by dungbeetle 9 Replies latest social entertainment

  • dungbeetle




    My interest in this book was the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society’s long held view that a ‘Dead Witness’ is better than an ‘Alternative Service Witness’ . The leaders of this group have long held that their World War Two German adherents have ‘died rather than compromised their neutrality’.

    I have long believed otherwise. My thanks go to the writers of this book that have given the facts to support my contentions.

    I find no fault with the Jehovah’s Witnesses, brave in the face of death. Most of my anger is toward the Watchtower that I believe, and have since been able to prove, sold out their German adherents. I also feel that IF the poor German JW’s in the turn of the century had been aware of the Watchtower’s atrocious history of lies and lost court cases and revision of organizational history, there would have been fewer of them to have suffered.

    My greatest fault with the book is that it makes no mention of the anti-Semitic nature of the Watchtower’s early days; views that made it easier to become established and gain so many adherents in Germany in the first place. There is no mention of the now infamous Watchtower 1934 yearbook, wherein the Watchtower claims (my paraphrasing) “We don’t like the Jews any more than Hitler does; we blame Jews for lots of bad things, we can’t wait for Christ to come and fix what the Jews are doing, we have never taken a penny of money from Jews.” This last was a lie. Although at first blush, Watchtower seems to be currying favor with Hitler, actually they insulted his intelligence. He knew it was lies, and promptly took action against the Watchtower and continued to do so untill the day of his death.

    Although I don’t think the book says so in so many words, the facts and figures are there to support the contention that Jehovah’s Witnesses (Bible Students) were the smallest group, the ‘best’ (if such word can be used) treated, and had the highest survival rate of all the groups in the death camps. There is no evidence Hitler was ever trying to exterminate them physically as he was the Jews and the Gypsies. There IS evidence Hitler found them useful for slave labor, and for the property and money he was able to confiscate from them.

    Another fault I found with the book is the claim, of both the writers and the Watchtower, is that ‘The Jehovah’s Witnesses are the only group that could have ended its persecution by just signing a paper. They could have walked away. They refused.” (my paraphrasing). A copy of the renouncing form is even given in the book.

    There is no proof of this claim presented, not here and not anywhere. First of all, yes, the Witnesses may have been the only group offered this ONCE INSIDE THE CAMP; but there were many others OUTSIDE THE CAMP that were offered this and refused it, leading to their incarceration, torture, and sometimes murders. (I have in mind many Catholics, and also many Millerites, Hutterites, Quakers, Ahakers, and so on, of whom it was so well KNOWN they would not change their stand no ATTEMPT seemed to have been made to 'convert' them.) Should there be that much distinction between turning down an offer of respite from persecution because it is made a few feet OUTSIDE prison walls rather than a few feet INSIDE prison walls? Should a few feet make one group ‘nobler’ than another? And further, there is no evidence even in this book that the Nazis had any intention of following through with their offers of release, or decrease in maltreatment, and furthermore there is no evidence presented on behalf of the Witnesses that very many of them even believed these ‘offers’. If Jehovah’s Witnesses did not believe that the Nazi’s offers were genuine, and therefore refused to compromise, that is hardly a ‘choice’ and proof of anything. This seems simply to be a possible but unprovable claim of the Witnesses.

    The Watchtower’s claim of neutrality in reality translates merely, sadly, to just mere silence at the overt acts of rape, torture and mass murder going on around them at that terrible time in European history. Perhaps if the Witnesses, along with many others, had spoken up at the beginning, the whole process of the Nazi Regime could have been derailed at some earlier point in time. As it was, by the time Hitler had gone through all the other groups while Watchtower and its adherents stood silently by, there was no one left to speak for the Witnesses when Hitler came for THEM. So very very sad.

    This book is full of personal experiences not just of Jehovah’s Witnesses, but also of the many non-Witnesses that had contact with the Witnesses in various contexts during the war. On the whole the Witnesses were admired, as well they should be. But another fault of the book, is that while it lauds the Witnesses staunch belief that ‘God’ was going to rescue them, it makes no attempt to explain HOW the Witnesses believed that God was going to achieve this.

    Simply enough, the Witnesses believed Armegeddon was coming in 1925 (or shortly thereafter), all the way up to the end of the war. Who, in their horrible circumstances, would not believe they were IN Armegeddon right then and there in those camps?

