Controversies about JWs leaders and the fatalities of followers during
The Declaration of Facts
Timeline of JWs leaders in regard to human government, war, propaganda,
Controversies about JWs leaders and the fatalities of followers during WWII
The most tragic part of this page of my article is the number of JWs who died
in Nazi German prison camps. I've got mixed reports of the numbers, so I'll
just pass along what I found.
2,000 died, 1,000 of them by execution ("The Watchtower," Dec.15, 1950, p.
4,000 died ("The Watchtower," Jan.1, 1964, p.13)
635 died, 203 of them by execution ("1974 Yearbook of Jehovah's Witnesses,"
p.212; "The Watchtower," Feb.1, 1976, p.82)
In a later "Watchtower," the number was raised back to 2,000. This was done
by quoting an outside source. But the outside source seems to quote the 1950
"The book Mothers in the Fatherland reported: "[Jehovah's Witnesses] were sent
to concentration camps, a thousand of them were executed, and another thousand
died between 1933 and 1945.... Catholics and Protestants heard their clergy
urge them to cooperate with Hitler. If they resisted, they did so against or-
ders from both church and state." ("The Watchtower," Jan.1, 1989, p.21.)
1989 "To Jehovah Belongs the Battle"--2,000 died.
2001 "Courageous Integrity Keepers Triumph Over Nazi Persecution" 2,000 died,
250 by execution.
The Declaration of Facts
I think it's safe to say the JWs leaders don't teach things these days like a
some of JWs president Rutherford's 1932 Anti-Semitic statements found in the
first three links below. Otherwise, the only thing I'd read about JWs in Ger-
many during WWII was that some died in prison camps, which I assumed was mainly
a Nazi reaction to the Governing Body's rule that JWs can't be a part of govern-
ment, including the military, as being too worldly to get involved in.
It puts a twist on what I'd read about.
I don't want to make too much or too little of a few bigoted anti-Jewish
statements by Rutherford (similar to other ones he made around then or approved
of by Woodworth) in his 1932 "Declaration of Facts" reprinted in the JWs 1934
I don't want to make too much and characterize all the JWs in the world of the
time by it.
I don't want to make too little of it--I'd say it's about right to figure
Rutherford seemed intent on bonding with Adolf Hitler, and with the German JWs
that signed it, regarding Hitler's commonly known and unfortunately popular
anti-Semitism, which is, y'know, pretty bad. It's a lot like the way JWs lead-
ers have bashed other religions, notably Christian, with a bigotty broad brush
of propaganda before and since. But since about a generation ago, the popular
realization of the Holocaust and greater awareness in the U.S. to not be anti-
Semitic, seems to have finally led the JWs leaders to leave Jewish people to be
implied by the damnation of not being JWs without mentioning them specifically.
That the letter to Hitler badmouthed the way the U.S. and Great Britain ran
things as by "commercial Jews," and seeing the other anti-Semitic statements
Rutherford and Woodworth made during the period (see the timeline lower on this
page), reaffirms that interpretation for me. There are ways Rutherford's propa-
ganda against countries of Christendom would overlap with Hitler's propaganda
about those countries, too.
But at the extreme of making too little of it (remember, JWs leaders claim to
be of a literal 144,000), the JWs leaders' literature defense was that there's
nothing to be offended about in the letter at all unless it's misunderstood.
"The Society said the denunciation of 'commercial Jews' in the Declaration
'clearly did not refer to the Jewish people in general, and it is regrettable
if it has been misunderstood and has given cause for any offense.' It ex-
plained that Jehovah's Witnesses rejected antisemitic views, and that the
'high ideals' they shared with the Nazis were those of family values and re-
Then again, I'm familiar with the JWs leaders revisionist history efforts,
such as in writing that earlier JWs leaders were the real God's chosen deal when
they really got prophecies wrong and such, as shown on p.1a. The next two exam-
ples show something similar, criticizing that it was as recent as 1873 when
Pope Pius IX expressed disagreement with the racist curse of Canaan idea for
black people. It's hypocritical since Watchtower leaders (Rutherford, I sup-
pose) showed a belief in the curse of Canaan idea even more recently.
1929 "Is there anything in the Bible that reveals the origin of the Negro?
It is generally believed that the curse which Noah pronounced upon Canaan was
the origin of the Black race. Certain it is that when Noah said, 'Cursed be
Canaan, a servant of servants shall he be unto his brethren,' he pictured the
future of the Colored race. They have been and are a race of servants.. There
is no servant in the world as good as a good Colored servant, and the joy that
he gets from rendering faithful service is one of the purest joys there is in
the world." ("The Golden Age," July 24, 1929, p.702)
1982 about 1873: "Have the churches of Christendom always treated 'everyone
on the same basis'? Consider how the Catholic and Lutheran Churches supported
Hitler's scheme to produce a 'master race.' And for centuries the Catholic
Church taught that Negroes were a cursed race. John F. Maxwell states in his
book Slavery and the Catholic Church that this view 'apparently survived until
1873 when Pope Pius IX attached an indulgence to a prayer for the "wretched
Ethiopians in Central Africa that almighty God may at length remove the curse of
Cham [Ham] from their hearts."' And even to this day some church organizations
openly practice racial discrimination."
"Regardless of how politicians and religionists view the matter, the Bible and
science indicate that all races are equal and descend from a common source. In-
terestingly, The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 1970, Vol. 2, page 149, refers to
the 'scientific concept of the equality of the races' and admits the 'scientif-
ic validation' of humanity's single origin."
"Awake!" Feb. 8, 1982 pp.14,15 "The Races—-What Is Their Origin?"
So the JWs leaders hypocritically showed racism more recently and tossed in
anti-Catholic prejudice to boot. (Note: most Catholics fought Hitler and most
JWs didn't even fight Rutherford.)
The JWs leaders taught that Christendom, notably the Catholic leaders, sup-
ported Hitler during WWII. If that were true, I think Hitler would have won.
Regarding the Watchtower reference to those of other religions supporting a plan
for a "master race," the JWs leaders' seem to like their propaganda in an ironic
style--see the entries for Nov.12, 1930 to Oct.28, 1942 (not long after Ruther-
ford passed away) below about the JWs leaders support of eugenics and anti-Sem-
itism while the Nazi government blatantly furthered both.
A proper generalization refers to what's mostly true--most Catholic and Pro-
testant effort was to fight against the aggressive, criminal Nazi effort, and
Rutherford had most JWs bug people in the U.S. with sound trucks and record
players that their religion and government, therefore military, was evil, adding
a JWs-centric hope that God was going to destroy them soon and the JWs 144,000
would help Jesus, Abraham, etc., rule the JWs world (see the timeline below).
Hitler and Rutherford seemed to have taken lessons from the same PR agent except
Hitler's vision of destructiveness and domination was more immediately destruc-
tive but not as 'centric and far-reaching in scope.
I won't condone beating the c**p out of someone because they're meekly differ-
ent in a way we should tolerate, peacefully assimilating and hoping to persuade,
and the way Jesus and apostle Paul taught to spread the word (1 Cor.10:32-11:1).
But you don't go around in the manner Rutherford had it done, shown in the time-
line lower on this page, using trucks with loudspeakers and damnation up front,
triple damn daring someone to get PO'ed over the most upsetting concerns of the
day that many were risking their lives to fight about, using bogus prophet-play-
ing methods that endangered the followers, then pretending the persecution hap-
pened due to a commitment to sincerity by their leader.
My main criticism of that is that Rutherford conducted that poorly, with in-
flexible "144,000" elitism and an expanded definition of worldliness, and put
the followers into conflict without scriptural necessity but for whatever per-
sonal reasons--I'd think to stir up PR for his literature sales. Ironically, it
created some good secular court case PR about freedom of speech but was an un-
reasonable imposition on the followers' Christian freedom and was disastrous for
many of the followers he put on the front line in Nazi Germany.
So I scrounged together various things of related context--prejudice, poli-
tics, the military, etc.--to understand "The Declaration of Facts" in and made
a timeline of it. It added a few more twists to the story, if anything, for
me. And it's got a few items useful in analyzing the JWs leaders for a show of
God or "not God" regarding their claim of being God's sole channel of informa-
tion on Earth.
Thanks to the heraldmag.org and ctrussell.us web sites for a lot of the lit-
erature of Charles Taze Russell:
Thanks to the strictlygenteel.co.uk web site for a lot of the literature by
Joseph F. Rutherford:
Thanks to watchtowerdocuments.org and /wtarchive.svhelden.info for copies of
"The Golden Age."
Thanks to the Catholic-forum.com web site for a big list of Watchtower publi-
Thanks to the Freeminds web site for a lot of the prediction (and other odd)
attempts by Russell and subsequent Bible Students and Jehovah's Witnesses lead-
ers. It offers a lot of JWs leaders' literature quotes from the book "Spiritual
Food at the Proper Time" by an elder of the Jehovah's Witnesses.
Thanks to jwfacts.com, wtarchive.svhelden.info, and wiki.jw-archive.org, too:
Timeline of JWs leaders in regard to human government, war, propaganda, and
1884 The first Watch Tower president, Charles Taze Russell, regarding Matt.
24:6-8, wrote: "What commoner all through the ages than wars and rumors of wars,
famines, pestilences, and earthquakes? These, as marking the course of the age,
can never indicate its close." ("Watchtower Reprints," Sept., 1884, p.661)
1891 Russell's 1891 passport, for which he took an oath of allegiance to the
USA, can be seen at the next link.
1898 On April 25, the Spanish-American War was declared: The United States
declared war on Spain; the U.S. Congress announced that a state of war had exis-
ted since April 21 (later backdating one more day to April 20). It lasted till
1898 "Notice that there is no command in the Scriptures against military ser-
vice. Obedience to a draft would remind us of our Lord's words, 'If any man
compel thee to go a mile, go with him twain.' The government may compel march-
ing or drilling, but cannot compel you to kill the foe. You need not be a good
marksman." ("The Watchtower," Aug.1, 1898, reprint, p.2345)
I'll suggest that it might have been a good idea to run that one past the sar-
geant first before he sent men into positions in the heat of battle.
Rutherford kneeling in front of Russell (center, seated) in 1910
1917 Joseph F. Rutherford became the 2nd Watchtower president.
1917 "The present great war in Europe is the beginning of the Armageddon of
the Scriptures. (Rev. 16:16- 20.)" ("Pastor Russell's Sermons," 1917 ed., p.676)
In June, 1917, six months after Rutherford became Watch Tower president, Con-
gress passed the Espionage Act, laying heavy penalties on all persons who in-
terfered with mobilization of military forces. The Sedition Act of 1918 was an
even more severe measure to suppress war criticism. Dissenters were often ar-
rested without warrants, hauled off to jail, and held incommunicado without
bail. Prejudicial courts sentenced war critics to extraordinarily long prison
terms: one adolescent girl was given twenty years. There were government lis-
teners and informers everywhere. Intelligence agencies of the departments of
War, Navy, and State employed amateur as well as professional detectives to
collect information on citizens.
As mentioned on p.1a, the JWs leaders claim that Jesus picked them as his sole
religious leaders on Earth in 1919 (which Russell had been indicating about him-
self for decades). Part of that story uses Rev.11. The anointed Bible Students
are given as the Two Witnesses whose work, "The Finished Mystery," 1917, was
"killed" when seven of the Society officers were sentenced to federal prison,
then "resurrected"/revived eighteen months later with the release and claimed
"exoneration" of them--that they were cleared from accusation or blame. The JWs
leaders teach that Jesus then put them in charge of the Master's household and
care of all his belongings on Earth.
This is connected to the return of Jesus in 1914--that he's had an invisible
presence on Earth since he started ruling it from heaven in 1914, that Jesus
fulfilled a prophetic 1,260 days (time, times, and half a time) waging war with
Satan and casting the demons to Earth from 1914 to 1918, then picked Rutherford
and associates as his leaders on Earth, the Faithful and Discreet Slave class of
Matt.24:45, in 1919.
1917 Rutherford released "The Finished Mystery" (see p.1a).
Thanks to Atlantis at the Jehovahs-Witness.net web site for quotes from the
controversial pages, later deleted to appease the government, from "The Finished
It tries to use the Bible to put defense, used by police and militia to mini-
mize crime in the world, on the same moral plane as offense and call both mur-
der in all cases.
