WMS Students Skype About Holocaust

Jarrod Peace, an eighth-grader at Wawasee Middle School, was one of several students to ask questions to Holocaust-era survivor Simone Liebster during a Skype conference Tuesday morning. (Photo by Tim Ashley)

Eighth grade language arts students of Wawasee Middle School studying the Holocaust heard a different perspective concerning one of history’s darkest eras. Many familiar with the Holocaust are aware the Nazis targeted the Jewish, anyone not thought of as belonging to the Aryan race and political enemies.

But not often talked about is Jehovah’s Witnesses followers were targeted by the Nazi regime because of their religious beliefs.

Tuesday morning, through the use of Skype video conference technology, approximately 160 eighth-graders gathered in the cafeteria at WMS to see Simone Liebster of France, a survivor of the Holocaust, answer questions posed to her mainly by students.

Last week, Bill and Christie Keller, representing the Arnold-Liebster Foundation created by Simone Liebster and her husband, Max, in 2002, visited WMS to speak with the eighth-graders and prepare them for the Skype conference. The foundation was created to keep the memories alive of those persecuted for religious beliefs and victims of dictatorships and also exists to support historical research and educational programs.

Simone Liebster, age 82, was born in 1930 in a small village in France. Both of her parents were arrested and taken away by the Nazis to concentration camps. Simone was spared from being sent to a camp, but was sent to a Nazi “reeducation center” in Germany for about two years. The Nazis tried to force her to submit to their regime and embrace Adolf Hitler, but she steadfastly refused.

Though reeducation centers were not nearly as difficult to endure as concentration camps, Liebster nonetheless said her days were filled with hard work. “We spent hours cutting wood and splitting huge stumps,” she said.

She said she relied on her deep faith in God and knowledge of the Bible to deal with the harsh reality of being separated from her parents. “I loved reading the Gospels (in the Bible) and the truth about Jesus being so merciful,” she said.

The Nazis were persistent in their efforts to get Liebster to submit, but she refused. “They warned me I could be sent to a concentration camp,” she noted, adding she was given documents to sign demanding her allegiance to the Nazis.

Being reunited with her father after his return from the concentration camp was something Liebster had longed for, but was still unexpected because so many others had died in those camps. But she could not hug him because he was so frail and literally exhausted after his time in the camp.

Liebster said something similar to the Holocaust could still happen today because “people are still so selfish and use discrimination.” She said it is extremely dangerous to follow ideologies and she learned from her personal experiences “you need to stand up for what is right and good.”

Chris Noel, language arts teacher at WMS, said she has taught about the Holocaust for several years and had never heard of the Jehovah’s Witnesses angle before. “It gives a different perspective on the Holocaust,” she said. Jessica Clayton, another language arts teacher at WMS, also helped with the Skype presentation.

A total of 15 questions were posed to Liebster during the Skype conference. One at a time, students walked up to a computer and read their questions to Liebster. Among the questions asked were “Did you have a favorite Bible verse you would read when you were supposed to be cleaning?” “How did you have the courage to do what you did even though your parents weren’t there to help?”

Also, “Are you afraid something like this would happen again?”

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About Tim Ashley

Tim Ashley, associate editor for The Mail-Journal, has been with The Papers since March 2004. He edits articles for The Mail-Journal, as well as several other publications of The Papers. Ashley also covers Wawasee school board meetings, activities at Wawasee High School and Wawasee Middle School and monthly Kosciusko County Area Planning Commission meetings. A 1996 graduate of Oral Roberts University with a degree in journalism, he lives in Goshen. Staff Writer tashley@the-papers.com
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WMS Students Skype About Holocaust — 1 Comment

  1. The WatchTower Cult preaches its own version of “replacement theology”, which teaches that YHWH rejected the Jews as HIS “chosen people”, and replaced the Jewish people with the followers of the WatchTower Cult — who the Cult has wrongfully mislabeled — “Jehovah’s Witnesses”.

    The WatchTower Cult teaches that modern-day Jews are YHWH’s enemies, and that all of YHWH’s Biblical promises of restoration for the Jewish
    people now belong to the followers of the WatchTower Cult.

    In fact, the descriptive label “Jehovah’s Witnesses” was originally
    applied to the Jewish people by the Prophet Isaiah, and that scripture
    is even memorialized on the wall inside the front entrance of the
    Holocaust Museum in Washington D.C.

    The WatchTower Cult, in calling its own members — “Jehovah’s Witnesses” — has effectively stolen that Biblical designation away from the Jewish people. To maintain this ongoing “identity theft”, for the past three decades, the WatchTower Cult has had a corporate department dedicated to making certain that every single Holocaust rememberance of any size or type — newspaper article, book, speech, museum, etc — anywhere in the world, publicize the fact that the WatchTower Cult’s own “Jehovah’s Witnesses” were equally persecuted alongside “natural” Jews.

