The last photo of the entire Kusserow family.
Waltraud & Annemarie Kusserow (Photo #68356)
Jehovah’s Witnesses endured intense persecution under the Nazi regime. Actions against the religious group and its individual members spanned the Nazi years 1933 to 1945. Unlike Jews, Sinti and Roma (“Gypsies”), and others persecuted and killed by virtue of their birth, Jehovah’s Witnesses had the opportunity to escape persecution and personal harm by renouncing their religious beliefs. The courage the vast majority displayed in refusing to do so, in the face of torture, maltreatment in concentration camps, and sometimes execution, won them the respect of many contemporaries.
The following bibliography was compiled to guide readers to materials on Jehovah’s Witnesses that are in the Library’s collection. It is not meant to be exhaustive. Annotations are provided to help the user determine the item’s focus, and call numbers for the Museum’s Library are given in parentheses following each citation. Those unable to visit might be able to find these works in a nearby public library or acquire them through interlibrary loan. Follow the “Find in a library near you” link in each citation and enter your zip code at the Open WorldCat search screen. The results of that search indicate all libraries in your area that own that particular title. Talk to your local librarian for assistance.
Background Information ↑
Horowitz, David. Pastor Charles Taze Russell: An Early American Christian Zionist. New York: Philosophical Library, 1986. (BX 8527 .R8 H67 1986) [Find in a library near you]
Collection of essays and articles regarding Pastor Charles Taze Russell, the founder of Jehovah’s Witnesses, and focusing on his Zionist teachings.
Jehovah’s Witnesses: Proclaimers of God’s Kingdom. Brooklyn, NY: Watchtower Bible and Tract Society of New York, 1993. (BX 8526 .J44 1993) [Find in a library near you]
Describes the teachings, beliefs, and history of Jehovah’s Witnesses, including a section on instances of religious persecution. Presents an analysis of the treatment of Jehovah’s Witnesses at the hands of the Nazi regime. Includes a chronology, illustrations, and an index.
King, Christine Elizabeth. The Nazi State and the New Religions: Five Case Studies in Non-Conformity. New York: Edwin Mellen Press, 1982. (BR 856 .K52 1982) [Find in a library near you]
Explores the Nazi response to five religious movements in Germany during the Holocaust: the First Church of Christ, Scientist; the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints; the Seventh Day Adventists; the New Apostolic Church; and the Jehovah’s Witnesses. Contains appendices of primary source documents, a glossary, endnotes, a bibliography, and an index.
McConnell, Tandy, editor. “Jehovah’s Witnesses.” In The Holocaust, 1933-1945, 128-137. Detroit, MI: St. James Press, 2003. (D 804.3 .H646 2003) [Find in a library near you]
Presents a debate on the Witnesses’ commitment to neutrality as a response to Nazi tyranny. Provides facts concerning the period and two opposing viewpoints on the topic. Part of the History in Dispute series, this work is written for both teachers and students. Includes endnotes, appendices of primary sources, a bibliography, and an index.
Meinecke Jr., William F. Nazi Ideology and the Holocaust. Washington, DC: United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, 2007. (D 804.3 .N43 2007) [Find in a library near you]
Details Nazi ideology as applied to a variety of victim groups including political opponents, Jehovah’s Witnesses, homosexuals, Poles and other Slavs, as well as German citizens of African and Roma descent or persons with physical and mental disabilities. Supplemented by excerpts of writings by perpetrators. Includes photographs, a bibliography, and an index.
Penton, M. James. Apocalypse Delayed: The Story of Jehovah’s Witnesses. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1997. (BX 8526 .P46 1997) [Find in a library near you]
Provides an overview of the origins and beliefs of the Jehovah’s Witnesses and their relationship to mainstream society. Includes information on relations with various governments, including the Third Reich. Contains illustrations, endnotes, a bibliography, and an index.
