Adolphe Arnold, born August 22, 1897, Kruth, France
Adolphe was born to Catholic parents in Alsace when it was under German rule. He was orphaned at age 12, and was raised by his uncle who sent him to an art school in Mulhouse, where he specialized in design. He married in the village of Husseren-Wesserling in the southern part of Alsace, and in 1930 the couple had a baby daughter. In 1933 the Arnolds moved to the nearby city of Mulhouse.
1933–39: I worked in Mulhouse as an art consultant for one of France's biggest printing factories. When I wasn't working at home or at the factory, I was studying the Bible, and enjoying classical music. Disillusioned with the Catholic church, my wife and I decided to become Jehovah's Witnesses. Under the French, we were free to practice our new faith.
1940–44: The Germans occupied Mulhouse in June 1940. While at the factory on September 4, 1941, I was arrested because I was a Jehovah's Witness and imprisoned in Mulhouse for two months. In January I was sent to the Dachau concentration camp, where I was beaten by the SS and subjected to medical experiments for malaria. My sister-in-law was able to smuggle to me some Jehovah's Witness literature hidden inside cookies. In September 1944 I was transferred to the Mauthausen concentration camp.
Adolphe was liberated in May 1945 in Ebensee, a subcamp of Mauthausen. After the war he returned to France and was reunited with his family.
Emma Arnold, born April 17, 1898, Strasbourg, France
Emma was born to Catholic parents in Strasbourg, the capital of Alsace-Lorraine. Her father died when she was 8 years old, and Emma grew up on her mother's mountain farm. At 14 she became a weaver. Later, she married and moved with her husband to the Alsatian town of Husseren-Wesserling. In 1930 she gave birth to a daughter. In 1933 the Arnolds moved to the nearby city of Mulhouse.
1933–39: We decided to become Jehovah's Witnesses. I was blessed with a loving husband and beautiful daughter. I kept house and taught my daughter music, painting, knitting, sewing, cooking and gardening. My husband and I studied the Bible and taught our daughter about Jehovah and the importance of obeying His commandments. Life in Mulhouse was peaceful and quiet under the French.
1940–44: After the Germans occupied our town in June 1940, we were no longer free to be Jehovah's Witnesses. The Gestapo arrested my husband in 1941 and took my daughter in 1943. I returned to my mother's farm but was arrested there in September 1943. I was sent to the Vorbruck-Schirmeck camp in Alsace and then to the Gaggenau branch camp in 1944. I was first assigned to sewing and mending, and then sent to be a housemaid for an SS family. Despite the pressure, nothing broke my faith.
Emma was liberated by the French army in 1945. She returned to France, where she was reunited with her husband and daughter.
Simone Arnold, born August 17, 1930, Husseren-Wesserling, France
Simone was born in the Alsatian village of Husseren-Wesserling. In 1933 when she was three, her parents moved to the nearby city of Mulhouse. There, her father worked in a printing factory. Her parents were Jehovah's Witnesses and instilled in her the teachings of the faith. Above all, she was taught the importance of placing obedience to God before allegiance to any earthly authority.
1933–39: I grew up in a home full of love. My parents would read the Bible to me. Our life included music, art, knitting and good food. I loved my dog and playing outdoors. We had a garden near the house and I enjoyed hiking and cycling in our beautiful countryside. In 1936 I began public school, studying in both French and German. During those years I learned a lot.
1940–44: The Germans occupied our region in 1940. A year later, I was expelled from school for refusing to say "Heil Hitler" and was interrogated by the Gestapo. When I was 12, the courts ordered that I be taken away from my parents—the Nazis claimed I was being corrupted by Jehovah's Witness teachings. In June 1943 I was sent to a children's reeducation center in Constance, Germany. My aunt was allowed to visit me nine times in two years: she smuggled illegal literature from Mulhouse. My love for Jehovah sustained me.
Simone was liberated by the French army in April 1945. She was reunited with her parents and returned to school in France.
Johanna Niedermeier Buchner, born April 15, 1904, Vienna, Austria
Johanna was born in Vienna when it was still the capital of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Her Christian family experienced the disruption resulting from the empire's collapse, as well as the instability of the Austrian republic. The depression of 1929 hit Vienna especially hard. In 1931 Johanna became a Jehovah's Witness.
