Originally published in Stuttgarter Nachrichten on January 27, 2021.
Muhterem Aras, the President of the Baden-Württemberg state parliament, paid tribute to the resistance of Jehovah’s Witnesses against National Socialism on Wednesday, January 27th, 2021. She recalled that even then the Jehovah’s Witnesses had described the Nazi ideology as “the rule of the devil on earth”.
Stuttgart – The Baden-Württemberg state parliament president Muhterem Aras (Greens) has paid tribute to the resistance of Jehovah’s Witnesses against National Socialism . The attitude of those belonging to this faith could “be a role model for us today in dealing with hatred, marginalization and the danger of right-wing extremist violence,” said Aras, according to the speech manuscript on Wednesday in Stuttgart in a digital commemoration of the victims of National Socialism. She recalled that even then the Jehovah’s Witnesses had described the Nazi ideology as “the rule of the devil on earth”.
The history of persecution of Jehovah’s Witnesses is well documented, but only weakly anchored in the public consciousness, said Aras. She hopes that the day of remembrance will provide further impetus for research as there was for lesbian Nazi victims after 2016. The President of the State Parliament called for the suffering of Jehovah’s Witnesses during the Nazi era to be accepted “without reservation – regardless of the controversies about some of the attitudes of the religious community”.
The historian Hans Hesse said that around 10,700 Jehovah’s Witnesses were persecuted in Nazi Germany. Around 950 were murdered, including 300 conscientious objectors. Before the start of the war, a considerable proportion of the prisoners in concentration camps were members of Jehovah’s Witnesses – at times more than 40 percent in the Moringen concentration camp near Göttingen alone.
The Baden-Württemberg state parliament puts a group of victims at the center of its annual memorial hour.