- Jehovah’s Witnesses
- Among the religious beliefs of Jehovah’s Witnesses was their refusal to swear allegiance to any secular government or to bear arms for any nation. After the Nazis came to power in 1933, attacks against Jehovah’s Witnesses commenced because of their beliefs and particularly their refusal to pay obeisance to the Nazi state. Between 1935 and 1939, the persecution of Jehovah’s Witnesses took the form of placing many of their followers in “protective custody,” and then moving them from prison to concentration camps, wherever they totaled a substantial percentage of camp prisoners. In May 1938, for example, 12 percent of all prisoners at Buchenwald and 18 percent at the women’s camp at Lichtenburg were Jehovah’s Witnesses. At Dachau, as well as in other concentration camps, the Jehovah’s Witnesses were isolated and assigned to forced labor. At Flossenburg, they were assigned to work in the crematoria and required to work on Sunday in violation of their religious beliefs.After 1938, the Jehovah’s Witnesses were offered the opportunity to be released from concentration camps if they renounced their faith and membership in the International Jehovah’s Witness Association. Few did and their refusal resulted in the execution of more than 40 Witnesses in Sachsenhausen and brutal treatment in Buchenwald. In the camps, Jehovah’s Witnesses were marked by an inverted purple triangle sewn on their prison jackets and trousers. About 2,500 of the 10,000 imprisoned Jehovah’s Witnesses perished in the concentration camps. Once at war following Nazi Germany’s invasion of Poland in 1939, the Nazi military tribunals issued death sentences and executed more than 250 Jehovah’s Witnesses for refusing to serve in the German military.
Historical dictionary of the Holocaust. Jack R. Fischel. 2014.