1933–39: I traveled constantly in and out of Austria distributing our Jehovah's Witness literature. In March 1938 Germany annexed Austria and we were subjected to Nazi law; our religion was banned. In 1939 the Gestapo arrested me at home at 6 a.m.; the court sentenced me to six years imprisonment. I was sent to a women's penitentiary in Aichach, located in Upper Bavaria in Germany.
1940–44: I spent all six years of the war in Aichach, working every day from 5 a.m. to 6 p.m. sewing and knitting civilian clothes. I refused to do any work for the army. I was denied the right to have a Bible, but the authorities changed their mind when I argued that if other Germans had the right to go to church then I, too, had the right to own a Bible so that I could worship as well. I trusted in Jehovah and he gave me the strength to withstand the hardships of the war.
Johanna was liberated in Aichach in May 1945 by US forces and returned to her home in Austria. She subsequently settled in Braunau, a town in northern Austria.
Helene Gotthold, born December 31, 1896, Dortmund, Germany
Helene lived in Herne and Bochum in western Germany, where she was married to a coal miner who was unemployed between 1927 and 1938. Following their disillusionment with the Lutheran Church during World War I, Helene, who was a nurse, and her husband became Jehovah's Witnesses in 1926. Together, they raised their two children according to the teachings of the Scripture.
1933–39: Under the Nazis, Jehovah's Witnesses were persecuted for their missionary work and because they believed their sole allegiance was to God and His Commandments. Some of the Gotthold's neighbors refused to have anything to do with them. Helene's husband was arrested in 1936. After searching her house, the Gestapo arrested her in 1937; she was beaten with rods and lost her unborn baby. The court gave her an 18-month sentence.
1940–44: Helene and her husband were released and the Gotthold family was reunited. Helene and her husband were rearrested in February 1944. They were imprisoned in Essen, but when the prison was destroyed in an Allied bombing raid, they were transferred to a prison in Potsdam. On August 4, the People's Court sentenced Helene and five other Witnesses to death for illegally holding Bible meetings and undermining the nation's morale. Before her execution, Helene was allowed to write a letter to her husband and children.
Helene was executed by guillotine in Berlin's Ploetzensee Prison on December 8, 1944. Her family survived and resumed their Jehovah's Witness missionary work in Germany.
Walther Hamann, born March 9, 1904, Greiz, Germany
Walther was born in the state of Thuringia in east central Germany. Though his parents were Lutheran, Walther became a Jehovah's Witness in 1923. After becoming a master baker and confectioner in 1924, Walther worked in various coffeehouses in Plauen, Magdeburg and Duesseldorf. In 1928 he graduated from a professional school. He married and had two sons.
1933–39: In 1933 I became a pastry-making manager at the Cafe Weitz on Duesseldorf's Koenigsallee. The Gestapo arrested me at the cafe in 1937 because I was an active member of a banned organization, the Jehovah's Witnesses. The Special Court in Duesseldorf gave me a 27-month sentence because of my preaching. Imprisoned in Duesseldorf and Wuppertal-Elberfeld, I was then moved to penal camps in Walchum and Neusustrum in northwest Germany.
1940–44: When I completed my prison term in February 1940, I was given another chance to repudiate my faith. I refused, was beaten and then sent to the Sachsenhausen concentration camp where I was kicked and beaten upon arrival—I saved myself by hiding in a latrine. A month later, my brother-in-law Dietrich, who had been there four years, died at my side. With Jehovah's help I endured hard labor and repeated beatings; when I could, I smuggled food out of the SS kitchen and scraps from garbage cans.
During a forced march towards the Baltic Sea, Walther was liberated on May 3, 1945, after his SS guards fled. He remained in Germany after the war.
Hilda Kusserow, born July 9, 1888, Dembogora, Poland
Hilda was born in a territory ruled by Germany until 1919. A teacher and a painter, she married Franz Kusserow and moved to western Germany before World War I. There, she gave birth to 11 children and became a Jehovah's Witness. After 1931 the Kusserow home in the small town of Bad Lippspringe was the headquarters of a Jehovah's Witness congregation.
1933–39: The Nazis repeatedly searched our home because our family remained openly steadfast in our devotion to Jehovah. I continued doing missionary work even though it was banned. In 1936 I was arrested and imprisoned for six weeks. When I was released I continued hosting Bible study meetings in our home, even after my husband was imprisoned. In 1939 the police took away my three youngest children to be "reeducated" in foster homes.
