Else Woieziek, a Jehovah's Witness sentenced to death and executed in 1944. Düsseldorf, Germany, 1937–38
Heinrich Heine, a shop assistant from Neuss, Germany. He was placed in protective custody for participating in illegal activities as a Jehovah's Witness. Düsseldorf, Germany, 1937–38
Wolfgang Kusserow, standing third from the left in the last portrait taken of the family, was one of eleven children of Frans and Hilda Kusserow, devout Jehovah's Witnesses.
Last Letter of Wolfgang Kusserow. On this date in 1940, 25-year-old Wilhelm Kusserow was executed by firing squad at Münster Prison in Germany
One more time I am given the opportunity to write you. Well, now I your third son and brother, shall leave you tomorrow early in the morning. Be not sad, the time will come when we shall all be together again. Those who will sow with tears, will reap with joy. "Those sowing seed with tears will reap even with a joyful cry."
How great the joy will be, when we see all of us again, although it is not easy now to overcome all this, but through belief and hope in the King and His Kingdom we conquer the worst. "For I am convinced that neither death nor life nor angels nor governments nor things now here nor things to come nor powers nor height nor depth nor any other creation will be able to separate us from God's love that is in Christ Jesus our Lord" (Rom 8:38-39).
So we confidently look forward to the future.
Dear Papa, I am sorry that I was not allowed to visit you early in December. Exactly one year ago from tomorrow I saw you and Hildegard for the last time. In the meantime I have visited Lenchen. It was a special joy for me to see Mummy once again. Well, dear Mummy, Annemarie read me your dear letter during her visit... It is fine that you are busy in the baking factory (prison), so you are at least in a warm room and you have something to eat. Lenchen is now in the concentration camp.
Thus we are all separated, but everybody is steady. Yes we shall be rewarded for all of this. Read this in James 1:12: "Happy is the man who keeps on enduring trials, because on becoming approved he will receive the crown of life, which Jehovah promised to those who continue loving Him."
Dear Annemarie, once more special thanks to you for all your endeavors. May this our Lord reward you. I have you all constantly in mind. That was a life, when we were all at home together! - And suddenly separated!
Well Satan knows that his time is short. Therefore, he tries with all his power to lead astray from God men of good will, but he will have no success. We know that our faith will be victorious.
In this faith and this conviction I leave you.
A last greeting from this old world in the hope of seeing you again soon in a New World.
This old Opel car was used by the Kusserows when they traveled house to house handing out religious tracts.
Helene Gotthold with her two children, Gerd and Gisela, in 1936. Arrested many times for defying the Nazi ban on Jehova's Witness activities, Helene was convicted, condemned to death, and beheaded on December 8, 1944, in Berlin. Gerd and Gisela survived.
Robert Wagemann, a physically disabled Jehovah's Witness child, sits on his hospital bed.
By Guest Nicole
Helene Gotthold, a Jehovah's Witness, was beheaded for her religious beliefs on December 8, 1944, in Berlin. She is pictured with her children. Germany, June 25, 1936.
By Guest Nicole
1999 - An Untold Story of the Holocaust—Trinity University.pdf
Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Monument to Witness Holocaust Survivor Unveiled in Germany
Rudolf Max Graichen German Holocaust Survivor 6/2/1925 Â– 1/31/2017
Rudolf Graichen ? Â‘All Jewish inmates in the camp were all prisoners without a choice. JehovahÂ’s Witnesses were the only prisoners in the camp with a choice, namely, to stay in there or to leave and go home again.Â’
Jehovah's Witnesses oral history collection<<click Â List the 123 items linked to this collectionÂ
Jehovah’s Blessing Has Enriched My Life
As told by Melita Jaracz
I WAS born in 1927 in the little town of Wakaw, Saskatchewan, Canada. Dad and Mom had seven children, four boys and three girls, so I came to know early in life what it was like to be with people.
Our family felt the effects of the desperate economic times of the 1930’s known as the Great Depression. We were not wealthy, but we did not lack food. We had some hens and a cow, so we were never short of eggs, milk, cream, cheese, and butter. As you can imagine, all in our farm family had chores.
