Jehovah’s Witnesses are a Christian denomination whose followers comply with strict doctrines rejecting political participation and national governments and refusing to serve in the military. The Nazis found Jehovah’s Witnesses’ pacifism, rejection of nationalism, and adherence to an internationalist doctrine a challenge to their demands for fanatical loyalty to the German state.

On 1 April 1935 the Nazis made it illegal to be a Jehovah’s Witness. Thousands were imprisoned or murdered for their refusal to swear allegiance to the Nazi regime or to participate in military combat. Jehovah’s Witnesses faced an impossible decision. They could only secure their own release by renouncing their faith. Most refused and faced continued imprisonment or execution.

Approximately 2,000 Jehovah’s Witnesses were murdered under the Nazi regime, 250 of whom were executed for refusing to take part in armed conflict.

  • read the testimony of Simone Arnold Liebster