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
“What Does the Purple Triangle Mean?”
“A FEW days ago, I received a copy of The Watchtower from one of Jehovah’s Witnesses,” wrote a civil servant working at the ministry of justice in Seoul, Republic of Korea. He continued: “Reading it, I learned some facts about the persecution of Jehovah’s Witnesses under Nazi and Communist regimes. But I have a question. The cover photo shows Jehovah’s Witnesses with an inverted purple triangle on the left side of their coats. What does the purple triangle mean?”
In Germany under the Nazi regime, Jehovah’s Witnesses refused to heil Hitler, and they maintained neutrality on political and military issues. So the Nazis cruelly persecuted them, incarcerating some 12,000 Witnesses for varying lengths of time in prisons and concentration camps. About 2,000 of them died, hundreds being executed.
What did the purple triangle on their prison garb signify? “The various categories of prisoners in the [Nazi] camps carried special distinguishing marks,” explains the book Anatomy of the SS State. “The uniform system of marking introduced before the war consisted in sewing a triangular piece of material on to each prisoner’s uniform, the colour depending on his category: for political prisoners, red; for Jehovah’s Witnesses, purple; for anti-socials, black; for criminals, green; for homosexuals, pink; for emigrants, blue. In addition to the coloured triangle Jewish prisoners were made to wear a yellow triangle sewn on to the coloured triangle in such a way as to form the hexagonal Star of David.”
“If its moral significance is widely remembered in time,” wrote Professor John K. Roth in his book Holocaust Politics, “the purple triangle can yet be a shield against disaster, a shield whose triangular points direct our attention and commitment toward the good that most deserves human respect.” Jehovah’s Witnesses have produced the award-winning documentary Jehovah’s Witnesses Stand Firm Against Nazi Assault. Why not ask one of Jehovah’s Witnesses to make it possible for you to view this video?
United States Holocaust Memorial Museum
Excerpt: Jehovah's Witnesses Stand Firm Against Nazi Assault
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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