I have many happy memories of that time, such as the sweet fragrance of apples filling the room. You see, when Dad went to town in the autumn to sell farm produce, he often returned with a box of freshly picked apples. What a treat it was for each of us to have a juicy apple every day!
OUR FAMILY LEARNS THE TRUTH
I was six years old when my parents heard of the truth. Their first son, Johnny, had died shortly after he was born. My distraught parents asked the local priest, “Where’s Johnny?” The priest said that the baby had not been christened, so he was not in heaven. Rather, he was in Limbo. The priest also said that if my parents paid him, he would pray for Johnny to get out of Limbo and go to heaven. How would you have felt? Dad and Mom were so disillusioned that they did not speak with that priest again. Yet, they still wondered what had become of Johnny.
One day Mom came across a booklet entitled Where Are the Dead? published by Jehovah’s Witnesses. She read it eagerly. When Dad came home, she said excitedly: “I know where Johnny is! He’s sleeping now, but one day he’s going to awaken.” That evening my father read the entire booklet. Mom and Dad were comforted to learn that the Bible says that the dead are asleep and that there will be a future resurrection.—Eccl. 9:5, 10; Acts 24:15.
What they found changed our lives for the better, bringing both comfort and happiness. They started studying the Bible with the Witnesses and attending meetings with the little congregation in Wakaw, where most had a Ukrainian background. Soon Mom and Dad were sharing in the preaching work.
Not long after that, we moved to British Columbia and a congregation warmly welcomed us. I think back with pleasure on our family preparation of The Watchtower for the Sunday meetings. All of us were developing a deep love for Jehovah and for Bible truth. I could see how our lives were being enriched and how Jehovah was blessing us.
Understandably, it was not the easiest thing for us children to speak to people about our beliefs. Something that really helped, though, was that my younger sister Eva and I often prepared the month’s field service presentation and demonstrated it at the Service Meeting. It was a wonderful way for us, though we were shy, to learn to speak with others about the Bible. I’m so grateful for how we were trained to preach!
One of the highlights of our childhood was having full-time servants stay with us. For example, we loved it when our circuit overseer, Jack Nathan, visited our congregation and stayed in our home.* His countless stories were a delight, and his sincere commendation made us want to serve Jehovah faithfully.
I recall thinking, “When I grow up, I want to be like Brother Nathan.” Little did I realize then that his example was helping to groom me for a career in full-time service. By the time I was 15 years old, I was determined to serve Jehovah. In 1942, Eva and I were baptized.
TESTS OF FAITH
During World War II when patriotism ran high, Miss Scott, a particularly intolerant schoolteacher, expelled my two sisters and one of my brothers from school. Why? Because they declined to salute the flag. Then she contacted my schoolteacher and urged her to expel me. But my teacher said, “We live in a free country, and we have the right to refrain from patriotic ceremonies.” Despite much pressure from Miss Scott, my teacher said firmly, “This is my decision.”
Miss Scott replied: “No, it is not your decision. I will report you if you don’t expel Melita.” My teacher explained to my parents that if she wanted to keep her job, she had no choice but to expel me, even though she believed that it was the wrong thing to do. Nevertheless, we obtained school material that we could study at home. Shortly thereafter, we moved some 20 miles (32 km) away, where we were accepted at another school.
The war years brought bans on our literature; yet, we went from house to house with the Bible. As a result, we became skilled at sharing the good news of the Kingdom directly from the Scriptures. That, in turn, helped us to grow spiritually and experience Jehovah’s support.
ENTERING FULL-TIME SERVICE
I had a knack for hairdressing and even received a few awards for it
As soon as Eva and I completed our schooling, we entered the pioneer service. For secular employment, I first worked in a department store deli. In time, I took a six-month course in hairdressing, something I had enjoyed doing at home. I found work at a hair salon two days a week and also taught the trade twice a month. In that way I supported myself in full-time service.
