DataDog: At least they got some good Yeabook stories out of it....
Yes, we have read about the stories that the WTS want us to hear. The treatment that many of the Bible Students and JWs were subjected to was terrible. However, there are many stories that aren't told about the JWs and the camps run by Himmler's SS.
For example, The WTS yearbooks do not tell the story of Wewelsburg Castle, a "posh concentration camp" that the JWs were left as caretakers of when the construction was shut down in 1943. However, the Wewelsburg Castle is a lengthy story all by itself, and one that requires a lot of background material to do it justice.
The WTS yearbooks also do not tell the stories of all the JWs who were placed in positions of privilege serving the SS officers and their families or where they rubbed elbows with the Nazi doctors.
I have posted this information before, but, for the sake of this thread...I will do so again. I apologize for the length of the following...there were numerous JW assignments to list. I used a few sources for this material but most of this information comes from Between Resistance and Martyrdom: Jehovah's Witnesses in the Third Reich by Detlef Garbe and Dagnar G. Grimm.
You will notice that some of these assignments pre-date the 'turning point' of 1942 alleged by some historians. I also apologize if I can't supply the actual dates and numbers of prisoners of all the assignments - I will note what I have found.
It was in the mid-30s that the SS officers were already using Bible Students to act as barbers - supposedly because they knew they wouldn't get their throats cut. This is a popular story that is repeated ad nauseum so I will get it out of the way first.
As early as 1938, Hans Loritz, the commanding officer of Dachau, had BS/Jws work for him privately. Loritz owned land near Lake Wolfgang in Salzkammergut (Austria) and used the Bible Students (crew of 9) to build a mansion boathouse and landing pier. Loritz later increased the work crew to 25 Bible Students after he had been transferred to the Sachenhausen camp in 1940. Also, SS Arthur Liebehenschel had a building project near lake Wolfgang that he used 15 Bible Students for a work crew as well.
From 1940 and on, until 1945, 30 to 40 BS/Jws were assigned to work at Bayrischzell SS Mountain Hotel and Holiday Resort in Sudelfeld am Wendelstein. Their duties there were mostly groundskeeping - parks and garden maintenance and improvement. They had a fair degree of freedom of movement and adequate food in spite of having to work hard.
Between 30-40 BS/Jws were assigned to work at the SS Sanatorium Hohenlychen near Ravensbruck.
This was a military hospital for the SS and it was used as a health resort for the Nazi leaders. Oswald Pohl, Albert Speer, Joseph Goebbels, Heinrich Himmler, Adolph Hitler, and others were known to use this resort. The BS/Jws assigned here did not wear a camp uniform but were able to administer their duties while wearing civilian clothing.
The Sanatorium was run by Dr. Karl Gebhardt (Himmler's personal physician) who conducted surgical experiments on prisoners. He was also the president of the German Red Cross. Gebhardt was the physician who treated Reinhard Heydrich, who died from the injuries that were sustained in an attack on him. Gebhardt had refused to use sulfanamide on Heydrich's injuries and, later, conducted brutal experiments on prisoners to attempt to prove that he was right in not treating Heydrich's wounds with sulfa. Also, he was not well liked by Speers, who almost died from being treated by him. (Inside the Third Reich by Albert Speer) Gebhardt was hung in 1948.
Albert Speer, Hitler's architect, used a crew of BS/Jws (not sure how many) for construction and craftsman work at the Reich Main Security Office (RSHA) that housed the Gestapo and the SS in Berlin-Lichterfelde.
Speer also used a crew of BS/Jws from Dachau to do the finishing work on the Munich Reich Chancellery that Speer had built for Hitler in 1939/40. The chancellery contained Hitler's living quarters.
In the spring of 1944, 15 BS/Jw women were assigned to the Research-Hedin Institute for Inner-Asia at Mittersill Fortress Pinzgau. The castle was used as an outpost for Mauthausen Camp - which was used mainly for female BS/Jws.
This research institute was funded by Himmler's Circle of Friends - Freundeskreis der Wirtschaft.- (a club for big business sycophants) and was concerned with investigating the genealogical heritage of the Aryan race.
The Mittersill Castle had been owned in the 30s by an American - Baron Hubert von Pantz.
Many of the BibleStudent/Jw 'prisoners' were assigned to agricultural estates during the war. These estates were owned by people with special connections or by SS officers and, usually these assignments had favorable conditions which included enough to eat - the estates were agriculturally based.
- owned by Dr. Felix Kersten - Himmler's 'doctor' and private masseur
- employed 10 female Bible Students
*note - Kersten claims that he was responsible for Himmler's improved attitude to the BS/Jws. Kersten also provided information to the CIA during the war.
- owned by Oswald Pohl - chief of the SS and WVHA - the Economic and Administrative Main Office of the Nazi SS
- used up to 50 BS/Jws from Ravensbruck
-it is here that the story of Jws being allowed to go unguarded into the forest to pick berries originates. The story is that the Jws were so trustworthy and that is why they didn't need guarding. At the time that these berry picking incidents were happening, conditions in Germany were not good - many of the general population was starving. Would you bother running away if you had a warm place to sleep and lots to eat at an estate??