Peters, Shawn Davis. Judging Jehovah’s Witnesses. Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 2000. (BX 8525.7 .P48 2000) [Find in a library near you]
Examines the religious persecution directed against Jehovah’s Witnesses in the United States in the 1930s and 1940s. Describes the legal struggles faced by the Witnesses in attempting to gain their individual rights. Written primarily from first-hand testimony and ACLU documents. Includes endnotes, a bibliography, and an index.
Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society. Jehovah’s Witnesses in the Divine Purpose. New York: Watchtower Bible and Tract Society of New York, 1959. (BX 8526 .W25 1959) [Find in a library near you]
A religious history of the Jehovah’s Witnesses, including a section on Jehovah’s Witnesses in concentration camps. Includes a chronology and an index.
Zürcher, Franz. Kreuzzug Gegen das Christentum. Zürich: Europa-Verlag, 1938. (BX 8525.8 .G4 Z87 1938) [Find in a library near you]
Provides key religious principles, explanations of theology, and attitudes towards religion and authority written by a Witness in 1939. Contains photographs of Nazi persecution of Jehovah’s Witnesses and documentation of correspondence, eyewitness accounts of concentration camps, and Nazi government documents. In German. The Library also has an edition in French under the title Croisade contre le christianisme.
The Nazi Period ↑
Bergman, Jerry. “The Jehovah’s Witnesses’ Experience in the Nazi Concentration Camps: A History of their Conflicts with the Nazi State.” In Journal of Church and State 38, no. 1 (1996): 87-113. (BX 8525.8 .G3 B47 1996) [Find in a library near you]
Discusses the experiences of the Witnesses during the Nazi era. Elaborates on the sense of community under hardship and the efforts of Germans to assist Witnesses. Includes footnotes.
Canonici, Guy. Les Témoins de Jéhovah face à Hitler. Paris: Albin Michel, 1998. (D 804.5 .J44 C36 1997) [Find in a library near you]
Discusses religion in Germany during the Nazi era. Presents information on origins of the Nazi persecution of Witnesses. Contains a chronology, a glossary, endnotes, a bibliography, and an index. [French]
Filippini, Andrea. I Bibelforscher e il nazismo: obiettori di coscienza per motivi religiosi. Chi erano? Perché furono perseguitati?: testimonianze dalla Slovenia = Bibelforserji in nacizem: ugovorniki vesti iz verskih razlogov. Kdo so to bili? Zakaj so jih perganjali?: pricevanja iz Slovenije. Pescara: Italica, 2002. (D 804.5 .J44 F55 2002) [Find in a library near you]
Explains the origins of Jehovah’s Witnesses and the community in Slovenia. Discusses neutrality and faith even during persecution by the Nazis. Contains illustrations, footnotes, a list of archival sources, and a bibliography. [Italian and Slovenian]
Garbe, Detlef. “The Purple Triangle: The Bibelforscher (Jehovah’s Witnesses) in the Concentration Camps.” In Dachau and the Nazi Terror 1933-1945, Volume II: Studies and Reports, 87-114. Dachau: Dachauer Hefte, 2002. (D 805 .A2 D323 2002) [Find in a library near you]
Provides an overview of the experience of Witnesses in the camps, with special emphasis on SS hatred, faith and social structure in the camp, work assignments, covert Bible study, and faith as resistance.
Garbe, Detlef. Between Resistance and Martyrdom: Jehovah’s Witnesses in the Third Reich. Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, c2008. (BX 8525.8 .G3 G3613 2008) [Find in a library near you]
Investigates historical facts and organizational politics of the Jehovah’s Witnesses in Germany from 1874 through 1945. Explores origins of their persecution by the Third Reich and forms of their resistance, describing their experiences both inside and outside of the concentration camps. Contains population statistics, a bibliography, and footnotes. Originally published in German as Zwischen Widerstand und Martyrium: die Zeugen Jehovas im “Dritten Reich”.
