[…] in August 1944, authorities in a totalitarian regime sent Henryk Dornik and his brother to a concentration camp. However, the opposers acknowledged: “It is impossible to persuade them to do anything. Their martyrdom brings them joy.” Brother Dornik explained: “Although I had no desire to be a martyr, suffering with courage and dignity for my loyalty to Jehovah did bring me joy. . . . Fervent prayers drew me closer to Jehovah, and he proved to be a reliable Helper.” [excerpt: Happy are Those Who Serve The Happy God, w September 2018]
“Detlef Garbe’s book takes historical scholarship to new levels of subtlety and sophistication. His insights into the moral and legal resistance mounted by the Witnesses against the Nazis both inside and outside concentration camps are pathbreaking and provocative. All students of persecuted religious minorities are greatly in his debt for bringing to light so much fresh evidence concerning the role of Jehovah’s Witnesses in resisting National Socialism. This is historical investigation of the highest importance and quality.” —James A. Beckford, author of The Trumpet of Prophecy: A Sociological Study of Jehovah’s Witnesses
“Virtually all accounts of the German Church Struggle (including my own) have given very little attention to the Jehovah’s Witnesses, possibly because of denominational bias, or because the numbers involved were relatively few. But this defect has now been splendidly remedied by the appearance of Detlef Garbe’s…book…. Garbe’s excellent history…is the first full treatment of this small [group’s] fate during the Nazi period, combining extensive research into the remaining Nazi records with a sympathetic analysis of survivors’ testimonies. The result is a convincing scholarly description which supersedes all previous accounts.”—John. S. Conway, author of The Nazi Persecution of the Churches, 1933-45
Many actions of Jehovah’s Witnesses antagonized Nazi authorities. While Witnesses contended that they were apolitical and that their actions were not anti-Nazi, their unwillingness to give the Nazi salute, to join party organizations or to let their children join the Hitler Youth, their refusal to participate in the so-called elections or plebiscites, and their unwillingness to adorn their homes with Nazi flags made them suspect. A special unit of the Gestapo (secret state police) compiled a registry of all persons believed to be Jehovah’s Witnesses. Gestapo agents infiltrated Bible study meetings. While Jehovah’s Witnesses as such were not banned, many of the activities which were basic to the exercise of the faith increasingly came under attack. Above all, the authorities sought to interdict the distribution of printed materials, produced locally or smuggled in from outside the country in large quantities, which in the eyes of the Nazis were clearly subversive.
Conditions in Nazi camps were harsh for all inmates. Many prisoners died from hunger, disease, exhaustion, exposure to the cold, and brutal treatment. Incarcerated Jehovah’s Witnesses were sustained by the support they gave each other and by their belief that their suffering was part of their work for God. Individual Witnesses astounded guards with their refusal to conform to military-type routines like roll call or roll bandages for soldiers at the front. At the same time, camp authorities considered Witnesses to be relatively trustworthy because they refused to escape or physically resist their guards. For this reason, Nazi camp officers and guards often used Witnesses as domestic servants. [excerpt & Further Reading: encyclopedia.ushmm.org ]
Highlighting: Anathema to Nazi police state:
After the Nazis came to power, persecution of Jehovah’s Witnesses intensified. Witnesses believed themselves to belong to Jehovah’s Kingdom and considered all worldly powers unwitting allies of Satan. They refused to swear loyalty to the Nazi regime. Moreover, their international theological and organizational contacts were anathema to the Nazi police state. Initially, Witness indifference to the Nazi state manifested itself in the refusal to raise their arms in the Heil Hitler salute, join the German Labor Front (which all salaried and wage workers were forced to join after the Nazis outlawed trade unions), participate in Nazi welfare collections, and vote in elections. Likewise they would not participate in Nazi rallies and parades.
Nazi authorities denounced Jehovah’s Witnesses for their ties to the United States and derided the apparent revolutionary millennialism of their preaching that a battle of Armageddon would precede the rule of Christ on earth as part of God’s plan. They linked Jehovah’s Witnesses to the Nazi idea of “international Jewry” by pointing to Witness reliance on certain Old Testament texts. The Nazis had grievances with many of the smaller Protestant groups on these issues, but only the Jehovah’s Witnesses refused to bear arms or swear loyalty to the state. [excerpted & further reading: jehovahs-witnesses-in-germany-from-the-1890s-to-the-1930s]
If one wishes to successfully resist and/or survive any tyranny…or any totalitarian regime (and its methods)…
IF there is an “ALMIGHTY” God/Ultimate Designer/Architect of the Universe/Creator of Man & Earth/Yahweh/Supreme Sovereign/Maker of TREES…True God of LOVE…”s–l–o–w to anger and a b u n d a n t in loving-kindness”…merciful and Freely Forgiving…:) who cannot lie!!…
do i want “Him” on MY side??!
there are frequent/rare times in life…when over/underwhelmed, betrayed, rejected, bored…lonely, lost, depressed, sick, sad, grieving…tortuous to the soul/tough times; all of us have faced these in varying lengths and in varying degrees/forms…for me, just “thinking” , approaching life/challenges/disasters/disappointments/death differently/(outside typical boxes) from Others: for example, obviously—IF You read my blog—i tend to be more spiritually minded v. secularly/academically/mathematically/materially minded..etc..my meditation/analization processes tilt toward..(spirituality)…Spiritual/Biblical Truth…my obsession.
it’s the stable/anchor place of deeply satisfying-comforting answers that completely/repetely nourish my mind/heart/kidneys and which make the most sense to imperfect-limited me.
a Biblical character i admire a lot…”Joseph”…an excerpted article: check it out IF YOU:) so choose: “Please Listen to This Dream w August 2014:
How did Joseph get into such a terrible predicament? And what can we learn from the faith of a young man who was victimized and rejected by members of his own family?
