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.
Copyright © United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, Washington, DC