pour in the contributions for the books and mags.

    Another interesting note was the almost animosity that occured between the 3 classes at the time that the org. had divinely revealed:

    Mordecai/Naomi Class: members of the 144K made up of older, more experienced elder types who were beginning to take notice of the questionable WT practices; Ruth/Esther class: members of the 144k made up of much younger, fresher faces that came in just as the heaven door was about to shut; and the Jonadab class, made up of the basic dregs of the organization, who were basically told that if you do everything the WT says, you MIGHT GAIN SALVATION.

    I continue to be flabbergasted as to what I am finding out about the cult I used to subject myself to.

  • stocwach

    After reading my post, I need to clarify the point about not choosing the easy out of "freedom of the press" vs. "freedom of religion".

    By choosing the latter, the JWs deliberately extended their persecution considerably longer than would have been if they pleaded freedom of the press.

    In this way they were able to remain in the spotlight much longer for the general public to take notice, giving the appearance that they were martyrs for a good cause.

  • Amazing

    I have read the book 3 times. It was not written in 1971, rather it was republished in 1971. Schnell was dead by 1971. It was first released in the late 1950s. My mother read it and talked about it when I was a young boy.

    I first read it in 1970 when my first Bible Study got a copy at work, and started raising questons with me. It was so poorly written, I was able as a very new JW to work with the book, and help these people still become JWs.

    I read the book twice again later as I was exiting the JWs. In my opinion it was still poorly written and terribly dated. But it started to make more sense to me. I could relate somewhat better to Schnell.

    The Ruth and Mordicai Class was still being promoted in the 1970s during Dramas at the District Conventions, and articles in the Watchtower. It was how the Society was still justifying some Anointed who became JWs after 1935, and who were working in the Bethel headquarters, or as COs, DOs and Elders.

    Periodically, the Schnell family republishes his book. Unlike Crisis of Conscience which is a far superior book, 30 years a Watchtower Slave is often sold in Christian and commercial book stores. Whereas Crisis was for years only available through Commentary Press.

    30 Years is also too dated. Someone in the Schnell family needs to update it with some additional notes, and appendix or Foreword that helps the reader understand how the Society is essentially the same, but the packaging changes over time, so the Company Servants, became Congregation Servants, and these became Presiding Overseers. Things like that would help a potential new convert understand that today's JW religion is the same thing.

  • DIM

    here is my review from a few months back:

    On the back cover of the January, 2002 edition of this book appears this brief description:
    William J. Schnell was a young man eager to serve God. To him, the Watchtower Society appeared harmless, even valuable as a way to develop his faith and pass it on to others. Yet it soon became obvious that the Jehovahís Witness religion he had joined was anything but innocent. 30 Years a Watchtower Slave is Schnellís gripping account of the three decades he spent enslaved by Jehovahís Witness doctrines and methods. As you read his potent personal story, you will understand the true inner workings of the cult that enticed Schnell in the 1920s and continues to lure countless individuals today. Through the details of Schnellís involvement with the Watchtower Society and the riveting story of how he finally became free, you will be forewarned to their effective proselytizing campaign and better outfitted to witness to JW friends, relatives, neighbors, coworkersóand the stranger at your door.

    The author of this book believes that the WTS had a master plan of evil and world dominance. His eyewitness accounts are very interesting, and at least half of them sound like they are true. Many, many experiences are portrayed in very bitter tones, making me question the validity of some of his complaints. On page 92 of this edition, Schnell refutes the Watchtower Society's interpretation of Revelation 13 (from the pamplet The Fall of Babylon) but then proceeds to offer his own interpretation of this chapter in the next paragraph - explaining that it is actually foretelling the "evil" WTS. I found this to be the low point of the book and almost unreadable. His version of the preaching work is also similarly unbelievable. Here is his 7 step proselytizing system:

    1. buy out their time for the watchtower by selling books
    2. visit all book purchasers in back calls
    3. arrange for a home book study
    4. lead their victims ito an area study for brainwashing and indoctrination
    5. bring them to the watchtower study on sundays to learn to feed on Watchtower provided "food in due season" or Organization provender instead of the bible
    6. inveigle them to become kingdom publishers and to attend the service meetings
    7. climax the entire procedure by persuading the victims to become baptized and initiated into the Theocracy

