First of all let me start by saying I am not a member of the Jehovah’s Witnesses. I don’t agree with some aspects of their religion. However that doesn’t mean I don’t respect their faith, because I do. I respect anyone’s faith once it doesn’t include hatred and violence. Among my friends are Jews, Christians, , Buddhists, Baháʼí and Atheists. In fact I remember a few years ago I was doing a course in web development and I gave some of my fellow students a lift home, that time I had a microcosm of several faiths in my car, a Christian, a Jew, a Muslim and an atheists, all connected via one thing, education.
However the title of the blog is Jehovah’s Witnesses and the Holocaust and that is what I will be focusing on.
I have done blogs on the subject before but I found it important to do another one, because the more I read about it the more I realize how little is known about this.
Unlike the Jews and Roma victims who were persecuted and murdered by virtue of their birth, the Jehovah’s witnesses could save themselves by denouncing their faith. The courage the vast majority showed in refusing to do so, in the face of torture, maltreatment in concentration camps, and sometimes execution, won them the respect of many contemporaries.
Rather then going into too deep of details I will focus on just a few stories.
The picture at the start of the blog is of the Kusserow family. They were active in distributing religious literature and teaching Bible study classes in their home. Their house had been under intense scrutiny.
The oldest son,Wilhelm Kusserow,had been arrested for refusing to join the army. In 1940 he had made it clear to the judge that he only obeyed God’s law and not Hitler’s laws. He interpreted God’s command “thou shalt not kill” literally and refused to serve in the German army
For this he was executed by a firing squad in Muenster prison on April 27.
His younger brother, , also refused to join the army for the same reason . He was executed on March 28,1942 in Brandenburg prison by guillotine , aged 20.
Helene Gotthold was executed by guillotine in Berlin’s Ploetzensee Prison, on December 8. 1944.
Helene’s husband was arrested in 1936.basically for practicing his faith After searching her house, where they found Jehovah’s witnesses literature the Gestapo arrested her in 1937; she was beaten with rods and lost her unborn baby. The court gave her an 18-month sentence.
Helene and her husband were arrested again in February 1944. They were imprisoned in Essen, however after the prison had been destroyed in an Allied bombing raid, they were transferred to a prison in Potsdam. On August 4, the People’s Court sentenced Helene and five other Witnesses to death for illegally holding Bible meetings and undermining the nation’s morale. Before her execution, Helene was allowed to write a letter to her husband and children.
Helene was executed by guillotine in Berlin’s Ploetzensee Prison on December 8, 1944. Her family survived and resumed their Jehovah’s Witness missionary work in Germany.
I think many people underestimate the bravery of the Jehovah’s witnesses, still to this day. After reading and researching for this blog and the other blogs I did, I have found a new respect for this group of Christians. Does that mean I agree with all of their believes, of course it doesn’t but I don’t expect anyone to agree with all of my believes either. One thing I do know though, if I could have saved my live by denouncing my faith, there is a great chance I would have done that.
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