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The Nazi State and the New Religions:

For Italian user: La Professoressa King ha autorizzato la traduzione in italiano e la pubblicazione di questo materiale in questo sito : http://www.triangoloviola.it/appking.html


[209] APPENDIX 1

Point 24 of the Programme of the National Socialist
German Workers Party.
We demand liberty for all religious confessions in the state, in so far as they do not in any way endanger its existence or do not offend the moral sentiment and the customs of the Germanic race. The Party as such represents the standpoint of ‘positive Christianity’ without binding itself confessionally to a particular faith. It opposes the Jewish materialistic spirit within and without and is convinced that permanent recovery of our people is possible only from within and on the basis of the principle of ‘general welfare before individual welfare’.

From: A. C. Cochrane, The church’s confession under Hitler, Philadelphia, 1962, p. 221.

[211] APPENDIX 2

Romans 13:1-7, New English Bible.

Every person must submit to the supreme authorities. There is no authority but by act of God, and the existing authorities are instituted by him; consequently anyone who rebels against authority is resisting a divine institution, and those who so resist have themselves to thank for the punishment they will receive. For government, a terror to crime, has no terrors for good behaviour. You wish to have no fear of the authorities? Then continue to do right and you will have their approval, for they are God’s agents working for your good. But If you are doing wrong, then you will have cause to fear them; it is not for nothing that they hold the power of the sword, for they are God’s agents of punishment, for retribution on the offender. That is why you are obliged to submit. It is an obligation imposed not merely by fear of retribution but by conscience. That is also why you pay taxes. The authorities are in God’s service and to these duties they devote their energies. Discharge your obligations to all men, pay tax and toll, reverence and respect, to those to whom they are due.

[213] APPENDIX 3

A poem distributed through the letter-boxes of the homes of NSDAP members in Rheingönheim on the night of 5 June 1936, believed to have been written by a Jehovah’s Witness.

Nicht Geld, nicht Macht und Waffen,
bannt unsere Not.
Nicht Erdenhände schatfen
Das Morgenrot.
Nicht eher kommt auf Erden
Die neue Zeit,
Eh’ wir nicht Menschen werden
Voll Ewigkeit
Es ist in keinem andern Heil, ist auch
Kein anderer Name unter dem Himmel den
Menschen gegehen, darinnen sie sollen
Selig werden, als nur der Name Jesus!
From: H. Prantl, Die kirchliche Lage in Bayern, Regierungsbezirk Pfalz 1933 - 1940, vol. V, Mainz, 1978, p. 129.

[215] APPENDIX 4

Notes from an interview with Dorota Wind, 19 October 1978.

Dorota Wind was born about fifty years ago in Poland, of Jewish parents. Her parents were prosperous, her father was a caterer. The area is in Russian hands now and she has not returned there since the end of the war because she fears she will be in danger as a Jewess.

Her parents were semi-orthodox Jews. They kept the major festivals and she remembers with great pleasure the celebrations during the week of Passover. In her youth her father was partially blinded In an anti-semitic attack on the Jewish community where they lived.

She received instruction in the Jewish faith and knew of no other, except Catholicism, which she barely understood. Later, when she was in hiding with a Catholic family she went with them quite happily to the Catholic church, praying to herself in Hebrew, believing that there was, after all, one God. She had never heard of the Jehovah’s Witnesses until she came across them in concentration camps.

At the outbreak of the war her parents were taken suddenly, at night, and she never saw them again, although she did receive a message that they were in a Ghetto. She had three brothers, a lawyer, a dentist and a businessman. The dentist and his family were arrested first and then the others. Her elder sisters had all fled to Israel before the war.

Dorota was alone and hid with a Gentile family who did not know that she was Jewish. She managed to visit one of her brothers in the Ghetto and saw the ‘clearances’, the wholesale removal of Jews to the extermination camps. Dorota, now a Jehovah’s Witness, sees in her many escapes from detection and capture the hand of Jehovah. She gave details of a variety of occasions on which S.S. men noticed her but passed by, or on which her papers were examined and handed back to her without comment, although they were obviously false. [216]

The Gentile family eventually asked her to leave and she went into hiding with other young Jewish girls and she recalled her experiences with them as well as the horrors of her eventual detection and arrest. Her experiences in prison and under torture remain with her. She spent ten days under questioning and third degree investigation, and eventually, after having agreed that she ‘had no money when she came in’, and realising that this money would satisfy her guards, she was released. This was followed by a second arrest and this time she was sent to a concentration camp. Whilst waiting for transportation there, she was severly beaten, whipped and left in a room marked ‘death-cell’, a prison joke. She remembers that scarred from her still fresh wounds she was made to stand in a room with other prisoners, so tightly packed that they rubbed against each others wounds.

