A historical analysis of the Jehovah's Witnesses' during World War II concluded that they experienced extreme conflicts with Nazi Germany and probably withstood the attacks against them better than most groups. Their experience has been analyzed by a number of researchers including camp inmates and administrators who have concluded that their strong religious faith, community and social pressure to conform were all critical in helping Witnesses to withstand the Nazi assault against them. A major reason Witnesses endured was because to capitulate to the Nazis meant disfellowshipping and cutting off from what was often their only social support, their fellow Witnesses. Often the Witnesses as people showed exemplary behavior, but the Watchtower administration not uncommonly displayed immoral or deceitful behavior and even denigrated the Jews in an effort to save the German Watchtower branch. Although partly to blame for the tragedy, the Watchtower unscrupulously exploits it today to try to prove their claim of being God's only representatives on earth today.
The Watchtower has probably experienced a larger number of major conflicts with the state, both in democratic and totalitarian countries, than any other modern religious group. In the United States they were "the principal victims of religious persecution in the twentieth century. Although founded earlier, they began to attract attention and provoke repression in the 1930s, when their proselytizing and numbers rapidly increased." One reason for their conflicts with civil authorities was because the Watchtower will not allow their members to fight in a war or even undertake war-related work. Witnesses are not pacifists but believe that they are
enlisted in the army of Jehovah and cannot give allegiance to another power, that of the civil state. Thus, whilst they are exemplary citizens in matters of tax payment and obedience to moral and criminal laws, they will not undertake civil duties which they see as conflicting with their duty to Jehovah--God. Witnesses will not vote. . ., salute a national flag or recognize a national anthem, and they refuse to enlist. In peace time they are normally tolerated in democratic countries, but in war-time and in totalitarian regimes they frequently face imprisonment. 
Although one of the lesser known groups imprisoned in the Nazi death camps, the Witnesses were numerically one of the larger camp populations. They consisted of "uneducated working class men and women with few professionals or aristocrats among their numbers." The clash between the Watchtower and Hitler began almost immediately after he was appointed chancellor in January of 1933. Up to that year the almost 20,000 committed Witnesses in Germany distributed close to 500,000 books and five million booklets plus millions of other pieces of literature.  The Watchtower concluded that Germany had at this time received a more extensive proselytization than any other country, and as a result over 2,000 legal actions were directed against them in 1931 and 1932. 
In April of 1933 the Witnesses presses and property at Magdeburg were seized and about $25,000 worth of literature was later destroyed. In response, Rutherford traveled to Berlin in June 25, 1933, to hold a rally attended by about 7,000 Witnesses at which he passed a resolution in a failed effort to placate the Nazis.  Hitler's response was both to dissolve the Witnesses in Germany and to confiscate their property "for the protection of the people and the state," forcing all 180 Magdeburg workers to leave.  Hitler's reasons for this action included:
These so-called "Earnest Bible Students" [Jehovah's witnesses] are trouble-makers; they disturb the harmonious life amongst the Germans; I consider them quacks; I do not tolerate that the German Catholics be besmirched in such a manner by this American "Judge" Rutherford; I dissolve the "Earnest Bible Students" in Germany; their property I dedicate to the people's welfare; I will have all their literature confiscated."
Legislation prohibiting all Watchtower meetings and the distribution of their literature was followed by laws that rescinded the rights of the Witnesses to work or claim various social or unemployment benefits. The Watchtower efforts to help German Witnesses included holding meetings on October 7, 1934, in fifty countries. The resulting action included sending telegrams to the Minister of the German Interior, Wilhelm Frick. When informed of the flood of telegrams, Hitler was "enraged" and stated that he was prepared to use the strongest measures to end Watchtower criticism of his government.  The campaign against them rapidly heightened, and after 1935 Witnesses were subject to arbitrary arrest and detention in a concentration camp without a trial.  The enforcement of these laws was rigid and inflexible:
The Witnesses were cited in the Malicious Gossip Law (Heimtückegesetz) of 1934 which defined their activities as foul play but not high treason. Men and women indicted for violations of the Malice Law were brought before an SS Sondergericht (Special Court). These courts were presided over by "politically correct" judges and acquittals were rare. The sentences handed down in the Sondergericht were generally fines or prison terms ranging from one month to five years. [13,14 ]
A complete ban on the Watchtower was put in effect in 1935, and by 1936 a large number of Witnesses, especially those of draft age, were in prison camps. Sentences of Witnesses who violated existing statutes also became harsher then, and by 1938 the courts started removing Witness children from their biological parents. Wittig, an eyewitness to the events which prompted the above extreme response, reported the following while visiting Wilhelm Frick on October 7, 1934:
. . . when our discussion obligatorily dealt with the action against the International Bible Students Association [Jehovah's Witnesses] in Germany . . . , Dr. Frick showed Hitler a number of telegrams protesting against the Third Reich's persecution of the Bible Students, saying "If the Bible Students do not immediately get in line we will act against them using the strongest means." After which Hitler jumped to his feet and with clenched fists hysterically screamed; "This brood will be exterminated in Germany!" Four years after this discussion I was able, by my own observations, to convince myself . . . that Hitler's outburst of anger was not just an idle threat. No other group of prisoners of the named concentration-camps was exposed to the sadism of the SS-soldiery in such a fashion as the bible Students were. It was a sadism marked by an unending chain of physical and mental tortures, the likes of which no language in the world can express. 
Most other German churches cooperated to some degree with the Nazi government, and almost no religious organization was as heavily suppressed as was the Watchtower.  King even claims that because Hitler was a non-drinking, non-smoking vegetarian who was for "morality and order and justice in government," some Christians saw him as Germany's savior.  Although individual members who opposed Nazism were subject to harassment, and the Nazis openly worked against the authority and interests of most churches, the persecution was limited by Hitler largely for political reasons. 
The Nazis opposed all non-German church control as existed in Catholicism and wanted a "German church" which rejected the internationalism that many German denominations then advocated.  German churches, although they condemned certain anti-Christian trends in German society such as immorality, generally avoided criticizing the Nazi regime.  The Catholic Church was at times openly anxious to demonstrate its loyalty to the German state, partly in an effort to resolve its "long history of conflict with the state."
Although the Watchtower Society concluded that "Rome and ... the papal hierarchy is really behind" their problems in Germany, the Nazis were hostile to the Watchtower for several reasons.  These included the sect was new compared to most other mainline denominations; it was founded in America, headquartered in Brooklyn, NY, and was clearly American both in culture and values.  The fact that much of the money the Watchtower collected in Germany was sent to the United States also irked the Nazis. Further, the Witnesses obstinately refused to take part in all elections and holidays--both religious and secular--no small matter in Nazi Germany. Celebration of the solstices became a regular feature of public life and the party developed its own holy days using quasi-religious language; these included the anniversary of the 1923 Putsch and Hitler's birthday. 
The Watchtower teaching which irritated the Nazis the most was their strict political neutrality which, aside from expressing itself in such ways as refusing to salute the German flag or heil Hitler, resulted in a steadfast refusal to fight in Hitler's army. The Witnesses openly declared that they were citizens of no nation, but were as ambassadors, spreading the message that God will soon destroy all nations and establish his Kingdom on earth. Their loyalty was to The New World Society, a theological concept which the Nazis often misunderstood. [25, 26] They also misunderstood the Watchtower's radical neutrality as opposition; consequently, Witnesses were occasionally imprisoned in Germany as American supporters. [27-29]
The Jehovah's Witnesses in particular also had problems partly because they considered themselves spiritual Jews, or Jews "circumcised of the heart instead of the flesh" and held many Jewish beliefs and practices.  Until the 1930s at least, the Watchtower was actively pro-Zionist and until 1908 titled their main religious journal Zion's Watchtower. The Witnesses were also identified as "Zionists" by the Nazis because of their "prophecies about the return of the Jews to the Holy Land."  In contrast to many of the other Christian sects, until the 1930s the Watchtower taught that Jews need not convert to Christianity because they were already a part of God's plan. 
This belief was summarized in a 1911 article by their founder, C. T. Russell, entitled "Jews Not to Be Converted to Christianity." Russell here argued that the efforts to convert Jews to one of "the various branches of the Christian church" was not in harmony with God's will. They reasoned that God has several distinct "peoples," and in each historical dispensation He focuses on a certain group over others. Russell taught that the Jews were, and still are, God's "chosen people." Conversely, Rutherford became very hostile to the Jews around 1932 and regarded them with the same or more contempt then he regarded the Catholic clergy. 
Doctrinally too, the Watchtower was heavily oriented towards Old Testament theology. They deny many basic Christian doctrines including the bodily resurrection of Christ, the Trinity, hellfire, the belief that Heaven is the eternal home for humans, and stress, as do Jews, the importance of not using graven images in any form--even pictures of humans or God--in worship. [36-37] In these areas at least, they are closer to Judaism than Christianity.  Although they teach that Christ was the Messiah, they believe that He was not God, but merely an angel, although a very privileged one. The Nazis concluded for these reasons that the Witnesses were linked with the "international evils of Judaism...." Another major reason for Witness problems is that they could not accept the Übermensch/Untermensch concept because they were creationists, "opposed to racism in any form." This belief was based on scriptures such as Acts, 17:26 which says God "made of one blood all the nations of men for to dwell on the face of the Earth" a teaching which for them negated any racial or ethnic discrimination. 