"Come out of the mouth of the dragon. — The three fundamental truths of his-
tory are man's Fall, Redemption and Restoration. Stated in other language these
three truths are the mortal nature of man, the Christ of God and His Millennial
Kingdom. Standing opposite to these Satan has placed three great untruths, hu-
man immortality, the Antichrist and a certain delusion which is best described
by the word Patriotism, but which is in really murder, the spirit of the very
Devil. It is this last and crowning feature of Satan's work that is mentioned
first. The other two errors are the direct cause of this one. The wars of the
Old Testament were all intended to illustrate the battlings of the New Creature
against the weaknesses of the flesh, and are not in any sense of the word justi-
fication for the human butchery which has turned the earth into a slaughter-
house. Nowhere in the New Testament is Patriotism (a narrow-minded hatred of
other peoples) encouraged. Everywhere and always murder in its every form is
forbidden; and yet, under the guise of Patriotism the civil governments of earth
demand of peace-loving men the sacrifice of themselves and their loved ones and
the butchery of their fellows, and hail it as a duty demanded by the laws of
"'"Everything in Germany, Italy, Austria, England and Russia is held back by
the confiscation of the proceeds of industry carried on for the support of the
army and navy. In the United States the development of our resources is checked
by this same fatal policy." "— C. E. Jefferson, American Association for Inter-
national Conciliation. — Z.'09-179."
""War is in open and utter violation of Christianity. If war is right, then
Christianity is wrong, false, a lie. If Christianity is right, then war is
wrong, false, a lie. The God revealed by Jesus, and by every spiritual leader
of the race, is no God of battles." " But I must go farther — I must speak not
only of war in general, but of this war in particular. Most persons are quite
ready to agree, especially in the piping times of peace, that war is wrong. But
let a war cloud no bigger than a man's hand appear on the horizon of the na-
tion's life, and they straightway begin to qualify their judgment; and if the
war cloud grows until it covers all the heavens, they finally reverse it."
"This brings about the curious situation of all war being wrong in general, and
each war being right in particular. Germans denounce war, with the exception of
course of the present conflict with England. Englishmen condemn war, but ex-
clude from their indictment the present fight against the central Empires. If
you tell me that this war is fought for the integrity of international law, I
must ask you why it is directed only against Germany and not also against En-
gland, which is an equal, although far less terrible, violator of covenants be-
"If you say it is a war of defense against wanton and intolerable aggression,
I must reply that every blow which we have endured has been primarily a blow
directed not against ourselves but against England, and that it has yet to be
proved that Germany has any intention or desire of attacking us." "'In its ul-
timate causes, this war is the natural product of our unchristian civilization.
Its armed men are grown from the dragon's teeth of secret diplomacy, imperialis-
tic ambition, dynastic pride, greedy commercialism, economic exploitation at
home and abroad. In the sowing of these teeth, America has had her part; and it
is therefore only proper, perhaps, that she should have her part also in the
reaping of the dreadful harvest. In its more immediate causes, this war is the
direct result of unwarrantable, cruel, but none the less inevitable interfer-
ences with our commercial relations with one group of the belligerents. Our
participation in the war, therefore, like the war itself, is political and eco-
nomic, not ethical, in its character. Any honor, dignity, or beauty which there
may be in our impending action, is to be found in the impulses, pure and unde-
filed, which are actuating many patriotic hearts today, and not at all in the
real facts of the situation. The war itself is wrong. Its prosecution will be
a crime. There is not a question raised, an issue involved, a cause at stake,
which is worth the life of one blue-jacket on the sea or one khaki-coat in the
trenches.' — Rev. John Haynes Holmes, Church of the Messiah, Park Ave. and 34th
St., New York City."
"'While the Germans have on every battle flag and upon their soldiers' belts,
"God with us," the British ministers are quoting Bible texts to encourage en-
listment of their young men and to throw a halo of glory upon their soldier
dead.' (Z.'15-267.) 'The clergy are finding themselves in a tight place. They
are expected to be faithful to their country, right or wrong. They are expected
to preach the War as the will of God and the going to war as a meritorious mat-
ter that will have Divine reward and blessing. They must encourage recruiting,
in obedience to the commands of their earthly king, and in violation of the com-
mands of the Heavenly King, who has directed them to be peacemakers, and to fol-
low peace with all men and do no murder, either under legal sanction or other-
1918 The second Watchtower president Rutherford was jailed for "unlawfully,
feloniously and willfully causing insubordination, disloyalty and refusal of
duty in the military and naval forces of the United States of America when the
United States was at war." Rutherford and friends tried to talk people out of
going into military service but overlooked the legal point that the JWs were
not an organized religion recognized for conscious objection because they had
no required creed. (The JWs prophet's holy spirit isn't just a bad fortune
teller--he makes a lousy lawyer.)
Also notice that the judge of the trial seemed patient about it, yet recent
JWs leaders' literature refers back to the trial as a case of Satan trying to
stop Rutherford, and that he was later released from "Babylonish captivity" and
"exonerated." A summary is at the next two links:
The information in this section is a summary by Amazing:
What actually transpired is that the convicted defendants filed a Petition
for a "Writ of Error." (Trial Transcript, pages 1-10, parts 1-30 ) The Writ
of Error was allowed by the trial Court, Judge Howe, and granted by the Dis-
strict Court Judge Chatfield, whom the Society earlier objected to and had re-
moved from their trial, because they felt he would not be fair to them.
What does this mean? During the course of any trial, the defense attorney
will take exceptions and objections and note any errors in procedure and prac-
tices customary to common law. If the defendants lose and are convicted, the
defense attorney can use these 'errors' as a basis for appeal.
Judge Howe, who presided over the trial of Joseph Rutherford and his co-de-
fendants, was very generous to note defense objections and exceptions, and
openly stated in Court several times that he would act to preserve the rights
of the defendants, and acknowledged that they could make appeals.
What then is a Writ of Error and how is it processed? "WRIT OF ERROR, prac-
tice. A writ issued out of a court of competent jurisdiction, directed to the
judge of a court of record in which final judgment has been given, and command-
ing them, in some cases, themselves to examine the record; in others to send it
to another court of appellate jurisdiction, therein named, to be examined in
order that some alleged error in the proceeding may be corrected."
That is it! In this case, the Writ of Error was granted, and the case re-
manded back to the United States Attorney as is customary. The prosecuting At-
torney then decides whether he wants to re-try the case, correcting errors or
let it drop. Such 'errors' do not mean that the defendants are suddenly 'not
guilty' or in any way 'exonerated,' but rather that if the case were tried,
less the errors, it might possibly have a different result.
What essentially happened is that the US Attorney decided not to pursue the
case, and as a result, in accordance with the Writ of Error, the Defendants
were released, and the original charges were not refiled. Double jeopardy does
not apply, because this goes to the matter of how the first trial made errors.
If they would have had a new trial, that trial would then be treated as the
'correct' trial, and the original trial would be treated as a mistrial.
Were the errors significant, possibly suggesting that the Defendants did not
get a fair trial? So far, from reading much of this 1500 page transcript, I
have found nothing that jumps out as outrageous or even unfair to the defense.
Most all the objections and exceptions taken by the defense were minor.
While I do not have conclusive information as to why the US Attorney backed
off and did not pursue a new trial, it appears that after WWI, the nation set-
tled down, and going through this issue again may have seemed pointless to the
There you have it. Joseph Rutherford and company were NOT exonerated, but
simply let off of the hook because of procedural errors.
(Author?): "The adverse conditions in prison caused Rutherford's health to de-
"The Finished Mystery," 1918, noted on p.1a, is described at the next link as
including "strong criticism of Christendom's clergy which prompted clergy pres-
sure for government censure and eventually a wave of persecution in North Ameri-
ca and Europe." (I'll bet the bad prophecy ideas in it didn't help things
I'll add that he mainly ranted from his mansion or behind his security men
while the common followers bore the brunt of it door to door and sent him the
money. Comparing their methods of playing prophet, Russell could be an elitist
(see 1910, others, p.1a), but Rutherford seemed more motivated to crank up ten-
sions unnecessarily to set his group off as different, and to recklessly risk
the well-being of the followers for PR for sales. Before you feel too sorry for
1918 Joseph Rutherford wrote that God's Kingdom will be reestablished on
Earth, millions now living will never die, and Bible notables Abraham, Isaac,
Jacob, and the prophets of Hebrews 11 will physically return to Earth in 1925.
("Millions Now Living Will Never Die," 1918, p.89.) (See p.1a.)
Rutherford had a mansion built in 1929 and moved into it himself pending the
return of Abraham, etc. (Heb.11) to claim it, which didn't happen.
1920 The National Socialist Party, the Nazis, became a party.
1921 On July 28, Adolf Hitler became their party chairman. After some inter-
nal conflicts, he became the sole fuhrer--leader. His main goals weren't about
socialism but national expansion and anti-Semitism. He believed Germany's ene-
mies Britain and France (and later the Soviet Union) were controlled by the
Jews. His group used the swastika as a symbol of the Aryan race.
Hitler was raised by Catholic parents but abandoned the Catholic church and
didn't receive the sacraments. In contrast to the scriptures by apostle Paul
about assimilating among the Jewish and Gentile people and persuading their case
peacefully (Jesus didn't teach to find people who believe differently and beat
them up), with God showing no favoritism about race (Acts 17:16; 1 Cor.10:32-11:
1), abiding by government unless it calls on them to go against God then follow
God (Acts 5:29; Rom.13:1-7), Hitler was taken by a pseudo-scientific racist
version of social Darwinism to the extent of favoring eugenics and was murder-
ously anti-Semitic and nationalistic. When it came to a choice between Chris-
tianity and those things, he went with those things.
Part of Hitler's PR for power involved pandering to Christian faith for sup-
port against a popularly felt threat of Stalin's intolerant atheistic persecu-
tion of religion--as long as the church didn't want much control in the matter.
Part of it was bonding with brutal anti-Semitism and nationalism.
Into this mix came JWs, who hadn't helped fight to keep Germany from losing
(or winning) in WWI, were Zionists till Rutherford cancelled it and even showed
anti-Semitism, favored eugenics till 1942, and had a regimented outlook against
involvement in any non-JW religion and bashed it as Satanic. Rutherford tried
bonding with Hitler over anti-Semitism but Hitler's bigger appeal was to Pro-
testants and Catholics that Rutherford bashed. When Hitler came out against
Rutherford's JWs and business, Rutherford gave the followers a regimented out-
look against involvement in any government as Satanic, including Hitler's na-
tionalism (and against helping the Allies), and put the followers on the front
line as scapegoats from his mansion in San Diego.
In 1921, the SA (aka brownshirts and stormtroopers) became the militia of the
party and began attacking other parties.
"The Sturmabteilung (SA, German for "Storm Division", usually translated as
stormtroops or stormtroopers) functioned as a paramilitary organization of the
NSDAP – the German Nazi party."
1922 The Hitler Youth program was established.
1922 Rutherford made his first radio broadcast on Sunday, April 16, 1922--
"Millions Now Living Will Never Die"--at the Metropolitan Opera House in Phila-
delphia, Pennsylvania, on station WGL-AM (called Howlett station because it was
founded by Thomas F. J. Howlett), 2303 North Broad St., North Philadelphia.
The station disappeared in a couple of years.
See 1924 for Rutherford's WBBR.
Clayton Woodworth Sept., 1922
Archives of some of the issues of "The Golden Age" and "Consolation" which
Clayton edited for the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society of Pennsylvania are
at the next links. Since 1946, the publication has been called "Awake!"
1924 The first broadcast of Rutherford's WBBR occurred on Sunday evening,
From Feb.24, 1924 to March 31, 1957, the Watchtower Society used radio
station WBBR which was located in Rossville, Staten Island. In 1931, the main
studios were moved to 124 Columbia Heights in Brooklyn Heights. ("The airwaves
of New York" by Bill Jaker, Frank Sulek, and Peter Kanze, pp.39,40) The Society
sold the station on April 15, 1957.
1924 JWs were supposed to be politically neutral. They weren't supposed to
take part in human-led government but could criticize it. Rutherford did en-
courage a political view, if not activism, by writing a "Watchtower" tract that
denounced prohibition for "The Watchtower," Nov.1, 1924:
Again, looking for a sign of God or not God for the JWs leaders claim to be
God's sole channel on Earth, I'm seeing the double irony of:
- a boozer writing about the evils of boozing, and
- a boozing religious leader writing that the bigger evil was of political and
religious leaders coming out against booze who really weren't.
It's not like I needed to find another way to decide if the JWs leaders were
God's sole channel, which, if they showed they were, could actually clinch their
distinctive doctrine claims such as their transfusion ban. I just thought it
was a kind of interesting example.
