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National History Day

Each year over half a million students participate in the NHD Contest. Students conduct primary and secondary research on a topic of their choosing related to the annual theme. NHD Student Resources include Helpful Research Links for the purpose of helping students with their project. Included is the Arnold-Liebster Foundation website for projects about the Nazi persecution of Jehovah’s Witnesses. Please feel free to contact us for assistance with resources for your NHD project. See our Student Projects for examples of past NHD Contest projects.

Yad Vashem—
The World Holocaust Remembrance Center

The Righteous Among The Nations

Jehovah’s Witnesses are included among those who risked their lives during the Holocaust to save Jews from extermination by the Nazis.

The Gumz Family

Auschwitz—Birkenau Memorial And Museum

Categories of prisoners — Jehovah’s Witnesses

Aside from brief mentions, the literature on the history of Auschwitz Concentration Camp does not take into account Jehovah’s Witnesses (referred to in the camp records as Bible Researchers) who were imprisoned because of their religious convictions. These prisoners deserve closer attention because of the way they managed to hold on to their moral principles under camp conditions. This was a result of their religious convictions, based on the Bible and on opposition to all forms of violence.

Mini-Dictionary — Jehovah’s Witnesses

Almost 400 Jehovah’s Witnesses were incarcerated in Auschwitz.

“Imprisoned for Their Faith. Jehovah’s Witnesses in KL Auschwitz” by Teresa Wontor-Cichy, Research Center

This book is the first attempt at a thorough study of Jehovah’s Witnesses in Auschwitz.

Imprisoned for Their Faith—The Jehovah’s Witnesses Versus Nazism

A temporary exhibition on Jehovah’s Witnesses who were victims of Nazi persecution from 1933 to 1945, with emphasis on the history of Auschwitz.

Auschwitz Exhibition

Stolen lives in Auschwitz. Jehovah’s Witnesses

Historical Notes, February 22, 2018
Jehovah’s Witnesses were subjected to intense persecution under the Nazi regime.

In Spanish:
Vidas robadas. Los Testigos de Jehová

“The Schoolgirl, The Nazis And The Purple Triangles”

Award-winning 30-minute documentary film by Jonathan Lewis looks at the Nazi persecution of Jehovah’s Witnesses through the eyes of a young schoolgirl. Based on the book “Facing the Lion: Memoirs of a Young Girl in Nazi Europe” by Simone Arnold Liebster.

USC Shoah Foundation Institute for Visual History and Education

Living Histories

Designed for Grades 9-12. (Teachers may find the lesson applicable and suitable for Grade 8.)

30-minute testimony of Franz Wohlfahrt includes downloadable video, modular lessons, student activities, discussion questions, glossary, and biography. Explores themes such as resistance, responsibility, courage, and faith.

Read the transcript for testimony of Franz Wohlfahrt

Segments for the Classroom: Facing Persecution as a Jehovah’s Witness

Created to assist educators of students age 14 and up, this Segment contains excerpts of the testimony of Simone Maria Liebster, accompanied by a written summary.

View or download video clips from interview with Simone Maria Liebster and download written summary of “Facing Persecution as a Jehovah’s Witness”

Holocaust Memorial Day Trust

Nazi Persecution: 1933-1945

In addition to singling out Jews for complete annihilation, the Nazis targeted for discrimination and persecution, anyone they believed threatened their ideal of a ‘pure Aryan race’. Jehovah’s Witnesses were also targeted for persecution.

Jehovah’s Witnesses

Simone Arnold Liebster

The Steven Spielberg Film and Video Archive at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum

Excerpts of US Army film of Nuremberg Trials, “Persecution of Religious and Other Victim Groups at Nuremberg,” January 8, 1946, in which US prosecutor cites proof of the Nazi  persecution of the “Bibelforscher,” or Jehovah’s Witnesses. (9 minutes)

Persecution of Religious and Other Victim Groups at Nuremberg

The Flag and Freedom

With the Nazi reign of terror as a backdrop, “The Flag and Freedom” describes two landmark US Supreme Court cases involving Jehovah’s Witness students and the flag salute.

Jolene Chu and Donna P. Couper, “The Flag and Freedom,” Social Education, the flagship journal of National Council for the Social Studies,

Download “The Flag and Freedom”

United States Holocaust Memorial Museum

Jehovah’s Witnesses: Victims of the Nazi Era

Information and links for students to resources including photos, primary documents, and videos of public programs about Jehovah’s Witnesses.

Jehovah’s Witnesses: Victims of the Nazi Era 1933 – 1945 (booklet)

This downloadable booklet is available from the United States Holocaust Museum Teacher’s Resource Center and is part of their “Other Victim” series.

Jehovah’s Witnesses: Identification Cards

Each card provides a biographical sketch, the individual’s experiences from 1933 to 1939, events during the war, and the fate of the individual.

Resistance During The Holocaust (booklet)

This downloadable booklet has information about Jehovah’s Witnesses on page 39, paragraph 2; on page 42, paragraphs 3-5; and chronology on page 46.

Music of the Holocaust: Concentration Camp Songs

Erich Frost, a musician and Jehovah’s Witness, was arrested for smuggling pamphlets from Switzerland to Germany and imprisoned in Sachsenhausen concentration camp. In 1942 he composed Fest steht, which was later reworked in English as Forward, You Witnesses. This performance in German took place under Frost’s direction at an event in Wiesbaden, Germany, during the 1960’s. Simone Arnold Liebster sings the English version of the song.

The Nazi Persecution of Jehovah’s Witnesses: The Kusserow Collection

United States Holocaust Memorial Museum curator Suzy Snyder discusses materials, including photographs and letters, that were donated to the Museum by members of the Kusserow family. (See Purple Triangles DVD) (?)

What Did Faith Communities Stand For? Doctrine and Deed in Nazi Europe

On November 16, 2017, the Museum hosted a discussion about the rise of National Socialism in Germany and the ensuing terror raised profound theological and ethical questions for people of all faiths. While some religious leaders openly supported the Nazi regime, others refused allegiance to the party or defied the laws and sheltered victims of state-sanctioned hate, even if it meant risking arrest and ultimately, their lives.

Examine how different faith communities, including Jehovah’s Witnesses, Protestants, and Catholics, reacted in the face of the challenges then — and the questions the history poses today.

NOTE: Due to technical difficulties at the Museum the video begins at 16:28.

Holocaust Educational Trust

Mosaic — Victims of Nazi Persecution

Teaching resources on Persecution of Jehovah’s Witnesses include Poster, Biography, Historical overview, and Guidance notes about Magdalena Kusserow and her family. One of 11 children, every member of her family became a victim of the Nazis apart from a brother who died before the war. Magdalena was arrested in 1941 when she was 17 and held in a juvenile prison until she was 18. Magdalena then refused to sign a statement renouncing her faith and was sent to Ravensbrück in 1942 until she was liberated in 1945.

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Located at: Education / Teaching Resources / Resources for post-16 / Lesson Plans and Resources

Music And The Holocaust

Jehovah’s Witnesses

The spiritual resistance of Jehovah’s Witnesses included music and singing in concentration camps.

Erich Hugo Frost

Erich Frost was sent to Sachsenhausen concentration camp in February 1941 where he composed two songs. In 1943 he composed his third song in Neuengamme.