Living Wax Museum on April 27, 2017
Leesburg Elementary School, Leesburg, IN
After learning about the Holocaust and having a Skype conference with Simone Liebster in France, the students at Leesburg Elementary School created a Living Wax Museum. Using ID Cards from the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, some of the students portrayed six Jehovah’s Witnesses who were victims of Nazi persecution. In the camps they were identified with a purple triangle.
Gregor Wohlfahrt was born in Austria on July 24,1921. The second of six children, he loved mountain climbing and skiing. His family were Jehovah’s Witnesses and put under increasing pressure to swear loyalty to Hitler after 1938. Gregor was arrested for refusing to join the German army and brought in chains before a military court in Berlin. He was sentenced to death and executed by guillotine in Berlin’s Ploetzensee Prison on March 14, 1942 at the age of 20 years old.
Emma Arnold was born in France on April 17, 1898. She grew up on her mother’s mountain farm after her father died when she was 8 years old. She married Adolphe Arnold and their daughter, Simone, was born in 1930. The Arnold family became Jehovah’s Witnesses before World War ll. The Gestapo arrested Emma’s husband in 1941 and her daughter in 1943. After returning to her mother’s farm, Emma was arrested in September 1943. She was sent to the Nazi camps of Schirmeck and Gaggenau in 1944, and held firm to her faith until her liberation in 1945. The family was reunited after the war.
Johann Stossier was born in Austria on May 29, 1909. He enjoyed acting and belonged to a theater group. During the late 1920s, he became a Jehovah’s Witness. Because he refused to swear loyalty to Hitler, give the Hitler salute, or join the army, the Gestapo arrested him in April 1940. He was sent to Neuengamme concentration camp and Sachsenhausen camp where pressure was put on him to give up his faith, but he refused. He had a tiny Bible secretly hidden in the camp and reading it kept his faith strong. On May 7, 1944, Johann was executed in Sachsenhausen at the age of 34 years old.
Ruth Warter was born in Germany on June 13, 1905. She and her husband, Eduard, were Jehovah’s Witnesses and had four children. On March 22, 1939, the Gestapo seized the Bible literature of Jehovah’s Witnesses and made arrests. Their preaching work was banned. Eduard was arrested for refusing to serve in the army and condemned to death. Pressure was put on Ruth to persuade Eduard to join the army, but she refused. Even after an offer from the government to resettled the couple in Germany, both Ruth and Eduard refused to cooperate. They were reunited in 1946
Willibald Wohlfahrt was born in Austria on December 15, 1927. He was the youngest of six children and the family were Jehovah’s Witnesses. The Nazis arrived in Austria in 1938 and the family were severely persecuted for their refusal to join the German army. At the age of 14, the Germans sent Willibald to a convent where a Nazi instructor beat him for refusing to salute Hitler. When he was 17 years old, he was sent to the battle front to dig trenches and killed while doing so in 1945.
Max Liebster was born in Germany on February 15, 1915. His family was Jewish and he had two siblings. He was arrested in September 1939 because he was Jewish and imprisoned. He was sent to Sachsenhausen concentration camp where he found his dying father. He carried his father’s body to the crematorium on his shoulders. From there he was sent to Neuengamme, Auschwitz, Gleiwitz and Buchenwald. During the war he met the “Purple Triangles” and became a Jehovah’s Witness. He was liberated in 1945, eventually married Simone Arnold, and they settled in France.