Joseph came from a very large family—but not a happy and united one. The Bible’s portrait of Jacob’s family stands as vivid proof of the negative effects of polygamy—an entrenched practice that God tolerated among his people until his Son restored the original standard of monogamy. (Matthew 19:4-6) Jacob had at least 14 children by four different women—his two wives, Leah and Rachel, and their maidservants, Zilpah and Bilhah. From the start, Jacob was in love with his beautiful Rachel. He never felt such an attachment to Leah, Rachel’s older sister, whom he had been tricked into marrying. A bitter rivalry persisted between the two women, and that jealousy carried over to the children of the household.—Genesis 29:16-35; 30:1, 8, 19, 20; 37:35.
Rachel was barren for a long time, and when she finally gave birth to Joseph, Jacob treated this son of his old age as special. For example, when the family were on their way to a dangerous meeting with Jacob’s murderous brother, Esau, Jacob made sure that Rachel and little Joseph were given the safest position at the rear of the household group. That tense day must have made a deep impression on Joseph. Imagine how he felt that morning as he wondered, wide-eyed, why his aged but vigorous father was now walking with a limp. How amazed he must have been to learn the reason: His father had struggled the night before with a mighty angel! And why? Because Jacob wanted a blessing from Jehovah God. Jacob’s reward was the change of his name to Israel. A whole nation would bear his name! (Genesis 32:22-31) In time, Joseph learned that the sons of Israel were to father the tribes of that nation!
Later, young Joseph faced tragedy firsthand when the dearest person in his young life left him all too soon. His mother died while giving birth to his younger brother, Benjamin. His father grieved deeply over the loss. Imagine Jacob gently wiping the tears from Joseph’s eyes, comforting him with the same hope that had once comforted Jacob’s grandfather Abraham. How touched Joseph must have been to learn that Jehovah would one day restore his mother to life! Perhaps Joseph came to have even deeper love for the generous “God . . . of the living.” (Luke 20:38; Hebrews 11:17-19) In the wake of the loss of his wife, Jacob always had tender feelings for those two boys, his sons by Rachel.—Genesis 35:18-20;37:3; 44:27-29.
Many children would be spoiled or corrupted by such special treatment; but Joseph learned from the many good qualities of his parents, and he developed strong faith as well as a keen sense of right and wrong. At the age of 17, he was working as a shepherd, assisting some of his older brothers, when he noticed some wrongdoing on their part. Was he tempted to keep the matter quiet so as to gain their favor? In any case, he did what was right. He reported the matter to his father. (Genesis 37:2) Perhaps that brave act confirmed Jacob’s high opinion of this beloved son. What an excellent example for […] youths to think about! When tempted to conceal the serious sin of another—perhaps a sibling or a friend—it is wise to imitate Joseph and make sure that the matter is known to those who are in a position to help the wrongdoer.—Leviticus 5:1.
Perhaps because of Joseph’s courageous stand for what was right, Jacob bestowed an honor on the boy. He had a special garment made for his son. (Genesis 37:3) It has often been called a striped coat or a coat of many colors, but there is scant evidence for such renderings. Likely, it was a long, elegant robe, perhaps reaching to the extremities of the arms and legs. It was probably the kind of garb that a nobleman or a prince might wear.
“When his brothers saw that their father loved him more than all his brothers, they began to hate him, and they could not speak peaceably to him.” (Genesis 37:4) Their jealousy may be understandable, but Joseph’s brothers were unwise to give in to that poisonous emotion. (Proverbs 14:30; 27:4) Have you ever found yourself seething with envy when someone received attention or honor that you wanted? Remember Joseph’s brothers. Their jealousy led them to commit deeds that they would come to regret deeply. Their example serves to remind Christians that it is far wiser to “rejoice with those who rejoice.”—Romans 12:15.
