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Jehovah’s Witnesses

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APRIL 7, 2014 | GERMANY

Richard Rudolph, Concentration Camp Survivor, Dies in Germany at 102

SELTERS, Germany—Richard Rudolph, one of Jehovah’s Witnesses, who survived five Nazi concentration camps and endured imprisonment under Communist rule, died on January 31, 2014. He was 102 years old.

After the Nazis rose to power in 1933, the work of Jehovah’s Witnesses was outlawed in much of Germany. As a result, a total of 11,300 Witnesses were imprisoned by the Nazis, 4,200 of them in concentration camps, including Mr. Rudolph. Some 1,500 lost their lives. Under the Nazi regime, Mr. Rudolph spent nine years in imprisonment and survived five concentration camps, including the notorious Sachsenhausen and Neuengamme camps, where over 300,000 people were imprisoned and as many as 140,000 died.

Richard Rudolph (on roof, far right) was one of the prisoners forced to construct the Neuengamme concentration camp in 1940.

In 1944, Mr. Rudolph was transferred to the Neuengamme satellite camp, Salzgitter-Watenstedt. His religious convictions prohibited him from doing any work associated with ammunition production and, as a result, he was threatened with execution. However, a friendly SS officer, impressed by Rudolph’s religious convictions, hid Mr. Rudolph in a food-supply truck, which enabled him to avoid execution.

After World War II, Rudolph continued his religious activity as one of Jehovah’s Witnesses in the Soviet Occupation Zone, which later became the German Democratic Republic (GDR). He was again arrested in 1950 and sentenced to prison. In total, he was incarcerated for over 19 years for his religious beliefs.

Ann-Jacqueline Frieser and Richard Rudolph, whose biography was the subject of her award-winning article in 2009.

For decades, Richard Rudolph made it his aim to share the Bible’s message with others and to share lessons he learned from the past about the harmful effects of discrimination. In 2009, a German student, Ann-Jacqueline Frieser, won two awards in the Federal President’s History Competition entitled “Heroes: Honored – Misunderstood – Forgotten” for her biography and interview of Richard Rudolph. She was awarded first place in the state of Rheinland-Palatinate and was among the top three students who won the Federal award.

Wolfram Slupina, a spokesman for Jehovah’s Witnesses in Germany, states: “Richard Rudolph was not only a dear friend and fellow worshiper but also an invaluable historical resource. His life of remarkable faith and courage is an example for all of us.”

Media Contact(s):

International: J. R. Brown, Office of Public Information, tel. +1 718 560 5000

Germany: Wolfram Slupina, tel. +49 6483 41 3110