Shameless Exploitation of Tragic Deaths

Norman Hovland

Ever since World War II the Watchtower Society has tried to make the most out of the tragic deaths of 635 Witnesses in Hitler's camps and prisons, before and during the war.

Apparently dissatisfied with the number of dead, they have contiguously tried to increase the figures all the time, ever since. The thought behind this seem to be that only 635 dead isn't quite sufficient to create the right amount of goodwill, they so sorely need.

Anyone dealing with Jehovah's Witnesses will sooner or later be reminded of how horribly they suffered in Nazi Germany. Often totally out of context and unrelated to the subject discussed, this argument is brought forth. In correspondence with government officials, journalists, etc., one often sees this argument used, even though it is totally out of any context whatsoever.

Apparently it is regarded as some sort of magic argument, which will immediately open all doors, and invalidate anything else. "No one can blame us for lying and cheating and killing people, because we suffered during the Nazi Years." This seems to be the logic behind the Watchtower reasoning.

And with that kind of thinking the actual number of Witnesses who perished doesn't seem to be enough. 635 human lives seem so utterly pale in comparison with the huge number of Jews, Gypsies, yes, and even homosexuals who died during the Hitler years. So they have to get the number of dead up, up. The more the better. More dead, more credibility.

Already in 1950 they started to exaggerate the number of dead:

"Already during the Hitler regime about 1,000 Jehovah's witnesses were executed as traitors, because they not only refused to serve in the war but openly opposed Hitler's authority. Another 1,000 of Jehovah's witnesses died in prisons and concentration camps." (The Watchtower, December 15, 1950, p. 500.)

As we can see they have rounded up the number to an even 2,000 dead.

"That is why during the Nazi regime in Germany from 1933 to 1945 Jehovah's witnesses in that land refused to heil Hitler! as their Fuehrer or Leader, and went to concentration camps and prisons, where 2,000 died cruel deaths, and of the 8,000 that came out alive, 2,000 were invalided for the rest of their lives." (The Watchtower, February 15, 1951, pp. 105, 106.)

The year after they again mention the round figure of 1950, 2,000 dead.

"Hitler, a Roman Catholic, the arm of his church in Germany, forbade Jehovah's witnesses to preach the kingdom of God, and these modern-day Christians had to say to Hitler's Gestapo police: 'Whether it is righteous in the sight of God to listen to you rather than to God, judge for yourselves.' They kept preaching even though 10,000 of them were put in concentration camps and over 4,000 died there. The rest nearly starved to death. The war's end aided their survival." (The Watchtower, January 1, 1964, page 13.)

As we can see here in 1964, they have again doubled the number of dead, now it has reached 4,000.

So from the war's end in 1945, to 1964, in 19 years they had managed to make 635 dead into 4,000 dead.

Then in 1974 the Yearbook of Jehovah's Witnesses printed the history of their activities in Germany, and since Armageddon were due the next year, in 1975, a little honesty might come in handy, so here we got the most reliable number of casualties during the Nazi years:

"But despite the hard conditions, how those who worshiped Jehovah rejoiced! They had been privileged to prove their integrity to the Sovereign Ruler of the universe. During Hitler's rule 1,687 of them had lost their jobs, 284 their businesses, 735 their homes and 457 were not allowed to carry on their trade. In 129 cases their property had been confiscated, 826 pensioners had been refused their pensions and 329 others had suffered other personal loss. There were 860 children who had been taken away from their parents. In 30 cases marriages had been dissolved due to pressure by political officials, and in 108 cases divorces had been granted when requested by mates opposed to the truth. A total of 6,019 had been arrested, several two, three or even more times, so that, all together, 8,917 arrests were registered. All together they had been sentenced to serve 13,924 years and two months in prison, two and a quarter times as long as the period since Adam's creation. A total of 2,000 brothers and sisters had been put into concentration camps, where they had spent 8,078 years and six months, an average of four years. A total of 635 had died in prison, 253 had been sentenced to death and 203 of these had actually been executed. What a record of integrity!" (1974 Yearbook of Jehovah's Witnesses, page 212.) [bold added]

As usual, Brooklyn shows its love for numbers by throwing in a totally irrelevant array of figures here. Everything to create a picture of something really gigantic. It's all reminding of their assembly reports, where they tell us how many tons of potatoes, etc., was consumed during the assembly.

Anyway. During the seventies they stuck to these figures but later it all started again. Now the tendency is to use outside, non-Watchtower sources, so-called "scientists" and various writers and historians to pump up the numbers again. One such example we find here:

"The book Mothers in the Fatherland reported: "[Jehovah's Witnesses] were sent to concentration camps, a thousand of them were executed, and another thousand died between 1933 and 1945.... Catholics and Protestants heard their clergy urge them to cooperate with Hitler. If they resisted, they did so against orders from both church and state." (The Watchtower, January 1, 1989, p. 21.)

This trick of quoting an outside source, who again is using the Watchtower as its source, is not new. The source of the information in the "Mother of the Fatherland" book is quite evidently lifted from the Watchtower from 1950, which said:

"Already during the Hitler regime about 1,000 Jehovah's witnesses were executed as traitors, because they not only refused to serve in the war but openly opposed Hitler's authority. Another 1,000 of Jehovah's witnesses died in prisons and concentration camps," (The Watchtower, December 15, 1950, p. 500.)

So by using this trick they are able to increase the number to 2,000 again in 1989. Time will show if they make any attempts to get the number up to 4,000 again, or if they will be satisfied with 2,000.

The record show the Watchtower Society's complete ruthlessness when it comes to use the horrible fate of the victims of the Nazi's in an attempt to gain sympathy and acceptance from authorities and the general public. Particularly in Germany, where they are trying to gain recognition as a Church from the German state.

In 1994 and 1995, the Watchtower Society has staged several propaganda shows where they have tried to milk everything possible out of what happened during the Nazi years. In 1994, they held a seminar at the Holocaust museum in Washington DC on September 29th. In 1995 two arrangements was held in France. The first in Strasbourg, March 28. And in Paris two day's later. By far the most important one from a propaganda point of view was the one held in Brandenburg, Germany, on April 27th. The Watchtower Society had put together an exhibition with the theme "Memoire de Témoins" ("Memories of the Witnesses"). The Awake! magazine of June 8, 1996, which reported these gatherings seems very pleased with the effect. In order to lend this propaganda a bit more credibility they invited historians and politicians! In France they even got a former government member to say a few words. For those of us who have read the long and countless harangues of contempt heaped upon politicians and other non Jehovah's Witnesses printed in the Watchtower during the years, cannot but smile at such a transparent tactics.

They must be pretty desperate in Brooklyn when they invite representatives of Satan's system to be present, to make their propaganda more credible.

Anyway, none of these attempts to appear more mainstream and "normal" has had any visible effect. In France the Jehovah's Witnesses enjoyed a 2% decrease in 1996, and in Germany there is stagnation. The German authorities wasn't very impressed either, because they did not grant the Watchtower Society their much desired status. That case is now pending before the German Supreme Court, and will probably be settled in 1998.

Let's hope the Watchtower Society will let the victims of the Nazi years and President Rutherford's extremely stupid dispositions during that time, finally rest in peace. It is indeed sad and depressing to behold the disgusting and revolting display the Watchtower Society put on, in order to save their flagging membership and reputation.

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