Graffard, Sylvie, and Michel Reynaud. The Jehovah’s Witnesses and the Nazis: Persecution, Deportation, and Murder, 1933-1945. New York: Cooper Square Press, 2001. (BX 8525.8 .G3 G713 2001) [Find in a library near you]
Describes the Nazi regime’s swift and sustained persecution of Jehovah’s Witnesses beginning on January 30, 1933. Presents numerous personal testimonies and historical documentation. Includes a chronology of the Witnesses’ persecution, illustrations, a glossary, a bibliography, and an index. The Library also has an edition in French under the title Bibelforscher et le nazisme, 1933-1945.
Hesse, Hans, editor. Persecution and Resistance of Jehovah’s Witnesses during the Nazi Regime, 1933-1945. Bremen: Edition Temmen, 2001. (BX 8525.8 .G3 A413 2001) [Find in a library near you]
A collection of twenty-five scholarly essays examining the treatment of Jehovah’s Witnesses by the National Socialist regime. Provides several essays highlighting experiences within the camps, and a number of others analyzing the film, Jehovah’s Witnesses Stand Firm Against Nazi Assault. Includes a timeline, prints of paintings, and an extensive bibliography. The Library also has an edition in German under the title Am Mutigsten waren immer wieder die Zeugen Jehovas.
Imberger, Elke. Widerstand “Von Unten”: Widerstand und Dissens aus den Reihen der Arbeiterbewegung und der Zeugen Jehovas in Lübeck und Schleswig-Holstein 1933-1945. Neumünster: Wachholtz, 1991. (DD 901 .L84 I53 1991) [Find in a library near you]
Records the history of Jehovah’s Witnesses in Schleswig-Holstein from 1933-1945. Focuses on their persecution and both collective and individual resistance to the Nazis. Includes endnotes and an index. [German]
Jehovah’s Witnesses Stand Firm Against Nazi Assault: Study Guide for the Documentary Video. Brooklyn, NY: Watchtower Bible and Tract Society of Pennsylvania, 1997. (Special Collections D 804.5 .J44 J45 1997) [Find in a library near you]
Provides supplementary materials and lesson plans for use with the documentary film Jehovah’s Witnesses Stand Firm Against Nazi Assault. Contains profiles of four Witness survivors: Max and Simone Liebster, Louis Piechota, and Franz Wohlfahrt. Includes a chronology, glossary of terms, a transcript of the video, and student worksheets.
John-Stucke, Kirsten, and Andreas Pflock, editors. Widerstand aus christlicher Überzeugung: Jehovas Zeugen im Nationalsozialismus: Dokumentation einer Tagung. Essen: Klartext, 1998. (D 804.5.J44 W54 1998) [Find in a library near you]
Proceedings and transcripts of lectures from a conference held in October 1997 on the persecution of Jehovah’s Witnesses and their resistance against the Nazis. Includes footnotes. [German]
King, Christine Elizabeth. “Jehovah’s Witnesses under Nazism.” In A Mosaic of Victims: Non-Jews Persecuted and Murdered by the Nazis, edited by Michael Berenbaum, 188-193. New York: New York University Press, 1990. (D 804 .G4 M63 1990) [Find in a library near you]
Summarizes the treatment of Jehovah’s Witnesses under Nazi rule in the context of other victim groups. Includes endnotes and an index.
Mémoire de Témoins 1933-1945. Saint Bonnet de Mure: Cercle europeén des Témoins de Jéhovah anciens déportés et internés, 1994. (BX 8525.8 .E85 M46 1994) [Find in a library near you]
Presents information concerning Nazi persecution of French Witnesses. Includes illustrations and footnotes. [French]
Morrison, Jack G. Ravensbrück: Everyday Life in a Women’s Concentration Camp 1939-45. Princeton, NJ: Wiener, 2000. (D 805 .G3 M6143 2000) [Find in a library near you]
Discusses the structure and routine of daily life in Ravensbrück. Places the experiences of female Jehovah’s Witnesses in context with women of other persecuted groups. Includes a glossary of terms, endnotes, a bibliography, and an index.