1940–44: Two of my sons were executed for refusing induction into the German army. My husband returned home on August 16, 1940. Because we kept hosting Bible studies, I was arrested along with my husband and our daughters Hildegard and Magdalena in April 1941. I served a two-year term. When released I was told that I could go home if I signed a statement renouncing my faith. I refused and was deported to the Ravensbrueck concentration camp, where I was reunited with two of my daughters who'd already been there a year.
During a forced march from Ravensbrueck, Hilda and her two daughters were liberated by the Soviets in April 1945. When the war ended, they returned to Bad Lippspringe.
Magdalena Kusserow, born January 23, 1924, Bochum, Germany
One of 11 children, Magdalena was raised as a Jehovah's Witness. When she was 7, her family moved to the small town of Bad Lippspringe. Her father was a retired postal official and her mother was a teacher. Their home was known as "The Golden Age" because it was the headquarters of the local Jehovah's Witness congregation. By age 8 Magdalena could recite many Bible verses by heart.
1933–39: Our loyalty was to Jehovah, so the Nazis marked us as enemies. At 12 I joined my parents and sister in missionary work. Catholic priests denounced us. Papa was arrested for hosting Bible study meetings in our home; even Mama was arrested. The Gestapo searched our house many times, but my sisters and I managed to hide the religious literature. In 1939 the police took my three youngest siblings to be "reeducated" in Nazi foster homes.
1940–44: I was arrested in April 1941 and detained in nearby juvenile prisons until I was 18. I was told that I could go home if I signed a statement repudiating my faith. But I refused and was deported to the Ravensbrueck concentration camp. After a harrowing trip with common criminals and prostitutes, I was assigned to do gardening work and look after the children of the SS women. Within a year, my mother and sister Hildegard were also in Ravensbrueck; with God's help, we Jehovah's Witnesses stuck together.
During a forced march from Ravensbrueck in April 1945, Magdalena, her sister and mother were liberated. When the war ended, they returned to Bad Lippspringe.
Wilhelm Kusserow, born September 4, 1914, Bochum, Germany
Born at the beginning of World War I, Wilhelm was patriotically named after Germany's emperor, Wilhelm II. The eldest son, Wilhelm was raised a Lutheran, but after the war his parents became Jehovah's Witnesses and raised their children according to their faith. After 1931, their home in the rustic town of Bad Lippspringe became known as a center of Jehovah's Witness activity.
1933–39: The Kusserows were under close scrutiny by the Nazi police because Witnesses believed that their highest loyalty was to God, not to Hitler. The Kusserows' home was repeatedly searched and some of their religious literature was confiscated. They offered refuge to fellow Witnesses and continued to host Bible study meetings in their home, illegally, even after Wilhelm's father had been arrested twice.
1940: Germany had been at war since September 1939 and Wilhelm had been arrested for refusing induction into the German army, adhering strictly to the commandment, "Thou shalt not kill." For Wilhelm, God's law came before Hitler's laws. The judge and prosecutor tried to change his mind. They offered to rescind his execution order if he renounced his "evil and destructive" beliefs. Wilhelm refused. The court sentenced him to death.
According to his defense counsel, Wilhelm "died in accordance with his convictions." He was shot by a firing squad in Muenster Prison, on April 27, 1940.
Wolfgang Kusserow, born March 1, 1922, Bochum, Germany
When Wolfgang was an infant, his parents became Jehovah's Witnesses. His father moved the family to the small Westphalian town of Bad Lippspringe when Wolfgang was 9. Their home became the headquarters of a new Jehovah's Witness congregation. Wolfgang and his ten brothers and sisters grew up studying the Bible daily.
1933–39: The Kusserows were under close scrutiny by the Nazi secret police because of their religion. As a Jehovah's Witness, Wolfgang believed that his highest allegiance was to God and His laws, especially the commandment to "love God above all else and thy neighbor as thyself." Even after the Nazis arrested Wolfgang's father and oldest brother, Wilhelm, the Kusserows continued to host, illegally, Bible study meetings in their home.
1940–42: Believing that God, not Hitler, was his guide, and obeying God's fifth commandment, "Thou shalt not kill," Wolfgang refused induction into the German army. He was arrested in December, 1941, and a bill of indictment was issued on January 12, 1942. After months in prison, Wolfgang was tried and sentenced to death. On the night before his execution, he wrote to his family, assuring them of his devotion to God.
