Why did the Nazis persecute Jehovah’s Witnesses?

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Helene Gotthold

Helene Gotthold was born in Dortmund, Germany in December 31, 1896. Helene and her husband were Jehovah's Witnesses. 

Helene's husband was arrested in 1936. In 1937 the Gestapo arrested Helene. She was beaten and lost her unborn baby. Helen was sentenced to 18 months imprisonment.

On their release from prison Helene and her husband were reunited with their family. However, in February 1944 they were imprisoned once more.

Helene and five other Jehovah’s Witnesses were sentenced to death for illegally holding Bible meetings and 'undermining the nation's morale'.

Allegiance only to God

In April 1933, the Nazis outlawed the practices of Jehovah’s Witnesses.
Whilst they did not officially oppose the Nazis, Jehovah's Witnesses were pacifists who owed allegiance only to God, so it was impossible for them to swear an oath of allegiance to Hitler.

The Nazis gave Jehovah's Witnesses the opportunity to renounce their faith and/or convert to mainstream Christianity. However, very few did this.

In consequence, they were sent to concentration camps, where they were identified by a purple triangle and kept separate from other prisoners.

Although the Jehovah’s Witness camp prisoner population was relatively small, the SS attempted to keep Witnesses apart from other prisoners in order to avoid converts. In order to break up the Jehovah’s Witnesses they scattered them throughout the camps. 

Despite their treatment by the Nazis, Witnesses did not actively resist or attempt to escape.