September 21, 2015
Language Arts Class
Wawasee Middle School, Syracuse, Indiana
As part of her class’s preparation for a Skype conference with Simone Liebster, Hannah Cline wrote a book report about Facing the Lion: Memoirs of a Young Girl in Nazi Europe by Simone Arnold Liebster and read it to her class. The students also watched the documentary video Jehovah’s Witnesses Stand Firm Against Nazi Assault and prepared questions which were answered during the live Skype session.
I had a lot of favorite parts, so I’m just going to bring some of them out. This book is actually one of my favorite books. I recommend it to anyone. It helps you to be more determined to keep believing in your core values.
Simone’s story started out with Simone being a Catholic who was divided between liking Hitler and hating him. People she was around had mixed opinions. Her grandmother thought Hitler would be good for France, but her grandfather didn’t like him.
Soon Simone’s parents became Jehovah’s Witnesses or Bible Students. That was a very unpopular religion and people made fun of them because they were not Catholics anymore.
Later in Simone’s life she had to start to think for herself though. Her father wanted to have a talk with her. This was right after Jehovah’s Witnesses were a banned religion in France and right before anyone really knew that a war was about to happen for real! Simone’s dad said, “If you say ‘Heil Hitler’ it means that you find salvation in Hitler. Me and your mother firmly believe that since the three Hebrew boys didn’t bow down to King Nebuchadnezzar’s idol, we can avoid heiling Hitler. If a war comes, you’ll need to firmly believe this for yourself though! Use your conscience, and do what you know would make Jehovah happy.” So Simone made it through that war. She must have had her own faith and she is still a witness to this day. She made her core values very clear.
Another point I really liked was that in that time period, Jehovah’s Witnesses had a special code name for the Nazis that nobody else really knew. Lions. Like the book cover. They had a few other code words too, like vitamins, by that they meant their spiritual food. It helped them to stay spiritually healthy.
Soldiers came and had already arrested Simone’s father. They sat down and asked her mother questions for hours. She was asked questions like: Are you a Jehovah’s Witness? She said yes. Do you have any forbidden literature? She said yes. Who are some names of other Witnesses? She said a few names of passed Witnesses who had already died, and she said she had forgotten the names of some others. That amazes me! But Simone knew that her whole family could get arrested if they found their Bible with Jehovah’s name in it. (It was put in to replace LORD.) So Simone came into the room that the soldiers and her mom were in and said she needed to get a book for her school work. On her way, she put the Bible in her mom’s purse and later under a bush.
When her dad was in prison her mom made some small printed papers and put them in some cookies to send for Simone’s dad. They had spiritual food in them. Later they got a letter from their dad thanking then for the “vitamins” or small Watchtowers hand written.
Lots of teachers talked to Simone and her mother about saying Heil Hitler and Simone answered their discouraging talk with answers like, we can only find salvation Christ, not Hitler. People tried hard to make her stand out, many times she had to stand in front of the class at school and the teachers couldn’t get her to change her mind. One teacher ended up knocking Simone unconscious and some kids from school bought her home. She had to go to the doctor. Her head was bleeding a little.
Again this book is amazing and I recommend it to all of you!