Wolfgang was beheaded by guillotine in Brandenburg Prison on March 28, 1942. He was 20 years old.
Johannes M. Lublink, born March 10, 1912, Amsterdam, Netherlands
Johannes was born to Christian parents and had three brothers and three sisters. His father sold coal for heating systems. By 1933 Johannes was also a coal distributor. Like many other Dutch citizens, Johannes did not approve of Hitler's policies. He especially objected to Hitler's persecution of Jews and Jehovah's Witnesses.
1933–39: Hitler's coming to power in Germany was a threat to all of us. In 1936 I became a Jehovah's Witness. My mother was also a Witness and by 1938, one brother and one sister became Witnesses as well. Even in the Netherlands we faced adversity. In 1937 the police protected us from Catholic priests who preached hatred against us during our Bible meetings in Tilburg.
1940–44: The Germans occupied the Netherlands in May 1940. I was arrested by the Dutch police on June 15, 1941. After being detained for several months, I was deported with 50 other Witnesses to the Sachsenhausen concentration camp. Required to do heavy labor, we Witnesses were the only prisoners trusted by the Germans because we never tried to escape. Each morning one of us read aloud a Bible passage, which we'd discuss while working during the day. Sometimes, I'd secretly read from my own Bible that I'd managed to smuggle in.
While being force-marched from Sachsenhausen, Johannes was liberated by US troops near Schwerin, Germany, on May 5, 1945. He then returned to Amsterdam.
Berthold Mewes, born August 19, 1930, Paderborn, Germany
Berthold was an only child. He was raised in Paderborn, a town in a largely Catholic region of western Germany. Paderborn was near Bad Lippspringe, where there was a Jehovah's Witnesses congregation engaged in missionary work. Beginning in 1933, the Nazis moved to outlaw Jehovah's Witness activities.
1933–39: When I was 4, my parents became Jehovah's Witnesses and I began to attend secret Bible meetings with them. I began public school in 1936. Mama was arrested in 1939 and sent to the Ravensbrueck concentration camp. When I was 9, Papa sent me to live with my uncle in Berlin; however, three months later Papa was forced to deliver me to the authorities. Afterwards, Papa was imprisoned for refusing to serve in the military.
1940–44: The Germans sent me to live with a childless couple who had a small farm. In the morning I'd attend school and afterwards I'd do farm work. I could write one letter every six months to either Mama or Papa. But in 1943 I was forbidden to write any more letters to my parents. I could only hope and pray that they were still alive. Although I had no contact with other Jehovah's Witnesses, my faith in Jehovah and the teachings of the Bible helped me overcome my loneliness and uncertainty.
Berthold was reunited with his parents in 1945 when he was 15, and together the family resumed their lives as Jehovah's Witnesses. Berthold later moved to the United States.
Ernst Reiter, born April 11, 1915, Graz, Austria
Ernst was an only child born to atheist parents in southern Austria during the middle of World War I. Raised in Austria's second largest city, he loved the outdoors, especially skiing in the Alps. In the early 1930s Ernst became a Jehovah's Witness. Although Austria was then in a deep economic depression, he was fortunate to find a job as a sales clerk in a grocery store.
1933–39: Austria's Catholic government was hostile towards Jehovah's Witnesses. When the Germans annexed Austria in March 1938, our activities were banned. Following God's commandments, I refused to give the Hitler salute and to serve in the German army. I was arrested for this on September 6, 1938, and sentenced to six months imprisonment. When I again refused to serve, I was imprisoned in the Bayreuth penitentiary in Germany.
1940–44: When my second prison term ended in November 1939, I was transferred to the relatively new Flossenbürg concentration camp. My number was 1935; I was forced to be a stonemason, and subjected to brutal treatment, including attempts to break my faith in God. But God's power was far greater than anything the Nazis could do to me. The Jewish, Polish and Soviet prisoners had it far worse than me. The only way the Jewish prisoners got out of there was "through the chimney."
Ernst survived Flossenbürg and a forced march in April 1945. He was liberated by American troops and bicycled back to his home in Austria during the summer of 1945.
Josef Schoen, born October 12, 1910, Tesikov, Czechoslovakia
Josef was born to German Catholic parents. They lived in a Moravian village near the city of Sternberk in a German-inhabited region known as the Sudetenland. At that time Czechoslovakia was part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Upon graduation from a textile school, Josef supervised 600 employees at a silk factory in Moravska Trebova.
