Franz - Schnell

by core 25 Replies latest jw friends

  • core

    Many times on this board people post to say a factor in their leaving the WT was having read Ray Franz book(s) - many years ago William Schnell published a book - 30 Years a Watchtower Slave - have never seen this book but was wondering - has anyone read it ? was it as effective as Crisis of Conscience in exposing the myth of "the Truth"? - did it have an imact when it was publised? - remember seeing "apostates" selling the Schnell book outside conventions in the early 60's - is the difference in impact due to the Internet (not of course available when Schnell wrote his work)?

    Whatever became of Schnell?

  • gumby

    Hi Core,

    was it as effective as Crisis of Conscience in exposing the myth of "the Truth"? -


    First of all, Schnell's book had nowhere near the exposer Rays books have had, nor did Schnells book have the validity in the minds of the readers a former GB member would have. Personally I didn't care for the way he(schnell) presented his material.

    Also, the apathy amoung JW's was not near the height it was when Ray wrote his books, nor was there the exposer of the witnesses by others in schnells time. He however was one of the early pioneers of Apostates who spoke out.


  • garybuss

    I read them both. I was long time away from dub land before I bothered to read either. They are both valuable to the researcher. Schnell worked for Rutherford. Franz worked for Knorr and was booted out by his uncle.

  • onacruse

    I have a copy of Schnell's book, and over the years have read it many times.

    The chapters "Sifting," "God's Organization," "Strategy Pays Off," and especially "The Theocracy of 1938" are well-written, even if somewhat anecdotal, perspectives on Rutherford's "game-plan." Ray Franz provides much more documentation of the same, though many of his sources are personal letters which, if a JW apologist took issue, could unjustifiably be challenged for authenticity.

    What the WTS has actually put out in the public record is damning enough, which is why, imvho, sites such as "Quotes" offer the most valuable type of information...rather along the lines of "Food for Thinking Christians," or, ummm, "...Questioning JWs."

    As for the impact of those 2 books? I don't recall that there was much said in the congregations about them, or any particular reaction from the WTS. "Pretend like they don't exist, and soon enough most everybody will forget."

  • Englishman


    I was unable to get hold of a copy of Schnells book anywhere, until suddenly I thought of trying our local library.

    I keyed in the title at the library's computer point and learned that there was only 1 copy in the whole of the West of England's libraries. So I reserved it. I got a postal notification that there was a lengthy waiting list for this book, and that if I did borrow it, I could only keep it for a maximum of 7days, not the usual 28.

    Eventually, when I collected the book, I looked in the flyleaf where the stampps were put in each time the book was loaned out. To my astonishment it showed at least 12 or more separate libraries that had requested the book in that year alone. Obviously it was in great demand.


  • onacruse

    One thing that struck me--the akron page in Schnell's book says:

    Dedicated to the memory of my Father, who while dying said to me, "Son, have we been wrong in our religion?"

    Truer words have never been spoken.

    PS: I'm not sure if Schnell's book is out-of-copyright, but if it is, I'd be glad to scan it and make copies available. If anyone can determine the copyright status, please let me know.

    Baker Book House, Grand Rapids 6, Michigan, 1957

    Library of Congress Catalog card Number: 56:13037

    First printing: October 1956

  • VM44

    Hi Englishman,

    The waiting list is so long because it appears there is only ONE copy of Schnell's book in all the UK!!!

    Actually, I checked, the book is listed for sale. --VM44

    30 Years Watchtower Slave

    Thirty Years a Watchtower Slave: The Confessions of a Converted Jehovah's Witness
    William J. Schnell,

    US List Price: $12.99
    UK Equivalent: £7.24 Our Price: £6.52 You Save: £0.72 (9%)

    An interesting reader review:

    Slavery!!, October 12, 2002

    Reviewer: A reader
    This book is an in depth account of a man whose Christian life was led badly astray by the Watch Tower Society. A young German who saw the Society use his country as a guinea pig for the USA.

    He knew Judge Rutherford and willingly co-operated in the brainwashing of his fellow country men.

    A moving and harrowing story.

  • stichione

    Hi there.

    I have read both books. In Franz's books he just presents the facts and is careful not to sound bitter with his experiences. Schnell on the other hand is very sarcastic and bitter of his experiences. It kind of takes the joy out of reading the book. However, i still recommend his book. I have no idea what has become of him.

  • onacruse


    In Franz's books he just presents the facts and is careful not to sound bitter with his experiences.

    Hmmm...I guess that depends on how you relate to his experiences. I personally feel a lot of bitterness in Ray's documentary, a bitterness that he's fully entitled to feel.

    Schnell on the other hand is very sarcastic and bitter of his experiences.
    I feel differently. Though there are many passages where Bill's angst comes right into your face, he mainly sticks to the issues, peppered with his own experiences; who on this db can argue about how it felt to be one of the "cane-bearers" beating back the mob at the Manhattan Garden?
  • Amazing1914

    I read schnell's book as I was becoming a JW in 1968. It was unimpressive slop and swill. I read Crisis of Conscience in 1989 and was extremely impressed. I then read Schnell's book twice again, and was still unimpressed ... it is still the same sad slop. There is no comparison because Ray Franz wrote for the benefit of the JW reader. Schnell wrote for himself and non-JWs ... but mostly it was a self-serving pity-party. The difference between the two books is that of night and day. - Jim W.

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