JANUARY 10, 2019
The Ravensbrück Memorial Site has organized a traveling exhibition entitled “Forbidden and Persecuted—Jehovah’s Witnesses in the Ravensbrück Concentration Camp and in the Penitentiaries of the GDR.” It highlights the difficulties that Jehovah’s Witnesses faced in Germany under the Nazi regime (1933-1945) and the German Democratic Republic (GDR or East Germany; 1949-1990), as well as the Weimar Republic (1918-1933). (See box “Persecution and Legal Challenges Under Three German Governments.”) The exhibition debuted on Sunday, April 22, 2018, at the Ravensbrück Concentration Camp Memorial Site in Fürstenberg, Germany. During 2019, the exhibition will be featured in the German cities of Erfurt, Rostock, as well as in Potsdam, where it will be hosted in the parliament building for the state of Brandenburg.
The exhibition features 12 biographical displays of brothers and sisters who were “double victims,” having been persecuted by both the Nazis and the Communists of the GDR. Also included are audio stations featuring recordings of stories and farewell letters from Witnesses who were condemned to death, as well as readings of newspaper articles and historical documents from the Nazi period. The exhibition demonstrates that, unlike the tens of thousands who were imprisoned because of their ethnicity, political views, or perceived crimes, our brothers were imprisoned because of the conviction of their faith.
In a speech during the opening ceremony of the exhibition, historian Dr. Detlef Garbe explained: “From the beginning, the unwavering faith and confidence, the spirit of unity, and the uncompromising stand of Jehovah’s Witnesses made them a target of particular SS hatred. . . . Their unconditional confidence in the divine promise of salvation and their very pronounced sense of solidarity gave Jehovah’s Witnesses the inner strength to remain faithful to their conviction even in concentration camps.”
Even today, when Jehovah’s Witnesses face opposition and government bans, such as is the case in Russia, they are confident that Jehovah will continue to sustain them.—Isaiah 54:17.