1925 On July 18, Hitler's "An Account" was published. A second volume was
published in 1926, and together they became known as "Mein Kampf" ("My Strug-
gle"). It includes strongly anti-Semitic outlooks, such as that the Jews had a
plot to take over the world (actually, Rutherford would have made a more appro-
priate suspect for that). He wanted to erase the Jews and Communism from the
face of the Earth. In his racist view, the Aryans were at the top of the order
of things and the Jews and Gypsies were at the bottom. The struggle he believed
in was between the superior Aryans and the non-Aryans who wanted equality.
Unfortunately, the book became very popular in Germany and made Hitler
1927 "Be it known once and for all that those profiteering, conscienceless,
selfish men who call themselves Jews, and who control the greater portion of the
finances of the world and the business of the world, will never be the rulers in
this new earth. God would not risk such selfish men with such an important pos-
ition." ("The Golden Age," Feb. 23, 1927, p.343)
This brings up a point to keep in mind about these things. The JW leaders
were critical of the Nazi government (notably after it became critical of them),
including Nazi persecution of the Jews. Are the JWs leaders' statements just
meant to justify their own rules about the roles of these others in prophecy
(whoever else damned but JWs) or something else indicating a broader bigoted
outlook (common bigotry ironically meant to support the JWs religious condemna-
tions but in contradiction to scripture)? Try to decide if the JWs leaders'
comments about Jewish people are:
- Biblical theological points refuting the rejection of Jesus as the Messiah,
- the JWs leaders' rules about the role of the Jews in their prophecies, or
1929 Rutherford reinterpreted Rom.13--"higher authorities" can't be earthly,
they must be God and Christ. So JWs began calling the secular authorities "de-
monic" and such instead. ("The Watchtower," June 1 and 15, 1929) (Reversed in
Rutherford used it to ignore the government prohibition of drinking alcohol
and eventually to give followers rules to not serve in the military or give the
pledge of allegiance to the US flag.
"This proves that the higher powers are Christ Jesus and Jehovah and that the
supreme power is Jehovah God.... The apostle could not mean that the 'higher
powers' are the Gentile powers.... Those who have insisted that the apostle re-
ferred exclusively to the Gentile powers when he said, "The powers that be are
ordained of God,' cite in support thereof the words of Peter, to wit; 'Submit
yourselves to every ordinance of man [human creation, Greek] for the Lord's
sake; whether it be to the king, as supreme; or unto governors, as unto them
that are sent by him for the punishment of evildoers, and for the praise of
them that do well.'" ("The Watchtower," June 1, 1929, p.167)
The standard idea, shared by the JWs leaders since 1962, of Rom.13:1-8, taken
with other scriptures like Mark 12:13-17, is that Christians follow the human
authorities unless they have to choose between that and God's word, in which
case they follow God and not man (Acts 5:29). That interpretation was the JWs
leaders' view before Rutherford's reinterpretation, and has been the JWs lead-
ers' interpretation since 1962, too. This needs to be tempered with the under-
standing that the Watch Tower leaders since Russell have always added extra
stipulations and propaganda about what God's word about it was. Making one in-
terpretation and then the other is both an excess of playing at being "God's
sole channel" and not real steady in the way you'd expect from people who really
But the JWs leaders' stance on it from 1929 to 1962 only exaggerates the shaky
irony their stance on human government as being too worldly, basically held from
Russell's day to today, always makes me think of--allegedly, human governments
are led by Satan who's been put in charge by God to do good in the world, so JWs
shouldn't be any part of it. And does evil Christendom teach you that? No.
Well, they're evil Christendom. What do they know? Meh.
Rutherford originally had JWs continue Russell's religious beliefs about Zi-
onism (a belief that the Jews should have a homeland in Israel; in Christian
Zionism, it's also the belief that it's intended by prophesy). In "Life,"
1929, Rutherford had written that the British conquest of Palestine in 1917,
the Balfour Declaration, etc., were fulfillments of prophecy.
1929 "National Socialism...is a movement that is acting directly in the ser-
vice of man's enemy, the Devil." ("The Golden Age," Oct.15, 1929, US and German
1929 On October 24-29, the Black Thursday stock market crash happened on the
New York Stock Exchange and began the Great Depression.
1929 Rutherford had the mansion "Beth Sarim" built at 4440 Braeburn Road in
San Diego, CA, and moved into it. It was supposed to house the Bible notables
of Hebrews 11 (Abraham, etc.), whom Rutherford predicted would return, which
didn't happen--it just housed him till he departed.
1930 On April 5, in an act of civil disobedience, Mahatma Gandhi broke Brit-
ish law after marching to the sea and making salt.
The contrast I see with Gandhi or a Martin Luther King and Rutherford is with
someone believing in something good and acting wisely, even risking their skin,
to do it, and someone sending the followers out to the front lines, door to
door, with unwise bombast and damnation, meant to establish his elitist prophet
pose, from his mansion.
1930 On April 15, in response to gossip that JWs were assisting the Jews in
subversive political movements--the dangerous, Bolshevik, "Jewish worm"--the
German edition of "The Golden Age" stated: "We have no reason to regard this
false accusation as an insult as we are convinced that the Jew is at least as
valuable a person as a nominal Christian; but we reject the above untruth of
the church tabloid because it is aimed at deprecating our work, as if it were
being done not for the sake of the Gospel but for the Jews." (German edition
of "The Golden Age," April 15, 1930)
"Nominal Christian": "nominal" means "in name only, minimal"--as with Rus-
sell's use of the phrase, it carried a curse. Rutherford made his harshest
curses about mainstream Christianity, which he taught was Christian in name
only--had a minimal amount in common with what Rutherford taught it should be.
The Golden Age meant that you should expect the JWs to collaborate with the Jews
as much as with mainstream Christianity (i.e. not at all)--that to accuse Ruth-
erford and the JWs of corroborating with or working for the sake of either one
instead of the Rutherford customized gospel was insulting.
As Hitler rose to power, there were about 20,000 JWs in Germany and maybe as
many more who were sympathizers. The JWs grew quickly there in the social un-
rest of the place and time.
1930 In contrast with many Creationists of the time, the Watch Tower produced
an issue of "The Golden Age" on Nov.12 with an article by Mr. MacArthur, the
secretary of The American Eugenics Society, written at the request of the Watch-
tower. The article favored eugenics...
...as a way to solve social problems, an idea which was given as expected to
meet "with hearty approval by many of our readers." It said "we do not seem to
be making very marked progress" in solving social problems, but "modern science
has put into our hands (the) means of preventing much of this suffering. The
study of human heredity reveals the possibility of...eugenics, the science
which deals with the conscious direction of human existence."
Since "blood tells," "families cursed with a hereditary of shiftlessness, lack
of foresight, and indifference to the rights of others" could be kept from
breeding to prevent a "horde of inferior human beings." ("Sterilization of the
Unfit" by MacArthur, the secretary of The American Eugenics Society, "The Golden
Age," Nov.12, 1930, p.116) (Compare 1933 and 1942.)
1931 On March 3, the Star-Spangled Banner was adopted as the United States
Rutherfords' literature, from 1932, reported persecution of JWs and Jews
(whose persecution was a much bigger and harsher news story) as evils of the
Nazis, but not in Germany about the Jews until Nov., 1938.
1932 Rutherford reinterpreted Rom.11: Jehovah's Witnesses are the only "Is-
rael of God," not the Jews. ("Vindication Book II," 1932, pp.257258)
Normally, it's taken to mean the Gentiles are a branch that will be grafted
onto the tree, which has a remnant of Israel for the roots. Rom.11:26: All Is-
rael will be saved. (Non-JWs may also interpret "All Israel" to mean the ethnic
people of the land of Israel in some way or another.)
Rutherford dropped his support of Russell's Christian Zionism (not long before
the 1932 "Declaration of Facts," in fact). In 1932, "Life" (1929) wasn't cir-
culated, "Vindication" was. In it, he wrote:
Regarding Israel and the Phoenician seaport Tyre: "...doubtless from
Tyre the Jews learned how to cheat their fellow man. This may also pic-
ture how some of God’s covenant people permit themselves to be choked by
the weeds and thorns of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, and
who therefore resort to improper commercial schemes to gain such ends."
("Vindication," J.A. Rutherford, 1932, book 2 at pp.70,71)
Rutherford wrote that this especially applied to the "selfish" Roths-
child’s bankers and other Jewish financial establishments who "conspired"
with their "political allies" in the U.S. congress. ("Vindication," J.A.
Rutherford, 1932, book 2 at pp.170,179)
"The Jews were evicted from Palestine and 'their house left unto them
desolate' because they rejected Christ. To this day the Jews have not
repented of this wrongful act committed by their forefathers. Many of
them have been returned to the land of Palestine, but they have been
induced to go there because of selfish reasons. During the long period
elapsing from the time of their expulsion to the present day the Jews
have not borne the shame of the heathen for Jehovah's sake, nor the
name of Christ. During all this period of time, and particularly dur-
ing the World War, the true followers of Christ Jesus devoted to God,
and to his kingdom, have been bearing the shame of the heathen and have
been hated by all nations for Christ's sake and for the sake of Jeho-
vah's name. (Matt.24:9; Mark 13:13).
"In contrast to this, during the World War the Jews received the recog-
nition of the heathen nations. In 1917 the Balfour Declaration, spon-
sored by the heathen governments of Satan's organization, came forth,
recognized the Jews, and bestowed upon them great favors. In this
seventh world power took the lead. Now Big Business and other wings of
Satan's organization place the Jews alongside of and in the same cate-
gory as the Gentiles. Heretofore even God's people have overlooked the
fact that the affairs of God's kingdom with reference to the things of
the earth are of far greater importance than the rehabilitation of that
little strip of land on the eastern side of the Mediterranean sea. The
Jews have received more attention at their hands than they have really
deserved. Therefore this prophecy must have its chief fulfillment upon
the true people of God's kingdom which are now on the earth." ("Vindica-
tion," J.A. Rutherford, 1932, book 2 at pp.257,258)
"Jehovah's Witnesses and the Third Reich: Sectarian Politics Under Perse-
cution," James M. Penton. 2004, p.22, p.8
1933 There were 25,000 JWs in Germany, the second biggest number in a country
after the U.S..
Wikipedia estimates that from about 1933 to 1945 there were about 20,000 JWs
Maybe as many more were sympathizers. The JWs grew quickly there in the so-
cial unrest of the place and time. Upwards of half went to Nazi prison camps.
1933 Adolf Hitler was elected Chancellor of Germany on Jan.30. The National
Socialist movement took over in Germany. The Nazis harassment of JWs intensi-
fied. It became increasingly severe over the next six years.
See the first couple of listings for 1929 for Watchtower damnation of human
government and Hitler's political party specifically, and 1932 for how recently
Rutherford stopped supporting Zionism.
To understand just how unnecessarily dangerous Rutherford's prophet playing
act was as something to guide the followers' lives in Nazi Germany, a few things
should be remembered.
Rutherford had put his followers in a precarious position already. Most peo-
ple didn't consider Rutherford a prophet but an unpopular religious literature-
selling con man--the "144,000" claim was arrogant, his predictions always
failed, and he propagandized about whoever that disagreed with him. With his
unnecessary prophet-playing customizations about the Bible and expanded rules
about worldliness, that meant most of them. Hitler could have sent his men
against the JWs just to appeal to the majority.
If he tried nothing more unique than a conscientious objector's approach, he
could have had a lower profile problem with fewer in concentration camps, and
tried to get some active in the Christian underground or trying to leave Ger-
many. I know an easy way they could have done it, too--put the fathead at the
front of the door to door line.
At this juncture, Rutherford demonstrated the art of the prophetic prankster
pirouette and pratfall. Apparently due to the rise of Hitler's party, Ruther-
ford changed his sales PR. His about-face on Zionism was meant to allow his
bigotry about those of non-Rutherford religion, including the Jews, to continue
anywhere in the world without Zionism causing a PR problem in Germany, except it
was obvious why he changed his position about it when it did. His stance on hu-
man government, including German National Socialism (see 1929) and Hitler's
treatment of the Jews, being Satanic was meant to continue in non-German coun-
tries without it causing a PR problem in Germany.
What Rutherford tried to pull off was to pander to Germany and bigotry about
Jews, silent about persecution of them, out of one side of his mouth while pan-
dering to non-Germans and bigotry about Jews, if critical of Hitler's persecu-
tion of them, with criticism of Hitler's government out of the other side of his
mouth. The only credible consistency to see in it isn't a religious belief, or
even the best care for the followers selling his literature, but just to con-
tinue to sell his literature. He took a reckless chance Hitler wouldn't get
wise to it--otherwise, he'd be triple-damn daring Hitler, probably already in-
clined, to show everybody he condemned it by cracking down on the followers.