    The reality was, the Allied Forces (‘agents of Satan’ in Watchtower dogma) were who rescued them. The book makes no mention either, of any gratitude expressed by the Witnesses then or now toward the brave men and women, of every nation and tribe and peoples and tongues (and religions) who worked and suffered side by side to effect the rescue of these Witnesses from the camps.

    One can hardly blame the Witnesses for their lack of gratitude. After all, their country had mistreated them, their Watchtower had betrayed them, and finally their God seemingly had turned away from them in their time of need, necessitating agents of their Great enemy Satan the devil to rescue them by default. There was no one else left to save them. Bitterness and hatred leave little room for gratitude. So does religious intolerance.

    And lastly, today the Watchtower states that under no circumstances did Witnesses have a share in the Nazi war machine. Well, according to the writers of this book, after watching the strongest of their fellow adherents tortured and murdered, some Witnesses apparently got a clue and started pitching in and arranging for, and contributing to, their own survival. This book details much of the work the Witnesses did in and around the camps. Laying buildings, pipes and roads, helping with buildings, personally attending to the individuals that carried personal responsiblility for the camp administration (and meeting its goals and quotas)…would certainly be considered, by Watchtower, to be alternative service today. And most certainly, a Witness engaging in this activity today would be expelled and shunned, and most definitely not be held up as a shining example of ‘neutrality’.

    The Watchtower’s claims that these brave people were simply passively neutral is an insult to the creativity and dedication to survival of these people. The surviving Witnesses worked hard, in appalling conditions, to survive. They did not betray their beliefs so much as they gained some common sense. For a short time in history, the Witnesses identified slightly with their fellow prisoners and even their captors (some of who did not want to be there either) and between them all, many have survived to tell their story today.


    From the introduction:

    During the years 1933-1939, some groups were victimized for what they did, others for what they refused to do, and still others for what they were.

    Gypsies..along with the Jews, they were the only other group killed in their entirety. Men, women, and children were gassed together at Birkenau, the death camp of Auschwitz.

    Jehovah’s Witnesses were isolated and harangued from 1933 on. The Nazis believed the Witnesses had American connections and international aspirations. They read a political message into the Witnesses’ description of chaos, anarchy, and revolution that would precede the coming of the millenium. Prophecies about the return of Jews to the Holy Land prior to Armegeddon classified the Witnesses in Nazi eyes as Zionists.

    So faithful were they to the tradition of nonviolence that even in the camps, Witnesses could serve as barbers and shave their oppressers, holding razor blades to their throats.

    Exerpts from the book:

    A telegram sent October 7, 1935:
    “To the Hitlerian Government in Berlin’

    The ill-treatment which you inflict on Jehovah’s Witnesses shocks all good men and dishonors God’s name. Refrain from further persecuting Jehovah’s Witnesses or God will destroy you and your national party.”

    Thousands of telegrams, worded like this one were sent from the United States, Canada, Switzerland, Great Britain, Czechoslovakia, the Scandinavian countries, France, Hungary, the Netherlands, and other European nations.

    The effect on Hitler? “This mob will be exterminated in Germany….these telegrams touched off a wave of arrests across Germany.

    A whole chapter is devoted to the Arnold family, who are the subject of the book “Facing the Lion”.

    Erich Frost composed a hymn while working alongside forty Witneses on a sewage system.(page 185)

    Speaking of Auschwitz in 1942, Germaine Tillion is quoted as saying: “Once the most corageous and outspoken had been tortured and executed…They used those who were left to keep their children because they were especially scrupulous.”

    They [The SS in Auschwitz in 1943] lived there in a middle-class environment with wives, children, gardens, and ‘maids’—and this use of Witnesses was doubtless appreciated because the camp charged more for them than for other inmates.

    Page 189: After that incident, the Witnesses stood firm “They refused to help, and Milean implored, reminding them of all I had done for the Jehovah’s Witnesses for two years and the risks I took for them—but nothing doing. Then, threatening in a vengeful tone, she had recourse to the God Jehovah and gave them a lesson on love of fellow man, painting all the horrors which awaited them in the afterlife if their hearts remained hardened. Whining, they did bring me the food they had to deliver.”

    Franz Desch even succeeded in converting an SS officer at Gusen. Some 227 Russian women and seventy-three Ukranians were baptized at Ravensbruck.

    Erich Frost, a devoted Witnesses who provided comfort to his fellow prisoners, once remarked, “Harsh is life on God’s Soldiers. They do not seek the approval of the prideful.

