Five Million Often Forgotten: Jehovah Witnesses

Last Updated: Friday, September 15, 2017

The Holocaust is usually taught as the mass genocide of almost six million Jews in Europe during World War II. But, more than five million others were also persecuted, tortured, tattooed and killed. These five million included innocent citizens - men women and children. The survivors and the families of these five million often feel left out -- overshadowed by the Jewish casualties. Nonetheless, these people need to be recognized and memorialized. Many of these died for their race or their beliefs. Many of these died while helping their Jewish neighbors. They too deserve their place in history.

Adolf Hitler came to power in 1933 when Germany was experiencing severe economic hardship. Hitler promised the Germans that he would bring them prosperity and power. Hitler had a vision of a Master Race of Aryans that would control Europe. He used powerful propaganda techniques to convince not only the German people, but countless others, that if they eliminated the people who stood in their way and the degenerates and racially inferior, they - "the great Germans" would prosper.

Jehovah Witnesses: Stood Firm

Every country, even Germany, had those who did not believe in the Nazi ideology and who were willing to die for their beliefs. Perhaps no other group stood so firmly in their beliefs as the Jehovah Witnesses. Hitler felt very threatened by this strong group of Christians because they, from the very beginning, refused to recognize any God other than Jehovah. When asked to sign documents of loyalty to the Nazi ideology, they refused. Jehovah Witnesses were forced to wear purple armbands and thousands were imprisoned as "dangerous" traitors because they refused to take a pledge of loyalty to the Third Reich.

Facing the Lion ‑‑  Memoirs of a Young Girl in Nazi Europe
By Simone Arnold Liebster
A reader from Patterson, N.Y., USA says: "This excellent autobiography provides a glimpse into the life and trials of a girl and her family who found themselves facing the wrath of Hitler. As members of the Jehovah's Witnesses, they refused to support Hitler's war machine and so the Nazis vowed to exterminate the group. Persecuted for their beliefs, not for their ethnicity, this story tells of Simone's quiet fight for right. Sustained by her hope and faith, she overcame opposition of the strongest kind and has found the strength and courage to share her story. For anyone who loved Anne Frank, this is a must read!"


History: About Simone Arnold Liebster

During the period of National Socialism, the religious beliefs, teachings and actions of the Jehovah's Witnesses were a public proclamation that approximated a way of life whose central tenets collided with those of the National Socialist state. Here was a small group of some 20 to 25,000 "average Germans" and those from other regions incorporated into the Third Reich who were publicly proclaiming their belief in a kind of shadow state, which was in direct opposition to the Nazi regime. Here was a group, which rejected the racial laws of the state, the oath of allegiance to Adolf Hitler, the German salute, and the duty to take up arms for Germany.

We are familiar with the statistics: nearly 10,000 Jehovah's Witnesses imprisoned and at least 2,000 admitted to Nazi concentration camps of which at least half were murdered, over 250 by beheading.

What we do not know as well is the day-to-day existence of this extraordinary group of committed men, women and children under the rule of National Socialist terror.

That is why Simone Arnold Liebster's autobiography is of such importance. It brings a name and a voice to these statistics. It tells the story of spiritual resistance to a monstrous evil, and does so through the eyes and memories of a child.

Those who resisted the forces of Nazi evil when a simple declaration of state loyalty would ensure their well being, when a simple signature would free them from the hell of a labor or concentration camp and protect them from violence and murder have earned a special place and a special admiration. They give us hope and a belief in the ultimate triumph of human good.

Simone Arnold Liebster must be counted among these special people.