Nobody in Hitler's place would buy Rutherford's transparent duplicity and nei-
ther did Hitler. Hitler was evil but not stupid. Rutherford had a lot of JWs
going door to door in Germany being harassed because Hitler saw them as a minor-
ity that was a political nuisance that propagandized against the religions of
his majority and against human government, including criticism of Hitler's own
government in non-German publications.
These things should be remembered when Rutherford fails to bond with Hitler
over anti-Semitism and loyalty to Hitler's government on June 25, 1933, with the
Declaration of Facts and a letter to Hitler.
The information in this segment came from a site which is no longer at the
1933 "Probably there is nothing so indicative of primitive consciousness in
the entire Nazi program as the anti-Jewish sentiment it so passionately advo-
cates." ("The Golden Age," not the German edition, Jan.4, 1933, p.209)
And the "playing both sides of the fence" award goes to Clayton Woodworth.
Imagine the torment of his spiritual dichotomy: badmouth a different religious
group or an opposing human government as being guided by Satan. The decision in
the the long run wasn't really hard: being of neither one, badmouth both (and
non-JWs Christianity, the U.S. government, etc.).
1933 "The Jews in Germany and Austria are having a hard time, all the power
of the Nazis being used against them in boycotts and otherwise." ("The Golden
Age," not the German edition, July 5, 1933, p.623)
"However, as far as we can gather, the German editions did not print
these or similar criticism on the Nazi persecution of the Jews until after
the Night of the Broken Glass (Kristallnacht) in November 1938. As a re-
sult of the first widespread boycott of Jewish business and the purge of
the civil service, judiciary and universities in March 1933, a German edi-
tion of The Golden Age did mention these events, but the matter-of-fact
wording and the absence of any comment did not demonstrate much compassion
with the victims or aversion to these enactments.
"(See Das Goldene Zeitalter 143 (May 1, 1933). Since the WBTS was banned
in 1935 and operating fully underground since then, it is unclear why the
movement’s German editors refrained from criticizing the persecution of the
Jews until after the Kristallnacht.)
"Instead, the Jewish fate was seen as inextricably linked with scriptural
prediction. According to Trost, the German edition of Consolation (succes-
sor of The Golden Age), of July 15, 1938: 'The Jews clearly exemplify how
terrible it is not to have Jehovah’s blessing. Being cut off from God’s
favor, also here [in Germany] they have no peace. Sow the wind and reap
the whirlwind! How much longer?' (reviewer’s translation).
"As noted by Garbe, the attempts by the German management of the WBTS to
de-escalate the conflict with the Nazis during the first six months of
1933 may have resulted in omitting any 'offensive' notes that originated
from the Brooklyn headquarters. The Magdeburg leadership had even conveyed
its discomfort to the U.S. State Department, pointing out that the New York
editors did not take the new ideological situation in Germany into account."
("Zwischen Widerstand und Martyrium," supra n. 23, p.91)
"Between Resistance and Martyrdom: Jehovah's Witnesses in the Third Reich,"
by Detlef Garbe
1933 On Feb.28, the Reichstag Fire Decree (Order of the Reich President for
the Protection of People and State) became law in Germany, which enabled Hitler
to have opposers of the Nazis harassed and imprisoned.
1933 On March 5, President Franklin D. Roosevelt declared a "bank holiday",
closing all United States banks and freezing all financial transactions (the
'holiday' ended on March 13) in reaction to the Great Depression. On March 9,
the U.S. Congress began its first 100 days of enacting New Deal legislation.
1933 On March 15, Rutherford taught that very few JWs were worthy of eating
at the Lord's Supper with him. Only the "remnant," the 144,000, could eat the
bread of the Lord's Supper and "show forth his death and participate in his joy,
which is common only to those who are in unity with Christ and Jehovah." Other
JWs are "Jonadabs"--"the Great Crowd." ("The Watchtower," March 15, 1933, p.90)
Stalin had the Russian Orthosox Church put through "Continuous persecution in
the 1930s" which "resulted in its near-extinction: by 1939, active parishes
numbered in the low hundreds (down from 54,000 in 1917), many churches had been
leveled, and tens of thousands of priests, monks and nuns were persecuted and
killed. Over 100,000 were shot during the purges of 1937–1938."
"Many religions popular in the ethnic regions of the Soviet Union including
the Roman Catholic Church, Uniats, Baptists, Islam, Buddhism, Judaism, etc.
underwent ordeals similar to the Orthodox churches in other parts: thousands of
monks were persecuted, and hundreds of churches, synagogues, mosques, temples,
sacred monuments, monasteries and other religious buildings were razed."
1933 On March 20, Dachau, the first Nazi concentration camp, was completed.
It opened on March 22.
1933 On March 23, the Reichstag passed the Enabling Act, making Adolf Hitler
dictator of Germany.
1933 In March, regions of Germany began to ban Rutherford's Bible Students.
Through 1934, for distributing Rutherford's literature and refusing to heil
Hitler, many German Bible Students were sent to prison, even concentration
camps, but were usually released soon afterward. ("Jehovah's Witnesses and the
Third Reich" by M. James Penton, p.169)
1933 "Nazi Germany," or "the Third Reich" (officially "the German Reich"),
refers to Germany when governed by the Nazi Party from 1933 to 1945.
April 1, 1933 Jewish doctors, lawyers, police, teachers and stores were boy-
cotted. Only six days later, the Law for the Restoration of the Professional
Civil Service was passed, banning Jews from government jobs. Persecution of
the Jews became increasingly severe over the next six years.
April 4, 1933 The Watchtower Society offices in Magdeburg were seized.
("Awake!" Aug.22, 1995, pp.6,7)
1933 On May 10, the Nazis encouraged censorship by staging massive public
book burnings in Germany.
1933 On May 26, the Nazi party in Germany introduced law to legalize eugenic
1933 On June 13, the German Secret State Police (Gestapo) was established.
1933 (undated) Nazi Germany formed the Expert Committee on Questions of Pop-
ulation and Racial Policy under Reich Interior Minister Wilhelm Frick.
1933 On June 25, at the Convention in Berlin, Rutherford's "Declaration of
Facts" was adopted. (See the section about it near the start of this page.)
A copy was sent to Hitler with a letter that included:
"Dear Reich Chancellor,
"On the 25th June 1933 at the sports hall Wilmersdorf, Berlin, a conference
was convened by some 5000 delegates of the Bible Students of Germany [J.Ws],
representing several millions of Germans. These have for many years been
friends and supporters of this movement. The purpose of this convention was for
these representatives to explore ways, to inform fully the Reich Chancellor and
the other esteemed officials of the German Empire, as well as to all other
states the following standpoints:
"In certain parts of the country measures have been and are being taken
against Christian men and women, who are unified in their positive belief. This
in essence amounts to the persecution of Christians by other Christians, in that
there have been accusations against us from the clerical front (especially from
the Catholics) and which are untrue.
"Though we are absolutely convinced of the objectivity of government depart-
ments and individual officials, we nevertheless observe, because of the extent
of our literature and demands of the examiners of the material, the content and
significance of our organisation is generally being falsely judged, and also is
what our religious opponents in full prejudice bring against us.
"The Brooklyn presidency of the Watch Tower Society is and always has been ex-
ceedingly friendly to Germany. In 1918 the president of the Society and seven
members of the Board of Directors in America were sentenced to 80 years' impris-
onment for the reason that the president refused to let two magazines in Ameri-
ca, which he edited, be used in war propaganda against Germany."
(?? Compare this with the account given for his trail and imprisonment at the
link for 1918 above.)
"In the same way our Society's presidium not only refused to take part in re-
cent months, in the horror stories against Germany, but has even taken an oppos-
ing stand, which is underlined in the accompanying explanation; the clue to this
is that the elements leading this onslaught of war propaganda (horror stories)
in America, i.e., the Jews with business interests and Catholics, are also the
ones who are conducting the most rigorous persecution against this Society and
its leadership. By this and other resolutions hereby given, the rejection of
this insidious calumny should follow automatically, i.e. that the Bible Students
were actually supported by the Jews. The five thousand delegates at their con-
vention have with great satisfaction taken note of the ensuing statement by the
local government president at Magdeburg, namely that the relationship between
Bible Students and communists or Marxists, as maintained by our clerical oppo-
nents, is not provable (demonstrable), and is, therefore, also slanderous (li-
bellous). A directly related press release was reported in the Magdeburg Daily
News Nr 1 04 5th May 1933.
"Following on from this most earnest application and explanation comes a hum-
ble plea, namely to grant an opportunity for a commission (delegation) from our
number to present personally to the Reich Chancellor or Minister of the Interior
(Home Office) a responsible and true representation of our situation. On the
other hand the Reich Chancellor himself could appoint a commission, which is not
opposed to us by religious prejudice and themselves would not be professionally
religiously biased, but would evaluate our position totally without prejudice,
corresponding to the Reich Chancellor's own just principles laid down for such
purposes. With these principles in mind we beg to quote from point 24 of the
manifesto of the German National Socialist Workers party:"
"We demand the freedom for all religious persuasions within the state, in so
far as they do not endanger its position, or offend against the moral and ethi-
cal sensibilities of the Germanic race. The party as such supports the view of
a positive Christianity, without preference to any one denomination; it combats
the spirit of Jewish materialism within and without, and is convinced that a
lasting recovery of our people can only succeed from the inside out.
"We too are firmly convinced, that, if we are judged without religious preju-
dice, firstly according to God's word, secondly to the points set out in this
application (petition), then the national German government will have no cause
to prevent our services or missionary activity."
Whatever else he was, Hitler wasn't stupid enough to buy it. Despite claiming
common enemies for the sake of bonding--"commercialistic Jews" control New York
and London, etc.--the "Declaration of Facts" declared a goal of being political-
ly neutral, which in Hitler-ese would be interpreted as passive aggression. The
stance Rutherford generally taught was that human government is Satanic (see
1929)--Rutherford wouldn't have his group attack a government but prophesied and
led belief that God would destroy it. Persecution of JWs intensified.
Rutherford didn't really become especially critical of the German government
of Hitler, famous for "Mein Kampf," till Hitler had action taken against the JWs
specifically. As noted above, Rutherford's German publications weren't critical
of the cruel treatment of the Jewish people in Germany till Nov., 1938, by which
time the German JWs had retreated from the streets for years.
I better add something else about a cultural reference Rutherford made to his
new pen pal that's probably lost on a lot of people today--he didn't mean what
you might think of, regarding outreach programs or such, by "positive Christian-
ity." According to the Wikipedia article at the next link:
"Adherents of Positive Christianity argued that traditional Christianity em-
phasized the passive rather than the active aspects of Christ's life, stressing
his sacrifice on the cross and other-worldly redemption. They wanted to replace
this with a 'positive' emphasis on Christ as an active preacher, organizer and
fighter who opposed the institutionalized Judaism of his day. At various points
in the Nazi regime, attempts were made to replace orthodox Christianity with its
"However, the party was careful to stress that Positive Christianity need not
contradict the traditional theologies of established churches. As early as 1920
the Nazis proclaimed in their manifesto that,
"'The Party as such takes its stand on a positive Christianity but does
not tie itself in the matter of confession to any particular denomination.
It fights the spirit of Jewish materialism inside and outside ourselves.'"
"The German Christians led by Ludwig Müller were the principal agents in Hit-
ler's early attempt to Nazify Christianity in Germany by uniting the Protestant
churches under Müller's leadership, but this proposal met with resistance, as it
was rejected by many Christian pastors under the leadership of Martin Niemöller.
Following this failure, Hitler backtracked on attempts to directly Nazify the
1933 On June 28, there was a second occupation of the Watch Tower Magdeburg
Antisemitism--the Rutherford-McFadden connection
This clarifies what kind of antisemitism Rutherford taught.
Thanks to leolaia at jehovahswitness.net for pointing it out
and supplying some of the research material.
Louis Thomas McFadden (1876-1936) was a Republican U.S. Representative from
Pennsylvania in Congress from 1915 to 1935.
On June 10, 1932, McFadden made a 25-minute speech--a Federal Reserve conspir-
acy theory rant--before the House of Representatives.
"The Crisis," released in early 1933, was a booklet containing three radio
talks that Rutherford had given in the United States. ("Watchtower," Nov.1, 1991,
"The campaign with the Crisis booklet led to a ban in Bavaria on April 13.