For these and other reasons, of the many religions in Germany, "The Third Reich was not willing...to tolerate minority Christian sects who might prove a challenge...(but) only one group, the Jehovah's Witnesses, were the victims of total persecution." Beckford concluded that their persecution in Nazi Germany far surpassed that which even the Witnesses--called Bibelforscher or Bible Students in Germany then--had previously experienced or expected:
Many of Rutherford's followers were already accustomed to the view that Satan was intensifying his campaign of terror against the defenders of truth on earth. Consequently, the news that Adolf Hitler had begun to persecute Jehovah's Witnesses in Germany came as little surprise but merely conformed most of them in their conviction that the contemporary social order was showing signs of imminent collapse. Yet, the brutality and ruthlessness of persecution in Germany must have shocked even the most hardened veterans of Watch Tower clashes with civil, military, and religious authorities.
One reason for this antagonism was because the Witnesses' behavior and beliefs were often baffling to outsiders. [44,45] Most were Germans with a Protestant background, and were usually interned only because of their refusal to be involved in the German war effort and for tenaciously clinging to their "neutrality"--both acts which the Nazis viewed as anti-German. Most could have been released after September, 1938, if they signed a statement rejecting the Watchtower and joined the armed forces. The non-draft resistors were imprisoned for "reeducation," and to secure immediate release Witnesses only had to "...sign the special Bible Students' form which read, 'I declare herewith that from this day on I no longer consider myself a Bible Student and that I will do nothing to further the interest of the International Association of Bible Students'". 
Even when persecution grew more brutal and a few of the less committed Witnesses signed, "they were the exception". [48,49] The niece of General de Gaulle, Genevieve de Gaulle wrote that the Witnesses "could have been immediately freed if they had renounced their faith. But on the contrary, they did not cease resistance, even succeeding to introducing books and tracts into the camp, which writings caused several among them to be hanged."  The example of the German and Austrian Witnesses in Mauthausen also illustrates how they resisted compromising their loyalty to the Watchtower in other ways: they uniformly refused to wear SS uniforms for extra warmth when offered for fear of allying themselves in any way with the SS. 
The Witnesses were not only one of the more severely persecuted churches, but were also one of the first: the first conscientious objector executed in Germany was Witness August Dickmann, shot by a firing squad on September 16, 1939, for "refusing to fulfill his duty as a soldier." The Witnesses were unique victims of Nazism in another way; they showed more solidarity of commitment, tenacity of belief, and although the Nazis vehemently disagreed with their religious views, they nonetheless often achieved a higher level of respect than many other groups in the camps.
Community; A Major Factor for their Camp Survival
The Witnesses maintained their integrity and withstood the pressure to conform more than most any other group imprisoned in the Nazi concentration camps for several reasons. As Björn Hallström observed, the Witnesses "were treated worse than any other group, but they managed, through their belief in God, to survive better than any others".  Of course all inmates who had deep religious beliefs, not just Witnesses, tended to do better than those without such faith.  Witnesses, though, not only survived, but "showed such courage, daring, virtue, and stoicism that they deserve a special salute".  The Nazis soon learned that Witnesses were not going to acquiesce; they were adamant in maintaining what they defined as their integrity to God. An excellent example of the role of community in achieving this perseverance is the following incident:
In April, 1945, prisoners were evacuated from Sachsenhausen . . . the march ended in Schwerin. Although prisoners were organized by nationality, the Witnesses, representing six nations, were kept together. The SS had put the Witnesses in charge of a cart containing valuables taken from the prisoners. They knew that the Witnesses would not steal from the treasure. While at first pulling the heavy cart seemed an additional burden on an already difficult march, it was quickly interpreted as a blessing from God. . . . Of the 26,000 who began the march, more than 10,000 were shot on the road [by the SS but] none of the 230 Witnesses died. As one would begin to falter, he would be hoisted on to the cart until his strength had sufficiently recovered. The Sachsenhausen death march is described as a victory of Jehovah over the SS. Survival as a group, so important in the Holy War, had been achieved. 
Bettelheim concluded on the basis of his experience, both as an inmate and a psychoanalytically trained researcher, that psychoanalytic theory was inadequate to explain much of the phenomena that he observed in the camp, especially the Witness behavior.  He concludes that a new theory which takes into account the influence of community on individuals is necessary:
. . .my camp experience also taught me two seem- ingly contrary lessons: firstly, the deficiency of psycho- analytic theory... and its shortcomings in certain practical applications... behavior characterized... [ac- cording to] psycho- analytic theory, would have had to be viewed as ex- tremely neurotic or plainly delusional, and therefore apt to fall apart, as persons under stress. I refer to the Jehovah's Witnesses, who not only showed unusual heights of human dignity and moral behavior, but seemed protected against the same camp experience that soon destroyed persons considered very well integrated by my psychoanalytic friends and myself. . . 
Bettelheim's concluded that Witnesses were able to achieve a functional insulation from both non-Witness prisoners and many of the pathological conditions in the camp because of their strong sense of community with both other Witness prisoners and the few Witnesses that remained on the outside.  Bettelheim also concluded that although Jehovah's Witnesses were sent to the camps because of their religion, they were probably "less affected by imprisonment" than any other group and "kept their integrity thanks to rigid religious beliefs. Since their only crime in the eyes of the SS was a refusal to bear arms, they were frequently offered freedom in return for military service. They [usually] steadfastly refused".  As Buber, an inmate herself, notes that one reason for both the Witness tenacity and their integrity is their exploitation of the sociological concept of community. She concluded that she managed to survive seven years of concentration camp in Russia and Germany because she never let herself "slide into a state where I lost my self-respect, and, above all, I always found people who needed me. Again and again I made friends. It is only under such conditions that the true meaning of friendship can be learnt." 
The Witnesses were able to effectively maintain that community by several methods, one which Dunn described was to attempt to isolate the Witnesses from+ outside contacts which largely failed:
. . . they were most creative in smuggling The Watchtower into the camps. Although the German [Watchtower] presses were closed, French Witnesses translated and duplicated literature as it came into their hands. Standard mechanisms of getting the material into the camps usually hinged on the fact that Witnesses worked without guards. . . . During times in which food parcels were permitted, Watchtowers were baked into breads and cakes and thus delivered. 
This high sense of community and solidarity instilled in their members through various psychological and sociological techniques produces what outsiders conclude are the negative traits of rigidity and dogmatism, but it also results in some favorable qualities.  Bettelheim notes that Witnesses often were:
. . . exemplary comrades, helpful, correct, dependable. They were argumentative, even quarrelsome only when someone questioned their religious beliefs. Because of their conscientious work habits, they were often selected as foremen. But once a foreman, and having accepted an order from the SS, they insisted that prisoners do the work well and in the time allotted, . . . SS officers preferred them as orderlies because of their work habits, skill, and unassuming attitudes. Quite in contrast to the continuous internecine warfare among the other prisoner groups, the Jehovah's Witnesses never misused their closeness to the SS officers to gain positions of privilege in the camps. 
And Buber, a political inmate in several camps, adds that Witnesses
. . . were the most highly prized and most sought-after workers. They cleaned the houses of the SS officials... looked after the children of the SS...they served as maids to their Camp Commandant and the other SS officers. . . . Their sense of duty and their feeling of responsibility were unshakable; they were industrious, honest and obedient--in short, they were ideal slaves for the SS. They were even given special passes permitting them to leave and enter the camp for their work, for, as the SS finally realized, no Bible Student would ever dream of trying to escape from a concentration camp; that would have been tantamount to rejecting the crown of martyrdom. 
This may be overstated, but their honesty, conscientiousness and their low likelihood of escaping (very few did) were all well documented.  As a result they often had privileged positions in the camp:
The camp officials discovered . . . that the Jehovah's Witnesses served many useful purposes. One of these was to shave the SS with cut-throat razors. The SS could truly enjoy their toilet, knowing that the razor was in the hand of a man who had sworn to respect life even at the expense of his own. Although such services must have added to their chances of survival, it did not endear them to their fellow prisoners. Jehovah's Witnesses were generally put to work on outlying farms around the camp. They appear to have been the dominant labour force on the land, although there were other workers too. 
A well known account of Witness tenacity was the attempt by the Sachsenhausen SS to break them of their neutral stand. Ten of their number were to be murdered on the spot for each refusal to join the Army, and the SS persisted until forty had died. Then, realizing that their efforts were futile and that capable, trusted workers were being lost, they stopped the killing. Both Himmler and Eicke expressed admiration for the resolve and determination of the group, actually using them as an example of loyalty to other Germans. Interestingly, Himmler, who knew the ways of the Witnesses well, had planned after the war "to bring the persecution of this group to an end, and send them to the East, where as racially pure, upright and abstemious Germans, they would form a 'block' as pioneers of the Nationalist Socialist Community. "
Rudolf Höeß, the commandant of the infamous Auschwitz Camp, noted in his autobiography that he was nonplused by the Witnesses he encountered because they "surpassed anything in the way of religious fanaticism that I had previously seen." Although they were usually obedient and often punctiliously followed all camp rules, those few which contradicted their religious convictions, such as refusal to "do any work that had any connection whatsoever with military matters. . .would not stand at attention, [or] drill...with the rest" or say 'Heil Hitler caused them endless problems.' The Nazi difficulty in dealing with the Jehovah's Witnesses culminated in a promise made by Dr. Wilhelm Frick, then the Reich Minister of the Interior, on October of 1934, that "The Bibelforschers will be exterminated in Germany." This order eventually resulted in the execution or death of about 1,200 of the 10,000 Witnesses imprisoned in German camps. 