    At Ravensbruck: inmates were allowed to buy letter paper at the canteen bearing the legend “Ravensbruck Concentration Camp”. There was even special paper for the Jehovah’s Witnesses, over and above the usual rules, which carried the inscription in green letters “I am still a Jehovah’s Witness.”

    Final note: it is my understanding that this year the Watchtower is campaigning for reparations for their adherents mistreated and killed during the War, both survivors and their descendants.

  • outnfree


    Who are the authors of this book, please?

    And, do you still want Facing the Lion?


    It's what you learn after you know it all that counts -- John Wooden

  • dungbeetle

    Michel Reynaud...

    and I've been emailing you, no reply...are you getting my emails?

    Sometimes emails get sent to my junk folder, I manually have to check it at least every other day. (hotmail).

    See ya..

    (((out n free)))

  • Sargon

    It's a book worth reading. Thanks for pointing it out Dungbeetle. For anyone else interested in getting a copy, it's by Cooper Square publishers and it's ISBN# is: 0-8154-1076-X

    Imagination is more important than Knowledge. Albert Einstein

  • sleepy


    "Simply enough, the Witnesses believed Armegeddon was coming in 1925 (or shortly thereafter), all the way up to the end of the war. Who, in their horrible circumstances, would not believe they were IN Armegeddon right then and there in those camps?"

    1925 ? that had already passed.

  • dungbeetle

    >1925 (or shortly thereafter),<

    The persecution of the JW's by the Nazi's (with a whole lot of help from the Watchter USA) began in 1933. Apparently they thought that was the beginning of Armegeddon, and it certainly must have seemed like it.

    How sad it must have been to have been rescued, not by God and angels to a beautifully newly cleansed earth (or to heaven)---but by the Allied forces, agents of Satan, and to a devestated Germany that the Witnesses had to go back and live in after 10,000 of them said it was going to be gone gone gone.


    Beware the lure of cults. If it seems too good to be true, it probably is. <another sigh>

    Right on this board, you'll see excerpts of postings by JW's who though the WTC attack might be the begginning of Armegeddon, or even the Gulf War. I swear, if a ceramic vase falls off my shelf, it could be the beginning of Armegeddon to an apocalyptic-minded person suffering from excessive religiosity. (your best kind of JW convert).

  • Kenneson

    Jerry Bergman has an excellent treatment of "The Watchtower's
    Nazis Conflicts" at

  • Sargon

    Any one wh has read 'the commandant of auschwitz' by rudolf hoess, may have noticed in the footnotes a reference to Eugene Kogon's book ' the theory and practice of hell'. It's taken me 5 months but i finally obtained a copy. I will let you all know what it says later on in the week.

  • Simon
  • dungbeetle

    Although this is actually a book review, I thought it might better go here because it brought up issues that are especially pertinent for us here on the board in light of the Bryant, Long, Slack, Stovall and Freeman (and so many many more)family tragedies.
    FACING THE LION: Review and Comments


    Short summary:

    Facing the Lion is the autobiographical account of a young girl’s faith and courage. In the years preceeding World War II, her parents turn from the Catholic Church and become devout Jehovah’s Witnesses. Simone, too embraces the faith.

    The Nazi Party (the Lion) takes over Alsace-Lorraine, France, and Simone’s schools become Nazi propaganda machines. Later, Simone is sent to a reform school to be “reeducated”, where she remains untill the end of the war.

    Facing the Lion provides an interesting and detailed view of ordinary country and town life in the prewar years and during Hitler’s regimes. This inspiring story of a young girl standing up for her beliefs in the face of society’s overwhelming pressure to confirm is a potent reminder of the power of remaing true to one’s beliefs.


    The ‘conversion’ of the family from Catholic to Jehovah’s Witnesses goes something like this:

    December, 1936, a theater play for Chrstmas in which Simone is Gabriel the Archangel:

    “Suddenly the door opened. Henriette, a poor mentally ill girl, stood in the doorway, a basket hanging around her neck. She trembled all over….She went to the next loge. A solitary man waved his hand and shook his head “no”. She blushed and ran away. Poor girl! How terrible! I felt so bad for her. Mother, disgusted, stared at the man. I followed Mother’s eyes and recognized our parish priest.…The bell rang for the next act. I had to leave…I passed Henriette, coming back down the hallway. The priest had called her back in. …something had made mum very upset. With indignation, she said to the theatre manager, “Simone will not be in the play again, and I am taking her out of the Skylark girls group. I do not raise a girl to expose her! ..You should have seen what happened in the loge next to us!” (The priest had abused Henriette.)

