Continuing my first post:
2. I knew some witnesses who had lived through those days. An elderly sister (name forgotten) had been the branch overseer's secretary. His name was MacGillivary. She wouldn't (rightly or wrongly) hear a word against him.
MacGillivary had the distinction of being shot by an army sentry at Strathfield Bethel. To explain this, I'll first use this quote from another source. It outlines my understanding ot the times.
Quote: "In the concern for national security, a Federal Government order was issued in January 1941 that 'any body, corporate or unincorporate...prejudicial to the defence of the Commonwealth or efficient prosecution of the war, is thereby declared to be unlawful' (Gillman 1988) . On this basis, Commonwealth authorities moved to dissolve the organisation. Meetings, printing and the circulation of the Society's publications was prohibited and the office, factory and warehouse of the Jehovah's Witnesses in Strathfield, New South Wales, was seized. Nonetheless, the Society continued during this period, meeting in homes and door knocking using only the Bible. Despite restrictions, the movement held its national convention in 1941 with delegates travelling from all over Australia, some even using cars with charcoal-fed gas producers." end of quote.
As a result of that order. the Australian army was sent to occupy the Strathfield Bethel. But the Bethel family were allowed to continue living there. MacGillivary came home late one night, and was challenged by the sentry.. MacGillivary made a silly flippant remark and the sentry responded by shooting him. I'm not interested in arguing either way over the rights and wrongs of that incident.
In 1943, the WTS was able take their case to the Australian High Court which found that the ban was Unconstitutional.
Some brothers refused commercial assignments. Bill and Linda Schneider were sent to the Aussie backblocks for refusing to take charge of some commercial project. Ironically Bill was a veteran from WW1.
Is criticism of the Australian branch and brothers justified? Knorr came to Australia as soon as possible after WW2 ended and was extremely critical of the commercial activities. Most people I knew (high and low) followed Knorr's line. I did too, but now I think that they were wrong too. If Paul could work for a living, why couldn't a small group of a few thousand (not many rich in it then) do commercial work. Some of that work, at least, would have been beneficial to Australia (just as paying taxs today would be). Most able-bodied men would have been in the army so there would have been a shortage of tradesmen.
Next post we can look at the 'bethel' near an army camp.