This was followed by bans in Saxony on April 18, in Thüringen on April 26, and in
Baden on May 15. Other German states followed." (Watchtower "1974 Yearbook," p.
Joseph Rutherford propagandized against mainstream clergy and Jews as notable
figures behind the corrupt "Big Business" of the world. In his 1933 booklet "The
Crisis," he described "Big Business" using the word "octopus" in the way common-
ly used at the time as an anti-semitic canard--that Jews were trying to control
the world like an octopus covering the Earth.
"The three visible component parts, which govern people are: the commercial,
the political, and the religious, the most powerful of which is the commer-
cial. With avaricious hands, compared to the feelers of an octopus, the great
trade appropriated the wealth of the nation. People who have developed the
American country are robbed and today have to beg for a piece of bread in a
land of innumerable abundance."
(I wonder if Rutherford partly meant to direct any African American JWs re-
sentment for social inequities away from himself, an especially indulgent Euro-
pean American businessman, and aim it toward the Jews and mainstream Christian
(pp.5-28: "Can the American Government Endure?" is a printed version of a lec-
ture Rutherford gave to veterans in Washington, DC, and over the radio, on June
26, 1932, and which was preceded the day before by 300 JWs giving JWs brochures
and books to members of the Bonus Army.)
"Can the American Government Endure?"
"For more than a hundred years America has stood in the very foremost rank
of the governments of the earth. In natural resources America is today the
richest country under the sun. The United States and Britain constitute the
two pillars of the great seventh world power, which power is described in di-
vine prophecy as the double or twofold government. Both nations claim to be
Christian, and they form the chief part of the realm called 'Christendom',
but, in fact, Satan is their invisible ruler and god.
"The founders of the American nation desired greater freedom than they pos-
sessed. That they might be free and independent of cruel and oppressive
rulers they fled from Europe and established the American republic, to which
nation men have long pointed with pride. When the nation was young many of
her statesmen were patriots, because they loved their fellow man and honest-
ly and valiantly contended for a just government. Today there is no true
patriotism among the rulers of the nation. It is now impossible for the
people to elect men to public office and to expect them to enact just laws
and to administer the affairs of the government for the general welfare.
"The three visible elements of men that rule the nation are, to wit, the
the commercial, the political, and the religious, and of those three the
commercial is the most powerful. Among the earlier statesmen of America
there were some God-fearing men who foresaw the advance of a mighty and
selfish power and gave warning that the greedy would some day destroy the
liberties of the people. That warning was unheeded, and the selfish commer-
cial element, which is otherwise called 'Big Business', has stealthily and
constantly moved forward to its goal. With grasping arms like the tentacles
of a mighty octopus it has laid hold upon practically all of the visible
wealth of the Nation. At the same time the men who by laborious efforts
have developed the country and produced the wealth of the land have been un-
justly treated and robbed, and today they are crying for bread, and that in
a land of boundless plenty. Many Americans in sorrowful tones are now ask-
ing the question: Can the nation of America long endure while such unjust
"Big Business has no regard for the rights of the common people. The
Civil War of 1863 was fomented and carried forward for the purpose of creat-
ing a condition by which Big Business could obtain a strangle hold upon the
nation. To free the land from the traffic of human flesh and blood was the
ostensible reason for that war, but the real reason was to enable a selfish
company to control the finances and all the business interests of the nation.
In 1917 Big Business, for ultraselfish reasons, needless-
ly and wantonly forced the American nation into the World War, which resulted
in the greatly increased wealth and power of a few men and made serfs and
paupers of many millions of people.
"Today Big Business owns practically everything visible. By the manipula-
tion of the finances of the nation Big Business has acquired title to almost
all of the real estate, while hundreds of thousands of honest toilers are
losing their homes and their land. A few ultrarich men fix the prices of
the food produced by the farmers, and which food products are reaped down by
laborers; and by reason thereof the farmers are robbed and the laborers are
caused to starve, and that within the borders of the richest nation of the
"Big Business owns the ships that ply the seas, and that fly through the
air. It owns and controls the railways and other ways and means of trans-
portation. Big Business has acquired the preferred securities of the public
carrier corporations, while some of the common people hold the less desir-
able stocks and securities. When the railways were recently pressed for
money to pay the interest on their preferred securities Big business caused
the American government to advance a hundred million dollars to the banks
upon the pretext of helping the banks to thaw out their frozen assets and
to stimulate business immediately, but instead of so using that money Big
Business immediately absorbed the entire hundred million and ap-
plied it to the payment of interest on the preferred securities which it
"Big Business, which is composed of a very few men, owns and controls
the telegraph lines, the radio, the electric and power lines, and it owns
and controls the mines that produce the fuel and the building material
which all the people are compelled to use. It owns and controls the banks
and most of the money in them. It is in possession of the greater portion
of the gold that rightfully belongs to the government. The factories and
the great mercantile establishments are owned and controlled by the same
"Big Business has in its employ the most astute lawyers of the nation,
who write the contracts always in the interest of their clients, and the
common people must take the ragged end. Every branch of government is con-
taminated and improperly influenced by Big Business. It controls the two
major political parties of America and names and elects at will the public
men to office who will best serve its selfish interests. Big Business con-
trols the army and the navy, the guns and the ammunition, and the police
power of the nation.
"Practically all of the business corporations of America are owned or
controlled by Big Business. Thre employees of these mighty corporations
have a hook in their nose, so to speak, and they dare not call themselves
their own. They must obey the selfish men who are the mighty lords of fi-
nance or else lose their jobs. They need their salaries to feed and clothe
and their families; hence they are at the mercy of Big Business and are
"Big Business either directly or indirectly owns or controls almost all of
the newspapers and magazines of America, and which agencies serve as propa-
gandists for Big Business and for their immediate political and religious
allies. The same selfish interests own and control the professional clergy-
men, and these men make merchandise of the World of God in order to keep the
people in ignorance and in subjection to the ruling powers. Thus it is
plainly seen that the power of the government is centralized in the hands
of a very few.
"I venture the opinion that"
(M. James Penton in "Jehovah's Witnesses and the Third Reich: Sectarian Poli-
tics Under Persecution," p.117, adds the phrase "before the end of the year"
here. Did Rutherford's speech include a prediction that, since it was another
failed one, was edited out of "The Crisis"?)
"the American government will be ruled by a dictator, aided by a company of
advisors that are selected and directed by the chiefs of Big Business.
Such will be a military rule and one which the people will be compelled to
"Hence Satan and his entire organization must fall, and that includes the
"The American government has been weighed in the balance and found wanting.
Together with all other nations, it soon shall fall.
(Compare to McFadden's testimony during the hearings for H.R. 7986 in March
1934, which uses a lot of the same ideas nearly word for word, given below.
Thanks to leolaia at jehovahswitness.net)
Rutherford's "Declaration of Facts," released at a convention in Berlin on June
25, 1933, made clear he led a group that distanced itself from Jewish money,
which he described in terms of contempt, and that he taught that the Jews were
the main backers of deplorable "Big Business" (economic antisemitism).
"It is falsely charged by our enemies that we have received financial sup-
port for our work from the Jews. Nothing is farther from the truth. Up to
this hour there never has been the slightest bit of money contributed to our
work by Jews. We are the faithful followers of Christ Jesus and believe
upon Him as the Savior of the world, whereas the Jews entirely reject Jesus
Christ and emphatically deny that he is the Savior of the world sent of God
for man's good. This of itself should be sufficient proof to show that we
receive no support from Jews and that therefore the charges against us are
maliciously false and could proceed only from Satan, our great enemy. The
greatest and the most oppressive empire on earth is the Anglo-American em-
pire. By that is meant the British Empire, of which the United States of
America forms a part. It has been the commercial Jews of the British-Ameri-
can empire that have built up and carried on Big Business as a means of ex-
ploiting and oppressing the peoples of many nations. This fact particularly
applies to the cities of London and New York, the stronghold of Big Business.
This fact is so manifest in America that there is a proverb concerning the
city of New York which says: The Jews own it, the Irish Catholics rule it,
and the Americans pay the bills.
"The present government of Germany has declared emphatically against Big
Business oppressors and in opposition to the wrongful religious influence in
the political affairs of the nations. Such is exactly our position.
"Instead of being against the principles advocated by the government of
Germany, we stand squarely for such principles, and point out that Jehovah
God through Christ Jesus will bring about the full realization of these prin-
ciples and will give to the people peace and prosperity and the greatest de-
sire of every honest heart.
"A careful examination of our books and literature will disclose the fact
that the very high ideals held and promulgated by the present national gov-
ernment are set forth in and endorsed and strongly emphasized in our publi-
cations and show that Jehovah God will see to it that these high ideals in
due time will be attained by all persons who love righteousness.
"Let us remind the government and the people of Germany, that it was the
League of Nations compact that laid upon the shoulders of the German people
the great unjust and unbearable burdens. That the League of Nations compact
was not brought forth by the friends of Germany." ("Yearbook 1934," pp.134-
138, English Edition)
In the letter Rutherford included with the copy of the "Declaration of Facts"
sent to Hitler, Rutherford made clear his stance approved of Hitler's "positive
Christianity"--notably in that it "opposes the Jewish materialist spirit domes-
tically and abroad":
"We demand the freedom of all religious confessions in the state so long
they do not endanger its existence or conflict with the ethical and moral
beliefs of the German race. The Party, as such, represents the viewpoint
of positive Christianity without associating itself with a specific confes-
sion. It opposes the Jewish-materialist spirit domestically and abroad and
is convinced that a lasting recuperation our people can only happen from the
As leolaia at jehovahswitness.net pointed out, Rutherford wanted Hitler to know
Rutherford opposed the 1933 American Anti-Nazi boycott of German businesses in
favoring the German Nazi policy against Jewish businesses.
Rep. McFadden used the same sort of ideas as Rutherford's "The Crisis" in his
propaganda against Jews regarding government and business. McFadden's testimony
during the hearings for H.R. 7986 in March 1934 not only used many of the same
ideas as Rutherford's "The Crisis" but did so nearly word for word to the point
of plagiarism. (Thanks to leolaia at jehovahswitness.net)
Segments of McFadden's speech:
"I would like to say that for more than a hundred years America has stood
in the very foremost rank of the governments of the earth. In natural re-
sources America is today the richest country under the sun.
"The three visible elements of men that rule the Nation are the commercial,
the political, and the religious, and of these three, the commercial is the
most powerful. Among the earlier statesmen of America, there were some God-
fearing men who foresaw the advance of a mighty and selfish power and gave
warning that the greedy would some day destroy the liberties of the people.
That warning was unheeded, and the selfish commercial element, which is oth-
erwise called 'Big Business', has stealthily and constantly moved forward to
its goal. With grasping arms like the tentacles of a mighty octapus it has
laid hold upon practically all of the visible wealth of the Nation....
"'Big Business' has no regard for the rights of the common people. In
1917, 'Big Business', for ultra selfish reasons, needlessly and wantonly
forced the American Nation into the World War, which resulted in the great-
ly increased wealth and power of a few men and made serfs and paupers of
many millions of people. Today, 'Big Business' owns practically everything
visible. By the manipulation of the finances of the Nation, 'Big Business'
has acquired title to almost all of the real estate, while hundreds of
thousands of honest toilers are losing their homes and their land. A few
ultra rich men fix the prices of the food products that are reaped by labor-
ers; and, by reason thereof, the farmers are robbed and the laborers are be-
ing starved; and that within the borders of the richest Nation of the world.
"'Big Business' owns the ships that ply the seas, and that fly through the
air. It owns and controls the railways and other ways and means of transpor-
"'Big Business' has in its employ the most astute lawyers of the Nation,
who write the contracts always in the interest of their clients, and the com-
mon people must take the ragged end. Every branch of government is contamin-
ated and improperly influenced by 'Big Business'. It controls the two major
political parties of America and names and elects at will the public men to
office who will best serve its selfish interests. 'Big Business' controls
the Army and the Navy, the guns and the ammunition, and the police power of
"Practically all of the business corporations of America are owned or con-
trolled by "Big Business". The employees of these mighty corporations have a
hook in their nose, so to speak, and they dare not call themselves their own.
They must obey the selfish men who are the mighty lords of finance or else
lose their jobs...