The Development of Community Under Hardship
Community among Witnesses was reinforced in the camps by assigning them privileged living and working conditions, even placing them in the personal homes of the SS leaders to care for their children or perform what often amounted to administrative duties.  Höeß said of the two Witnesses that lived in his household for over three years that:
The care that they bestowed on the children, both big and small, was particularly touching. The children loved them as though they were members of the family. . . . One of them worked for an SS officer, doing everything that had to be done without needing to be told, but she absolutely refused to clean his uniform, cap, or boots, or indeed even to touch anything that had any connection with the military life. On the whole they were contented with their lot. They hoped that, by suffering in captivity for Jehovah's sake, they would be given good positions in His kingdom, which they expected to enter very soon. Strangely enough they were all convinced. . . [that the Nazi policy on Jews] was right that the Jews should now suffer and die, since their forefathers had betrayed Jehovah. I have always regarded Jehovah's witnesses as poor, misguided creatures, who were nevertheless happy in their own way. 
They were often given positions of trust, not only in the German concentration camps, but also in American prisons in which over 4,400 Witnesses were imprisoned for many of the same reasons they were in Germany, primarily their refusal to serve in the military.  Buber concludes that assigning them many privileged positions caused some arrogance among certain Witnesses: "The next morning I was 'called out' to go to the office of the S.S. Senior Supervisor Langefeld ... after awhile Marianne Korn, Langefeld's secretary, came out. She was young, blonde and pretty, but the conviction of being one of the élite--she was a Bible Student--gave her an arrogant and condescending look."
Generally viewed as model prisoners, their consistency and religious convictions actually caused them to be respected by some. Höeß admitted that they were in his experience as head of Auschwitz a "welcome contrast" to the other prisoners. Because some of them obtained reasonably good positions in the camp as administrative assistants, they were often more able to effectively communicate their suffering to the camp leaders than other inmates, resulting in some advantages for them.  Although numerous instances of intolerance occurred, and some Witnesses were brutally slain--often as examples to others in an effort to break them--the Witnesses in fact may not have suffered as much as other groups in the camps. The policy on the Witnesses may well have sprung more from a personal antagonism against them by Hitler himself. In his youth, Hitler had read the work of Theodor Fritsch, who claimed that: 'The Jews, in alliance with the Freemasons, Catholics and Jehovah's Witnesses, are seizing power throughout the world and in Germany their domination is imminent". He referred to them with much hostility in his Table-Talk, in spite of the sympathy for the group shown by Himmler. 
Their survival traits, first developed within the Witness community outside of the concentration camp, were easily generalized to other situations. Yet, many maintained their firmness to their religious beliefs and their insistence that all other persons would eventually be destroyed at Armageddon, and whether a Witness was saved depended upon their conduct, even in the camp.
And Sally Grubmann, a German school teacher, added that she saw people in the camp who:
. . . became very, very good and [other] people who became absolutely mean. The nicest group were the Jehovah's Witnesses. I take my hat off to those people. They were born martyrs. They did marvelous things for other people. They helped the sick, they shared their bread, and gave everyone near them spiritual comfort. The Germans hated them and respected them at the same time. They gave them the worst work but they took it with their heads high. 
It was also important for Watchtower followers to impress non-Witness inmates and administrators because the Watchtower taught that this was one of the most effective methods of selling their faith. They knew that being kind to non-Witnesses may result in a convert. Examples are repeatedly provided in Watchtower literature of persecutors--from husbands who beat their wives for attending Watchtower meetings, to people who threw rocks at the Kingdom Hall--who eventually become Witnesses because of the kindness manifested to enemies while they were persecuting. The Witnesses typically make excellent martyrs, overtly smiling as they are persecuted, confident that their endurance will help the persecutor see the validity of their faith. Höeß claimed that Witnesses underwent "punishment with a joyous fervor that amounted almost to a perversion. They begged the commandant to increase their punishment so that they might better be able to testify to Jehovah." And, although Witnesses may assume that their attraction is their theological system, community was often in fact their main appeal and their primary sales tool as well. And a major reason that Witnesses were so tenacious in their beliefs and manifested such exemplary behavior in prison camps and elsewhere was because of their highly developed community. [84-85]
The Witnesses today often relate their camp experience both as an example of the power of faith and as proof that they alone have God's blessing. The Watchtower contains an article entitled "Faith in God Sustained Me" about Harald and Elsa Abt. Harald was interred in German concentration camps, including the notorious Sachsenhausen and Buchenwald, from July 1940 to August 1945 and his wife was imprisoned in Auschwitz. The primary factor that sustained them, they claimed, was their association with other Witnesses in the camp. 
Communication with others of like faith was also extremely important to maintain community. An elaborate network of social contacts enabled Witnesses to smuggle Watchtowers and letters into the camp. As Haralds tells his experience, after the SS learned about their secret mail service and their meeting in small groups to discuss Watchtower doctrine, they were ordered to stop this illegal activity, but
stood unitedly in our determination to strengthening one another spiritually. . . . The spirit of faith and courage that Jehovah's Witnesses had clearly was not broken, and the Nazis again saw that there was nothing they could do to break our [commitment to the Watchtower belief structure].
Efforts to Integrate Witnesses Fail
The Witnesses wore lilac triangle cloth patches to identify them. They often had their own section--in Ravensbrück it was in Block Three--an arrangement that often reinforced their sense of community. This isolation would seem to be dysfunctional to the Nazis' goal of breaking down the Witness resolve to maintain their allegiance to the Watchtower. Separation was at times instituted because they tended to make converts when integrated, or at least they tried very hard to. Buber reports a case where the Nazis attempted to integrate the Witnesses and the asocials--a class of inmates that consisted mostly of prostitutes and persons convicted of repeated minor law violations--so as to punish the former because they refused to eat blood sausage.  Inmates ordinarily relish this food because it is high in protein, an item often in short supply in the camp. Since the early 1940s, the Watchtower taught that Witnesses should not eat blood (thus they prohibit blood transfusions today, a disfellowshipping offense only since 1961) and therefore declined the protein. 89
After the integration, the asocials almost immediately denounced the Witnesses for their Watchtower studies and constant religious discussions. The asocials stole everything they could from the Witnesses and, "conducted themselves generally in a thoroughly aggressive and provocative fashion" against their forced camp mates. The solution Buber opted for (at that time she was a camp administrator) was to separate the two groups as far as possible, especially for dinner and bunk arrangements (the asocials slept on top, the Witnesses below). Unfortunately, Frau Zimmer, an administrator over Buber with a strong hatred of the Bible Students, found out what occurred, and made them eat together--adding that she wanted this "jawing about Jehovah" to cease. 
Such behavior by the authorities simply reinforced the Witnesses' world view and helped to validate their beliefs. The Watchtower often stressed that Witnesses will be persecuted for simply adhering to their beliefs, and indeed, they often were.  Their portion of blood sausage could easily be given to the other inmates--most of whom would have accepted it with relish. Instead of behaving rationally, though, the camp authorities retaliated against the Witnesses purely for their tenacity to adhere to their usually innocuous beliefs. For example, after Frau Zimmer forced Buber to attempt to fully integrate them, the Witnesses opted to treat the asocials extremely well, a tactic which succeeded:
I watched this Christian charity in operation with mixed feelings, but it worked. The Asocials were softened up with kindness and friendliness. . . . In quite a short space of time there were quite a number of Asocials . . . who presented themselves at the SS office, declaring that henceforth they wished to be regarded as Jehovah's Witnesses and demanding the lilac triangle for their sleeves. When it got too bad, the S.S. just stormed and raved at the converts and threw them out. In the end the S.S. got so fed-up that they removed the Asocials from our block and peace descended again. I breathed a sigh of relief, and the 'Witnesses' held a prayer-meeting to render thanks to Jehovah. 
Defeating the asocials with kindness and winning them over by selling them community was a tactic Witnesses often use to achieve converts. The price the camp officials paid for this integration attempt was some asocials accepted the Witnesses' belief structure, resulting in their being removed from the Witnesses' wing of the camp. A major reason why the Witnesses were usually placed in their own block was because the likelihood of their converting others was deemed by the Nazis as too great a threat:
Although contact with other prisoners was rare, Witnesses did seek to bring new members to the faith. While numbers were small, there were some successes. Secret baptisms were carried out in the camps themselves. 
The rigidity of the Witness' adherence to their beliefs was often illustrated in the camps. Many refused to do any work whatsoever that was connected with war, and this was a major reason for their camp difficulties.[94,95] They made it clear that they were not going to help the Germans wage war, and although they willingly worked in the camps, they refused to make any war implements what-so-ever, even Nazi uniforms. Their resistance once resulted in about ninety Witnesses being taken to the punishment block where they were left standing for three days without food. The camp authorities soon discovered that this did not work, so Berlin instituted new punishment--seventy-five lashes each day for each Jehovah's Witness. The punishment continued until the Witnesses looked like "walking skeletons." The SS finally relented, and the Witnesses were soon released from the punishment block.
