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Although Jews were the main target of Nazi hatred, they were not the only group persecuted. Other individuals and groups were considered "undesirable" and "enemies of the state."
Prisoners carrying bowls in the Dachau concentration camp. Dachau, Germany, between 1933 and 1940.
Roll call at an internment camp for Roma (Gypsies). Lackenbach, Austria, 1940–41.
Franz and his family were Jehovah's Witnesses. Germany annexed Austria in 1938. After World War II began, Franz's father was executed because, as a Witness, he opposed war. In 1940, Franz refused to participate in military training and would not salute the Nazi flag. He was imprisoned, interrogated by the Gestapo (German Secret State Police) in Graz, and sentenced to five years of hard labor in a camp in Germany. Franz was liberated by US forces in 1945.
Berthold was an only child. He was raised in Paderborn, a town in a largely Catholic region of western Germany. Paderborn was near Bad Lippspringe, where there was a Jehovah's Witnesses congregation engaged in missionary work. Beginning in 1933, the Nazis moved to outlaw Jehovah's Witness activities.
1933-39: When Berthold was 4, his parents became Jehovah's Witnesses and he began to attend secret Bible meetings with them. Berthold began public school in 1936. His mother was arrested in 1939 and sent to the Ravensbrueck concentration camp. When he was 9, his father sent him to live with his uncle in Berlin; however, three months later his father was forced to deliver him to the authorities. Afterwards, his father was imprisoned for refusing to serve in the military.
1940-44: The Germans sent Berthold to live with a childless couple who had a small farm. In the morning he would attend school and afterwards he would do farm work. Berthold could write one letter every six months to either his mother or father. But in 1943 he was forbidden to write any more letters to his parents. He could only hope and pray that they were still alive. Although he had no contact with other Jehovah's Witnesses, his faith in Jehovah and the teachings of the Bible helped him overcome his loneliness and uncertainty.
Berthold was reunited with his parents in 1945 when he was 15, and together the family resumed their lives as Jehovah's Witnesses. Berthold later moved to the United States.
Friedrich-Paul was born in the old trading city of Lübeck in northern Germany. He was 11 when his father was killed in World War I. After his mother died, he and his sister Ina were raised by two elderly aunts. After graduating from school, Friedrich-Paul trained to be a merchant.
1933-39: In January 1937 the SS arrested 230 men in Lübeck under the Nazi-revised criminal code's Paragraph 175, which banned sexual relations between men. Friedrich-Paul was imprisoned for 10 months. In 1938 he was re-arrested, humiliated, and tortured. The Nazis finally released him, but only on the condition that he agree to be castrated. Friedrich-Paul submitted to the operation.
1940-44: Because of the nature of his operation, Friedrich-Paul was rejected as “physically unfit” when he came up for military service in 1940. In 1943 he was arrested again, this time for being a monarchist, a supporter of the former Kaiser Wilhelm II. The Nazis imprisoned him as a political prisoner in an annex of the Neuengamme concentration camp at Lübeck.
After the war, Friedrich-Paul settled in Hamburg.
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