"'Big Business' either directly or indirectly owns or controls almost all
of the newspapers and magazines of America, and which agencies serve as prop-
agandists for 'Big Business' and their immediate political and religious al-
lies. The same selfish interests own and control the professional clergymen,
and these men make merchandise of the Word of God in order to keep the people
in ignorance and in subjection to the ruling powers. Thus it is plainly seen
that the power of the Government is centralized in the hands of a very
"'Big Business' and their mouthpieces, namely, the commercialized clergy
referred to are reprehensible before God for hindering the truth concerning
the present conditions in America and the means which might provide a remedy
for the people, by God's help. There should be some action taken to further
stop such intolerance in the use of radio (and that during this session of
Congress) to prevent the further entrenchment of such powers. That is the
reason why I have introduced this bill and am asking for consideration of it
at this time."
(Compare to the June 26, 1932 Rutherford speech printed in the 1933 book "The
Crisis," some of which is reprinted above, which McFadden used a lot of the same
ideas from nearly word for word. For instance, there's that "Jews contol the
world" economic antisemitic "octopus" again. Strange they'd let the Nazis flour-
ish if they controlled the world.... Thanks to leolaia at jehovahswitness.net)
"In 1934, he made several anti-semitic comments from the floor of the
house and in newsletters to his constituents wherein he cited the Protocols
of the Elders of Zion, claimed the Roosevelt administration was controlled
by Jews, and objected to Henry Morgenthau Jr., a Jew, becoming Secretary of
the Treasury. Drew Pearson claimed in his "Washington Merry-Go-Round" col-
umn that, in a publication by the American fascist Silver Shirts, McFadden
had been 'extensively' quoted 'in support of Adolf Hitler.' In September
the Nazi tabloid Der Stuermer praised McFadden. He was also lauded by the
publications of William Dudley Pelley, leader of the Silver Shirts, on sev-
eral occasions. On election day that year he lost to Charles E. Dietrich by
'about 2,000 votes.' This was the only election between 1912 and 1950 when
the district elected a Democrat.
"According to McFadden's Jewish Telegraphic Agency [[obituary]: ‘In Janu-
ary 1935, he announced his candidacy for president with the backing of an
organization called "the Independent Republican National Christian-Gentile
Committee" on a platform to "keep the Jew out of control of the Republican
Party!"’ Not garnering much support for his presidential bid, he tried to
win back his congressional seat. He lost the nomination by a wide-margin
to Col. Albert G. Rutherford who went on to win the general election." (Wiki-
McFadden submitted H. R. 7986 to Congress on Feb.14, 1934, to protect the
freedom of speech on the airwaves.
"There should be some action taken to further stop such intolerance in the use
of radio (and that during this session of Congress) to prevent the further en-
trenchment of such powers. That is the reason why I have introduced this bill and
am asking for consideration of it at this time."
Rutherford, who broadcast a notably controversial and propagandistic politi-
cized religious radio program, prepared a "Petition and Protest" for JWs to dis-
tribute throughout the country to support the proposed bill. They obtained
2,416,000 signatures. "The Golden Age," March 28, 1934, p.397 had the following
remarks on the petition and bill H.R. 7986:
"Free Radio Essential to People's Liberties
"The petition circulated by Jehovah's witnesses and others, calling upon
Congress to safeguard the right of the people to hear over the radio whatso-
ever they wish to hear, received a wide response. It manifested that the
people want to have the truth told. The clergy, to shield themselves in
their inconsistent position before the people, not only have sought to mis-
represent and oppose Judge Rutherford, but have also misrepresented the peti-
tion which was signed by nearly two and a half million persons.... Petition
or no petition, this is the issue, and it is up to Congress to take appropri-
ate action. Bill H.R. 7986, now before the Congress for consideration, meets
the needs of the case exactly, and if passed, will prevent further interfer-
ence with the free use of the radio or unjust discrimination against some and
in favor of other broadcasters." (Thanks to leolaia at jehovahswitness.net)
Rutherford had thousands of Jehovah's Witnesses petition and lobby for public
support for passage of this Congressional bill into law ("The Golden Age," March
28, 1934, p.397), and Arthur R. Goux, the Secretary of the Watchtower Bible &
Tract Society, testified in the Congressional hearings in support of the bill.
Rutherford's views on "Big Business" and Jews were strikingly similar to those
of McFadden, so when McFadden failed in his bid for re-election, "The Golden Age"
published an article that praised him as "courageous and honest and capable" and
asserted that McFadden was used by God and his loss at the election was the work
"Naturally the Devil and his ally, the Roman Catholic Church, would do
everything possible to prevent the return to Congress of any man who would
dare to stand for liberty and righteousness in this evil time. We are as-
sured that God, who gave him such great privileges of usefulness last winter
[when McFadden submitted H. R. 7986 to Congress], is not forgetful or indif-
ferent and the time will come when Louis T. McFadden will look back and re-
joice that he was permitted to be absent when scenes about to be enacted
shall occur." ("The Golden Age," Jan.16, 1935, p.237) (Thanks to leolaia at
In the next quote from a 1935 "The Golden Age," "The Gentile Front" refers to
"The Gentile Front seems to be bad propaganda. It maintains the so-called
'Protocols of Zion' are of Jewish origin, despite the fact that this has
been proved false wher-ever the courts have looked into it. Nothing could be
more devilishly narrow-minded, more fiendish, more contemptible, than the so-
called 'New Germany' to which The Gentile Front looks up and upon which The
Golden Age looks down with loathing inexpressible. The Jews are money lov-
ers, granted; but they are not pig-headed wild beasts." ("The Golden Age,"
Oct.9, 1935, p.25)
Rutherford used his politicized religious sermons to teach the economic anti-
semitism of greedy Jews and tried to bond with Hitler on the point to curry fa-
vor, but he drew the line at Hitler's accusations of them being animals to elim-
inate. That aspect put Hitler in Rutherford's category of evil government.
Maybe this says it: if the issue were LGBT people in 2012, it's like Rutherford
would be a more outspoken president of Chick-fil-A, McFadden would be an anti-
LGBT people activist he supports, and Hitler would be the president of Iran (who
considers LGBT people criminals punishable by imprisonment, corporal punishment,
or execution) that the Chick-fil-A president tried to find favor with over the
"The Golden Age," various issues 1930-1934
Full text of "1934 The Golden Age magazine"
in the Google search engine to get this result.)
"Be it known once and for all that those profiteering, conscienceless, selfish
men who call themselves Jews, and who control the greater portion of the
finances of the world, will never be the rulers in this new earth. God would not
risk such selfish men with such an important position" (Golden Age, 23 February
1927, p. 343).
"Jesus was telling in parabolic phrase what was coming upon the Jewish nation.
A few years after His crucifixion the Jews were cast away and the Gentiles,
represented by the pauper, came into God's favor. Thus we see that the Jewish
nation, represented by 'the rich man', ceased to exist and, as a nation, went to
hell" (GA, 15 October 1930, p. 58).
"It is noted that Judah and the land of Israel had commercial intercourse with
Tyre, and doubtless from Tyre the Jews learned how to cheat their fellow man....
The Jews were evicted from Palestine and 'their house left unto them desolate'
because they rejected Christ Jesus, the beloved and anointed King of Jehovah. To
this day the Jews have not repented of this wrongful act committed by their
forefathers" (Vindication, Vol. 2, 1932, pp. 70, 257-258).
"Even to this day the Jews are the greatest merchants in the earth, and it is
selfish gain that leads them in that course and causes them to ignore Jehovah and
his Word. The turning away of the Jews from Jehovah and the turning to the Devil
brought great violence upon themselves as well as upon others" (Watchtower, 15
December 1933, p. 373).
"The Jews have always been opposed to Christ Jesus the King...The international
bankers are backing the League of Nations with their money. Many of the strong
men in that financial power are called Jews but they are not Jews in fact. It is
true that they are descendents of Hebrew stock, but the word 'Jew' or 'Judean'
properly means one who serves and praises Jehovah God; which the international
bankers do not. They have made gold their god" (GA, 23 May 1934, pp. 520-521).
"The people now on earth and which are called Jews are a commercial people.
Among them are some of the richest and most avaricious men the word has ever
known. Some of the chief men in Big Business are called Jews. Many of these
people are very arrogant, self important and extremely selfish" (Favored People,
1934, p. 5).
"Amongst her instruments that she uses are ultraselfish men called 'Jews', who
look only for personal gain, and who therefore readily yield to and join with the
Hierarchy in any unrighteous schemes" (Enemies, 1937, p. 281).
(Thanks to Leolaia at jehovahswitness.net)
1933 On July 14, "The Law for the Prevention of Hereditarily Diseased Off-
spring" was proclaimed in Germany. It "required physicians to register every
case of hereditary illness known to them, except in women over forty-five years
of age. Physicians could be fined for failing to comply. In 1934, the first
year of the Law's operation, nearly 4,000 people appealed against the decisions
of sterilization authorities, 3,559 of the appeals failed. By the end of the
Nazi regime, over 200 'Genetic Health Courts' were created, and under their rul-
ings over 400,000 people were sterilized against their will." (Compare 1930 and
1933 The Reichskonkordat was signed on July 20, 1933, by Eugenio Cardinal
Pacelli and Franz von Papen on behalf of Pope Pius XI and President Paul von
The evidence I'm finding indicates that the truth isn't the same as Ruther-
ford's "144,000"-centric propaganda about Catholic leaders:
1933 Rutherford taught that Jesus returned invisibly in 1914, which is when
the "last days" began. ("The Watchtower," Dec.1, 1933, p.362)
1933 According to Wikipedia: "In 1933 the Gleichschaltung forced Protestant
churches to merge into the Protestant Reich Church and support Nazi ideology.
Opposition was forced to go "underground" to meet, and created the Confessing
Church that September."
The German Christian (Deutsche Christen) group was formed in 1932 and led by
Ludwig Müller. "The Nazis found the group useful during their initial consoli-
dation of power, it was claimed and remembered as a fact that the Jews had
killed Christ, thus appealing to and actively encouraging anti-Semitic senti-
ment among Christians in Germany." (Compare Clayton Woodworth's statements at
the 7th listing for 1934.)
1934 JWs began to employ sound trucks which played Rutherford's recorded
speeches through loudspeakers. The records, made from 1934 to 1942, were later
used on wind-up phonograph players in door to door work, too (see 1937).
1934 On Feb.9, Rutherford sent a letter of protest to Hitler:
"This letter is a kindly notice and warning of things that are of vital impor-
tance to your welfare. You will find it in your interest to read it carefully.
"Enemies of Jehovah's witnesses have maliciously misrepresented them amd told
vicious lies against them in order to induce your government to do injury to
them. In order that the government might be informed as to the real facts more
than seven thousand of Jehovah's witnesses assembled in Berlin, Germany, on the
25th day of June, 1933, and there issued a Declaration setting forth the facts
concerning their work in Germany, which declaration was furnished to all the
high officials of your government, and millions of copies thereof were dis-
tributed amongst the people until such distribution was forcibly stopped by of-
ficers of your government. That Declaration, a copy of which is hereto at-
tached, called upon your government to see to it that these faithful people, who
are Jehovah's witnesses, might 'without hindrance obey Jehovah God's command-
ments and worship Him as commanded,' and tell the people of His kingdom for the
blessing of all 'the families of the earth'.
"That request has been ignored by your government, and you have refused to
permit these witnesses of Jehovah to serve Him and worship Him as commanded by
the Most High.
1934 The Night of the Long Knives goes on from June 30 to July 1.
1934 On August 2, Adolf Hitler became Führer of Germany, becoming head of
state as well as Chancellor.
All of the German armed forces had to swear a personal oath of loyalty to the
1934 Albert Speer was chosen to be the first architect of the Reich.
1934 "The Journal of the A.M.A. is the vilest sheet that passes the United
States mail.... Nothing new and useful in theraputics escapes its unqualified
condemnation. Its attacks are generally ad hominem. Its editorial columns are
largely devoted to character assasination.... Its editor (Morris Fishbein) is
of the type of Jew that crucified Jesus Christ." ("The Golden Age," Sept.26,
1934; it was a Watch Tower tract of more secular concerns like "Awake!" has
been in recent years)
Apparently, after dispensing so much bad medical advice over the years, in-
cluding unsubstantiated accusations aimed at medical practitioners, Clayton
Woodworth of the Golden Age, or someone Clayton identified with on those terms,
was met with criticism by the Journal of the A.M.A., possibly Morris Fishbein.
In writing "The type of Jew that crucified Jesus Christ," Clayton was making
an expression of Christian religious anti-Semitism--it's the identical view of
the German Christian group described in the last listing for 1933 (see above).