In 1955, I wanted to attend the “Triumphant Kingdom” assemblies in New York City, U.S.A., and Nuremberg, Germany. Before I left for New York, though, I met Brother Nathan Knorr from world headquarters. He and his wife were attending a convention in Vancouver, Canada. During their visit, I was asked to do Sister Knorr’s hair. Brother Knorr was pleased with the result and wanted to meet me. As we chatted, I told him that I was planning to be in New York before going on to Germany. He invited me to work at Brooklyn Bethel for nine days.
That trip changed my life. In New York, I met a young brother named Theodore (Ted) Jaracz. Shortly after meeting him, I was surprised when he asked me, “Are you a pioneer?” I replied, “No.” My friend LaVonne overheard this and interjected, “Yes, she is.” Puzzled, Ted asked LaVonne, “Well, who knows better, you or her?” I explained that I had been pioneering and intended to start again as soon as I returned from the conventions.
THE SPIRITUAL MAN I MARRIED
Born in 1925 in Kentucky, U.S.A., Ted had symbolized his dedication to Jehovah at the age of 15. Though none of his family members came into the truth, he became a regular pioneer two years later. That began a career of nearly 67 years in the full-time service.
In July 1946, at the age of 20, Ted graduated from the seventh class of the Watchtower Bible School of Gilead. After that, he served as a traveling overseer in Cleveland, Ohio. Some four years later, he was assigned to serve as branch servant in Australia.
Ted was at the convention in Nuremberg, Germany, and we spent some time together. A romance blossomed. I was happy that his goals were centered on serving Jehovah whole-souled. He was a very dedicated person, serious in his devotion but kind and friendly in his disposition. I felt that he put others’ interests ahead of his own. Following that convention, Ted returned to Australia and I went back to Vancouver, but we kept in touch by letter.
After some five years in Australia, Ted returned to the United States and then came to pioneer in Vancouver. I was happy to see how much my family liked him. My older brother, Michael, was very protective of me, and he often expressed concern if a young brother took an interest in me. However, Michael quickly became fond of Ted. “Melita,” he said, “you’ve got a good man here. You had better treat him well and be smart enough not to lose him.”
After marrying in 1956, we enjoyed many happy years together in full-time service
I too had become very fond of Ted. We were married on December 10, 1956. We pioneered together in Vancouver, then in California, and then we were assigned to the circuit work in Missouri and Arkansas. For some 18 years, we had a different home each week as we served in the traveling work throughout a large part of the United States. We had wonderful experiences in the ministry, as well as much happy association with brothers and sisters. That more than made up for the inconveniences of living out of a suitcase.
Something I particularly respected about Ted was that he never took his relationship with Jehovah for granted. He cherished his sacred service to the greatest Person in the universe. We loved to read and study the Bible together. At night before retiring, we knelt next to the bed, and he prayed for us. Then we separately said our own prayers. I always knew when a serious matter was weighing on Ted’s mind. He would get out of bed, kneel down again, and silently pray at length. I deeply appreciated that he wanted to pray to Jehovah about matters great and small.
Some years after we got married, Ted explained to me that he was going to start partaking of the emblems at the Memorial. “I have prayed about this intensely to be absolutely sure that I am doing what Jehovah wants me to do,” he said. I was not entirely surprised that he had been anointed with God’s spirit to serve in heaven eventually. I viewed it as a privilege to support one of Christ’s brothers.—Matt. 25:35-40.
A NEW AVENUE OF SACRED SERVICE
In 1974, to our great surprise, Ted was invited to become a member of the Governing Body of Jehovah’s Witnesses. In time, we were called to serve at Brooklyn Bethel. While Ted cared for his responsibilities on the Governing Body, I worked as a housekeeper or in the hair salon.
As part of Ted’s responsibilities, he was assigned to visit various branches. He was particularly interested in the preaching work in countries behind the Iron Curtain. Once, during a much needed vacation in Sweden, Ted said: “Melita, the preaching work is banned in Poland, and I would love to help the brothers there.” So we obtained visas and went to Poland. Ted met with some of the brothers who cared for our work, and they went for a long walk so that no one could overhear their conversation. The brothers had four days of very intense meetings, but I was happy to see how satisfied Ted was to help his spiritual family.