She was then taken to a concentration camp. (For her own reasons, Dorota Wind, who also asked that I use this, her maiden name, wished to keep the name of this particular camp unspoken. It was an extermination camp in Poland) . Here she was to experience the rigours of the daily routine common to all prisoners, surviving extermination by a series of chances. Dorota attributed her survival here to Jehovah, but it is likely that since she was small and pretty and found a job at the camp dressing the hair of the commandant’s mistress, that she was useful and that this saved her from death. She heard that those whom she had been arrested with and those she had been in prison with had all been shot.

After a while she was moved onto more routine work, that of digging potatoes, and she remembers an occasion when, digging the hard ground, the party came upon the hair and bones of prisoners who had been buried in an anonymous and forgotten grave. She remembers the psychological pressures; the working party was told that when the potatoes were dug, they would die and sometimes they were kept in for a day with no work to make them think that their death was near.

A German Wehrmacht captain came one day to the camp and asked for helpers to go with him to the Czech/Hungarian border. He chose Dorota and another Jewish girl, both of whom could speak German. They did his cooking and cleaning and went with him to Plaschov, near Cracow. Since he was not an S.S. man, they had some respect for him and Dorota remembers his kindly treatment of them. He left them one day and promised to come back and employ them again, when his current spell of duty was over, but he never returned. [217]

She describes her initiation into the camp proper, after the captain had left. She remembers the delousing in particular, and going into a room and being immediately covered with fleas and having her head shaved. The camp was a mixed one and there were cases of rape. Dorota remembers her fear when a young camp guard came to her one night, but recalls that he simply sat and talked to her all night.

Within a few weeks, probably some time in 1944, she was transported to Birkenau. She travelled on the transport train and recalls the horror of this. Some of her companions ran away from the trucks, and no-one tried to stop them. She considered it, but had nowhere to go.

At Birkenau she went through all the initiation rituals again, but says that by this time she was ‘a little out of her mind’ and didn’t fully comprehend what was happening to her. Again the showers, the fleas, the shaving and the rough and dirty clothes, and then she was moved to the large camp at Auschwitz.

Here she had a number tattooed on her arm (she showed me this, no. 890,93). Here she saw the gas chambers, the trucks which brought the gas, and the chimneys belching smoke. Everyone lived in perpetual fear, for overnight prisoners would simply disappear, never to be seen again. She described her daily life, the roll call and the horrors of accommodation and food. She reported that at this time she felt that she was going insane with an inability to understand what was going on around her, not in a deeply philosophical or moral sense, but in simple terms, she could no longer believe the things she saw.

She was moved to Belsen as the Americans were approaching Auschwitz and here her condition became worse as she caught typhoid. With difficulty and pain she recalled ‘a world of ghosts’ at Belsen, everyone half dead, dysentery, no water, little food and the dead left where they lay. She remembers a haunting ‘clopping’ sound, which she later learnt was the sound of heavy wooden clogs on the stone floors. She had to wear these clogs and her feet still bear the injuries they inflicted. She remembers Baleen am just a series of noises, she was physically ill and mentally disturbed. Nevertheless, she learned to cope with being ill and with the noises, never allowing herself to think about what was happening around her.

She always volunteered for work, however ill, because this kept her out of the gas chamber. She [218] remembers working on the burying of the dead and how she and others grabbed for the lice-strewn pieces of bread clasped in dead hands, so poor wore their rations. She then worked on a party moving stones. Some of the prisoners just fell down dead where they stood. They lived with what they recognised as a strange smell, but not until the liberating soldiers arrived with masks did they realise that this was the stench of dead bodies.

Dorota told of how she herself was close to death when she received help from a German soldier. She was anxious that I print his name, Bernard Lösch. He saved her life with small kindnesses and she has never forgotten. After the war she tried to trace him through international lawyers, but with no success. She commented that this kind of thing happened to others and that many Germans refused all such contacts through fear of reprisals. At this time her knees were raw with the heavy work she had done and Lösch managed to get her some toilet paper, unheard of in the camp, to wrap them in. Even though this stuck in the wound, it prevented her from being declared unfit to work and thus gassed. Lösch had tried to have her smuggled out of the camp, but her shaved head, tattooed arm and demented appearance made this impossible.