It likely refers to the idea of adding selfish concerns to the meaning of Matt.
27:25--"And all the people answered, 'His blood be on us and on our chil-
dren!'"--to count any contemporary Jews that reject Jesus as their savior as
guilty of killing Jesus. Since about all Jewish people reject Jesus as the Mes-
siah, this has a long ugly history of being used in bashing Jewish people with a
It's probably related that Rutherford knew the second biggest population of
JWs lived in Germany, where Adolf Hitler and his anti-Semitism had too much sup-
port, such as with the German Christian group.
Actually, the theology is that Christ gave his life (John 10:17,18) for the
sins of the world, for salvation to any who have faith in the meaning of it
(Rom.5:6-8; 1 Cor.15:3; Eph.2:8-10), giving offense to Jewish or Gentile people
while spreading the word goes against Paul's teaching (1 Cor.10:32-11:1), both
Jewish and Christian people prefer good medical advice to bad, and the Watchtow-
er diagnosed these things about as well as they played prophet.
1934 On Oct.7, since Hitler hadn't responded to Rutherford's letter, Ruther-
ford had the Jehovah’s witnesses in Germany send a letter to the officials of
Hitler's government. It said:
"TO THE OFFICIALS OF THE GOVERNMENT:
"The word of Jehovah God, as set out in the Holy Bible, is the supreme law,
and to us is our sole guide for the reason that we have devoted ourselves to God
and are true and sincere followers of Christ Jesus.
"During the past year, and contrary to God's law and in violation of our
rights, you have forbidden us as Jehovah's witnesses to meet together to study
God's Word and worship and serve him. In his Word he commands us that we shall
not forsake the assembling of ourselves together. (Hebrews 10:25) To us Jehovah
commands: 'Ye are my witnesses that I am God. Go and tell the people my mes-
sage.' (Isaiah 43:10,12, Isaiah 6:9, Matthew 24:14) There is a direct conflict
between your law and God's law, and, following the lead of the faithful apos-
tles, 'we ought to obey God rather than men,' and this we will do. (Acts 5:29)
Therefore, this is to advise you that at any cost we will obey God's command-
ments, will meet together for the study of His Word, and will worship and serve
Him as he has commanded. If your government or officers do violence to us be-
cause we are obeying God, then our blood will be upon you and you will answer to
"We have no interest in political affairs, but are wholly devoted to God's
kingdom under Christ his king. We will do no injury or harm to anyone. We
would delight to dwell in peace and do good to all men as we have opportunity,
but, since your government and its officers continue in your attempt to force us
to disobey the highest law of the universe, we are compelled to now give you no-
tice that we will, by his grace, obey Jehovah God and fully trust Him to deliver
us from all oppression and oppressors."
"Respectfully, JEHOVAH'S WITNESSES AT ------."
On the same day, Jehovah's witnesses in 49 other countries met in special as-
sembly and sent the following telegram to Hitler:
" — — Oct. 7, 1934.
"Your ill-treatment of Jehovah's witnesses shocks all good people of earth and
dishonors God's name. Refrain from further persecuting Jehovah's witnesses,
otherwise God will destroy you and your national party."
"JEHOVAH'S WITNESSES, --------."
("Jehovah's Witnesses and the Third Reich," M.James Renton, pp.315, 316)
("Awake!" Aug.22, 1995)
(Actually, the Allies did that to the Nazis while Rutherford damned the Allies
and other people for not agreeing with his idea of important things, like what
year to put his invisible Jesus in, from his mansion.)
1934 Joseph Rutherford wrote "Favored People." On p.5 it says:
"The people now on earth called Jews are a commercial people. Among
them are some of the richest and most avaricious men the world has
ever known. Some of the chief men of Big Business are called Jews.
Many of these people are very arrogant, self-important, and extremely
selfish. They have little or no faith in God's Word and do not be-
lieve at all in the Lord Jesus Christ as the Savior of man."
Even if that were true, it would only be grounds for a bonding experience.
Rutherford printed Watchtower articles encouraging subservience to God (which,
according to him, was only taught by one religious leader--him) unto pain of
martyrdom. In the Nov.1 issue of "The Watchtower," printed a month later in
German, Rutherford wrote:
"Some will say: 'If in the face of so much persecution and opposition we con-
tinue to go out amongst the people and publicly tell these truths, then I fear
we may be killed.' That is true; and probably many of the faithful will be
killed because they continue to faithfully proclaim the truth which they have
learned in the secret place of the Most High." ("The Watchtower," Nov.1, 1934,
According to the Wikipedia articles at the enxt links, the Nazi party tried to
control "all aspects of cultural and social life." "Film in Nazi Germany glori-
fied the party, Hitler, and martyrdom for Nazism."
"The period from 1933 to around 1937 was characterized by the systematic elim-
ination of non-Nazi organizations that could potentially influence people, such
as trade unions and political parties. Those critical of Hitler's agenda, es-
pecially his close ties with the industry were suppressed or intimidated. The
regime also assailed the influence of the churches, for example by instituting
the Ministry of Ecclesiastical Affairs under Hanns Kerrl. Organizations that
the administration could not eliminate, such as the education system, came un-
der its direct control."
Rutherford reminds me of Faye Dunaway's character Diane Christenson in "Net-
work," 1976, at this point, for some reason. With this and playing prophet by
banning saluting the flag (see below), sending sound trucks of JWs to damn other
religions, all human government, etc., Rutherford seems similarly bent on put-
ting his followers into situations of unnecessary conflict, even dangerous ones,
At 1 Cor.10:31-11:1, Christians are to go among Jews and Gentiles without giv-
ing offense, being to the other's advantage more than their own to gain them to
If I were a German JW, I'd be saying, "Rutherford, leave someone at the man-
sion to let Abraham and David in if they show up. Get your Canadian whiskey-
drinking butt over here and lead the way, Martin Luther Rutherford. You do it
first. I'll be waiting in Ottawa. Send me a postcard if it works out." If you
want to fight the Nazi movement, you're more effective if you aren't a hostage
or in a grave. The last I heard, the Governing Body hasn't initiated a similar
strategy, with sound trucks and accusations of non-JWs leaders' religion being
Satanism, in Saudi Arabia (although "Mein Kampf" is popular in some Arabic coun-
tries in recent years and they could likewise try to correct those views into
the JWs leaders' light....), so I don't think I'm alone in thinking Rutherford
didn't have a great plan.
(Rutherford's strategy also reminds me of Russell's Aug.1, 1898 advice about
carrying a gun for the military but not having to hit targets.)
There's a special historic point to make here: the thing that ticked Hitler
off and got JWs sent to prison camps was Rutherford's big mouth--not the Catho-
lics, Protestants, or Jews. The JWs hadn't been targeted for death as the Jews
were--Hitler just wanted the JWs, like everyone else, to tow the line political-
ly, or at least not get in the way. It was a violent dictator's reaction to
Rutherford's big, dumb, false prophet, anti-Semitic, propagandizing, Hitler's
butt-kissing mouth, threatening to send unarmed followers into the streets with
anti-Hitler tracts, that got JWs killed.
Later JWs leaders (see 1996) will try to take credit for the JWs position of
political neutrality (which Rutherford was too politically active to genuinely
qualify for) of the time having kept the followers in wise guidance (which Ruth-
erford, endangering the flock with propaganda in Nazi Germany from the safety of
his San Diego mansion, wasn't a wise pacifistic political activist about let
alone a Martin Luther King leading the way to prove his conviction--JWs leaders
1935 On Jan.9, The first documented case of a JW incarcerated in Moringen
concentration camp was Anna Seifert.
1935 On Jan.23, the Reich and Prussian Interior Ministry issued a decree that
removed Rutherford's German Bible Students from civil service employment and
private industry. Cooperation grew between the Gestapo and the Ministries of
Labor, Interior, and Justice, so German Bible Students were increasingly unem-
ployed, arrested, and put in concentration camps.
("Persecution and resistance of Jehovah's Witnesses during the Nazi regime" by
Hans Hesse, 2001)
1935 Saluting flags and singing national anthems were banned by Rutherford.
According to "Jehovah's Witnesses in the Divine Purpose," 1959, pp.143,144,
in 1932, JWs didn't salute the flag of Germany, the USA, or Canada (it doesn't
say why other than due to allegiance to God, but I'm guessing it was due to
Rutherford's teaching of June 1 and 15, 1929, that the higher authorities of Ro-
mans 13 were God and Jesus, leading to ideas that human government was too
worldly, in an expanded idea of "worldly," and even controlled by Satan).
See the Wikipedia article "Minersville School District v. Gobitus" for a
fuller version of the next section. Some comments by me in the next section are
On Monday, June 3, 1935, Rutherford, was interviewed at a Witness convention
about "the flag salute by children in school." He told the audience that to
salute an earthly emblem, ascribing salvation to it, was unfaithfulness to God
and said that he would not do it. It wasn't an established policy of the Jeho-
vah's Witnesses (though saluting the flag wouldn't be a matter of ascribing Bib-
lical salvation to it), but some families soon agreed.
In Sept., 1935, a Lynn, Massachusetts Jehovah’s Witness in the third grade,
Carleton Nichols, refused to give the Pledge of Allegiance and was expelled. It
got a lot of media coverage and soon other JWs refused to give the pledge, too.
On Oct.6, 1935, during a radio broadcast, "Saluting a Flag," Rutherford said
that pledging allegiance to the flag would be worship of an image or representa-
tion in disobediance to Ex.20:4-6.
(It wouldn't. The Exodus section is meant as a ban of worship of whatever
other than God as God, idolatry, not a ban of using a symbol as part of a way to
declare your commitment to the good of a country.
(The phrase "under God" wasn't incorporated into the Pledge of Allegiance un-
til June 14, 1954, and even that didn't make the flag an object of idolatry. An
objection to that phrase could be made in wanting separation of church and
state, but wanting Nativity scenes removed from government property, etc.,
wasn't what motivated Rutherford, either. He was just trying to define his
exclusiveness as spokesman of a literal 144,000 by creating a rule nobody else
used or saw any sense in--that the pledge of allegiance is idolatry.)
Schools in the USA began expelling JWs students and firing JWs teachers.
Rutherford's broadcast was later published in the 1935 booklet "Loyalty" to make
the stance the official JWs' stance.
"Loyalty," p.11: "If a child has been taught by its parents to love and to
obey Almighty God and Christ Jesus, as directed by the Bible, and the child be-
lieves that it is a violation of God's law to salute any flag, is it right for
school boards to expel such a child from school and thus deny the child the
benefit of an education?"
Witnesses hired teachers and set up Kingdom schools to continue their chil-
dren’s education. Walter Gobitas, recently converted to the JWs, told his
children to not give the pledge at their Minersville, PA, school. The school
was 90% Catholic.
(Rutherford's well-publicized Catholics/Protestants/Jews bashing, such as
equating Catholics with Nazis, had already created animosity for the JWs there.
A couple of examples are given below.)
1933--Rutherford's radio broadcast criticizes the Catholics as Satan's
organization, damns them as doomed to fire and brimstone at Armageddon,
etc., in the YouTube clip at the next link.
1934--"It has been the commercial Jews of the British-American empire
that have built up and carried on Big Business as a means of exploiting
and oppressing the peoples of many nations....This fact is so manifest
in America that there is a proverb concerning the city of New York....
'the Jews own it, the Irish Catholics rule it, and the Americans pay the
bills." (1934 Yearbook, p.134--this quote is from Rutherford's "Declara-
tion of Facts" for Hitler.)
Also see the Catholic bashing in the section of this timeline below for
Also see Rutherford's quotes about Trinitarianism on p.8 of "GTJ
Brooklyn." Like Russell, Rutherford taught that Jesus was created yet
was to be worshipped. But he was against idolatry, so...nevermind.
The children were taunted and bullied, a local Catholic church started a boy-
cott of Gobitas' family store, he paid to enroll them in a private school, and
that school board expelled them without appeal.
The case was argued in Philadelphia on Feb.15, 1938. During the trial, school
superintendent Roudabush displayed contempt for the beliefs of the children,
stating that he felt they had been "indoctrinated" (sounds like a wise, objec-
tive person about that, anyway) and that the existence of even a few dissenters
would be "demoralizing," leading to widespread disregard for the flag and Ameri-
can values. Four months later, District Judge Albert B. Maris found that the
board's requirement that the children salute the flag was an unconstitutional
violation of their free exercise of religious beliefs.
Within two weeks, the school board unanimously agreed to appeal the decision.
Oral arguments in the appeal were made before the Third Circuit of the U.S.
