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Resisting & Surviving Totalitarian Regimes: e.g., Henryk Dornik (et al)

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Highlighting the Unsung Hero: Henryk Dornik

[…] 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]

Highlighting a Good ReadBetween Resistance and Martyrdom

“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

resource: full-list-of-academic-publications/between-resistance-and-martyrdom-jehovahs-witnesses-in-the-third-reich

Highlighting: Domestic Servants & Spiritual/(Conscience) Freedom Fighters:

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)…

should (case) study: the JW’s.

 

11/18/18 @ 1:41 p.m.

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