She remembers the liberation, and the soldiers shouting, crying and screaming as they opened the camp gates and saw what was inside. They got hold of Commandant Kramer and beat him up, but Dorota and most of the other prisoners were too weak and confused to understand what was happening. It was at this time that her sanity, she feels, was in the greatest danger. Many of her friends died because they ate the rich soup the Americans had prepared for them in kindness; there seemed no living with the horrors they had known, no facing other humans again.

It was at this time that Dorota was approached by a Jehovah’s Witness who was a fellow inmate, but more under control of herself than Dorota. She began to talk and explain what the whole mess was about.

Dorota remembered then that she had heard the name Zeugen Jehovahs called out at roll call and had not understood what it meant. Nevertheless, it stuck in her mind, and thus she listened willingly to this stranger. By this time she was working with the Red Cross and gradually learning to adapt to her new life, although she was still confused and nervous. One day she went with others on a truck for a day—trip arranged by the Red Cross. A grey-haired woman handed out to everyone a card saying: [219]

There is a God,
There is hope,
There is a future.
On the back was a name. Dorota contacted this person who came to instruct her. This Jehovah’s Witness was very young, although her hair had turned white during her stay in the camp.

She then began to travel a little and visited six Jehovah’s Witnesses in Hamburg, whose addresses she had been given at the camp. She was by now making plans, through the Red Cross, to come to England, and was given the names and addresses of Witnesses in London whom she could contact for help, food, shelter and friendship. Dorota did not understand their teachings, but gradually ‘learnt the truth’. In London the Witnesses taught her English and she met other converts who had come from Germany. They used to carry Bibles so that they would recognise each other. At first Dorota smoked heavily but soon learnt that the Society recommended that it was injurious to health and she stopped.

Dorota was by now married, to an English soldier who had been at the liberation at Belsen. He feared that the Witnesses were getting his wife too much under their control, so her instructors came when he was out. She herself at one time feared that she was being hypnotised, but she eventually became converted. Her family saw this as a betrayal, and one sister came on three visits from Israel to talk her out of it. Dorota was able to report with pride that this sister had since become a Jehovah’s Witness, and currently working in translation work for the Society, translating Witness material into Polish and Arabic.

Her conversion has influenced her view of her experiences. Whilst she does not minimise the horror, she now understands it and says that without the war she might not have seen the truth; it had, for her, therefore, a purpose. On her now regular door-to-door preaching, she was once verbally abused by an ex-soldier who had been at the liberation at Belsen. She thanked ‘Jehovah’s spirit’ for working through him, but could not condone his fighting in an earthly war. She sees God’s hand in her life, particularly during her stay in the camps. All that she has learnt of the Witnesses now makes sense of what before she could not grasp. The past is easier to cope with now that she knows what it was all about, the operation through Hitler of Satan’s power.

Dorota, although she has mental peace through her conversion, does not minimise her experiences. She was [220] asked recently to ‘witness’ to an ex-S.S. officer and although she did this, she was deeply hurt by the experience. She only hopes and prays that since she suffered as a Jew, for her God, that Jehovah will ‘count’ this. She wishes fervently that her sufferings had been as a Jehovah’s Witness.

[221] APPENDIX 5

Notes from an interview with Mrs. Werner Fett, 12 October 1978.

Mrs. Fett came with her husband to England from Germany at the end of the war on the encouragement of Mrs. Fett’s mother who had suffered in a concentration camp at Nazi hands. Since coming to England Mrs. Fett has become converted to the Jehovah’s Witness movement, partly as a response to what she saw and learnt about them in Germany during the Third Reich.

She came from Attendorn in Germany where there are still, to this day, no Jehovah’s Witness residents. Mrs. Fett has a lot of contacts with Jehovah’s Witnesses in Dusseldorf and hears from them of their experiences in the camps. One of their friends was beheaded and many suffered terribly. Neither Mrs. Fett, nor, she says, her friends are bitter about their experiences, for these were all foretold in the Bible and were all according to God’s plan.

Mrs. Fett’s family were what she calls ‘old-style Catholics’ who respected the old ways and spoke in support of Hindenburg and the Kaiser. Her father was a school teacher for forty years, a well respected citizen. They had a nice house with views over the small town and the neighbouring countryside. In 1933 they greeted the Nazi rise to power with mixed feelings. Her father was not pro-Nazi, but went along with what was expected of him as a civil servant and joined the S.A. She remembers him hastily burying his uniform in their garden in 1945 as American and Canadian troops approached. He also hid behind a picture in the house his papers which included several certificates bearing the Swastika. Mrs. Fett subsequently found these and was able to show them to me.