Joseph surely sensed his brothers’ animosity. So did he stash his fancy robe out of sight when his brothers were near? He might have been tempted to do so. Remember, though, that Jacob wanted the robe to be a sign of favor and love. Joseph wanted to live up to his father’s trust in him, so he loyally wore the garment. His example is useful for us. Although our own heavenly Father is never partial, he does at times single out his loyal servants and favor them. Furthermore, he asks them to stand out as different from this corrupt and immoral world. Like Joseph’s special robe, the conduct of true Christians makes them different from those around them. Such conduct sometimes incites jealousy and animosity. (1 Peter 4:4) Should a Christian hide his true identity as a servant of God? No—no more than Joseph should have hidden his robe.—Luke 11:33.
a dreamer of dreams…
It was not long before Joseph had two extraordinary dreams. In the first dream, Joseph saw himself and his brothers, each binding a sheaf of grain. But then his brothers’ sheaves encircled his sheaf and bowed down to it as it stood erect. In the second dream, the sun, the moon, and 11 stars were bowing down to Joseph. (Genesis 37:6, 7, 9) What should Joseph do about those strange and vivid dreams?
The dreams came from Jehovah God. They were prophetic in nature, and God meant for Joseph to pass along the message they contained. In a sense, Joseph was to do what all the later prophets did when they related God’s messages and judgments to His wayward people.
Joseph tactfully said to his brothers: “Please listen to this dream that I had.” His brothers understood the dream, and they did not like it one bit. They answered: “Are you really going to make yourself king over us and dominate us?” The account adds: “So they found another reason to hate him, because of his dreams and what he said.” When Joseph related the second dream to his father as well as his brothers, the reaction was not much better. We read: “His father rebuked him and said to him: ‘What is the meaning of this dream of yours? Am I as well as your mother and your brothers really going to come and bow down to the earth to you?’” However, Jacob kept thinking the matter over. Might (Yahweh) Jehovah be communicating with the boy?—Genesis 37:6, 8, 10, 11.
Not long afterward, Jacob sent young Joseph on a journey. The older sons were tending the flocks up north near Shechem, where they had recently made bitter enemies. Naturally, Jacob was concerned about his sons, so he sent Joseph to check on their welfare. Can you imagine Joseph’s feelings? He knew that his brothers hated him more than ever! How would they like it when he came to them as their father’s spokesman? Nonetheless, Joseph obediently set out.—Genesis 34:25-30; 37:12-14.
It was quite a trek—in all, perhaps four or five days of walking. Shechem lay about 50 miles (80 km) to the north of Hebron. But at Shechem, Joseph learned that his brothers had moved on to Dothan, which lay another 14 miles (22 km) or so to the north. When Joseph finally neared Dothan, his brothers saw him coming from a distance. Immediately their hatred boiled to the surface. The account reads: “They said to one another: ‘Look! Here comes that dreamer. Come, now, let us kill him and pitch him into one of the waterpits, and we will say that a vicious wild animal devoured him. Then let us see what will become of his dreams.’” Reuben, however, persuaded his brothers to throw Joseph into a pit alive, hoping that he could rescue the boy later on.—Genesis 37:19-22.
Unsuspecting, Joseph approached them, no doubt hoping for a peaceful meeting. Instead, his brothers attacked him! Roughly, they stripped off his special robe, dragged him to a dried-out waterpit, and pushed him in. Down Joseph fell! Recovering from the shock, he struggled to his feet, but he could never climb out on his own. He saw only a circle of sky as his brothers’ voices receded. He cried out to them, pleading, but they ignored him. Callously, they ate a meal nearby. While Reuben was absent, they again considered killing the boy, but Judah persuaded them to sell him to passing merchants instead. Dothan was near the trade route to Egypt, and it was not long before a caravan of Ishmaelites and Midianites came by. Before Reuben returned, the deed was done. For 20 shekels, they had sold their brother as a slave.—Genesis 37:23-28; 42:21.
As Joseph was taken south along the road to Egypt, he seemed to have lost everything. He was cut off! For years, he would know nothing of his family—nothing of Reuben’s anguish when he returned to find Joseph gone; nothing of Jacob’s grief when he was deceived into believing that his beloved Joseph was dead; nothing of his aged grandfather Isaac, who still lived; and nothing of his beloved younger brother, Benjamin, whom he would miss dearly. But was Joseph left with nothing at all?—Genesis 37:29-35.
Joseph still had something that his brothers could never take from him: faith. He knew much about his God, Yahweh/Jehovah, and nothing could rob him of that—not the loss of his home, not the hardships of captivity on the long journey to Egypt, and not even the humiliation of being sold as a slave to a wealthy Egyptian named Potiphar. (Genesis 37:36) Joseph’s faith and his determination to stay close to his God only grew stronger through such hardships.
It’s very commendable (and imitation worthy from my POV) Joseph never gave up hope, never became bitter; nor haughty when put in a powerful position, “Avrekh” , 2nd to Pharaoh…He didn’t retaliate, seek revenge/compensation for years of unjustly suffering…Amazing!! Joseph “continued” loving his Brothers (aka jealous enemies in His own household) exercising patience…which provided them opportunity for positive transformation. He forgave his brothers. Preserving many lives!
i like this song and video about Joseph:
questions for reflections:
what are my personal/individual hardships growing in me?!
am i getting bitter or better?!
am i being patient?
how will “accurate” faith/knowledge/Truth, forgiveness, hope, humility, gratitude,
get me through the ups and downs/the highs and lows
the reality of this fleeting/fast-paced life?
(whom does one turn to when even your own brothers/family hate/are against You?! How about God??)