Franz - Schnell

by core 25 Replies latest jw friends

  • Bubbamar

    I've read both. CoC is a LOT better than Slave. Franz books well researched, documented and easy to read. Schnell doesn't document anything and does seem to add a bit in terms of drama to his story. His was interesting to me because he joined in the very early years - and in europe - so its a little different perspective.

    I'd definitely recommend Franz's CoC for starters.

    Someone else said the Ray does sound bitter. It's ironic. I felt that he should really be seething after the royal shaft he got from the WTS. But I really couldn't sense that. In fact the absence of it struck me.

  • lawrence

    I read '30 years slave' in a back room of a small public library when I was pioneering. The book was anethema. Being seen with it was a NO-NO. It was the first publication to begin to open my eyes. As one other poster stated, there was nothing else out there at that time, so to me it was invaluable - bitter, sarcastic, but real. And yes, Ray was shafted, with all the rest of us. Bitter is good, if it breeds fruit. Many here can attest to what Ray's book did for them!

  • Lady Lee
    Lady Lee

    I've read both books and they present very different perspectives on the WTS. The author's emotions aside I think both books are extremely valuable for very different reasons.

    Franz presents us with how the GB works (at least up until the time he left). We get an insider's view of the inner workings which no one outside the group has any info about. That alone makes it required reading.

    Schnell addresses the goals Rutherford had in setting up his little empire. There has been a lot of criticism of his writing style but considering the book was written in the 1950's it is quite remarkable and I see it as pretty accurately detailing how Rutherford got what he wanted. Schnell focuses on how the Judge instigated so much of the so-called "persecution" of the JWs to get his own goals met and his plans for a worldwide publishing company disguised as a religion - the one we see today. He was angry that he sold his soul to the publishing company and clearly accepts his share of the responsibility for becoming a company man. If people ever wonder how the Bible Students under Russell turned into book peddlars under Rutherford and stay trapped for their lives in the WTS, Schnells book provides many of the answers.

    Despite the critics of the book I can see no reason why Schnell could know so well what the WTS would turn into within the 50 years after he wrote the book. I say there is a lot more truth in the book than most people want to believe.

    Sour grapes? Perhaps. But the man knew what he was talking about. We have the proof today.

  • Amazing1914

    Lady Lee,

    I enjoyed your comments about Schell. As I noted above, Schnell's book is slop, however, because of a few things. Books in the 1950s were as well written as they are today, so that is not a factor in his writing style. Rather, his credibility is what concerns me. He is an admitted alcoholic, which may well have distorted his observations. But worse, is that he was not a Watchtower Slave for 30 years. He was not in a position long enough to have formed the all of opinions he held of Bethel. In the end, his book became a marketing work for the Trinity. Nonetheless, I happen to agree with you, that he does provide some historical perspective that helps us understand the times he lived in, and how the Society functioned under Rutherford. I think it helps to have in on my book shelf.

  • hillary_step

    Schnell also wrote a second book later on in his life entitled 'Into the Light of Christianity - the Basic Doctrines of the Jehovah's Witnesses in the Light of Scripture'. ( 1959, Baker Books ) which is a much more restrained attempt to present his point of view than 'Thrity Years...". Most of the book is taken up with a refutation of JW doctrine from his own heavily Christian viewpoint, though the first few Chapters are very interesting in their summation of the hierarchical processes which allow the WTS to imprison its adherents in a web of decietful doctrine. It is a candid and more honest book imho.

    Like Amazing 1914, I too read 'Thirty Years a Watchtower Slave' while I was studying as a young man and it made little impact on my decision to become a JW, due I recall to the often rabid tone of his writing. It is not comparable to Crisis of Conscience imho, which wins the heart by its appeal to logic, its gentle honesty and its subtlety.

    I read at some stage that Schnell attempted to return to the WTS shortly before his death, but I have never seen verification of this.

    Best regards - HS

  • belbab

    I too read this book when I was still a JW. At that time my thoughts were that he was quite nationalistic about his German origin and the work of the org in Germany. It is true, as he states in his book that the Germans are experts in organization. I wonder if Nathan Knorr had this ability to organize from German descent. I know that Knorr made clones of some who had German names and probably were of German origin although born in America.

    A second point that caught my attention was that he criticized the Watchtower for becoming book publishers and commercializing the distribution of books. Yet Schnell, even while he was a JW became a distributor of books and Bibles and made quite a successful commerce of it.

    I have a copy of the book and since this thread has appeared I am re-reading it and when I am finished, I will post any further observations. I find that Schnell gives a lot of his own opinions on events of his era. He claims that Rutherford had a game plan from the beginning regarding all the events that took place. However, I find his book very revealing in spite of his bias. It presents the atmosphere of the Rutherford times.

    As to comparing Franz and Schnell?s books, what for? Sour grapes and peaches.

    I believe that Schnell spent the remaining part of this life in the Okanogan in British Columbia. I will try to find someone who knows more of his latter days and can fill us in.


  • Satanus

    After i left the jws because of ray's book, i also read schnell's book. I thought that it was good. His descriptions of the wt methods in germany were revealing.


    I understand that there was a long version of the book, at first, and the only one now available is the short one. If this is true, do you know which one you have? I would encourage your digitising of it, and sending a copy to me, of course, heh heh. It's good antiwt ammunition, imo.


  • hillary_step


    An interesting post, thank you. Hope that you and yours are well!

    I believe that Schnell spent the remaining part of this life in the Okanogan in British Columbia. I will try to find someone who knows more of his latter days and can fill us in.

    I had no idea of this CAD, especially West Coast connection for Schnell and would be interested in finding this out. It struck me as a little fanciful that he tried to get reinstated as a JW, but stranger things have happened.

    Take care Belbab - HS

  • NeonMadman

    I read the abridged version of Schnell's book (a mass marked sized paperback) when I was a JW, but like many others here, did not find it convincing. Besides the negative tone, it seemed to me that Schnell's work was almost entirely anecdotal, and when I finished the book, I pretty much concluded that most of what he said was unlikely to be true of "God's organization." I found it easier to assume that Schnell was a liar than that the organization was deceiving me. I was already pretty much out mentally by the time I read Crisis of Conscience, but that book did hammer a few extra nails into the Watchtower coffin.

    On a lighter note, I recently bought a hardcover unabridged edition of Thirty Years a Watchtower Slave on eBay. I had wanted the full edition, as the only copy I ever had was that abridged mass market paperback. I scored the book for $1.99 plus postage, and when it arrived, I was delighted to see that it was an autographed first edition!

  • VM44
    I believe that Schnell spent the remaining part of this life in the Okanogan in British Columbia.

    There is a William Schnell who died in Anaheim, California back in 1981.

    Is this the same Schnell who wrote the book?


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