When Henry explained about triangle colors to me, he mentioned purple for “Bibble Forschers.” After some wild guessing as to what that meant in English, we figured out he meant Jehovah’s Witnesses, or in German Bibelforschers. Again, you KNOW Jews were persecuted, but Jehovah’s Witnesses? Again, a new lesson came my way.
I have to give Jehovah’s Witnesses credit. While I don’t know much about the religion, they were the only people persecuted for their beliefs, rather than who they were. Believing that only Jehovah is to be praised and honored, they refused mandatory military service or to ‘Heil Hitler.’
From 1933 to 1945 the Nazis imprisoned 10,000 Jehovah’s Witnesses, executing more than 200 for refusing military service. As many as 5,000 died in concentration camps. Scholars know, but common knowledge is weak on the fact that the first four concentration camps were established in 1933, the most memorable of which is Dachau. Beginning in 1933 the Gestapo compiled membership lists of Jehovah’s Witnesses, and raided their illegal literature such as The Watchtower. Even in the camps they continued to profess the word of God even under threat of execution.
Unlike any other prisoner group – Jehovah’s Witnesses could gain freedom if they signed an oath of loyalty to Hitler. None did.
Henry didn’t remember seeing a lot of Jehovah’s Witnesses – they were among some of the earliest arrested under Hitler, and I presume they were German Jehovah’s Witnesses prior to 1939, which would explain why the Germans gave them their own color of triangle.
By sheer numbers – Jews in the millions, Jehovah’s Witnesses in the 10,000’s, obviously their story can be, and I think has been, buried and overwhelmed by sheer numbers of total victims, especially if no one champions their memories. I frankly can’t recall a single memoir (in English of course) written by a Jehovah’s Witness survivor. They are a scholarly footnote grouped in with ‘also persecuted’ – namely Gypsies, homosexuals, Poles, Soviets and mentally handicapped, their history known to them and students of the time period.
But again – all the other groups were arrested for who they were – Jehovah’s Witnesses were arrested for their individual public statements of faith in Jehovah, or God.
Source: Holocaust Chronicle