The martyr complex was by this time evidently an integral part of the Witness self-identity. Some even refused to stand for roll call, explaining that they would stand for Jehovah, but not the SS. Although most rigidly adhered to the dictates of the Watchtower Society, some of those who refused to eat blood sausage, for example, or make military instruments, personally had no qualms over standing for roll call. Most camps housed both rigid Witnesses and those who were willing to interpret the Watchtower's rules more flexibly. Some strictly avoided any pretense of sinning, others felt that only certain prohibitions should be rigidly adhered to, and that a believer could be flexible relative to the other prohibitions. Some acts, though, such as signing statements renouncing their beliefs were generally not considered one of the flexible beliefs. Actually, major conflicts occurred between the rigid and more flexible Witnesses--a division termed the "fundamentalist vs. the liberal Witnesses" by some.  In time, some of the extremists among them were evidently shipped to other camps. Not all reports were positive, and many inmates disliked the Witnesses for several reasons. Inmate Rinser reported:
. . .since for all of them it is a matter of certainty that one day 'perpetual peace' will dawn, not the peace of 'Heaven' but peace on earth. Then the Kingdom of Justice will commence; but first there will be a terrible battle in 'Armageddon', and the unjust who are in power on earth will be destroyed. They say the Nazis know all this, and that is why the Gestapo judges are so enraged if you fling a reminder of 'Armageddon' at them during a hearing. I object that . . . we have to see to it ourselves (I say), which is why we have socialism. I try to make clear to them the basic principles of socialism. They shake their heads in a superior fashion; that's all nonsense, they say, only the 'Lord' will save us. They are confirmed in an impenetrable fanaticism. I do not feel any wiser for all their dogma. It seems that apart from hatred of power and hope for Christ they have no ideas. I can place no trust in this doctrine, seeing how loveless its adherents are. For example, I observe that Frau W. has received a parcel from her relatives, which she hides fearfully in a corner, now and then nibbling a little, without giving so much as a scrap to any of us. Or at lunch: through an oversight one bowl of food too many was brought to our cell. Frau P., being the eldest does the sharing-out. They've cooked up something with potatoes and carrots. She fishes out the carrots for herself, and the sauce too, and leaves the potatoes for the rest of us. 
Persecution often solidifies a group, bringing out community and support for each other, and the extreme camp conditions tended to be at least partially responsible for the Witness exemplariness. The Watchtower often points out that many Witnesses maintained their faithfulness in the camps, but once on the outside "fell away from the truth"--the Watchtower term for leaving. Buber admits that even conscientious Witnesses are human, and under her "mild regime they begin to fall away from their former exemplary state and be guilty of various minor infringements of the camp rules." One example, she noted, was their organization of coffee-making and potato cooking activities to supplement their diets, an activity which was evidently then forbidden. They also made false illness reports mostly about Witnesses who, although they were not sick according to Nazi rules, were elderly and therefore less able to achieve camp work performance levels. Doing so permitted them to complete lighter work inside when camp rules required that they work outside. 
Although the Witnesses sometimes experienced fewer difficulties in the camps than some groups, this was not always the case. Buber tells of one leading overseer, Frau Zimmer who, although she was anything but pure herself and had an alcohol problem, would do whatever she could to make the lives of Witnesses miserable. Buber claimed that Zimmer often screamed that they spent too much time sitting around and should "go home and look after your children and your husbands" Their husbands, though, were usually Bible Students who were likewise interned somewhere. The camp officials would often plead with those whose husbands were not Witnesses to renounce their beliefs, stressing that God would not want them to abandon their family, asking them "is what you're doing really Christian?"
Many of the non-Jehovah's Witness husbands also plead in their letters to their Witness wives to abandon their beliefs so as to obtain a release "because the children needed them, and were forced to grow up without the love and guidance of a mother." Buber claims that many a mother was in agony upon receiving news such as this. Torn between their strongly held beliefs and their love for their husband and children, they realized that their children needed them and their care, yet believed that "Jehovah demands that his followers should leave wife and child--and that means husband as well--and follow Him." Following Him, they believed, meant rigid adherence to the Watchtower rules, even if it resulted in languishing one's life away in a concentration camp. Some husbands quoted St. Paul's words at 1 Timothy 5:8 which states that, in the eyes of God one who has not taken care of his or her family is worse than one without faith. Since this Scripture was not stressed by the Watchtower, it was usually not used by Witnesses to justify compromising their beliefs in order to leave the camp. The level of tenacity Witnesses exhibited in the camps is illustrated by Kogon:
When the war broke out the Witnesses at Sachsenhausen concentration camp were invited to volunteer for military service. Each refused and was followed by the shooting of ten men from their ranks... In Buchenwald, this appeal to the Witnesses was made on September 6, 1939. First Officer-in-Charge Rödl told them: "You know that war has broken out and that the German nation is in danger. New laws are coming into force. If any of you refuse to fight against France or England, all of you must die!" Two SS companies with full equipment were drawn up by the gatehouse. Not a single Jehovah's Witness answered the officer's appeal to fight for Germany 
Although the Witnesses in this situation expected to be shot, their only punishment at this time at least was being assaulted and robbed. The solidarity of the Witnesses, their conviction that God will bless them for enduring their suffering, and their mutual reinforcement produced some ironic occurrences. When Buber was put in charge of them, she claimed that her life now "ran like clockwork." Witnesses took good care of their clothing, helped each other and, as a result, many of them dressed in, "solid leather boots and lines, striped jackets [and clothing]...made of better and warmer material [than outsiders].  The Witnesses, she stated, were models of cleanliness and neatness--even their combs were cleaned daily, fingerprints were rarely visible on the doors, their stools were scrubbed spotless and always neatly stacked when not in use. Regular dusting, even of the ceiling beams across the hut (many had no ceiling, only a roof) was the norm with them.
The immaculateness of the Witness barracks was to the extent that some SS officers used white gloves to check for dirt in unlikely places such as on the ledges of the lockers. This behavior is not unlike Witness conduct on the outside; to them cleanliness is evidence of Godliness, and anything that may bring disrepute on their message is to be avoided. Listeners will be less receptive, they reason, to a message presented by persons who are dressed in dirty clothes.  Witnesses could even work without guards because they would usually not attempt to escape." In February, 1943, when a group of prisoners were being transferred, the train stopped to take on supplies which were loaded by the prisoners. One Witness was ordered to retrieve an item, and by the time he arrived back, the train had already pulled away. He immediately persuaded the workman to drive him to the next stop where he boarded his prison train--and the SS guards were not yet aware of his absence.
Witnesses would perform every camp job, "even the most obnoxious, to the best of his ability" except that "no Jehovah's Witness would perform a command contrary to his religious belief and convictions or any action directed against another person, even if that person was a murderer and an SS officer."
Not all Witnesses withstood the Nazi assault so well. Of the eight German Watchtower district servants (the highest level in the Watchtower hierarchy in the national branch), August Fehst was arrested by the Gestapo, and he then betrayed Erich Frost. In response to his betrayal by Fehst, Frost reportedly gave the Gestapo the names of the remaining seven district servants (Otto Dauth, Albert Wandres, Fred Meier, Walter Friese, Arthur Nawroth, Heinrich Ditschi, Karl Siebeneichler who died in Sachsenhausen). According to the Gestapo document Haftbuch Nr. 292, Gestapo Berlin, Dienststelle II B 2 no torture was used on Frost; his anger at Fehst was evidently sufficient for him to give the Gestapo the information they wanted. After this he spent a short time in Sachsenhausen, and then was moved to the German-occupied British Channel Island of Alderney until the war ended when he resumed his duties as the Watchtower branch chief under a new set of district servants.
Efforts by the German People to Help Witnesses
As with the Jews, the world wide response to the Witness' plight was largely silence. Here and there some voices were heard, predominantly among Witnesses and few others. Some in the German legal profession protested that "the law was being brought into disrepute" by the Government's treatment of the Witnesses, raising many unwanted questions about the new German order. One example, recounted in the memoirs of physician Felix Kersten, occurred because of his position in the German government. In July of 1942 he for the first time became aware of the details about the concentration camps. Short of farm hands, he noted that neighboring farmers had been drawing on the concentration camps for labor. Consequently, he put in a request for prisoners, and all of those that were assigned to him had been arrested because they belonged to the "Bibelforscher." Kersten determined that the reason for their arrest was because they did not countenance war and refused, even in the concentration camp, to do work which would aid the war:
. . .These simple, God-fearing woman had known the whip, solitary confinement, and suffered every possible physical humiliation. Since their imprisonment, before the war, they had been deprived of every comfort and had been forced to live every moment of their days beneath the eyes of male prison guards. . . . They had been overworked to the limit of their strength. . . . driven on forced marches that strong soldiers could scarcely have survived. And their food rations had been maintained for years at a starvation level. They were thin as skeletons, and their ragged cotton prison clothes hung on them like sacks. They suffered from various diseases caused by filth and malnutrition. Talking with them, I was struck by their modest and serious demeanor. They were honest, good, industrious women, willing to do any kind of work--provided only that it was not in any way connected with the war. Among these women were two--Anna Ochler and Frau Gertrud Schulze--who had been interned for seven long years. They told me in strict confidence of the treatment meted out to inmates of the camp; of the fact that the women were at the mercy of the guards, that some had been tortured and many killed. I was horrified. For two days after I first heard the stories, I walked about my farm as though mortally ill. Then I realized that just being horrified and filled with pity was not enough. I must do something. I must do all in my power to fight the principle of these concentration camps and alleviated the suffering that reigned in them...I saw that, politics or no politics, I was going to be obliged to act if I was to keep my peace. I evolved a plan of action which I thought might be useful with Himmler. 