Neurath, Paul Martin. The Society of Terror: Inside the Dachau and Buchenwald Concentration Camps. Boulder, CO: Paradigm Publishers, 2005. (D 805.5 .D33 N49 2005) [Find in a library near you]
Describes daily life and camp society inside the Dachau and Buchenwald concentration camps. Presents information on types of prisoners interned at these camps, including Jehovah’s Witnesses. Contains a bibliography.
Pellechia, James N. “The Cost of Spiritual Resistance: Jehovah’s Witnesses During the Nazi Era.” In Confront!: Resistance in Nazi Germany, edited by John J. Michalczyk, 23-52. New York: Peter Lang, 2004. (DD 256.3 .C65 2004) [Find in a library near you]
Overview of the systematic persecution of Jehovah’s Witnesses beginning in 1933. Contains illustrations, endnotes, and an index.
Pellechia, James N. The Spirit and the Sword: Jehovah’s Witnesses Expose the Third Reich. [S.l.]: Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society of Pennsylvania, 1995. (Reference BX 8525.8 .E85 P45 1995) [Find in a library near you]
The text of the slide lecture presented at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, Washington, DC, on September 29, 1994. Includes a list of references and over 200 images used in the presentation.
Penton, M. James. Jehovah’s Witnesses and the Third Reich: Sectarian Politics Under Persecution. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2004. (D 804.5 .J44 P45 2004) [Find in a library near you]
Analyzes the incarceration and persecution of Witnesses starting from 1938 and presents insight into the recent upsurge of studies of this group. Reproduces and translates primary source documents in a series of appendices. Includes illustrations, footnotes, a bibliography, and an index.
Pingel, Falk. “Jehovah’s Witnesses.” In The Encyclopedia of the Holocaust, edited by Israel Gutman, 742-743. New York: Macmillan, 1990. (Reference D 804.25 .E527 1990 v.2) [Find in a library near you]
Provides an overview of the treatment of Jehovah’s Witnesses under the Nazi regime, including a brief description of the factors leading up to their imprisonment and their experiences in concentration camps.
Roser, Hubert, editor. Widerstand als Bekenntnis: die Zeugen Jehovas und das NS-Regime in Baden und Württemberg. Konstanz: UVK Universitätsverlag Konstanz, 1999. (D 804.5.J44 W55 1999) [Find in a library near you]
Collects essays about the persecution of Jehovah’s Witnesses and the role they played in the resistance movement against the Nazis. Includes personal accounts by Jehovah’s Witnesses, illustrations, endnotes, and a bibliography.
Watchtower Reprints of Holocaust. Brooklyn, NY: Watchtower, 1994. (Reference BX 8525.8 .E85 W38 1994) [Find in a library near you]
Reprints of articles on the Holocaust published between 1933 and 1945 from Watchtower, Awake, Consolation, Golden Age, Yearbook, and other Society publications. Includes pamphlets and foreign language articles. [Text in English, German, and French]
Wontor-Cichy, Teresa. Imprisoned for Their Faith: Jehovah’s Witnesses in KL Auschwitz. Oświęcim: Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum, 2006. (BX 8525.8 .G3 W6613 2006) [Find in a library near you]
Documentary history of the treatment of Jehovah’s Witnesses in Auschwitz. Reproduces original sources, numerous photographs, and lists of individuals held in the camp.
