In the study of the Holocaust and the genocidal policies of the Nazi regime, emphasis is most frequently placed on the attempted extermination of the Jewish population of Europe. While this focus is not misplaced, the result of this focus often forces other persecuted groups into the background. The persecution of the Jehovah’s Witnesses of Germany is often given limited attention in Holocaust historiography. Although not designated for extermination like the Jews, the Nazi regime sought to bring about an end to the presence of this religious sect, viewing the Witnesses as a threat to the unity of the German Reich. This paper draws on the theories of Benedict Anderson and Hannah Arendt and uses the region of present-day North Rhine-Westphalia as a case study in an effort to explain how and why the Jehovah’s Witnesses (unlike other sectarian religions) came to be seen as enemies of the Reich. It is estimated that there were 2,500 documented cases of state-sponsored persecution inflicted upon Witnesses living in North Rhine-Westphalia. The types of persecution varied from trial and imprisonment in concentration camps, to the removal of children from the care of their parents, to execution. Although the numbers of individuals targeted do not rival those of the Jews, their marginalization in the study of the Holocaust and genocide limits our understanding of the scope of this crime against humanity. This paper is an attempt to correct this deficiency.
|Commitee:||Schunke, Matthew, Stacy, Jason, Tamari, Stephen|
|School:||Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville|
|School Location:||United States -- Illinois|
|Source:||MAI 55/05M(E), Masters Abstracts International|
|Subjects:||European history, History|
|Keywords:||Faith, Jehovah, Persecution, Reich, Resistance, Rhine-westphalia, Trial, Westphalia, Witnesses|
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