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Jehovah's Witnesses and the Third Reich: Sectarian Politics Under Persecution Paperback – 14 Oct 2004
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"For many years our organization has put forth an unselfish and persistent effort to do good to the people. Our American brethren have greatly assisted in the work in Germany, and with money freely contributed, and that at a time when all Germany was in dire distress. Now because it appears that Germany may soon be free from oppression and that the people may be lifted up, Satan, the great enemy, puts forth his endeavours to destroy that benevolent work in this land."
Since the end of World War II, leaders of the Jehovah's Witness movement in both Germany and elsewhere have steadfastly argued that Witnesses were united in their opposition to Nazism and did not collude with the Third Reich. Documents have been uncovered, however, that prove otherwise. Using materials from Witness archives, the U.S. State Department, Nazi files, and other sources, M. James Penton demonstrates that while many ordinary German Witnesses were brave in their opposition to Nazism, their leaders were quite prepared to support the Hitler government. Penton begins his study with a close reading of the "Declaration of Facts" released by the Witnesses at a Berlin convention in June 1933. Witness leaders have called the document a protest against Nazi persecution, however closer examination shows it contained bitter attacks on Great Britain and the United States - jointly referred to as "the greatest and most oppressive empire on earth" - the League of Nations, big business, and above all, Jews, who are referred to as "the representatives of Satan the Devil." It was later, in 1933 - when the Nazis would not accept Witness blandishments - that leader J.F.Rutherford called on Witnesses to seek martyrdom by carrying on a campaign of passive resistance. Many ultimately died in prisons and concentration camps, and post-war Witness leaders have attempted to use this fact to assert that Jehovah's Witnesses stood consistently against Nazism. Drawing on his own Witness background and years of research on Witness history, Penton separates fact from fiction during this dark period. See all Product description
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This book is a must for all the deluded people that have fallen under the spell of a Publishing Company masquerading as a religious organisation and even worse as a religion.
Every detail is cross referenced and analytical data is provided to authenticate the veracity of the assertion.
A master class in research and presentation.
A must read for thoughtful reader.
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The above links are an actual copy of the Declaration Of Facts (translated into English) that Jehovah's Witnesses offered in their Berlin convention and the Wikipedia article concerning the author M. James Penton. The other reviews of this book, either favorable or unfavorable, seem to ignore what actually happened in favor of what they think happened through the lens of their own worldview. To quote the late Pat Moynihan "you are entitled to your opinion, you are not entitled to your own facts". Well, what do the facts show concerning this chapter in the history of Jehovah's witnesses?
To be sure, the Declaration of Facts and the circumstances surrounding it was not their finest hour. Even at the time, many witnesses refused to adopt the Declaration and felt that the text was tampered with, a myth that the Watchtower did little to dispel until 65 years after the fact. However, the problem with these actions, and indeed this entire period of history, is that we are all viewing this after the fact. It is very difficult to separate history's judgement of Nazi Germany and objectively view these events from the perspective of those living them. Perhaps the comments in the Declaration concerning the Jews are the best example of that. Yes, they make us cringe in the light of history. But at the time they were written there was no Kristallnacht, no concentration camps, no final solution. To be sure the Nazi's were known to be anti-Semitic and to that extent the Declaration's comments are reprehensible. However, the Declaration is clear in stating that it contains no ill feelings toward the Jews in general, a fact borne out on the night of Kristallnacht when the Witnesses refused to participate in any boycott of Jewish owned businesses. It is beyond the scope of this review to restate all of the history, but the fact that the Witnesses were among the first to publish to the world the horrors of the concentration camps and their absolute uncompromising stand with the Hitler regime, once its intentions were clear, are indisputable facts of history.
Now concerning Mr. Penton - I can not judge the motives behind the writing of this book, but I can state the facts. The facts are that Mr. Penton's accounting of the Jehovah's witnesses during this period stands very much alone among historians. Detlef Garbe and Christine E King portray a completely different picture of this period, based on an examination on the same set of facts. Standing alone is not necessarily bad if this book could provide one scintilla of new evidence to support its claims. It does not, and this does cause me to question Mr. Penton's motives, especially in light of the fact that Mr. Penton left Jehovah's Witnesses in an apparently disgruntled condition, as is borne out by his other works concerning them.
In place of this work, I recommend Christine King's definitive work on the Jehovah's Witnesses in this period "The Nazi State and the New Religion's - Five Case Studies in Non-Conformity". Christine King is not one of Jehovah's Witnesses and provides an unbiased account - warts and all - of their activities during this period.