Jehovah's Witnesses and the Third Reich: Sectarian Politics Under Persecution

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University of Toronto Press, 2004 - History - 412 pages
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Since the end of World War II, leaders of the Jehovah's Witness movement in both Germany and elsewhere have steadfastly argued that Witnesses were united in their opposition to Nazism and did not collude with the Third Reich. Documents have been uncovered, however, that prove otherwise. Using materials from Witness archives, the U.S. State Department, Nazi files, and other sources, M. James Penton demonstrates that while many ordinary German Witnesses were brave in their opposition to Nazism, their leaders were quite prepared to support the Hitler government.

Penton begins his study with a close reading of the "Declaration of Facts" released by the Witnesses at a Berlin convention in June 1933. Witness leaders have called the document a protest against Nazi persecution, however closer examination shows it contained bitter attacks on Great Britain and the United States - jointly referred to as "the greatest and most oppressive empire on earth" - the League of Nations, big business, and above all, Jews, who are referred to as "the representatives of Satan the Devil."

It was later, in 1933 - when the Nazis would not accept Witness blandishments - that leader J.F. Rutherford called on Witnesses to seek martyrdom by carrying on a campaign of passive resistance. Many ultimately died in prisons and concentration camps, and postwar Witness leaders have attempted to use this fact to assert that Jehovah's Witnesses stood consistently against Nazism.

Drawing on his own Witness background and years of research on Witness history, Penton separates fact from fiction during this dark period.

 

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Contents

Introduction
3
Watch Tower Holocaust Propaganda and Responses
29
Merely Political Differences
33
Evaluating the Arguments and the Evidence
63
Holy Water for Mamma and the Babies
92
Rutherfords New Nation The Theocracy in America
100
WINDOW DRESSING
121
German Bible StudentJehovahs Witnesses 19021933
136
Conclusion
236
A Watch Tower Society 1929 AntiNazi Statement
251
Documents Relating to the Watch Tower Societys
256
U S State Department Documents Relating
297
Documents Relating to the Watch Towers Attacks
312
Nazi Documents Relating to the Persecution
335
Character Descriptions ofJ F Rutherford
363
Bibliography
383

Jehovahs Witnesses in the Crucible of Nazi Persecution
160
Riding the Holocaust Bandwagon
208

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About the author (2004)

M. James Penton is a professor emeritus in the Department of History at the University of Lethbridge.

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