Greetings from Max Liebster on the occasion of the unveiling of a monument on the grounds of the Neuengamme concentration camp for Jehovah’s Witnesses, 1940 – 1945
As a former prisoner of the Neuengamme concentration camp, it is a privilege to greet you.
I obviously would have enjoyed being present personally, but as a 91-year-old, the trip from the south of France would have been too tiring for me.
I thank the administration of the memorial, Mr. Garbe, the city of Hamburg, and the international association of the Neuengamme concentration camp, which have agreed to the unveiling of the monument, and especially all volunteer helpers and supporters, as well as the religious community of Jehovah’s Witnesses and the director of the historical archives, Mr. Wrobel, whose contributions have permitted this commemorative stone to be unveiled today.
I was transferred to Neuengamme in 1941 with a group of Jewish prisoners from Sachsenhausen. When we arrived, the camp commander roared: “Throw them in with the Bible Students, they have the same God!”
It was a shining, clean barrack, and in this penal block I found the so-called “Bible Students,” namely, Jehovah’s Witnesses. They displayed strong unity. Because of their faithfulness to their beliefs and their uncompromising attitude they were hated, persecuted, and exposed to many hardships. For reasons of conscience, they firmly and consistently refused to work for armament industries.
Tossed to and fro in this sea of monstrosity, they struggled daily to obey God’s directives, to retain charity, and to defend human ethics. In spite of awful threats, they shared their Bible knowledge and hope.
Their persuasive stand supported my desperate heart. They became a ray of hope on my way of sorrow to Auschwitz, Buna and Buchenwald.
This murder of millions may not be forgotten, and the story of the Bible Students, the Jehovah’s Witnesses, belongs to it. This story shows obviously that hate can be defeated by love.
May others take courage in the certainty that hope can conquer despair.
Neuengamme – April 23, 2006