Kersten then claims that he decided to relate to Himmler what he was now aware of. Summoned to Him- mler's headquarters in the Ukraine as one of Himmler's personal physicians, he asked him if the rumors that people were actually tortured and killed in concentration camps were true. He reports that Himmler replied, "Now, Kersten! I see, you are falling for the propaganda of our enemies!" Kersten claimed that from that day on he fought to help the people who were "innocent and who were being unjustly persecuted." He began gathering information from those who worked around Himmler, gradually learning things which
not only equaled the horror tales of the women from Ravensbrück, but exceeded them. Most of the men I talked to were ashamed of the state of things prevailing in the concentration camps. Very few thought the conditions could be justified. Almost all of them agreed with me that the German people were completely ignorant of conditions in the camps and that if made aware of them would disapprove. But when I urged them that in their capacity they themselves might do something, they shrugged. They were helpless. And anyway, it was none of their business. Hitler was alone responsible 
Kersten made his property, called Harzwalde, available as asylum to even greater numbers of the "Bibel forscher sect." It became a haven for them, and at Himmler's orders, Kersten's property was not searched. He also claims that his little estate became " a thorn in the flesh of the Gestapo." Although many objected, Himmler never revoked his orders and Kersten claims Harzwalde remained a refuge for German Witnesses throughout the war. Aside from this lone incident, I have been unable to locate any similar others. Likely other examples exist, but they are no doubt unusual. King 109 concludes that few German citizens gave Witnesses the private protection many gave to Jews, although some Germans, in violation of laws then, refused to hand in or report literature that Witnesses distributed, or to inform on them in other ways.
The Worldwide Witness Response
Witnesses throughout the world at this time generally quietly but fearlessly went about their business. Some Witnesses openly defied the Nazi government, even sending Hitler numerous telegrams, telling him that "God was going to destroy" him if he did not permit them to continue their work. In 1936 it was announced at a Witnesses convention in Holland that thousands of tracts which explained Watchtower views and denounced certain policies of Hitler were to be distributed to every single household in Germany. No one, including the Watchtower officials in Nazi Germany, knew the distribution date.  On December 12 at 5:00 p.m., 3,540 Witnesses began to distribute the tracts from door to door and at 6:15 p.m., the SS began broadcasting a radio message warning citizens not to accept them. Their warning was too late: the work was successfully completed by 7:00 p.m.! Few other groups in Germany had the audacity or organizational control to respond in this organized way. In Höeß' words:
On many occasions Himmler, as well as Eicke, used the fanatical faith of Jehovah's Witnesses as an example. SS men must have the same fanatical and unshakable faith in the National Socialist ideal and in Adolf Hitler that the Witnesses had in Jehovah. ... A Weltanschauung could only be established and permanently maintained by fanatics utterly prepared to sacrifice their egos for their ideals.
Although infuriated over the fact that he had more difficulties forcing the Witnesses conform than any other group except possibly the communists, Höeß admired them for the strength of their convictions. And the Witnesses were no small problem. By the end of 1937, it is estimated that most adult males and many adult females belonging to the Witnesses in Germany were arrested, or in prison or concentration camps, as many as 10,000 persons--yet, thus far, the Jehovah's Witnesses have received considerably less scholarly attention than have most other German religious groups under Nazism. The most conservative data is, of the about 20,000 Witnesses left in German territory after 1933, close to 1,200 died from various causes, both war and non-war related, at least 635 died in prison and 203 were executed. Watchtower attorney Hayden Covington testified in 1954 that he believed about 2,000 died in German concentration camps, 2,000 were "otherwise disabled" and 6,000 were released from the camps at the end of the war.  He was not able to provide a source for these estimates which are probably gestimates.
The Watchtower has not been very consistent in their claims of the number that died. In 1950 (Wt 12 15, 1950 p. 500) they claimed 2,000 died at the hands of the Nazis (Wt 2-15-1951 p. 105-106). By 1964 the number was up to 4,000 (Wt Jan 1, 1964 p. 13). In 1974 a detailed analysis of the number of deaths concluded 635 had died in prison, 253 were sentenced to death and 203 actually died (1974 Yearbook p. 212). Ironically the Watchtower later again cited the 2,000 number (Wt 1-1, 1989 p.21).
Accurate data is difficult to ascertain partly because SS men would seize and imprison Witnesses even after a court of law found them not guilty. As Semprun noted, many Witnesses were treated harshly even after the war ended:
In 1944, when I arrived in Buchenwald, the Bibelforscher survivors were working mainly as nurses in the camp hospitals or as servants in the SS officers' villas. Quiet, devoted, tireless, they waited patiently for the end of the apocalyptic evils that had arrived with the fall of Satan upon the earth, in 1914, and for the millennium that would follow, at some not too distant but as yet indeterminate date, ushering in a New World, in which the Elect would govern the earth from their heavenly home. Yet even at this final stage in the history of the camps, the Jehovah's Witnesses were still victims of collective beatings. In the spring of 1944, I remember, they were gathered on the Appellplatz and searched. Meanwhile, SS detachments ransacked their barracks and their places of work looking, it was said, for religious tracts or pamphlets hostile to the regime. 
Unfortunately the Watchtower has exploited the Witnesses sacrifices, even claiming that the persecution on the Jehovah's Witnesses was "worse than that on the Jews" (Babylon the Great 1963 p. 550).
The Price of Watchtower Community
Although the Witness beliefs may have enabled them to survive Nazi camps better than most groups, many persons have severely critiqued their rigid form of community.  Aside from its stifling of freedom, creativity and personal vocational or avocational interests, the major objection is that close-knit groups like the Witnesses produce a non-functional rigidly purified community. As such, they to some degree reflect an adolescent refusal to deal appropriately with the pain, injustice, and complexity of the world. The Witnesses lived together in harmony and peace partly by denying much painful reality - and they constantly denied not only their own individual conflicts, but their disagreements with the outside society.  This is not necessarily negative; psychiatrists often concluded that adjustment for many persons requires living partly in a dream world to enable them to survive the real one.
Nonetheless, it causes Witnesses to walk around in what Harrison calls a peaceful yet zombie like state.  Shielded from many of the injustices of society, they usually do little more that talk about them, and even this is often aloof commentary that does little to bring about social change. Further, they need not make many efforts to do anything about them--injustice, cruelty and sickness are inevitable now, they feel, and since the world is ruled by Satan, no point exists in changing that which one cannot.
Ironically, they not only ignore the evil outside of their organization, but they also usually ignore much of the injustices within it.  Witnesses firmly believe that the Watchtower Society is God's only organization, and therefore it is perfect--it is only the people that belong to it that are not (not yet, that is). Being part of God's organization allows them to accept many evils of the world, including those evils the Nazis caused, and convinced the Witnesses that they should not fight against them because only God can deal with these problems.  About their only response to the world's evils is letter writing campaigns to government leaders where they are restricted or banned, a response which is both common and encouraged by the Society. They rarely protest social injustice unless it is government organized and specifically directed against their organization. 
Since they did not actively work against the Nazi system more than any other government they have lived under, why did the Nazis not just leave them alone? The Witnesses were comparatively small in number and posed little threat to the Nazi government. Although the Watchtower teaches that all governments are of Satan, and all are evil (although some were more evil than others) making judgments about them was not their major concern. All governments were to be obeyed as far as possible, which meant they were to disobey only the laws that the Watchtower felt conflicted with what they for whatever reason understood to be God's law.  As King  concludes, "It is difficult to see the Witnesses as a serious, political threat to the Reich." This was also the conclusion of Höeß:
... Jehovah's Witnesses were quiet, industrious, and sociable men and women, who were always ready to help their fellow creatures. Most of them were craftsmen, though many were peasants from East Prussia. In peacetime, so long as they confined their activities to prayer and the service of God and their fraternal gatherings, they were of no danger to the state and indeed were quite harmless generally. From 1937 onward, however, the increased proselytizing by the sect attracted the attention of the authorities, and investigations...showed that... a danger would have arisen if the more energetic and fanatical of the Witnesses had not been taken into custody during the previous couple of years, and a stop put to their active proselytizing. 
The Nazis themselves did not view their response to the Witnesses as much different than occurred in America and elsewhere. [126, 127] One of the more important German apologists, Dr. Alfred Rosenberg, stated at the Nuremberg Trials that German treatment of the Witnesses was actually very similar to the American government's which detained "members of the Jehovah's Witnesses sect who would not join the United States Army." In the United States, six thousand men, about three-fourths of them Witnesses, were prosecuted for refusing to be drafted, most of them receiving long prison sentences.  Rosenburg claimed that he read about the poor treatment of American Witnesses in a church paper lent him by an American prison chaplain. As King points out, although not numerically the largest of the five major sects in Nazi Germany the Witnesses were seen by the government, before and after 1933:
as the most important and potentially dangerous group, as the amount of attention they receive in legal, police and government documents indicates.... Because of their refusal to bear arms, to vote or to offer allegiance to the state Witnesses have traditionally received the suspicion of civil authorities. The Nazis were not alone in this, for Witnesses were forbidden to work in Australia and Canada during the Second World War.... Whilst the conflict of the Witnesses with the Nazi government is perhaps then not surprising, the scale of the conflict and its results are. The Witnesses established a highly successful underground network in Germany and more particularly in the concentration camps. Their experiences in the camps defied the understanding of their captors, for they made wide-scale conversions, even finding sympathizers and converts amongst the S.S. 