Wrobel, Johannes S. “Die nationalsozialistische Verfolgung der Zeugen Jehovas in Frankfurt am Main.” In Kirchliche Zeitgeschichte 16, no. 2 (2003): 368-462. (BR 140 .K56 v.16) [Find in a library near you]
Case study of Nazi persecution of Jehovah’s Witnesses, focusing on events in and around Frankfurt am Main. Originally published as an article in the journal Internationale Zeitschrift für Theologie und Geschichtswissenschaft. [German]
Zehnter, Annette. Widerstand und Verfolgung in Bochum und Wattenscheid 1933-1945. Essen: Klartext, 1992. (DD 901 .B56 Z39 1992) [Find in a library near you]
Describes various anti-Nazi movements involving Protestants, Catholics, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Communists, and Socialists. Includes illustrations and endnotes. [German]
Zeugen Jehovas: vergessene Opfer des Nationalsozialismus?: Referate und Berichte der vom Dokumentationsarchiv des österreichischen Widerstandes (DÖW) und dem Institut für Wissenschaft und Kunst (IWK) am 29. Jänner 1998 veranstalteten wissenschaftlichen Tagung. Wien: Dokumentationsarchiv des Österreichischen Widerstandes, 1999. (Oversize D 804.5 .J44 Z4 1999) [Find in a library near you]
Conference proceedings which examine the history of the Witnesses and their persecution under the Nazis. Records the fate of Anton Uran, a Witness who was executed by the Nazis in 1943 at the age of 23. Includes newspaper articles from 1998 written in reaction to the conference. [German]
Testimonies and Biographies ↑
Friedman, Ina R. “Elisabeth’s Family: Twelve Jehovah’s Witnesses Faithful Unto Death.” In The Other Victims: First-Person Stories of Non-Jews Persecuted by the Nazis, 47-59. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1990. (D 811 .A2 F759 1990) [Find in a library near you]
The story of the Kusserow family’s trials and separation under the Nazis, as told by Elisabeth, the youngest daughter. Also includes additional personal narratives by Christians, Gypsies, deaf people, homosexuals, blacks, and other non-Jews who suffered at the hands of the Nazis before and during World War II. Contains an index. Written for young adults.
Herz, Gabriele. The Women’s Camp in Moringen: A Memoir of Imprisonment in Germany 1936-1937. New York: Berghahn Books, 2006. (D 805.5 .M67 H47 2006) [Find in a library near you]
Account of the author’s time spent in the Moringen concentration camp for women in the mid-1930s. Relates her observations concerning the experiences of her fellow inmates, including several Jehovah’s Witnesses. Includes a biographical appendix of individuals mentioned in the text as well as an extensive bibliography and index.
Liebster, Simone Arnold. Facing the Lion: Memoirs of a Young Girl in Nazi Europe. New Orleans: Grammaton Press, 2000. (D 804.5 .J44 L54 2000) [Find in a library near you]
An autobiography of a young girl whose family faced persecution under the Nazis for being Jehovah’s Witnesses. Offers a detailed description of her separation from her family and her forced transfer to a Nazi reform school. Includes drawings by the author, family photographs, and reproductions of official and personal correspondence. Also provides maps, an historical timeline, and a table documenting the fate of the Jehovah’s Witnesses from Mulhouse, France.
Liebster, Max. Crucible of Terror: A Story of Survival Through the Nazi Storm. New Orleans: Grammaton Press, 2003. (DS 135 .G5 L455 2003) [Find in a library near you]
Presents the author’s account of his persecution and suffering under the Nazis. Recounts his time in five concentration camps, his interactions with Jehovah’s Witnesses, and his eventual conversion and joining the community. Includes illustrations, appendices of primary source documents, and an index.
Rammerstorfer, Bernhard. Unbroken Will: The Extraordinary Courage of an Ordinary Man. New Orleans, LA: Grammaton Press, 2004. (BX 8527 .E54 R3513 2004) [Find in a library near you]
Biography of Leopold Engleitner, an Austrian Witness sent to three different concentration camps during the war. Includes photographs, reproductions of original documents, and the text of an interview with Engleitner. The Library also has an edition in German under the title, Nein statt ja und amen.
Schmidt, Horst. Death Always Came on Mondays: Persecuted for Refusing to Serve in the Nazi Army: An Autobiography. Copenhagen: Gramma, 2005. (D 804.5 .J44 S3513 2005) [Find in a library near you]
Presents the author’s account of his arrest, trial, and imprisonment for refusing to serve in the military. Includes illustrations, a bibliography, and reprints and translations of documents. The Library also has an edition in German under the title Tod kam immer Montag.