    And on another occasion, sometime during a nice warm February day, returning home from church…‘suddenly, in the distance, I spotted a young man and a boy crawling out from underneath the thicket. They hurried off and quickly disappeared from view.’

    Sometime in the year 1937, Simone was playing with her doll inside the house while her mother was waxing the shared wooden stairs outside the apartment. “I heard her talking to someone in the hallway; suddenly she came in to get something and went back out. “l’ll read them," I heard Mum say. “I believe our God is sleeping and doesn’t see what is going on. I wonder what you have to say.”

    Mum was enthusiastic about the books she had gotten. Day after day she would read and read and read—she barely cooked anymore….after a while, she decided that she wouldn’t attend Mass anymore. So Dad and I went together. He seemed really down, and I felt uncomfortable too.

    One night as I was lying in bed, I could hear my parents’ voices. “We are Catholics!” Dad kept repeating. “We have to stay faithful” “Do what you want!” “I forbid you to talk about your ideas and your readings to Simone!”

    A strange atmosphere had crept into our home. Mother still didn’t go to church…Father didn’t talk anymore…his greetings to Mother were mechanical---no warmth, no enthusiasm, only questionings. “Do you mean the men who gave you those booklets didn’t come back?” “No, and I feel bad about it. I have so many questions I want to ask them. “Who brought these other brochures?” “I ordered them,” and nervously Mum pulled out a brown paper with stamps. “Here is the proof,” she said with annoyance. “Why did you order so many, and where are they all?” “I ordered three kinds. They sent me ten of each.” “And what did you do with them?” “I shared them with our neighbors in the apartment and down the street…Adolphe, people have the same right that each one of us has—the right to choose. But to do so, they have to have a choice; this is not propaganda.”

    A heavy silence enveloped our family. Mother didn’t try to communicate with Dad, who had no voice anymore. The gloomy days seemed endless. Later, “I’ll investigate that book of those Bible Students, those Jehovahs…They must write lots of nonsense in that Jehovah’s Witness Creation book.” Mother explained herself. “Yes, we have been cheating you. People who do not study the Bible don’t think it’s bad to make a pagan feast, and they do not know that Christmas started with the Roman sun feast…Together we will work to get all the fairy tales and lies out of our worship.”

    And finally…Dad said: “Tomorrow, Mum will go with you to school. Your classmates are right. You, we, are not Catholics anymore. Your mum has found the truth: the Bible is the truth, and we all will hold to it as closely as possible.”

    Music, laughter, and games had returned to our home.


    September, 1941:, after the Gestapo had left Simone’s house: ‘Mother told me, “It wasn’t our turn to be led into the Lion’s den. Whenever Jehovah allows our arrest, we will get the needed strenght from Him. Let’s pray together for Dad, and for us both, and beg our heavenly Father to sustain us.”

    Simone doesn’t go into much detail about her Father’s arrest…just that he didn’t come home one day. There were two non-Jehovah’s Witness families who helped them..the Koels and Maria Hartmann. Eventually they came for her mother and took her away. Simone, then being without parents, was sent to a school for ‘reform’.

    To flash forward to the end of the book, the coming of the Allied Armies caused the Germans to evacuate the camps where her parents had been (Ravensbruck and Ebensee). It states in the book that ‘he had been liberated from the Ebensee camp’. The Red Cross helped them all to to get home. She speaks of Johanne Hus, burned at the stake July 6, 1415 and of Marcel Sutter, a dear friend, beheaded in Torgau as a concientious objector November 5, 1943. ‘How Jehovah must love those men, I thought and my hope in the resurrection became stronger.’ They went home through Switzerland ‘Swiss people handed us coffee, soup and chocolate.’ She mentioned on getting home, that the Gestapo had claimed their apartment because they had two people to feed in prison camp!, and the school that had ‘redeucated’ her had claimed the apartment as well for HER expenses!!! Later, ‘Dad appreciated the help received by the factory and the Red Cross, and the gift packages and the clothing coming from Jehovah’s Witnesses in America…by the Watchtower Society headquarters in New York and by the regional offices in Europe.