The next time we visited Poland was in November 1977. F. W. Franz, Daniel Sydlik, and Ted made the first official visit by members of the Governing Body. Our work was still banned, yet the three Governing Body members were able to speak to overseers, pioneers, and longtime Witnesses in various cities.
Ted and others at the Ministry of Justice in Moscow after our work received official registration
The next year, when Milton Henschel and Ted visited Poland, they met with officials who were becoming more tolerant of us and our activities. In 1982 the Polish government permitted our brothers to hold one-day assemblies. The following year, larger conventions were held, mostly in rented halls. While the ban was still on in 1985, we were allowed to hold four conventions in large stadiums. Then, in May 1989, while plans were under way for even larger conventions, the Polish government granted Jehovah’s Witnesses legal recognition. Few events brought Ted more joy than that.
District convention in Poland
COPING WITH HEALTH SETBACKS
In 2007 we were on our way to attend a branch dedication in South Africa. In England, Ted had trouble with his blood pressure, and a doctor advised him to postpone his trip. After Ted recovered, we returned to the United States. But a few weeks later, he had a severe stroke that disabled his right side.
Ted’s recovery was slow, and initially he was not able to go to the office. We were grateful, though, that his speech was normal. Despite his limitations, he tried to keep up his routine, even participating in the weekly Governing Body meetings by telephone from our living room.
Ted deeply appreciated the excellent physical therapy he received in the Bethel infirmary. Slowly, he regained much of his mobility. He was able to care for some of his theocratic assignments, and he always managed to be cheerful.
Three years later, he had a second stroke and died peacefully on Wednesday, June 9, 2010. Although I had always realized that Ted would have to finish his earthly course, I cannot describe how painful it was for me to lose him and how much I miss him. Still, I daily thank Jehovah for what I was able to do to assist Ted. We enjoyed over 53 years of full-time service together. I thank Jehovah for how Ted helped me draw closer to my heavenly Father. Now, I have no doubt that his new assignment brings him great delight and satisfaction.
MEETING NEW CHALLENGES IN LIFE
I found great pleasure in working and giving training in the Bethel beauty shop
After so many busy, happy years with my husband, adjusting to the present challenges has not been easy. Ted and I loved meeting visitors at Bethel and at our Kingdom Hall. Now that my beloved Ted is no longer here and I am not as strong as I used to be, my association is more limited. Nevertheless, I still enjoy being with my dear brothers and sisters at Bethel and in the congregation. The Bethel routine is not easy, but it is a source of joy to be able to serve God in this way. And my love for the preaching work has in no way diminished. Though I get tired and cannot be on my feet for any length of time, I get much satisfaction from sharing in street witnessing and conducting Bible studies.
When I see all the terrible things happening in the world, how glad I am to have been in Jehovah’s service with such a wonderful marriage mate! Jehovah’s blessing has truly enriched my life.—Prov. 10:22.
Jack Nathan’s life story was published in The Watchtower, September 1, 1990, pp. 10-14.
LIFE STORY - As told by Melita Jaracz
Jehovah’s Blessing Has Enriched My Life - Melita Jaracz.pdf
Displaying Modesty and Discretion
13, 14. (a) How can we show modesty when a privilege of service is extended to us? (b) How did Brother A. H. Macmillan set a fine example in displaying modesty?
13 There is much we can learn from Gideon’s modesty. For example, how do we respond when a privilege of service is extended to us? Do we think first of the prominence or prestige that will result? Or do we modestly and prayerfully consider whether we can fulfill the demands of the assignment? Brother A. H. Macmillan, who finished his earthly course in 1966, set a fine example in this regard. C. T. Russell, the first president of the Watch Tower Society, once asked Brother Macmillan for his thoughts on who might take charge of the work in his absence. In the discussion that followed, Brother Macmillan did not once promote himself, though it would have been quite convenient for him to do so. In the end, Brother Russell invited Brother Macmillan to consider accepting the assignment. “I stood there half dazed,” Brother Macmillan wrote years later. “I did think it over, very seriously, and prayed about it for some time before I finally told him I would be happy to do all that I could do to assist him.”