    Most of these statements are true, but as a JW we never discussed our "brainwashing technique". Once again, to buy into approx. 50% of Schnell's theories and writings, you must believe that the WTS formed an evil plan for world dominance after Russell's death. I'd only recommend this book to someone who has already read Franz's books and sort of knows where they are going w/ the JW religion. Most active JW's would laugh at this book, certainly not the same affect as Franz's books would have. XJW's and people on their way out may enjoy this book. I certainly don't regret buying it or reading it, if only for some of the eyewitness accounts.

  • worf


    I have also read that book and I enjoyed it because it was very revealing as to the so-called persecution of JWs in those earlier decades. I brought this point up on the old h20, the same points you mention about the persecution. I feel that Schnell gives clear evidence that the so-called persecution of Jws in those earlier decades was sparked by the Jw organization on purpose to make them look like the persecuted ones that jesus talked about with the goal of eliciting sympathy from the courts so that they could get the courts to give them what they wanted. Schnell even describes how he was a part of one such situation and he shows how others were sent into certain areas to spark persecution on purpose.I believe that some town in Ohio was mentioned also and I wonder if it was Stratton?

    I also found it interesting how all that Mordecai/Ruth class etc, stuff was used to get certain people out of the organization so that the Society could continue to control people and get them to shun those who showed they could think for themselves and would not agree with all that was going on.

    (Justice demands the destruction of the wts, nothing less)

    worf (warrior class)

  • TR

    It was the first 'apostate' book I read. I thought it was interesting, but didn't appreciate Schnell's own bible interpretations. Very dated as the others have said.

    Incidentally, my wife(never a 'hovah) tried to get me to read this book several years before I left the WTS. My response was that of any self-respecting close-minded JW. I said, "oh, thats just a book by a disgruntled JW who probably got df'd and is doing unscriptural things now".



  • RR

    I have various editionx of the book, and thought it was well documented. Although it is dated, it gives a clear history of the changes that occured after the death of Russell, from a publishing house to JEHOVAH'S VISIBLE ORGANIZATION. The book is still published, but in an abridged form.

  • dungbeetle

    It was the first 'apostate' book I ever read, and it is still my favorite. I put up a review here, too, but can't find it right now.

    I hate to say this, but even Ray Franz's books are 'dated' now. Ray Franz's governing body is not the same as William Schnell's governing body, and Ray Franz's Governing Body is not today's governing body. The most fabulous thing is, when comparing all these books writtne through the years, is to observe the increasing toxicity of the Watchtower organization.

    No one book can tell you the story. It is reading them, one after the other, that the true PATTERN can be seen.

    William Schnell predeicted one thing that has proven to be true, and that inspires me from time to time. IF the Watchtower is going to come down, it will be from their OWN PUBLICATIONS. This was in 1957 that he said that.

    I don't know about only fifty percent being true---I couldn't find a way to discount ANYTHING he said. Much of the book quotes the literature. For years some of what he said had to be taken at face value---untill now. Thanks to the hard work of many people ---and EBAY---the public now has access to the Watchtower publications to check his assertions.

    Someone on this board has a copy in German...that's how much coverage his book had. Very amazing history.

    When William Schnell exited the Watchtower, he didn't receive a big chunk of cash, there was no ex-jw community or even cult-exiting as we know it today; and I believe he published the book originally with his own money.

    To repeat for emphasis, his book isn't 'better' or 'worse'; it is part of that 'human watchtower experience' over time and I find it helpful to show Witnesses how LONG this has been going on. At no time has the Watchtower been able to refute any of William Schnell's assertions.


  • worf


    And The point about them being brought down from their own publications is very significant.

    (justice demands the destruction of the wts, nothing less)

    worf(warrior class)


    MY dear MOM (HELEN KERSEY of GLENDALE, CALF.) did (she is decd now) around 35 yrs ago __ it is all she had to read and not another meeting she attended again I stayed on Longer (stubborn and hard headed I am) what can I say about myself I am OUT now....PEACE

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