Her mother strongly disapproved of the Nazi party and right from the start refused to give the Hitler greeting, saying instead the traditional Grüss_Gott. She was reported to the authorities for this by a Nazi [222] neighbour and this resulted in two separate stays in a concentration camp. A third stay was prevented by the end of the war, but this was to have been in Ravensbrück. When free, in between sentences, her mother worked in the underground movement and was active in aiding Jews.

Her mother’s objection to the Nazis was on religious grounds and she frequently had to defend her views to the mockery of the police and Nazi officials who spat on her and told her she was a traitor and that her church was in full support of the regime. Mrs. Fett remembers that church services were attended by S.S. men in uniform and that a friend of hers was reported to the police for something she had told the priest in private. She once saw two S.S. guards in church whom she recognised as those who had recently shot some young boys. She also remembers S.S. men standing by the pulpit, especially in the early years of the regime, ready to take away the priest if he said anything against the state.

Local people were involved in all sorts of unofficial underground work. The local breadwoman gave bread to Jews and foreign munitions workers. She was reported and sent to a camp for ‘re-education’ . There were several stores run by Jews and there was an official boycott on them although many people, including Mrs. Fett’s mother, bought from them in secret end at night. Mental defectives disappeared from the town and it was only later learnt that they had been sent to extermination camps.

Mrs. Fett was allowed to visit her mother and it was here that she first met Jehovah’s Witnesses and talked with them. Because she was the wife of a civil servant, her mother was allowed special privileges, hence the visits from her family. Her mother spent a great deal of the visiting time talking about the Jehovah’s Witnesses, whose behaviour puzzled and fascinated her.

Witnesses were subject to more than the usual pressures and punishments, for they refused to salute the flag in camp and refused all war work. In spite of harsher and harsher work, none renounced the faith and converts were made. In a block of forty-eight there were six Witnesses and eight further were converted. The Witnesses were very honest, they alone of all groups would share their meagre bread rations and always were trying to keep peace and settle fights and disputes. Mrs. Fett’s mother felt that they had something she didn’t. They never pleaded for their lives, never compromised and always kept their human dignity; always ‘a rock in the mud’. [223]

Witnesses had special tasks and punishments. Mrs. Fett remembers seeing some standing to attention, in the cold, with no protest, even though the guards were shouting ‘we will break your heads off your necks’. They tried to explain to Mrs. Fett’s mother how they were able to do this, how the whole experience was acted as if on a stage, before the eyes of God, and that all this evil came from the rule of Satan. Mrs. Fett’s mother could neither understand nor believe this.

Of all inmates, only the Jehovah’s Witnesses showed no hatred to the S.S. guards. Mrs. Fett’s mother and her companions spat when a guard’s name was mentioned and could not understand why the Witnesses would not do the same. All the non-Witness inmates knew that copies of the Watchtower were smuggled in via Witnesses who worked for the Commandant. He and his family lived outside the camp and thus some contact with local Witnesses was possible. A complex system was worked out whereby those books could be collected and passed around. Pages were ‘planted’ under rhubarb leaves, which disguised the smell of paper from camp dogs. Others were hidden near some small object, such as a dead bird or butterfly, which the Witnesses picking up the paper, if asked, could say she was cleaning up or examining.

The Witnesses seemed, to Mrs. Fett, to have come from all occupations and from large towns, Bonn, Cologne, Dortmund. Two were teachers, the rest came from a variety of jobs. Only the Witnesses, her mother told her, persistently helped the Ukranians and Poles who were hated by the Germans. Anyone found giving aid to this group could be sentenced to death, and some Witnesses did suffer this fate.

It was with this knowledge of the Witnesses that Mrs. Fett came to the movement when she came to England. Her beliefs now make clear to her what was happening. Her mother remained a Catholic and none of her family have joined her in the Jehovah’s Witness movement. Above all, she considers that the sufferings of the Witnesses in Germany were a fulfilment of their biblical role, to be watched as they witnessed to Jehovah - God. Her German friends, although they prefer not to discuss their experiences, would, she thinks, agree.

[Chapter VI] [Chapter VII] [Appendices] [Notes]

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