on May 11, 2008
German scholar Detlef Garbe, now director of the Neuengamme Concentration Camp Memorial, produced the first comprehensive historical account of the persecution of Jehovah's Witnesses by the Nazi regime. Garbe went to great lengths to produce as accurate account as possible. (There are 210 pages of footnotes and a 40 page bibliography.) He researched a wide range of resources: Nazi government archives, newspaper archives, private documents, unpublished reports, concentration camp memorial archives, Watch Tower Society publications (in English and German), personal interviews of participants, memoirs of non-Witnesses prisoners that were imprisoned with Jehovah's Witnesses, accounts written by former Witnesses, ect. All to get as many verified facts as possible. This resulted in what is now considered the standard scholarly account about the persecution of Jehovah's Witnesses under National Socialism.
It must be said that this book is not an easy read. It's not a novel. It's a scholar writing a book for other scholars. There are many footnotes and abbreviations. Garbe always uses the correct terminology to refer to people, places, and ideas But still this book is a fascinating read. You just can't help but wonder why the Nazis spent so much time and effort to try get this small minority (about 25,000 out of 65,000,000 Germans in 1933) to conform to Nazi standards. Yet the Nazis were never able to completely shatter the core of this group. As Garbe says in the preface, page xvii:
"This book reports about religious people who refused to conform to the Third Reich but whose faith in God and trust in his biblical promises gave them the strength to preserve their respect for life, even during those difficult times."
This book is a translation based on the 1999 4th German edition of Detlef Garbe's Zwischen Widerstand und Martyrium: Die Zeugen Jehovas im "Dritten Reich".
on December 27, 2010
Detlef Garbe offers a fascinating account on the history of a small minority in Nazi Germany, which was among the first ones to be persecuted. Garbe is dealing extremely well the difficult position of being as neutral and being as scientifically correct as possible between the critics and direct opposers of this religious group, and on the other hand, as well as with the official history of the religious group itself, which emphasizes the spiritual aspects of the battle.
Detlef Garbe analyses carefully the multitude of sources, which is clearly seen from the fact that over 300 pages(!) of the 800-page book is devoted to the references alone. We can only imagine the time-consuming work here, but for Garbe the scientific-analytic approach is the most important: facts (documents) speak for themselves.
In addition, although Garbe has a deeply human approach into the topic, he doesn't let himself to be overcome by moral preaches or sentimental eruptions. Many times he simply represents the facts after the other in such an impressive way that simply leave no questions into the air. The reader can make his conclusions himself, and I believe this has also been Garbe's mission. Garbe shows also an impressive knowledge of the topic of the religious ideas of the group for an "outsider" - a person who is not an actual member of the religious group. He also manages to distance the past from the present: what happened to the individuals of this religious community in the 1930s should be possible to analyse without thinking too much of what the religious group is doing in its present context - this is what true historical research means!
I believe the book is a must have for all members of the religious community of Jehovah's Witnesses, to all those who are linked with the religion through relatives and friends. I firmly believe that, although the book is critical about the religious community from the purely scientific point-of-view, it doesn't hurt anyone's feelings either. All in all, the outcome is very positive and faith-strengthening.
In addition, the book deserves its place in the shelves of all those who have interest for the Nazi period or for the Nazi persecutions. I believe it is also fitting for all individuals interested in religious history, although the emphasis here, of course, is more on the purely historical aspects.
on March 19, 2011
In the book Between Resistance and Martyrdom the courage and faith of Jehovah's Witnesses is examined. Not just a personal narrative it shows through documented evidence and through personal testimonies that Jehovah's Witnesses were the only religion in Germany that actively opposed Hitler's Third Reich. Interestingly, Jehovah's Witnesses were the only religion that had its on identifying classification, the Purple Triangle. All other Christian religious prisoners who were interned in the camps for active resistance were given a Red Triangle, which identified them as political prisoners. The book also exposes the clergy as the force behind the persecution of these resistors. The treatment of the Witnesses as a danger to the government is shown to be without logical support. It shows that their persecution was from those who had hatred for a group who exposed the churches for their wholehearted support for Hitler and his National Socialists organization. The book is not something you would read for light hearted enjoyment but more for those who are studying the Third Reich and those who were standing up in opposition to its evil. It is the first unbiased examination of the Jehovah's Witnesses and the stand they took in the face of extreme peril and suffering.
on April 26, 2013
It is amazing what these people went through with the demonic Nazi's. They held to their convictions and faith on the True God, Jehovah. These people worldwide, show us the way we are to treat each other, and for this they are shunned, accused, wrongly, and lied about. Take the time to find out what these people are about, and why their faith is so strong, that even death will not allow them to stray from it.