Nazi treatment of Jehovah's Witnesses

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Jehovah's Witnesses believe that they owe allegiance only to God, so it was impossible for them to swear an oath of allegiance to Hitler. They also refused to serve in the German army because they were pacifists.

The Nazis gave Jehovah's Witnesses the opportunity to renounce their faith and/or convert to mainstream Christianity. However, very few did this. In consequence, they were sent to concentration camps, where they were identified by a purple triangle and kept separate from other prisoners.

  • Helene Gotthold

    Helene Gotthold was born in Dortmund, Germany in December 31, 1896.

    Helene and her husband were Jehovah's Witnesses. When the Nazis came to power some of her neighbours refused to have anything to do with their family.

    Helene's husband was arrested in 1936. Then, in 1937 the Gestapo arrested Helene. She was beaten and lost her unborn baby. Helen was tried by a court and sentenced to 18 months imprisonment.

    On their release from prison Helene and her husband were reunited with their family. However, in February 1944 Helene and her husband were arrested and imprisoned once more.

    Helene and five other Jehovah’s Witnesses were sentenced to death for illegally holding Bible meetings and undermining the nation's morale.

    Before her execution, on 8 December 1944, Helene was allowed to write a letter to her husband and children. Her family survived and carried on their missionary work.