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When Wolfgang was an infant, his parents became Jehovah's Witnesses. His father moved the family to the small Westphalian town of Bad Lippspringe when Wolfgang was 9. Their home became the headquarters of a new Jehovah's Witness congregation. Wolfgang and his ten brothers and sisters grew up studying the Bible daily. 1933-39: The Kusserows were under close scrutiny by the Nazi secret police because of their religion. As a Jehovah's Witness, Wolfgang believed that his highest allegiance was to God and His…
The Oath of Loyalty for All State Officials started to change in 1934. Learn more about the oath and Germany’s journey from democracy to a Nazi dictatorship.
Saul grew up in a religious Jewish family. He was trained as a tailor. In 1939 he was sent to forced labor along with most of the young men of his town. He worked in many different labor camps before being deported to the Mauthausen concentration camp system in 1944. While working there, Saul's hand was broken by an SS guard. He eventually ended up in the hospital in the Dachau camp. He was liberated by US troops in May 1945. After the war he returned to his hometown and was reunited with his sister. They…
Elie Wiesel was a human rights activist, author, and teacher who reflected on his experience during the Holocaust in more than 40 books. Learn more.
Photograph with the caption: "...because God cannot want the sick and ailing to reproduce." This image originates from a film, produced by the Reich Propaganda Ministry, that aimed through propaganda to develop public sympathy for the Nazi Euthanasia Program.
Louis Fischer was an American political historian. In May 1933, his work was burned in Nazi Germany for its sympathy toward Communism. Learn more.
Ernst was an only child born to atheist parents in southern Austria during the middle of World War I. Raised in Austria's second largest city, he loved the outdoors, especially skiing in the Alps. In the early 1930s Ernst became a Jehovah's Witness. Although Austria was then in a deep economic depression, he was fortunate to find a job as a sales clerk in a grocery store. 1933-39: Austria's Catholic government was hostile towards Jehovah's Witnesses. When the Germans annexed Austria in March 1938, their…
Born at the beginning of World War I, Wilhelm was patriotically named after Germany's emperor, Wilhelm II. The eldest son, Wilhelm was raised a Lutheran, but after the war his parents became Jehovah's Witnesses and raised their children according to their faith. After 1931, their home in the rustic town of Bad Lippspringe became known as a center of Jehovah's Witness activity. 1933-39: The Kusserows were under close scrutiny by the Nazi police because Witnesses believed that their highest loyalty was to…
Gregor was the second of six children born to Catholic parents in a village in the part of Austria known as Carinthia. His father was a farmer and quarryman. Disillusioned with Catholicism, his parents became Jehovah's Witnesses and raised their children according to that religion. As a boy, Gregor loved mountain climbing and skiing. 1933-39: Gregor attended school and worked as a waiter. The situation for Jehovah's Witnesses worsened after Germany annexed Austria in March 1938; Witnesses refused to swear…
This photograph shows Auschwitz fence posts and a quote from Elie Wiesel's Night . They are on display in the third floor tower room of the Permanent Exhibition at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. "Never shall I forget that night, the first night in camp, which has turned my life into one long night, seven times cursed and seven times sealed. Never shall I forget that smoke. Never shall I forget the little faces of the children, whose bodies I saw turned into wreaths of smoke beneath a silent…
In Nazi Germany, German military personnel swore an oath directly to Adolf Hitler. Learn about the oath and its impact.
Defendant Albert Speer is sworn in at the International Military Tribunal.
Defendant Julius Streicher is sworn in as a witness during the International Military Tribunal at Nuremberg.
Efforts to hold some of the remaining perpetrators of crimes of the Holocaust accountable continue today, raising the question: is it ever too late to seek justice?
Arnold Zweig was a German novelist and playwright. The Nazis denounced him as a pacifist, and his works were burned in 1933. Learn more.
Bella was the oldest of four children born to a Jewish family in Sosnowiec. Her father owned a knitting factory. After the Germans invaded Poland in 1939, they took over the factory. The family's furniture was given to a German woman. Bella was forced to work in a factory in the Sosnowiec ghetto in 1941. At the end of 1942 the family was deported to the Bedzin ghetto. Bella was deported to the Graeben subcamp of Gross-Rosen in 1943 and to Bergen-Belsen in 1944. She was liberated in April 1945.
Shony was born to religious Jewish parents in a small Transylvanian city. He began to learn the violin at age 5. His town was occupied by Hungary in 1940 and by Germany in 1944. In May 1944, he was deported to the Auschwitz camp in Poland. He was transferred to the Natzweiler camp system in France and then to Dachau, where he was liberated by US troops in April 1945. In 1950, he immigrated to the United States, and became a composer and a professional violinist.
Karl-Heinz was born during World War I, while his father was in the German army. After the war, his Lutheran parents became Jehovah's Witnesses and gave their children daily Bible lessons. When Karl-Heinz was 13, the family moved to the rustic Westphalian town of Bad Lippspringe. Their home became the headquarters of a new Jehovah's Witness congregation. 1933-39: Because of the Jehovah's Witnesses' missionary work, and because their sole allegiance was to God and His commandments, their activities were…
Ruth lived in Uzliekniai, a village in the Memelland, a region in southwestern Lithuania ruled by Germany until 1919. An avid reader, Ruth was distressed by news of postwar political turmoil. In 1923, when Uzliekniai became part of Lithuania, she joined the Jehovah's Witnesses. She married Eduard Warter, another Jehovah's Witness, in 1928. They had four children over the next five years. 1933-39: Ruth was busy raising her children and making sure they did their Bible studies. On March 22, 1939, the German…
The Nazi regime targeted Jehovah’s Witnesses for persecution. Learn about the history of Jehovah’s Witnesses in Germany before and after the Nazi rise to power.
David Bayer lived in Kozienice, Poland. Explore his biography and learn about his experiences during World War II and the Holocaust.
The word antisemitism means prejudice against or hatred of Jews. Sometimes called "the longest hatred," it has persisted in many forms for over 2,000 years. Learn more.
Lion Feuchtwanger was a bestselling German Jewish author who was persecuted under the Nazi regime. His works were burned in the Nazi book burnings of May 1933.
Decrees that ordered Jews to wear special badges for purposes of identification existed before the Nazi era. Learn about this history.
After WWII and the fall of the Nazi regime, Holocaust survivors faced the daunting task of rebuilding their lives. Listen to Blanka Rothschild's story.
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