Some of the Watchtower-Nazi conflicts occurred partly because they were similar in several major ways. Both were highly authoritarian and totalitarian, convinced that only their beliefs held the solution to the world's troubles.  The Witnesses often did little to stop their own persecution because they felt it was allowed by God so that they could demonstrate their faith to non-Witnesses. They were chosen as messengers of God to suffer in order to accomplish this difficult but critical work, and persecution was of prime importance.  Their concern was not with physical survival, either as individuals or as an organization, but with personally keeping the faith and spreading it to all who would listen. For this reason, they did not take part in any organized resistance movements, a response that they felt was pointless anyway. God Himself would wipe out all evil governments in His due time, and their job now was primarily to "witness" to others, and let God do His work.  These conflicts did not totally stop after the war:
Despite protests to the League of Nations, massive petitioning of Hitler personally and the active intervention of the American State Department, Hitler confiscated all Watch Tower property in Germany including the extensive buildings and effects of the large Branch headquarters at Magdeburg, which were retained after the war without compensation first by the Russian forces of the occupation and then by the German Democratic Republic. 
The Witnesses have made their mark in the world, just as did the early Christians, by their active avoidance of any involvement in certain aspects of the world. As a result, they have also made important contributions to American and Canadian constitutional law. [135-137] Their contributions to contemporary German life and law has yet to be assessed. Many accounts of their experience in Nazi Germany are favorable to the Watchtower partially because anyone who stood up to Nazi Germany is now seen in a positive light. One of the most extensive studies of the Watchtower in Nazi Germany by Garbheas has persuasively documented that behind the story outlined above, and as outlined in the scientific and historical literature, is another side that is rarely told. This side shows that many less admirable reasons existed for the Witness's behavior. For example, many did not sign the document renouncing the Watchtower not only due to their loyalty to the Watchtower, but also due to reasons such as signing would result in expulsion from the Witness camp community. This was a major problem because one was not released immediately after signing--and in the weeks or months that release could take, the individual was severely alienated from his or her major or only support group, a serious handicap in the camp.
This act also often meant rejection from one's family and friends once on the outside. Group support was a critically important prerequisite for surviving then, and thus in many cases it was less loyalty to the Watchtower than fear and coercion that dictated the individual Witnesses' response. Garbe also shows that there were often major conflicts within the Witness community, a fact obscured because this was often not seen by outsiders. Few Witnesses were willing to report these conflicts once on the outside because this act could also result in their expulsion, a practice which is more rigid today than it was during World War II. Much of what the Witnesses did was less due to the voice of conscience than the fear of expulsion from their community. Nonetheless, most believed, as taught by the Watchtower, that hardship now was only transient, and faithfulness would ultimately lead to eternal blessing on the paradise earth.
The Watchtower Leaders Compromise
In summary of this period of history Penton concluded that since the second World War, the Watchtower has taught:
. . . that while the German churches, both Catholic and Protestant, were guilty of compromise with Hitler and the Nazi Party, their German [Witnesses] brethren. . . " stood solidly against the principles of the Third Reich. Because of the brave stand taken by most ordinary German Witnesses in the face of terrible persecution which cost many of them their lives in Hitler's concentration camps, they have been praised by secular historians--a fact which the Watch Tower Society has used to buttress its assertions . . . What has not generally been known either by most Jehovah's Witnesses or many independent scholars, however, is that while ordinary German Witnesses did generally maintain their integrity and commitment to their principles, their leaders--the Watch Tower's second president, Judge Joseph F. Rutherford, and the man who succeeded him in office in 1942, Nathan H. Knorr, plus high German Watch Tower officials-- did not. Furthermore, Rutherford and his lieutenants tried to save the German arm of their movement by scapegoating the Jews and attacking Great Britain the United States, and the League of Nations in the harshest terms.
The Watchtower was sympathetic to the Jews, even supporting Zionists movements until about 1932.  Then they reversed their stand, and began a campaign critical of Jews that can only be called racist. They also tried to appease the Nazis in other ways:
Watch Tower Society "branch servant" or "overseer" Konrad Franke tells that when he and another Jehovah's Witness arrived at the Berlin Sporthalle Wilmersdor where the 1933 Witness convention was being held, they were shocked. The building was bedecked with Swastika flags--evidently to please the Nazis. Then during the convention itself, the Witness faithful were called on to sing a hymn that they had not sung in Germany for years. While they had no objection to the words, the music was the same as that of the German national anthem, "Deutschland, Deutschland über alles." As for the Declaration and accompanying letter sent to Adolf Hitler personally, they were nothing short of self-serving statements which attempted to ingratiate Jehovah's Witnesses with the Nazis.
The Watchtower to appease the Nazis even printed what many persons conclude was a major compromise to the Nazi party in their official publications. This compromise the Watchtower passed at a convention on June 25, 1933 and called a Declaration of Facts stated in part:
The greatest and the most oppressive empire on earth is . . . the British Empire, of which the United States of America forms a part. It has been the commercial Jews of the British-American empire that have built up and carried on Big Business as a means of exploiting and oppressing the peoples of many nations. This fact particularly applies to the cities of London and New York, the stronghold of Big Businesses. This fact is so manifest in America that there is a proverb concerning the city of New York which says: 'The Jews own it, the Irish Catholics rule it and the Americans pay the bills.'We have no fight with any of these persons mentioned but, as witnesses for Jehovah and in obedience to his commandment set forth in the Scriptures, we are compelled to call attention to the truth concerning the same in order that the people may be enlightened concerning God and his purpose. 
Today they have tried to cover over this embarrassing document. The Watchtowers' credibility is also greatly diminished by statements such as:
. . . the British Empire and in America the common people have suffered and are now suffering greatly because of the misrule of Big Businesses and conscienceless politicians, which misrule has been and is supported by political religionists, and hence the writers of our . . . literature have endeavored to convey to the people the proper thought or understanding . . .the present government of Germany has declared emphatically against Big Business oppressors and in opposition to the wrongful religious influence in the political affairs of the nation. Such is exactly our position; and we further state in our literature the reason for the existence of oppressive Big Business and the wrongful political religious influence, because the Holy Scriptures plainly declare that these oppressive instruments proceed from the devil . . . 
The Watchtower opposed the Nazis only when the German government
. . . unleashed a wave of persecution against the Witnesses. . . .On June 27, 1933 . . . the Prussian . . . state banned them, and the police began to carry out widespread raids on their homes and places of business . . . the Society's Magdeburg offices were seized again on June 28 . . . it was then, and only then, that Rutherford and the Watch Tower Society decided to oppose Nazi policies in an uncompromising fashion. For some time thereafter, German Witnesses were divided over what they should do. 
In a letter to Hitler, the German Watchtower branch claimed the Watchtower Society
. . . is and in the past has been outstandingly friendly to Germany. For this reason, the president of the Society and seven members of its Board of Directors in the United States were sentenced to 80 years imprisonment because the president refused to use two magazines published by him in the United States for war propaganda against Germany. These two magazines, "The WatchTower" and "Bible Student" [The Bible Students Monthly] were the only magazines in the United States which refused [to publish] war propaganda against Germany and were, for this reason, outlawed and suppressed in the United States during the war. In a similar manner, the administration of our Society not only refused to participate in the horror propaganda against Germany, but it took a position against it. This is emphasized by the attached Declaration which refers to the fact that the circles which led [in promoting] horror propaganda in the United States (commercialistic Jews and Catholics) are also the most eager persecutors of our Society's work and its administration. These and other statements in our Declaration are meant to serve as a rejection of the slanderous claim that the Bible Students are supported by Jews. 
Numerous incidents have now been documented which belie the Watchtower's present claims about consistently opposing the Nazi evils. An example is Ewald Vorsteher, a former Watchtower follower whose house was raided by the Gestapo in May of 1933, about a decade after he left the Watchtower. There they found a variety of writings which reflected Vorsteher's concerns about Nazism. Vorsteher's writings claimed that " the Nazi's made use of the most vicious lies ever told by a political party and that Hitler, Göring, and Frick were Nazi ministers baying with blood thirst; they were Nero like monsters, whose intention was to slaughter their opponents". The sufferings of different groups of people was condemned in the strongest words in these writings. 
The writings of Vorsteher turned out to be important in leading to the subsequent Nazi prohibitive order against the Watchtower. Vorsteher was arrested on May 31, 1933, when the Watchtower was still trying to work out a compromise with the Nazi government. Consequently the Watchtower was furious at Vorsteher because he had in their words directed "spiteful charges against the Chancellor of the Reich."  Aslan concluded that "today, hardly any Jehovah's Witnesses or neutral members of the general public know that, according to the Watchtower Societies representatives [the Vorsteher material which was confiscated] . . . was the only specific material leading to the prohibitive orders." If this is so, it certainly does not reflect well on the Jehovah's Witnesses leadership.
The Watchtower Society in the letter written by Dollinger claims the Vorsteher incident was the "only specific" situation leading to the prohibitive order against the Watchtower, and firmly disavowed him. The Society further wrote a letter to the Reich Senior Civil Servant on January 19, 1935 which stated in part that the behavior of Vorsteher was "outrageous" and the Watchtower "can certainly understand that the national Socialist states will not put up with such a thing." They made it clear that they opposed both Vorsteher and his anti-Nazi statements. Aslan claims that rather than stand up for what was right and oppose the Nazi's regime, the Watchtower called Vorsteher a "crazy man" and claimed that this man's behavior alone served "as the basis of the prohibitive order against a truly religious minded Christian denomination, the Bible Students Association." Aslan concludes that the behavior of the Watchtower towards the Hitler regime then involved both cowardice and compromise. 
