Marcel Sutter was born on 3 January 1919 in Mulhouse, Alsace. This brilliant young man was studying electrotechnics to become an engineer when World War II broke out forcing him to stop his training. He joined the French army and was demobilized in 1940 when Alsace was annexed into Germany. On returning home he found out that his Mother and sister were attending the religious meetings of Jehovah’s Witnesses. These meetings were held in the utmost secrecy owing to the Nazi ban on Jehovah’s Witnesses in Germany and occupied territories.
Marcel, a young Epicurean who enjoyed the pleasures of life, showed little interest in spiritual matters. Nevertheless, one spring evening in 1941, owing to his sister’s insistence, he agreed to attend a religious meeting. What he heard there sparked off a host of questions. So Adolphe Arnold, a witness of Jehovah who was on hand, agreed to answer his questions once they found a place where they could discuss very discretely. Marcel then began an in-depth analysis of the Bible and his conscience prompted him to conform very rapidly to Biblical principles. Adolphe and his wife, Emma, moved by the earnestness and perseverance of the young man, welcomed him regularly into their home, in spite of the ever-increasing risks of being arrested. After several months of assiduous Biblical research, Marcel was baptized secretly. Just a few days later, the leading male members of the local Witness congregation, including Adolphe Arnold, were arrested. Marcel was now in charge of organizing underground religious meetings for the small community in Mulhouse.
In 1942, just like many other Alsatians, Marcel was called up for conscription into the German army. When he received his marching orders in the spring of 1943, he refused to obey owing to the fact that his conscience would not allow him to kill his fellow man. Two days later he was arrested and imprisoned in the Schirmeck camp in Alsace. However, since the German army had already enlisted him, the military police came to the camp to get him and take him to the regiment he had been assigned to. Marcel had developed a high fever by the time he got there and was sent to a military hospital where he was treated for scarlet fever. As soon as he recovered, he was asked once again to fight. In view of his obstinate refusal, he was sent to the Torgau prison in Northern Germany. On 8 October 1943, he was court martialled for insubordination. In his defense, Marcel invoked God’s law forbidding humans to kill their fellow men and ordering them to love their neighbours. After a trial that only lasted some twenty minutes, Marcel was sentenced to be beheaded, a penalty confirmed on 22 October 1943.
He was beheaded as a conscientious objector on 5 November 1943 in the Roter Ochse fortress in Halle. He was 24 years old.
For a few years now, the Roter Ochse fortress has become a Memorial where there is a permanent exhibition in memory of all those who were executed there. Marcel Sutter’s name is on the list of victims.
A few hours before Marcel was beheaded, he wrote the following letter:
“My dearly beloved parents and sisters,
When you receive this letter, I will no longer be alive. Only a few hours separate me from my death. I ask you to be strong and courageous ; do not cry, for I have conquered. I have finished the course and kept the faith. May Jehovah God help me until the end. Only a short period of time separates us from the kingdom of our Lord Jesus Christ. Soon we will see each other again in a better world of peace and righteousness. I rejoice at the thought of that day, since then there will be no more sighing. How marvelous that will be ! I am yearning for peace. During these last few hours I have been thinking of you and my heart is a little bitter at the thought of not being able to kiss you good-bye. But we must be patient. The time is near when Jehovah will vindicate his Name and prove to all creation that he is the only true God. I now wish to dedicate my last few hours to him, so I will close this letter and say good-bye until we meet again soon. Praise be to our God Jehovah ! With my warm love and greetings,
Your beloved son and brother,