-owned by Reinhard Heydrich's widow
-she requested a crew of 15 Bs/Jws to help her on her estate after Reinhard died in 1942
- it was Lina Heydrich that petitioned Himmler to release the BS/Jws that were working on her estate. She argued that they should be released without signing the declaration usually required. Himmler agreed to this and several of the BS/Jws from this point on were released solely on a handshake.
*the form letter that BS/Jws were usually required to sign to be released was a pledge to give up the doctrines of the Watchtower and to not engage in the proselytizing work. Contrary to what most Jws today will tell you, these letters were signed by the BS/Jws in Germany that were arrested - about 50 percent of those sent to prison signed the letters before they were released and only about 10 percent signed them once they reached the camps. As John-Stucke points out in her essay, it was not advantageous to the BS/Jw prisoners to sign the letters once they reached the camps because it was in effect, potentially signing their own death warrants. The men who signed would be sent to the front to fight and rarely returned. Staying in the camps was the safest and best way for the Bible Students and JWs to survive the war. Especially when they got assignments that placed them in places of privilege that fed and clothed and sheltered them - they ate while many in the rest of Europe and Britain starved.
The myth that the BS/Jws didn't sign the papers because of God-loyalty is rather misguided - the lack of signing was not always a resistance/martyr move - it was a 'save my ass' move. Yes...many got badly treated because of not signing the papers...but many also took advantage of not serving at the front.
I don't have numbers on the following assignments given to the BS/Jws.
The estates that follow were under the management of Deutsche Versuchsanstalt fur Ernahrung und Verpflegung (established by the SS in 1939).
BS/Jws were assigned to work crews on the following farms/estates (some also used female BS/Jws for cooks for the farm workers):
- Ravensbruck Estate
- Werderhof Estate (near Stutthof Concentration Camp)
- Raisko Estate (department of plant cultivation at the Kaiser Wilhem Institute)
- Harmense Poultry Farm
- Fish farming facilities at Unterfahlheim near Munich
- Rumbler Estate
- Fechter Estate
- Preller Estate
- St. Lambrecht Estate
- a farm in Fridolfing Upper Bavaria
Rudolf Hess is quoted by historians as saying that female JWs "were very much in demand as servants in the homes of SS with large families". Hess is also quoted as saying that these same female BS/Jws viewed the Jews as sinners and as deserving of the treatment they were getting. It is obvious that whichever of the female prisoners were saying this were loyal to Rutherford's new replacement theology doctrine concerning the Jews. It was the 'old' Bible Students who would not have said that - the Bible Students would have followed the Russell dual covenant doctrine.
The female BS/Jws were much prized as domestics by the SS officers; the assignment of one or more female BS/Jws was considered to be part of the SS officers' benefit packages and they were assigned in strict hierarchical order to those officers who qualified for them.
15 women were assigned out of the Auschwitz camp and included the following positions:
- one position with Dr. Edward Wirths, the Auschwitz medical doctor
- one position with Josef Kramer, the commanding officer of Auschwitz ll (Birkenau)
- 9 positions assigned each to nine unnamed SS officers
- two positions with Rudolf Hess, commanding officer
- two positions with SS Obersturmbannfuhrer Dr. Joachim Caesar, leader of the agricultural estates of the Auschwitz camp
In 1943, several BS/Jw women were selected from Ravensbruck camp to be nursemaids and cleaning ladies for families of SS leaders.
It is unknown how many were chosen for these domestic positions but they included the following families:
- Oswald Pohl, chief of WVHA (he also had a BS/Jw farm crew - already mentioned)
- SS Obergruppenfuhrer Dr. Hans Kammler, leader of Department C - building department of the WVHA
- SS Sturmbannfuhrer Karl Mummenthey, Storm Battalion Leader and Leader of Department W1 at the WVHA (building materials)
At the Buchenwald Camp, BS/Jws were assigned to work in the photo lab and in the sculptor workshop.
Also, Buchenwald was in charge of special living quarters outside of the camp that were used for special political prisoners.
The JW inmates were assigned as personal servants to these special prisoners.
The Italian King Victor Emmanuel lll was under arrest inside of Buchenwald and his daughter, Princess Mafalda of Hessen, was housed at the Fichtenhain Settlement. A female JW was transferred over from Ravensbruck to be her personal servant. The living quarters were also staffed with JWs who worked as caretakers and other servants.
The Falkenhof Settlement housed two "special prisoners" - the former French prime minister, Leon Blum and the former minister of the interior, Georg Mandel.
Joachim Escher, a JW who had also been at Wewelsburg, was assigned to be their personal servant. He cleaned house, served meals and did dishes for these two political prisoners.
Garbe also, in his book, makes reference to additional "positions of trust" and "priviledged positions" that many of the JWs were given during the war but it is unclear as to where they were assigned. He says that they were specialized craftsmen, clerks for SS officers, barbers, caretakers and cooks. Garbe also says that the JWs, during the final years of the war, held positions of "prisoners' self-administration" including foremen and supervisor positions but, only in a few cases were they 'block leaders'.
They were also selected to work under Oswald Pohl in positions of trust handling money and financial accounts for the SS.
It is interesting to note that towards the end of the war, Himmler had proposed the following concessions for the JW prisoners:
- no punishment
- no work in armament production
- work assignments to privileged positions
- concentration camp releases without the requirement to sign statement renouncing their faith