Hesse, Hans, and Jürgen Harder. “ --und wenn ich lebenslang in einem KZ bleiben müsste-- ”: die Zeuginnen Jehovas in den Frauenkonzentrationslagern Mohringen, Lichtenburg und Ravensbrück. Essen: Klartext, 2001. (BX 8525.8 .G3 H477 2001) [Find in a library near you]
Focuses on the experiences of female Jehovah’s Witnesses in the concentration camps. Documents survivors’ first-hand experiences through memoirs, photos, and original poetry. Includes a bibliography and primary source documents consisting of personal correspondence, Nazi documents, and Watchtower publications.
Film and Video ↑
Fear Not: Persecution and Resistance of Jehovah’s Witnesses Under the Nazi Regime [videorecording]. Berlin: Drei Linden Media, 1996. (Video Collection) [Find in a library near you]
Combines first-person descriptions of events with historical footage, photos and eye-witness accounts of the persecution and resistance of Jehovah’s Witnesses during the Nazi regime.
Force of Evil [videorecording]. Waltham, MA: National Center for Jewish Film, 1989. (Video Collection) [Find in a library near you]
Uses archival footage and taped interviews with Jewish and Jehovah’s Witness survivors to address questions of the Holocaust.
Jehovah’s Witnesses Stand Firm Against Nazi Assault [videorecording]. Brooklyn: Watchtower Bible and Tract Society of New York, 1996. (Video Collection) [Find in a library near you]
Relates the story of Jehovah’s Witnesses’ persecution under the Nazi regime and their courageous acts of personal resistance. Their story is told through interviews with ten historians from Europe and North America and more than twenty Witness survivors.
Purple Triangles: The True Story of a German Family [videorecording]. Brooklyn, NY: Watchtower Bible and Tract Society of New York, 1991. (Video Collection) [Find in a library near you]
Presents the story of the Kusserows, a family of Jehovah’s Witnesses living in Germany during World War II.
Museum Web Resources ↑
Declaration Denouncing Beliefs
A reproduction of the statement imprisoned Jehovah’s Witnesses were given to sign renouncing their beliefs and indicating a willingness to become a soldier.
Holocaust Encyclopedia: Jehovah’s Witnesses
Summarizes the history of Nazi persecution of Jehovah’s Witnesses. Explains why the Nazis targeted this small religious group and describes the arrest and imprisonment of thousands of Witnesses unwilling to denounce their beliefs and capitulate to Nazi rule. Also highlights the Witnesses’ treatment and behavior in the camps and provides statistics concerning convictions and deaths of Jehovah’s Witnesses under the Third Reich.
Music of the Holocaust: Highlights from the Collection
Presents information about and sound recordings of the song “Stand Fast,” which was popular among the Witnesses in the era.
Statement of Principles
The text of a letter sent to the German government by every congregation of Jehovah’s Witnesses in Germany on October 7, 1934.
USC Shoah Foundation Institute: Simone Liebster
Provides access to the oral history created by Simone Liebster in conjunction with the USC Shoah Foundation Institute for Visual History and Education (formerly the Survivors of the Shoah Visual History Foundation). Includes student handouts and lesson plans.
Victims of the Nazi Era, 1933-1945: Jehovah’s Witnesses
One of five brochures about non-Jewish victim groups produced by the Museum. Explores the persecution of Jehovah’s Witnesses under the Nazi regime. Features a downloadable PDF version of the original brochure, numerous photographs, and individual case histories.
Additional Resources ↑
Ask at the reference desk to see the subject file labeled “Jehovah’s Witnesses--Nazi Persecution” containing newspaper and periodical articles.
To search library catalogs or other electronic search tools for materials on Jehovah’s Witnesses in the Holocaust, use the following Library of Congress subject headings to retrieve the most relevant citations:
- Jehovah’s Witnesses--Nazi persecution
- Jehovah’s Witnesses--History
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