    This is the WatchTower Cult’s way of claiming that “Satan” and his human supporters hate “Jehovah’s Witnesses” as much or more than they hate natural Jews — thus attempting to prevent the Jewish people from laying claim to any spiritual or prophetic significance that might be interpreted from the Holocaust experience.

    In the latter 1960s, the WatchTower Society commissioned an exact and
    comprehensive history of Jehovah’s Witnesses in Germany, which was to
    include exact and precise statistics for the Holocaust period, which
    were to be extracted from not only government archives, but, more
    importantly, from the WatchTower Cult’s own METICULOUS RECORDS in
    Germany and other European countries. That report was published by the
    WatchTower Cult in 1973.

    Apparently, the WatchTower Cult was greatly disappointed in the
    Holocaust statistics uncovered by its own legal researchers, because
    that report has rarely been cited by the WatchTower Cult in its’ own
    Holocaust related articles published subsequent to the 1973 report.
    Instead of using its own documented exact statistics, both the
    WatchTower Cult and individual Jehovah’s Witnesses routinely cite
    inflated statistics from non-WatchTower sources whose numbers are
    inflated “guestimates”, or are inflated numbers from unreliable and
    inaccurate records.

    Accordingly to the WatchTower Cult’s own 1973 report, only 6019
    Jehovah’s Witnesses were arrested in Germany during the entire 12 year
    Nazi period of 1933 through 1945. Only 2000 German JWs were ever sent to concentration camps. Only 203 were executed. Another 432 German JWs died from other causes while in custody in all German jails, prisons, and camps. Exact numbers for other Nazi-occupied countries are unknown. Even Holocaust experts who inflate German JW statistics guestimate that only 600-800 non-German JWs from Nazi-occupied countries were ever sent to concentration camps. Mortality figures are not known.

    Thus, only 2600-2800 Jehovah’s Witnesses were ever sent to Nazi
    concentration camps. Death statistics are not known, but can be
    reasonably estimated to be in the 500-700 range. The grand total for
    1933-1945 is about HALF the DAILY AVERAGE of Jewish deaths — 1370 every single day for the 12 year Nazi period.

    During this same 1933-1945 time period, there were TWICE as many
    Jehovah’s Witnesses arrested and jailed in the United States as there
    were in Germany. In fact, just during 1941-45, approximately 4500 American Jehovah’s Witnesses men “elected” to go to prison rather than serve in the U.S. Military and help stop Nazis atrocities against their fellow JWs. Approximately 3000 of those 4500 American JWs were even offered “conscientious objector” status, in which they were offered “non-combatant” work as a substitute for military service, but 99% of those 3000 American JWs refused to help out even that much.

    In 1933, after the Nazis first started arresting some German JWs, the
    Brooklyn, New York Headquarters of the WatchTower Cult issued a public
    proclamation of appeasement which condemned an imagined “partnership”
    between “Jewish Big Business” and the governments of the United States
    and Great Britain, which supposedly oppressed and exploited other
    countries, including Germany. The WatchTower Cult’s proclamation
    condemned the Americans and the British as “the most oppressive empire
    on earth”.

    A conciliatory letter also was sent to Adolph Hitler, which highlighted those areas in which the WatchTower Cult supported the new Nazigovernment. The letter even falsely claimed that the U.S. Government had imprisoned the leaders of the WatchTower Cult during WW1 because they had refused to print anti-German propaganda.

    During the early years of World War 2, when Germany and Japan were
    having much success on the battlefields, the WatchTower Cult started
    teaching that the Bible prophesied that the Axis Powers would defeat and rule over the United States, Britain, and other Allies.

    In the United States, JWs went to the homes of families of American
    service men and women and told those parents, siblings, and spouses that Germany was prophesied to win the war, and that in fighting against Hitler, American and British soldiers were fighting against God’s will. A Jehovah’s Witness named Taylor was arrested after going to two homes of dead servicemen and telling their families that their sons had died while opposing God’s will. Don’t believe this? Read 1943 U.S. Supreme Court case TAYLOR v. MISSISSIPPI.

    Remember that actual historical context the next time you read some
    liberal newspaper or book’s account about how some poor innocent
    Jehovah’s Witness was beaten during WW2 for doing nothing except
    preaching the Bible door-to-door.

    While it is true that a small number of German and other European JWs
    suffered greatly during the early stages of the Holocaust, it is also
    true that during the latter stages of the Holocaust that imprisoned JWs became exemplary Nazi collaborators highly valued by the Nazis.

    Over the decades, the WatchTower Cult itself has published numerous
    biographical stories in which imprisoned JWs are praised for having been given positions of authority and responsibility within the various Nazi concentration camps. Various Nazi officials are quoted praising those JWs for not only their work, but their work ethic and supportive attitudes.

    In fact, one of Heinrich Himmler’s deputies once even suggested to
    Himmler that after Germany won the war that conquered non-Germanic
    christian nations be forced to convert to the Jehovah’s Witness
    religion, so as to maintain a controlling religious element in those
    people’s lives which would pose no threat to Nazi political control.