Today, June 22, 2023, two days before the 90th anniversary of Hitler’s regime’s ban on the religious community Jehovah’s Witnesses in 1933, the German Bundestag decided to erect a memorial to this group of victims of National Socialism. In doing so, Parliament is taking into account the self-commitment of the Federal Republic of Germany in the resolution for the Holocaust memorial in the summer of 1999 to “commemorate all victims in a dignified manner”. In addition to the memorials to the persecuted homosexuals, the murdered Sinti and Roma and the victims of the »euthanasia« murders, the Federal Foundation for the Murdered Jews of Europe will also be in charge of the memorial for the witnesses.
The Jehovah’s Witnesses are the only religious community that has resolutely resisted the regime and helped other oppressed people from the first day of the National Socialist dictatorship – out of deep religious conviction, guided solely by humanity. They refused the Hitler salute, admission to state organizations and military service. They were persecuted, imprisoned in concentration camps, murdered – in the German Reich as well as in most of the conquered territories. At least 1,700 female and male witnesses lost their lives as a result of the Nazi tyranny.
“The planned simple work of art near the goldfish table in Berlin’s Tiergarten, which is intended to honor the murdered and the traumatized survivors whose suffering continued in the GDR, is long overdue,” says Uwe Neumärker, Director of the Federal Foundation: “It honors the courage of Jehovah’s Witnesses during National Socialism and at the same time sets an example for empathy, for religious tolerance and against the exclusion of minorities in the present.”
The first public memorial service at the site of the planned memorial to Jehovah’s Witnesses persecuted and murdered under National Socialism in Berlin’s Tiergarten will take place on June 24, 2023 at 12 noon. The Stiftung Denkmal and the Arnold Liebster Foundation jointly commemorate the persecution and resistance of Jehovah’s Witnesses. The occasion is the 90th anniversary of the banning of the religious community of Jehovah’s Witnesses in Prussia on June 24, 1933, which was decisive in its effects for the whole of National Socialist Germany.
Click here for the event announcement.
Image: View of the plenary chamber, 22 June 2023, still of the vote on agenda item 11 “Memorial to those persecuted and murdered under National Socialism”