14 Not long afterward, Brother Russell passed away, leaving the office of the Watch Tower Society’s presidency vacant. Since Brother Macmillan was in charge during Brother Russell’s final preaching tour, a brother remarked to him: “Mac, you have a strong chance of getting in yourself. You were Brother Russell’s special representative when he was gone, and he told all of us to do as you say. Well, he went away and never did return. It looks like you’re the man to carry on.” Brother Macmillan responded: “Brother, that’s not the way to look at this matter. This is the Lord’s work and the only position you get in the Lord’s organization is what the Lord sees fit to give you; and I am sure I’m not the man for the job.” Then Brother Macmillan recommended someone else for the position. Like Gideon, he had a modest view of himself—a view we do well to adopt.
The Watchtower (2000)
These are the articles that appear in the last 2-3 years. Perhaps the articles will be in 1 book, in the future. Thanks.
IMITATE THEIR FAITH | Elijah
IMITATE THEIR FAITH | MARY
IMITATE THEIR FAITH | JOSEPH
IMITATE THEIR FAITH | JOSEPH
“How Could I Commit This Great Badness?”
IMITATE THEIR FAITH | JOSEPH
“Do Not Interpretations Belong to God?”
IMITATE THEIR FAITH | JOSEPH
“Am I in the Place of God?”
IMITATE THEIR FAITH | DEBORAH
“I Arose as a Mother in Israel”
IMITATE THEIR FAITH | TIMOTHY
“My Beloved and Faithful Child in the Lord”
IMITATE THEIR FAITH | REBEKAH
“I Am Willing to Go”
IMITATE THEIR FAITH | DAVID
“The Battle Belongs to Jehovah”
IMITATE THEIR FAITH | ENOCH
“He Had Pleased God Well”
IMITATE THEIR FAITH | SARAH
“What a Beautiful Woman You Are”
By Guest Nicole
Simone Liebster, co-founder of the Arnold Liebster Foundation and Holocaust survivor, spoke to a classroom full of Highland High School students on what life was like in Europe during the World War II. Adam McDonald firstname.lastname@example.org
Simone Arnold Liebster was just 11 years old when the Nazis overran her country and took control of her town.
The region of Alsace, which Liebster called home, was a special target of the Reich. It had been taken from Germany and given to France after World War I, and the Nazis wanted it back.
But while the German blitzkrieg quickly overwhelmed the French defense forces around her, little Simone never surrendered. And she is still fighting.
She and her late husband, Max, established the Arnold-Liebster Foundation in January 2002 to educate future generations in the lessons of history. It’s a non-political, non-profit organization that strives to keep alive the memory of victims of dictatorships and religious persecution.
Through the foundation, Highland High School students were able to meet and learn from Liebster last week via a video conference.
“We look at the past and see that the masses followed Hitler. We ask: ‘What can we learn from those who didn’t?’ We want to learn from positive examples,” said Marge Fulton, the local contact for the Arnold-Liebster Foundation. “Simone Liebster refused to heil Hitler.”
Highland High School English teacher Susie Martz learned about Liebster’s story from attending the Illinois Reading Conference in Peoria. She asked if Fulton would set up a time for her class to meet Liebster and ask questions.
“I saw her in October and Simone touched my heart. She touched my heart so much that I had to share this with my students,” Martz said. “I think she surprised them. The students did a lot of prep work before this interview.”
Along with her standard English class, Martz also teaches a class on the Holocaust.
“In one of my classes, we read Night, which is a book about the Holocaust, and I teach another class that focuses only on the holocaust. I wanted the students to get different points of view of the Holocaust.”
The students eyes were glued to the projector as Fulton gave the background of Liebster’s story.
Shortly after Fulton’s presentation, her computer beeped and a video stream of Liebster popped up. Now 86 years old, Liebster may seem frail, but her spirit and resolve are just as strong now as they were when she was a child. Her strength comes from her faith as a Jehovah’s Witness.