The Watchtower today claims that they raised their voices in protest against the Nazis but their protest actually was primarily, if not totally, related to their own difficulties in achieving their corporate goals in Germany then. If they were truly concerned about human rights and the evils of Nazism they would have supported the work of Vorsteher, or at least would have been sympathetic of his human rights activities instead of condemning them.
Indeed, the Watchtower tried to appear as a friend of Naziism claiming "never in any talk given, nor on written form, nor in its overall policies has the [Watchtower] association made any negative statement against national socialism. This applies to [Watchtower followers in] Germany and its many hundreds of thousands of co-believers as well as to [those in] foreign countries in general. 
It is critical to note that the theocratic warfare doctrine, although allegedly formulated to use in countries such as Nazi Germany during persecution, was evidently not used in this case. Konrad Franke, a high level Watchtower official even admitted "I understand that there is no use in further denying [the Watchtower's activities]. I am willing to speak the plain truth, especally after Reichsliefer Winkler (presently arrestedin Berlin) sent a letter to me in which he calls upon me to speak the truth, since the police authorities are informed in full detail about my activity." 
Aslan concludes that the Watchtower leadership wanted "to conform to the Hitler regime unscrupulously" and that the Watchtower leaders acted in contrast to their followers who were often "prepared to give away everything for their brethren--even their very lives." Those high level Watchtower officials who should have been examples for the ordinary Witness "were willing to abandon the entrusted ones to a slaughter in order to save their own skins. This is quite a dark spot in the history of JWs." Numerous examples are given including Hans Dollinger and Fritz Winkler who "proved to be quite cooperative" with the Nazis. Among the information they gave included details of the Watchtower organization system, names of major officials, methods of working, the transmission of information, the sale of books, distribution of materials and details about finances. Aslan concludes "Winkler... revealed everything to the Nazi's--indeed everything that was important to them."  Winkler was evidently also given many privileges while serving his sentence. In renewing accounts of confessions given by various high level Watchtower officials, it would not be inaccurate to conclude that they enthusiastically cooperated with the Nazis, giving them not only names and dates but also physical descriptions such as "Dwener is unmarried and odd in a way." Erich Frost likewise revealed so much information that the Nazis were very lenient toward him compared to other Witnesses.
1. Jerry Bergman, "Community and Social Control in a Chiliastic Religious Sect: A Participant Observation Study," (Bowling Green, OH: Master's Thesis, 1985) 265 pp. and Jehovah's Witnesses and Kindred Groups: A Historical Compendium and Bibliography (New York: Garland Reference Library of Social Science, Vol. 180, 1984).
2. Archibald Cox, The Court and the Constitution. (Boston, MA: Houghton Mifflin Co.), p. 189.
3. Jerry Bergman, "The Modern Religious Objection to Mandatory Flag Salute in America: A History and Evaluation" Journal of Church and State. Spring 1997 39(2):215-236.
4. Christina E. King, The Case of the Third Reich in New Religious Movements: A Perspective for Understanding Society in The Nazi State and the New Religions: Five Case Studies in Non-Conformity, (New York: Edwin Mellen Press, 1982), p. 248
5. Brian R. Dunn, The Death's Head and the Watchtower: Jehovah's Witnesses and the Holocaust Kingdom. (Greenwood, FL: Penkevill Pub. Co., 1986), p. 154.
6. Christina E. King, "Jehovah's Witnesses Under Nazism" in A Mosaic of Victims--Non-Jews Persecuted and Murdered by the Nazis. Ed. by Michael Berenbaum, (New York: New York University Press, 1990), pp. 188-193.
7. Joseph Franklin Rutherford, (Ed.), 1934 Yearbook of Jehovah's Witnesses. (Brooklyn, NY: Watchtower Bible and Tract Society, 1933), p. 145.
8. M. James Penton, Apocalypse Delayed. (Toronto, Canada: Univ. of Toronto Press, 1985), pp. 148-149.
9. The Watchtower, (Aug. 1, 1955), p. 462.
10. Joseph Franklin Rutherford, Face the Facts. (Brooklyn, NY: Watchtower Bible and Tract Society, 1938).
11. Ref. No. 10, p. 157.
12. Ref. No. 4.
13. Ref. No. 5, p. 157.
14. Ref. No. 9.
15. Karl R. Wittig, Affidavit dated November 13, (Frankfort-on-the-Main, 1947).
16. Ray H. Abrams, Preachers Present Arms. (New York: Round Table Press, Inc., 1933).
17. Ref. No. 4, p. 93.
18. Fredric Wertham, A Sign For Cain; An Exploration of Human Violence. (New York: MacMillan Company, 1967).
19. Christina E. King, "Strategies for Survival: An Examination of the History of Five Christian Sects in Germany, 1933-1945, Journal of Contemporary History Ap, 14(2) 1979, pp. 211-234.
20. Gordon C. Zahn, War, Conscience and Dissent. (New York: Hawthorn Books, Inc., 1967).
21. Ref. No. 4, p. 13.
22. Ref. No. 10, pp. 123; 132-140.
23. David Friedman, "Was There an 'Other Germany' During the Nazi Period?" in YIVO Annual of Jewish Social Science, (New York: YIVO Institute, 1955).
24. Ref. No. 4, p. 3.
25. James A. Beckford, A Sociological Study of Jehovah's Witnesses in Britain. (Britain: University of Reading, 1972), 892 pp. (Ph.D. Diss.).
26. William Maesen and Lawrence La Fave, "The Jehovah's Witnesses Today: A Study by Participant Observation" in 1960 Proceedings of the Southwestern Sociological Society, (Dallas, TX, 1960), pp. 102-104.
27. M. James Penton, Jehovah's Witnesses in Canada. (Toronto, Canada: Macmillan, 1976).
28. Hollis Barber, "Religious Liberty v. Police Power: Jehovah's Witnesses," The American Political Science Review 36, 1946.
29. D. Wayne Elhard, The Brooks, Alberta, National Anthem Controversy. (Waco, TX: Baylor University, 1976), 150 pp. (Master's Thesis).
30. Yona Malachy, "Jehovah's Witnesses and Their Attitude Toward Judaism and the Idea of the Return to Zion." in Herzl Year Book Vol. 5, Ed., Raphael Patai, (New York: Herzl Press, 1963), pp. 175-208.
31. Ref. No. 6, p. 189.
32. David Horowitz, Pastor Charles Taze Russell; An Early Christian Zionist. (New York: Philosophical Library, 1988).
33. Charles T. Russell, "Jews Not to be Converted to Christianity," Overland Monthly 58, Aug., 1911, pp. 171-175.
34. Barbara Harrison, Visions of Glory: A History and a Memory of Jehovah's Witnesses. (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1978).
35 Ref. No 27 p. 129 and Ref. No 32
36. Joseph Zygmunt, Social Estrangement and the Recruitment Process in a Chiliastic Sectarian Movement. (Chicago, IL: University of Chicago, 1953, Master's Theses). and Jehovah's Witnesses: A Study of Symbolic and Structural Elements in the Development and Institutionalization of a Sectarian Movement. (Chicago, IL: University of Chicago, 1967, Ph.D. Diss.).
37. Herbert H.Stroup, The Jehovah's Witnesses. New York: Columbia University Press, 1945).
38. Ibrahim Jabrah, The Truth About the Jehovah's Witnesses: An Extension of the Jewish People. (Cairo, Egypt: Almahabbah Library, 1976).
39. August Fetz, Weltvernichtung durch Bibelforscher und Juden. (München: Deutscher Volksverlag (World Destruction through Bible Researchers [Jehovah's Witnesses] and Jews, 1925).
40. Hans Jonak von Freyeuwald, Die Zeugen Jehovas: Pioniere für ein Jüdisches Weltreich; die politischen Ziele der Internationalen Vereinigung Ernster Bibelforscher. (Berlin, Germany, 1936, The Jehovah's Witnesses: Pioneers for the Jewish World Kingdom: The Political Goals of the International Union of Jehovah's Witnesses).
41. Ref. No. 5, p. 158.
42. Ref. No. 19, p. 213.
43. James A. Beckford, The Trumpet of Prophecy: A Sociological Study of Jehovah's Witnesses. (Oxford: Basil, 1975), pp. 33-34.
44. William Cumberland, A History of Jehovah's Witnesses. (Iowa City, IA: University of Iowa, 1958, Ph.D. Diss.).
45. Theodore Wentworth Sprague, Some Problems in the Integration of Witnesses. (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University, 1942, Ph.D. Diss.).
46. Petro Lavrentiiovych Iarotski, The Anticommunism of the Jehovah's Witnesses: Social and Political Doctrine. (Kieve, USSR: Dumka Pub. House and the Academy of Sciences of the Ukrainian S.S.R., 1976).
47. Margarete Buber, Under Two Dictators. (Dodd, Mead and Co., 1946), p. 227.
48. Rüdiger Lautmann, "Categorization in Concentration Camps as a Collective Fate: A Comparison of Homosexuals, Jehovah's Witnesses and Political Prisoners" Journal of Homosexuality 19(1):67-88, 1990.