1933–39: After serving in the Czechoslovak army, I became a Jehovah's Witness in Prague, and refused to have anything more to do with the military, following the Witnesses' strict adherence to the commandment "Thou shalt not kill." In 1938 I was briefly arrested for refusing call-up in the Czechoslovak army. When the Germans took Prague in 1939, I managed to ship out the Witnesses office's printing machines and set them up again in Holland.
1940–44: I worked in Vienna for the Jehovah's Witness underground. My job was dangerous—supplying literature to our congregations in Austria. The Gestapo promptly arrested me. The court sentenced me to 10 years imprisonment, but first I was sent to do slave labor in a series of camps in the swamps of northwest Germany. Near the end of the war I again refused military service and was force-marched to various prisons and camps in southern Germany. Hundreds of prisoners died.
Josef was liberated by US troops in May 1945 after surviving a forced march to the Dachau concentration camp. He subsequently emigrated to Canada.
Johann Stossier, May 29, 1909, Techelsberg, Austria
Johann was born to Catholic parents in the part of Austria known as Carinthia, where he was raised on the family farm. Johann enjoyed acting and belonged to a theater group in nearby Sankt Martin, which also happened to have a Jehovah's Witness congregation. He became a Jehovah's Witness during the late 1920s, actively preaching in the district around Sankt Martin.
1933–39: Johann continued to do missionary work for the Jehovah's Witnesses even after this was banned by the Austrian government in 1936. The situation for Jehovah's Witnesses worsened after Germany annexed Austria in March 1938. Like other Witnesses, Johann refused to give the Hitler salute, to swear an oath of loyalty to Hitler, or to enlist in the army.
1940–44: In April 1940 Johann was arrested by the Gestapo and imprisoned in Klagenfurt. The Nazis deported him to the Neuengamme concentration camp, and then to the Sachsenhausen camp. In Sachsenhausen, the Germans tried to force Johann to repudiate his faith as a Jehovah's Witness, but Johann refused. Though it was forbidden, he had secretly hidden a tiny Bible, and reading Scripture enabled him to fortify his belief that the power of God was stronger than the power of the Nazi regime.
Johann was executed on May 7, 1944, in Sachsenhausen. He was 34 years old.
Ruth Warter, born June 13, 1905, Berlin, Germany
Ruth lived in Uzliekniai, a village in the Memelland, a region in southwestern Lithuania ruled by Germany until 1919. An avid reader, Ruth was distressed by news of postwar political turmoil. In 1923, when Uzliekniai became part of Lithuania, she joined the Jehovah's Witnesses. She married Eduard Warter, another Jehovah's Witness, in 1928. They had four children over the next five years.
1933–39: I was busy raising my children and making sure they did their Bible studies. On March 22, 1939, the German army invaded and our land was annexed to Germany. The next day the Gestapo confiscated our religious literature and arrested some of our spiritual brothers. The village mayor and schoolteacher were Nazis. Our preaching was banned and our Bibles were publicly burned. When men started getting drafted, I worried about my husband.
1940–44: Eduard was arrested because he refused to serve in the army, which would have violated God's fifth commandment, "Thou shalt not kill." He was condemned to death, but the real intention of the authorities was to win him away from Jehovah. An officer asked me to persuade Eduard to join the army, but I refused. The government even offered to help us resettle in Germany, but this offer reminded me of the devil's temptation of Christ. With God's help, Eduard and I remained strong. We refused to cooperate with the Nazis.
Ruth and her husband were reunited in 1946. The Soviets, suspicious of Jehovah's Witnesses, deported them to Siberia in 1950. In 1969 they returned to Germany.
Franz Wohlfahrt, born January 18, 1920, Koestenberg-Velden, Austria
The eldest of six children born to Catholic parents, Franz was raised in a village in the part of Austria known as Carinthia. His father was a farmer and quarryman. Disillusioned with Catholicism, his parents became Jehovah's Witnesses during Franz's childhood and raised their children in their new faith. As a teenager, Franz was interested in painting and skiing.
1933–39: I was apprenticed to be a house painter and decorator. After Nazi Germany annexed Austria in 1938, like other Jehovah's Witnesses I refused to swear an oath to Hitler or to give the Hitler salute. Neighbors reported me to the police, but my boss protected me from arrest by saying that my work was needed. When the war began in September 1939 my father was arrested for opposing military service. He was executed in December.