Court of Appeals on Nov.9, 1938. One year later, the three-judge court unani-
mously affirmed the district court decision.
Despite two defeats in the lower courts, the school board took its case to the
Supreme Court, authorizing its attorney to file a petition for a writ of certio-
rari, which the Court granted on March 4, 1940.
The Court heard oral arguments on April 25. Rutherford, the president of the
Watch Tower Society and a lawyer, took over the defense assisted by the new head
of the religious group's Legal Department--Hayden Covington. The ACLU and the
Committee on the Bill of Rights of the American Bar Association filed amicus
Hayden Covington and A.H. Macmillan
The Court's decision was nearly unanimous--only Justice Harlan F. Stone dis-
sented. In an 8-to-1 decision, the Court upheld the mandatory flag salute, de-
clining to make itself "the school board for the country."
Justice Felix Frankfurter wrote the majority decision relying primarily on the
"secular regulation" rule, which weighs the secular purpose of a concededly non-
religious government regulation against the religious practice it makes illegal
or otherwise burdens the exercise of religion. He identified the Pennsylvania
flag-salute requirement as an intrinsically secular policy enacted to encourage
patriotism among school children.
Frankfurter wrote that the school district's interest in creating national
unity was enough to allow them to require students to salute the flag. Accord-
ing to Frankfurter, the nation needed loyalty and the unity of all the people.
Since saluting the flag was a primary means of achieving this legitimate goal,
an issue of national importance was at stake.
The Court held that the state's interest in "national cohesion" was "inferior
to none in the hierarchy of legal values."
National unity is the basis of national security. To deny the legislature the
right to select appropriate means for its attainment presents a totally differ-
ent order of problem from that of the propriety of subordinating the possible
ugliness of littered streets to the free expression opinion through handbills.
Weighing the circumstances in this case, he argued that the social need for
conformity with the requirement was greater than the individual liberty claims
of the Jehovah's Witnesses. He emphasized that conscientious scruples have not,
in the course of the long struggle for religious toleration, relieved the indi-
vidual from obedience to a general law not aimed at the promotion or restriction
of religious beliefs.
Frankfurter further wrote that the recitation of a pledge advanced the cause
of patriotism in the United States. He said the country's foundation as a free
society depends upon building sentimental ties.
The flag, the Court found, was an important symbol of national unity and could
be a part of legislative initiatives designed "to promote in the minds of chil-
dren who attend the common schools an attachment to the institutions of their
Harlan Stone, the lone dissenter from the majority's decision wrote:
"The guarantees of civil liberty are but guarantees of freedom of the human
mind and spirit and of reasonable freedom and opportunity to express them...The
very essence of the liberty which they guarantee is the freedom of the individ-
ual from compulsion as to what he shall think and what he shall say..."
On June 9, a mob of 2,500 burned the Kingdom Hall in Kennebunkport, Maine. On
June 16, Litchfield, Illinois police jailed all of the town's sixty Witnesses,
ostensibly protecting them from their neighbors. On June 18, townspeople in
Rawlins, Wyoming brutally beat five Witnesses; on the 22nd, the people of Parco,
Wyoming tarred and feathered another.
American Legion posts harassed Witnesses nationwide. On June 27, members of
the American Legion forced Witnesses from a trailer camp in Jackson, Mississippi
and escorted them across state lines to Louisiana, where they were "...passed
from county to county, finally winding up in the vicinity of Dallas, Texas." A
Nebraska Witness was castrated. Little Rock Witnesses were beaten with pipes
and screwdrivers. West Virginia Witnesses were forced to drink castor oil and
then tied together with police department rope. Witnesses were jailed for sedi-
tion, jailed for distributing literature, jailed for holding a parade, and
jailed for canvassing without a license.
The American Civil Liberties Union reported to the Justice Department that
nearly 1,500 Witnesses were physically attacked in more than 300 communities na-
tionwide. One Southern sheriff told a reporter why Witnesses were being run out
of town: "They're traitors; the Supreme Court says so. Ain't you heard?"
First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt appealed publicly for calm, while newspaper edi-
torials and the American legal community condemned the Gobitis decision as a
blow to liberty. Several justices signaled their belief that the case had been
Partly because of the violent reaction to its decision, the Supreme Court re-
versed itself a few years later. On 14 June 1943 (Flag Day), the court handed
down West Virginia State Board of Education v. Barnette. Justice Robert Jackson
echoed Judge Stone's dissent when he wrote, "If there is any fixed star in our
constitutional constellation, it is that no official, high or petty, can pre-
scribe what shall be orthodox in politics, nationalism, religion or other mat-
ters of opinion."
Justice Frank Murphy considered the reversal to be an important personal land-
mark. The elevation of Harlan Fiske Stone to Chief Justice, and the appointment
of two new members to the Supreme Court were also factors in the Court's rever-
sal of policy.
The active persecution of Jehovah's Witnesses abated somewhat, although thou-
sands were arrested during World War II for seeking religious exemption from
(See 1935 on p.1a.)
The main focus of my expose is evidence of the JWs leaders creating a phoney
exclusiveness, especially if any of the followers are hurt by it. In this case,
Rutherford created an exclusive rule for followers to avoid something idola-
trous. It was an exclusive rule because the something wasn't idolatous. He had
the followers distribute and broadcast fighting words about non-JWs' faiths and
governments knowing the followers were being attacked--sometimes harshly. (And
this isn't the Martin Luther King story--Rutherford didn't lead any marches.)
Regarding customers who broke his rule about not saluting the flag, he insti-
tuted some serious peer presssure that might damage some relationships between
JWs friends and family, too: in the 1936 Yearbook, Rutherford wrote that bap-
tized Jehovah's Witnesses who saluted the flag were breaking their covenant with
God and were "guilty of death." He forced a choice: put up with non-JWs harass-
ment or lose your JWs friends and family.
Sorry for taking so long to set up a punchline.
See the article at the next link: Watchtower presidents Rutherford, Knorr,
Franz, and Henschel are shown in their passport photos for which they signed an
oath of allegiance to the United States. In the case of Rutherford, it was
prior to the 1935 onward ban (3/28/22), but for Knorr (6/8/68), Henschel
(9/16/52), and Franz (?/8/88), it was after the ban took effect.
"Because Christians can be loyal both to God and to earthly governments they
can take oaths of allegiance to defend the Constitution, as is required of citi-
zens in some countries in order to get a passport." ("The Watchtower," Sept.15,
According to the jwfacts site, the JWs leaders ruled against such pledges and
oaths as idolatrous and worldly and out of the question--except when making an
identical oath to a country for a passport or citizenship (so the JWs could more
freely travel to sell JWs leaders' literature and for whatever reasons the JWs
leaders had to travel).
1935 In March, Germany made it compulsory to be in the military of the German
1935 On April 1, JWs missionary activities, including encouragement not to
serve a worldly government, were outlawed by the Reichstag as overtly political
1935 (date?) Rutherford made it compulsory for JWs to refuse to serve in the
1935 On April 17, Sun Myung Moon claimed to have a revelation from Jesus
telling him to complete his mission from almost 2000 years ago.
1935 On Sept.15, Nuremberg Laws were passed prohibiting marriage to Jews and
citizenship for Jews.
1935 "Mistreatment of Fleshly Israel." ("The Golden Age," not the German edi-
tion, Oct.9, 1935, p.6)
1936 From spring 1936 onward, the authorities told German Bible Students to
leave the Bible Students and have their children use the Hitler Salute and sa-
lute the German flag (and, starting on Dec.1, join Hitler Youth) or else the
authorities would try to get a court to decide that they're not fulfilling their
obligations to the state, in which case the Bible Students would lose custody
of their children, who would be sent to a reformatory. Between 1936 and 1946 at
least 860 (Jehovah’s Witnesses sources) or 500 (Worldview Times) children were
taken from their parents.
1936 On June 24, State police and the Gestapo formed a special unit to fight
the Watchtower movement. In Sept., 1937, through a number of arrests and infil-
tration, it succeeded in bringing the public spread of the movement to a stand-
still. Thereafter, reports of Witness activity was mostly limited to prisons,
concentration camps, and some young JWs men who were executed for refusing mili-
By the end of WW II, around 2000 members suffered in the camps, 635 died, and
203 were executed. ("Yearbook," 1974, p.212; "The Watchtower," July 1, 1979,
1937 In July, Buchenwald concentration camp was established.
1937 The Rhineland Bastard program of sterilizing children with mixed German
and African parentage began in the Rhine.
1937 (date?) In Rutherford's tract "Uncovered," he gave his side of a debate
which didn't take place between him and Catholic leaders, so he gave his stances
uncontestedly as though decisive.
"It is a well-known fact that the order of Jesuits is an instrument of and a
part of the Roman Catholic organization, and that it is such organization that
now dictates to and rules Germany, Austria, Italy and other nations and is now
vigorously prosecuting a bloody war in Spain to obtain control of that country.
The abundant literature or propaganda issued by the Roman Catholic Hierarchy
concerning 'Catholic action' overwhelmingly proves that the Roman Catholic Hier-
archy is vigorously attempting to gain control of and rule all the nations of
the earth. Such alone is conclusive proof that the Catholic church is not the
church of God, and does not act with authority from God and Christ, but that it
is the instrument of the Devil, used to blind sincere persons and turn them away
from God and Christ." (pp.40,41)
(For similar statements by Rutherford about Catholic action, etc., and my res-
ponses, see "1940 (Date?) The following excerpts from Rutherford's booklet "CON-
SPIRACY AGAINST DEMOCRACY" below.)
On pages 42-46 of "Uncovered," Rutherford didn't just give the Protestant
stance of disagreement with the Catholic use of sacrementals but used the bigot-
ry of accusing the Catholic church of image worship, and he added his stance
about saluting the flag, which he likened it to.
(See the articles at the next two links, various sections about the JWs lead-
ers' stances on holiday celebrations as having pagan connotations on p.1a, and
"cross" on p.6b.)
1937 While followers had spread speeches by using records and sound cars
since 1934, they typically left the phonograph player in their car unless in-
vited to take it into someone's home. They began to be equipped with wind-up
phonograph players to take Rutherford's speeches door to door: "...at an assem-
bly in Columbus. Ohio, on September 15-20, 1937, the work using the portable
phonograph on the doorstep was introduced." The follower told a household mem-
ber said he had an important Bible message then played a record. ("Jehovah's
Witnesses In The Divine Purpose," p.188)
According to Stan Milosevic at theocraticlibrary.com, the records used from
1934 to 1942 were 78 rpm and four and a half minutes long. The discourses con-
tained on 150 records included "upwards of 90 different discourses by the then
president of the Society, J. F. Rutherford" and "over a million were put to
In 1938 "there were 430,000 discs with lectures in sixteen languages in use on
19,600 sound machines. In 1937 there were reported 10,368,569 listeners, and
for 1938, 13,070,426." ("The Watch Tower," July 1, 1955, pp.394,395)
With Rutherford's combative stances making it increasingly hard to get spon-
sers, the Society voluntarily withdrew from all commercial radio broadcasting
contracts after October 31, Hallowe'en, 1937 except for convention broadcasts
which aired till 1941. WBBR was sold in 1957--the new station, WPOW, aired
The second biggest percentage of JWs at that time lived in Germany--the big-
gest percentage lived in the U.S.. Most JWs, then as now, lived in the U.S. and
what would become the Allied countries of WWII.
Rutherford continued to have the JWs take sound trucks (since 1934) to spread
his message. Especially in the period leading up to and including WWII, his JWs
message included messages of other Christian groups, notably Catholics, and of
government involvement being Satanic. See p.5 and the entries for 1940 on this
page. Rutherford, later Knorr, caused most JWs to try to talk potential con-
verts out of fighting the Nazis. This was, unsurprisingly, the period of the
most persecution of JWs.
1937 Regarding the Roman Catholic church: "Amongst her instruments that she
uses are ultraselfish men called ‘Jews’, who look only for personal gain, and
who therefore readily yield to and join with the Hierarchy in any unrighteous
"No one on earth can tell exactly what will come to pass; but those devoted to
the Lord, and according to the divine rule of applying the well known facts to
God's prophecy now in course of fulfillment, can well reach a reasonable conclu-
sion as to what shall come to pass. The question is, Will Great Britain and
America become Facist under the dominating control of the Roman Catholic Heir-
archy? The Scriptures and the facts seem to support that conclusion." ("Ene-
mies," J.A. Rutherford, 1937, pp.281,291)
Here's a record Rutherford made to be taken door to door to promote his book