49. Ref. No. 47, p. 227.
50. William J. Whalen, Armageddon Around the Corner. (New York: John Day, 1962), p. 144.
51. Evelyn Le Chene, Mauthausen: The History of a Death Camp. (Methuen, London, 1971), p. 130.
52. New York Times. Sept. 19, 1939, p. 36.
53. Ref. No. 50, p. 144.
54. Elie Cohen, Human Behavior in the Concentration Camp. (New York: Grosset and Dunlap, 1953).
55. Nerin E. Gun, The Day of the Americans. (New York: Fleet Publishing Corp., 1966), p. 41.
56. Ref. No. 5, p. 168.
57. Bruno Bettelheim, The Informed Heart. (Glencoe, IL: The Free Press of Glencoe, 1960).
58. Ref. No. 57, pp. 20-21.
59. Elmer Luchterhand, "Social Behavior of Concentration Camp Prisoners: Continuities and Discontinuities with Pre- and Post-camp Life." Chapter 10 in Survivors, Victims, and Perpetrators: Essays on the Nazi Holocaust, ed. Joel E. Dimsdale. (Washington, DC: The Hemisphere Pub. Corp., 1980)
60. Ref. No. 57, pp. 122-123.
61. Ref. No. 47, p. 213.
62. Ref. No. 5, p. 163.
63. Ref. No. 47, p. 204.
64. Ref. No. 5, pp. 163-164.
65. Rudolf Höeß, Commandant of Auschwitz. (Trans. Constantine FitzGibbon, New York: World Pub. Co., 1959).
66. Ref. No. 57, p. 123.
67. Ref. No. 47, p. 227.
68. Van K.R. Stall, De Hel Van Buchenwals. (Amsterdam, Nieuwe Wieken, 1945, Back from the Hell of Buchenwald).
69. Ref. No. 51, pp. 130-131.
70. Ref. No. 19, p. 220.
71. Sunday Times Mirror. (Magazine Section, Feb. 9, 1941).
72. Ref. No. 65, pp. 95-96.
73. Garbe, Detlef, Zwischen Widerstand und Martyrium. Die Zeugen Jehovas im "Dritten Reich." Munich: Oldenbourg Verlag, 1993, pp. 487-488.
74 Herma Briffault, (ed), The Memoirs of Doctor Felix Kersten. (Garden City, NY: Doubleday and Co., 1947).
75. Jorge Semprun, "A Day in Buchenwald," Dissent Fall, pp. 425-430.
76. Claud Henry Richards, "Religion and the Draft: Jehovah's Witnesses Revisited," in Law and Justice; Essays in Honor of Robert S. Rankin, ed. Carl Beck. (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 1970), pp. 45-75.
77. Ref. No. 47, p. 218.
78. Ref. No. 5, p. 167.
79. Ref. No. 73.
80. Ref. No. 4, p. 19.
81. Ref. No. 47, p. 224.
82. Sylvia Rothchild, Voices From the Holocaust. (New York: New American Library, 1981), p. 247.
83. Ref. No. 65, p. 96.
84. Sholto Cross, The Watchtower Movement in South Central Africa. (Oxford, England: Oxford University, 1975, Ph.D. Diss.).
85. Ulrich von Bruski, Die Zeugen Jehovas: die Gewissensfreiheit und das Strafrecht. (Freiburg im Breisgau, 1970, Ph.D. Thesis).
86. The Watchtower. (April 15, 1980) p. 10.
87. Ref. No. 86, p. 11.
88. Ref. No. 60, pp. 236-237.
89. A.D. Farr, God, Blood and Society. (Aberdeen, Scotland: Impulse Books, 1972).
90. Ref. No. 47, p. 237.
91. Raymond Franz, Crisis of Conscience. (Atlanta, GA: Commentary Press, 1983).
92. Ref. No. 47, p. 238.
93. Ref. No. 5, p. 163.
94. Von J. Janner, "Die Forensisch-Psychiatrisch und Sanitätsdienstliche Beurteilung von Dienstverweigerern," Schweizerische Medizinische Wochenschrift 93:23 (1963), pp. 819-826.
95. Christina E. King, "Pacifists, Neutrals or Resisters?: Jehovah's Witnesses and the Experience of National Socialism," Bulletin John Rylands Library, 70, pp. 149-156.
96. Ref. No. 73.
97 Luise Rinser, A Womens Prison Journey [New York:. Schocken Books, 1987 p. 17-18).
98. Ref. No. 47, p. 229 and Vittorio Lanternari, The Religions of the Oppressed: A Study of Modern Messiah Cults. (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1963).
99. Eugene Kogon, The Theory and Practice of Hell. (New York: Octagon Books, 1973).
100. Ref. No. 47, p. 232
101. Ref. No. 99, p. 131.
102. Ref. No. 47, p. 221
103. Norman Long, Social Change and the Individual. (Manchester, England: Manchester University Press, 1968).
104. Ref. No. 5, p. 161.
105. Anna Pawelczy´nska, Values and Violence in Auschwitz. (Berkeley, CA, University of California Press, 1979), p. 89.
106. Allen Spraggett, "The Faith Hitler Couldn't Break," Toronto Daily Star, June 17, 1966, p. 1.
107. Ref. N ¶ü ¶@ ºê@15.
108. Re ¶è o. 73, p. 117.
109. Ref. No. 4.
110. The Yearbook of Jehovah's Witnesses. (New York, Watchtower Bible and Tract Society, 1937).
111. Fredrick Franz, (Ed), Jehovah's Witnesses In The Divine Purpose. (New York: Watchtower Bible and Tract Society, 1958).
112. Ref. No. 65, p. 99.
113. Ref. No. 23, p. 112, and Ref. 89, pp. 487-488.
114. Yearbook of Jehovah's Witnesses. (New York, Watchtower Bible and Tract Society, 1977), p. 212.
115. Michael K.Kater, "Die Ernsten Bibelforscher im Dritten Reich," Vierteljahreshefte für Zeitgeschichte, 17. Jahrgang, Heft 1 Jan., 1969, The Jehovah's Witnesses in the Third Reich, pp. 181-218.
116. Ref. No. 75, p. 427.
117. Alan Thomas Rogerson, A Sociological Analysis of the Origin and Development of the Jehovah's Witnesses and Their Schismatic Groups. (Oxford, England: Oxford University, 1972, Ph.D. Diss.).
118. William Stockdale, The Government Is The Criminal. (Putnam, CT: The Wilda Press, 1947).
119. Bryan Wilson. Religion In Secular Society, A Sociological Comment. (London: C.A. Watts and Company, 1966).
120. Raymond Franz, In Search of Christian Freedom. (Atlanta, GA: Commentary Press, 1991).
121. Franz Zürcher, Kreuzzug gegen das Christentum. (Zürich-New York: Europa Verlag, Crusade Against Christendom, 1938). Translated into French as Croisade contre le Chrisstianisme. (Paris Editions Rieder).
122. David Leslie McLean, History of the Jehovah's Witnesses: A Study in Biography, 1870-1962. (Hamilton, Ontario, Canada: McMaster University, 1963, B.A.)
123. David Roger Manwaring, The Flag Salute Litigation. (Whitewater, WI: The University of Wisconsin, 1959, Ph.D. Diss).
124. Ref. No. 19, p. 220.
125. Ref. No. 65, p. 97.
126. Leonard Stevens, Salute! The Case of the Bible vs. the Flag. (New York: Coward, McCann and Geohegan, Inc., 1973).
127. Arnold Torhorst, Die Ernsten Bibelforscher als Propheteten des Weltendes. (Potsdam: Stiftungsverlag, 1925, The Jehovah's Witnesses: Prophets of the World's End).
128. The New York Times. "Rosenberg Denies Blame in Killings," April 17, 1946, p. 10.
129. Ref. No. 76.
130. Ref. No. 4, p. 19.
131. Lois Fern Schritchfield, Jehovah's Witnesses: Espirit de Corps and Morals. (St.Louis, MO: Washington University , 1947, MA Thesis).
132. Werner Cohn, Jehovah's Witnesses as a Proletarian Sect. (New York: New School for Social Research, 1954, Master's Thesis), 98 pp.
133. William Stockdale, Jehovah's Witnesses in American Prisons. (Putnam, CT: The Wilda Press, 1946).
134. Ref. 43, p. 34.
135. William Kaplan, State and Salvation. (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1989).
136. American Civil Liberties Union, The Persecution of Jehovah's Witnesses. (New York, 1941), 24 pp.
137. Edward Waite, "The Debt of Constitutional Laws to Jehovah's Witnesses," Minnesota Law Review, 28(4) March, 1944.
138. Ref. 73.
139. Feig, Konnily. Hitler's Death Camps, The Sanity of Madness. New York: Holmes and Meier Publishers, 1979.
140. Penton, M. James A Story of Attempted Compromise: Jehovah's Witnesses, Anti Semetism and the third Reich" The Christian Quest 3 (1): 33-47. Spring 1990.
141. Ref. No. 140 p. 34.
142. Ref No. 140 p. 37.
143. The English language edition of the 1934 Year Book of Jehovah's Witnesses (Brooklyn, NY: Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society 1933), p. 134.
144. Ref. No 143 pp. 135, 136.
145. Ref. No. 140 p. 38.
146. Ref No. 140. p 38.
147. Aslan, Mehmet (English Version edited by M. James Penton). Jehovah's Witness and the Hitler Regime; Part 5 How is it that Jehovah's Witnesses were outlawed--the Case of Ewald Vorsteher. Part 6 the traitors: Fritz Winkler, Eric Frost, Konrad Franke, and Julius Riffel.
147. Ref No. 147 p. 1.
148. Ref No. 147 p. 2.
149. Ref No. 147 p. 2.
150. Ref No. 147 p. 3.
151. Ref No. 147 p. 5.
152. Ref No. 147 part 6: the Traitors.
153. Ref No. 147 p. 1.