“I was raised in peace, but there was still the past to think about from the previous world war,” Liebster told the students from her home in France. “Life was normal for me as a child.”
But then the war came. Many fled as the Germans advanced. Liebster’s family did not. She asked her father why they had stayed. His response was something she’d never forget.
“My father told me that he was responsible for the Jehovah’s Witnesses in the area and we couldn’t leave,” she said. “He said, ‘I must stay to provide courage.’ ”
Firm in their faith
Unlike Jews, Jehovah’s Witnesses could escape Nazi persecution if they would renounce their faith. Heiling Hitler was also mandatory. Those who did not were sent to concentration camps. But Liebster and her family stood firm in their faith.
“I was well-educated and had principles. I wanted to be faithful to my beliefs. The idea to praise Hitler as a savior was wrong, and I would not give in,” she said. “Some people told me I should pretend, but that would be lying. If I did that, I would be lying to God, and I want to honor Jesus as King. And I’d be lying to the state, and my conscience wouldn’t be clear.”
Her refusal — along with her family’s — was what landed her parents in separate concentration camps.
“My father was taken and arrested right away and put in Dachau. He was in charge of painting ammunition boxes, but refused. He was severely punished. Every so often, they’d offer him a contract to sign that would free him if he would heil Hitler. He refused, again and again. Eventually, he became a medical experiment for malaria.”
Ripped apart, then reunited
The entire family was broken up.
“A judge took me away from my mother and put me in a school in Germany. My mother was arrested and put in a separate concentration camp. We weren’t allowed to write from one prison to another.”
Liebster can still remember her “re-education” in Germany.
“We lived the same as people did in the 19th century. The living conditions were bad and food was scarce. Children never played and were taken from their parents,” she said. “I learned to obey without question.”
But she was able to hang on to who she was, thanks to her father.
“Thanks to dad. He taught me that my brain was like a shelf, I could pull anything from my mind,” she said.
Jehovah’s Witnesses were forced to wear a purple triangle in the camps. The meaning behind that is a bit unclear, but Liebster said she believes it was because of the link between the color purple and royalty.
“They gave us purple triangle’s, because that’s the color of royalty, and we were messengers for God’s Kingdom,” she said.
The family wasn’t sure they’d ever see each other again. But at the end of the war, their family was lucky. They were reunited. They regrouped and rebuilt their lives, but seldom spoke of the past and trauma they’d been through.
“We started a new life, but that was difficult. We didn’t talk about the past, but mom did say that we had to forgive those who wronged us,” Liebster said. “I finally understood what forgiveness was. It’s the strength to overcome any bad feelings.”
By Guest Nicole
The Canadian Prime Minister caused a storm of social media fury after his official statement on International Holocaust Remembrance Day appeared to contain no mention of Jews. Justin Trudeau has already faced scrutiny for his Government’s handling of Canada’s relationship with Israel, especially when compared to that of the previous pro-Israel Prime Minister Stephen Harper.
His statement reads:
“On this day, we pay tribute to the memory of the millions of victims murdered during the Holocaust. We honour those who survived atrocities at the hands of the Nazi regime, and welcome their courageous stories of hope and perseverance.
“The Holocaust is a stark reminder of the dangers and risks of allowing hate, prejudice, and discrimination to spread unchallenged. It also reminds us that silence must never be an option when humanity is threatened.
“As we pause to educate ourselves and our families on the bitter lessons of the Holocaust, we also strengthen our resolve to work with domestic and international partners to continue defending human rights and condemning intolerance.”
The fact that there was no direct mention of the six million Jews who died during the Holocaust caused a stir on social media, with some users claiming that he was forgetting history.
Of course, Jews were not the only group targeted by the Nazis. Others to face murder in the concentration camps included homosexuals, the disabled, communists and Jehovah's Witnesses, among others. However, the fact that around two thirds of the Jews in Europe—around one third of the Jews worldwide at the time—were exterminated has forever linked the Holocaust with the Jews.
In response to the outrage, Trudeau posted a link to his statement on Twitter alongside a note about fighting anti-Semitism.
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