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SEPTEMBER 12, 2014

Sachsenhausen Memorial to Honor One of Jehovah’s Witnesses Executed by Nazis

Sachsenhausen Memorial to Honor One of Jehovah’s Witnesses Executed by Nazis

SELTERS, Germany—On September 16, 2014, the Brandenburg Memorials Foundation will host a special event to remember the 75th anniversary of the execution of August Dickmann in the Sachsenhausen concentration camp. He was the first conscientious objector publicly executed by the Nazis in World War II.

August Dickmann, circa 1936.

In October 1937, Mr. Dickmann was imprisoned in the Sachsenhausen concentration camp because of his beliefs as one of Jehovah’s Witnesses. Three days after the outbreak of World War II in 1939, the Gestapo summoned Mr. Dickmann and asked him to sign a military identification card, which would have enlisted him in the German army. When Mr. Dickmann refused, he was placed in solitary confinement and the camp commander sought permission from the head of the SS to execute Mr. Dickmann in the presence of all other camp inmates. On September 15, 1939, hundreds of Jehovah’s Witnesses, including Mr. Dickmann’s fleshly brother Heinrich, were forced to watch the execution. Two days later, The New York Times reported from Germany: “August Dickmann, 29 years old, . . . has been shot here by a firing squad.” The newspaper further noted that he was sentenced for refusing military service “because of religious scruples.”

On September 18, 1999, a plaque honoring the over 890 Jehovah’s Witnesses imprisoned in Sachsenhausen was placed on the outer wall of the former concentration camp. Additionally, a memorial stone was unveiled in honor of Mr. Dickmann.

The 75th anniversary event will begin at the site of Mr. Dickmann’s memorial, followed by speeches made in the former prisoners’ kitchen. Dr. Detlef Garbe, author and director of the Neuengamme Concentration Camp Memorial, will be the guest lecturer.

Media Contact(s):

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

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