    ‘Grasping my parents reasoning was one of my major problems. Dad urged me to get a better education. He was sad that my schooling was poor, that my ambitions were gone. I was satisfied to become a maid, along with my preaching activites. “First,” he said, “try to learn a good trade.” It seemed a contradiction to me.’

    ‘Dad often spoke about the Catholic priests in Dachau; he had many good conversations with them. …’you are in Camp because of the first commandment [love God with all heart] We priests are here because of the second.[Love your neighbor as yourself]. We gave bread to prisoners, helped some Jews, or said something against the party.’ (Brackets mine).


    I tried very hard to read this book without the interference of my own feelings. I tried to put myself in Simone’s place, and only experience what she did.

    But I also cannot put aside everything I had learned in the last year about this religion. I cannot put aside what I had learned from William Schnell’s book ‘30 Years a Watchtower Slave’, or Barbara Grizutti Harrison’s book ‘Visions of Glory’. Or Ray Franz’s book, “Crisis of conscience.’ Or many many other books I had read over the last year.

    But most of all, I cannot put aside the Watchtower’s own literature that stands on my shelves.

    Such as the 1934 Yearbook “Up to this hour there never has been the slightest bit of money contributed to our work by Jews.” –[a blatant and flagrant lie by the way]. “It has been the commercial Jews of the British-American empire that have built up and carried on Big Business as a means of exploiting and oppressing the peoples of many nations.” And this from the 1913 Studies in the Scriptures: “…in their blindness and pride of heart they have stumbled over the humility of God’s appointed messenger of the world’s salvation;…because of it, they have been punished, and that severely. [for nearly a thousand years!]And, finding all mankind at war with them, their national pride and arrogance were by no means softened…God has permitted these afflictions and persecutions to come as a penalty for their national crime of rejection of the Gospel and crucifixtion of the Redeemer..God foreknew their pride and hardness of heart…” And from the 1975 WT: “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.” (Brackets mine)

    This from the book ‘Children’, published in 1941: “since 1914 Jesus Christ has been enthroned in the heavens.” With no reference made to the previous failed prophecies of the late 1800’s and the early 1900’s, where Jesus was going to come and ‘take the true believers to heaven’.

    I can’t help but think how sad it is that as Jehovah’s Witnesses were being hunted and persecuted, their precious Watchtower was collaberating for their persecution and using their persecution toward their own ends, as can be shown not only by their own literature but by eyewitness testimony. (Such behavior was to be repeated in the ‘70’s and ‘80’s in Malawi and by the release of an infamous Awake magazine where children who had died because of refusal of blood were depicted on the cover as heroes; no mention is made of the expulsion and shunning they would have had to endure had they elected to choose otherwise—no exceptions made even for children.

    I feel sad to think also, that many of the doctrines that Simone and her family and others had suffered and died for have been ‘refined’ since then. The blood transfusion and rape resistance issues had been added in the 1960’s; a harder stance taken on expulsion and shunning; the ‘generation’ change; the changes in neutrality; the United Nations scandal of last year; the scandal of the behavior of Bethel during and immediately after the September 11 World Trade Center horrors. And, a far cry from the reaction of Simone’s mother regarding Henrietta’s abuse, now these survivors have seen their beloved organization embroiled in a scandal wherein they are accused of attracting and harboring pedophiles and punishing their victims!!! Jehovah’s Witnesses suffered through all that horror for a prophecy that was never fulfilled; a future that hasn’t come to be; for an organization that is now resposible for deaths in the last few decades that now outnumber the deaths of Jehvoah’s Witnesses that died in the German camps.

    I feel sad, too, how ‘God must have loved those two men [Johanne Hus and Marcel Sutter], but in the present Watchtower doctrine, God does not love the Catholic priests and nuns and pastors and the Amish and the Hutterites and the Russelites and on and on and on that also may have died in the camps. God does not love the Koels or Maria Hartmann, nor the Allied soldiers that helped liberate the Witnesses, nor the Red Cross members who helped them, nor the Swiss people who gave them help, nor the factory workers and the neighbors who helped them get established after the war. Simone, in her book published in 2000, expresses gratitude toward none of these. No; God only loves the Watchtowerites who practice, in the end, a degree of religious intolerance and bigotry that not only murders souls minds and hearts and bodies; but would make Hitler proud.

    Some things never change…


    UADNA-US (Unseen Apostate Directorate of North America-United States)

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