1940–44: Following my twentieth birthday, I refused to be inducted into the German army. In front of hundreds of recruits and officers I refused to salute the Nazi flag. I was arrested on March 14, 1940, and imprisoned. Later that year, I was sent to a penal camp in Germany. A new commander felt sorry for me; three times he saved me from execution between 1943 and 1945. He was impressed that I was willing to die rather than to break God's command to love our neighbor and not kill.
Franz remained in Camp Rollwald Rodgau 2 until March 24, 1945. He was liberated by US forces and returned to his home in Austria.
Gregor Wohlfahrt, born March 10, 1896, Koestenberg-Velden, Austria
Gregor was born in a village in the part of Austria known as Carinthia. During World War I, he served in the Austro-Hungarian army and was wounded. Raised a Catholic, Gregor and his wife became Jehovah's Witnesses during the late 1920s. Gregor supported his wife and six children by working as a farmer and quarryman.
1933–39: The Austrian government banned Jehovah's Witness missionary work in 1936. Gregor was accused of peddling without a license and briefly jailed. When Germany annexed Austria in 1938, Gregor led his congregation in a boycott of the plebiscite ratifying Austria's union with Germany. Because of Gregor's anti-Nazi stand, the mayor of his town had Gregor arrested on September 1, 1939. Gregor was sent to Berlin to be tried by a military court for opposing military service. He was sentenced to death. On December 7, 1939, Gregor was executed by guillotine in Berlin's Ploetzensee Prison.
1940–45: During the war, Gregor's entire family was arrested for refusing to cooperate with the Nazis. Two of Gregor's sons were killed: one son was beheaded in the Ploetzensee Prison, where Gregor had been beheaded in 1939; another son was shot. Gregor's oldest son, Franz, refused to participate in military training, would not salute the Nazi flag, and was sentenced to five years of hard labor in a camp in Germany.
In addition to Gregor and two of his sons, other members of Gregor's Jehovah's Witness congregation were persecuted by the Nazis.
Gregor Wohlfahrt, born July 24, 1921, Koestenberg-Velden, Austria
Gregor was the second of six children born to Catholic parents in a village in the part of Austria known as Carinthia. His father was a farmer and quarryman. Disillusioned with Catholicism, his parents became Jehovah's Witnesses and raised their children according to that religion. As a boy, Gregor loved mountain climbing and skiing.
1933–39: Gregor attended school and worked as a waiter. The situation for Jehovah's Witnesses worsened after Germany annexed Austria in March 1938; Witnesses refused to swear an oath of loyalty to Hitler, believing that their sole allegiance was to God and His laws. On September 1, 1939, the day that Germany invaded Poland, Gregor's father was arrested for opposing military service and executed three months later.
1940–42: Like his older brother, Franz, Gregor refused to be inducted into the German armed forces, following the Witnesses' belief that military service violated God's fifth commandment, "Thou shalt not kill." Gregor was arrested. He was brought in chains before a military court in Berlin and sentenced to death on December 18, 1941. For Gregor, his father's arrest and execution two years earlier on similar charges only strengthened his resolve to stand by his faith.
Gregor was executed by guillotine in Berlin's Ploetzensee Prison on March 14, 1942. He was 20 years old.
Willibald Wohlfahrt, born December 15, 1927, Koestenberg-Velden, Austria
Willibald was the youngest of six children born to Catholic parents in a village in the part of Austria known as Carinthia. Disillusioned with Catholicism, his father and mother became Jehovah's Witnesses when Willibald was an infant, and they raised their children in their new faith. His father became the leader of the local Jehovah's Witness congregation.
1933–39: Willibald lived in a beautiful area near lakes and mountains. The Wohlfahrts were active in Jehovah's Witness missionary work, even though the Austrian government was opposed to the teachings of the faith. In 1938 the Nazis took over. Willibald's father was arrested on September 1, 1939, for opposing military service; three months later he was executed.
1940–45: Willibald's oldest brother was sent to a concentration camp and his brother Gregor was executed for refusing to join the German military. When Willibald was 14, he and his remaining sisters and brother were taken away by the Germans. Willibald was sent to a Catholic convent in Landau, where a Nazi instructor tried to indoctrinate him. He beat Willibald when he refused to salute Hitler. When Allied armies approached, Willibald was sent to the battle front to dig trenches for the German home defense.
Willibald was killed in 1945 while on the work detail digging trenches in western Germany. He was 17 years old.