Magdalena Kusserow

Magdalena Kusserow

Born: January 23, 1924

Bochum, Germany

One of 11 children, Magdalena was raised as a Jehovah's Witness. When she was 7, her family moved to the small town of Bad Lippspringe. Her father was a retired postal official and her mother was a teacher. Their home was known as "The Golden Age" because it was the headquarters of the local Jehovah's Witness congregation. By age 8 Magdalena could recite many Bible verses by heart.

1933-39: The Kusserow's loyalty was to Jehovah, so the Nazis marked them as enemies. At 12 Magdalena joined her parents and sister in missionary work. Catholic priests denounced them. Her father was arrested for hosting Bible study meetings in their home; even her mother was arrested. The Gestapo searched their house many times, but Magdalena and her sisters managed to hide the religious literature. In 1939 the police took her three youngest siblings to be "reeducated" in Nazi foster homes.

1940-44: Magdalena was arrested in April 1941 and detained in nearby juvenile prisons until she was 18. She was told that she could go home if she signed a statement repudiating her faith. But Magdalena refused and was deported to the Ravensbrueck concentration camp. After a harrowing trip with common criminals and prostitutes, she was assigned to do gardening work and look after the children of the SS women. Within a year, her mother and sister Hildegard were also in Ravensbrueck; with God's help, the Jehovah's Witnesses stuck together.

During a forced march from Ravensbrueck in April 1945, Magdalena, her sister and mother were liberated. When the war ended, they returned to Bad Lippspringe.