Part 3—Witnesses to the Most Distant Part of the Earth
A global report of the preaching of the Kingdom message from 1935 through 1945 is set out on pages 444 to 461. The year 1935 is highly significant because at that time the great multitude, or great crowd, of Revelation 7:9 was identified. In connection with the gathering of that group, Jehovah’s Witnesses began to discern that the Bible set before them a work of greater proportions than any that had preceded it. How did they go about it when the nations became embroiled in World War II and a majority of lands imposed bans on them or their Bible literature?
AS Jehovah’s Witnesses shared in their ministry during the 1930’s, their aim was to reach as many people as possible with the Kingdom message. If they discerned exceptional interest, some of them might stay up much of the night explaining Bible truths and answering questions to satisfy spiritually hungry ones. But in most cases, the Witnesses simply used brief presentations that were designed to stir up the interest of householders, and then they let the literature or public Bible lectures do the rest. Theirs was a work of informing people, sowing seeds of Kingdom truth.
Intense Effort to Reach Many People With the Good News
The work was done with a sense of urgency. As an example, early in the 1930’s, when Armando Menazzi, in Córdoba, Argentina, read the clear exposition of Bible truth in the booklets Hell and Where Are the Dead?, he acted decisively. (Ps. 145:20; Eccl. 9:5; Acts 24:15) Moved by what he learned, and inspired by the zeal being shown by Nicolás Argyrós, he sold his auto-repair shop to devote himself to preaching the truth as a pioneer. Then, in the early 1940’s, with his encouragement the Witnesses in Córdoba bought an old bus, installed beds, and used this vehicle to take ten or more publishers on preaching expeditions that lasted a week, two weeks, or even three months. As these trips were planned, different brothers and sisters from the congregation were given opportunity to go along. Each one in the group had his assigned work—cleaning, cooking, or fishing and hunting for food. In at least ten Argentine provinces, this zealous group preached from house to house, covering cities as well as villages and reaching out to scattered farms.
A similar spirit was manifested in the Australian field. Much witnessing was done in the heavily populated coastal cities. But the Witnesses there also sought to reach people who lived in remote areas. Thus, on March 31, 1936, in order to reach people on the sheep and cattle stations scattered across the outback, Arthur Willis and Bill Newlands struck out on a trip that took them a total of 12,250 miles [19,710 km]. For much of their journey, there were no roads—only bush tracks through the treeless desert with its oppressive heat and howling dust storms. But they pressed on. Wherever interest was found, they played recorded Bible discourses and left literature. On other occasions, John E. (Ted) Sewell went with them; and then he volunteered to serve in Southeast Asia.
The territory supervised by the Society’s branch in Australia reached far beyond Australia itself. It included China and island groups and nations stretching from Tahiti on the east to Burma (now Myanmar) on the west, a distance of 8,500 miles [13,700 km]. Within that area were such places as Hong Kong, Indochina (now Cambodia, Laos, and Vietnam), the Netherlands East Indies (including such islands as Sumatra, Java, and Borneo), New Zealand, Siam (now Thailand), and Malaya. It was not unusual for the branch overseer, Alexander MacGillivray, a Scotsman, to invite a zealous young pioneer into his office, show him a map of the branch territory, and ask: ‘Would you like to be a missionary?’ Then, pointing to an area in which little or no preaching had been done, he would ask: ‘How would you like to open up the work in this territory?’
During the early 1930’s, some of these pioneers had already done much work in the Netherlands East Indies (now Indonesia) and Singapore. In 1935, Frank Dewar, a New Zealander, traveled with a group of these pioneers aboard the Lightbearer as far as Singapore. Then just before the boat went on to the northwest coast of Malaya, Captain Eric Ewins said: “Well, Frank, here we are. This is as far as we can take you. You chose to go to Siam. Now, off you go!” But Frank had nearly forgotten about Siam. He had been enjoying his service with the group on the boat. Now he was on his own.
He made a stopover in Kuala Lumpur until he could get together enough money for the rest of the trip, but, while there, he was in a traffic accident—a truck knocked him off his bicycle. After recuperating, with just five dollars in his pocket, he boarded the train bound from Singapore to Bangkok. But with faith in Jehovah’s ability to provide, he got on with the work. Claude Goodman had preached there briefly in 1931; but when Frank arrived in July 1936, there were no Witnesses on hand to welcome him. During the next few years, however, others had a part in the work—Willy Unglaube, Hans Thomas, and Kurt Gruber from Germany and Ted Sewell from Australia. They distributed much literature, but most of it was in English, Chinese, and Japanese.
When a letter was sent to the Society’s headquarters saying that the brothers needed literature in the Thai language but had no translator, Brother Rutherford replied: “I am not in Thailand; you are there. Have faith in Jehovah and work diligently, and you will find a translator.” And they did. Chomchai Inthaphan, a former headmistress of the Presbyterian Girls’ School in Chiang Mai, embraced the truth, and by 1941 she was translating Bible literature into Thai.
One week after Frank Dewar took up preaching in Bangkok, Frank Rice, who had pioneered the Kingdom work on Java (now part of Indonesia), came through on his way to a new assignment in what was then French Indochina. As he had done in his earlier territory, he preached to those who spoke English while he learned the local language. After covering Saigon (now Ho Chi Minh City), he taught some English lessons in order to buy an old car that he could use to reach the northern part of the country. His concern was not material comforts but Kingdom interests. (Heb. 13:5) Using the car he purchased, he witnessed in towns and villages and at isolated homes all the way to Hanoi.
To arouse interest in the Kingdom message and to alert people to the need to take decisive action, eye-catching means were used by the Witnesses in many lands. Starting in 1936 in Glasgow, Scotland, the Witnesses advertised convention discourses by wearing placards and distributing handbills in shopping areas. Two years later, in 1938, in connection with a convention in London, England, another striking feature was added. Nathan H. Knorr and Albert D. Schroeder, who later served together on the Governing Body, led a parade of nearly a thousand Witnesses through the central business district of London. Every other one of the marchers wore a placard advertising the public talk “Face the Facts,” to be delivered by J. F. Rutherford at the Royal Albert Hall. Those in between carried signs that read “Religion Is a Snare and a Racket.” (At that time they understood religion to be all worship that was not in harmony with God’s Word, the Bible.) Later in the week, to neutralize the hostile reaction of some of the public, signs reading “Serve God and Christ the King” were interspersed with the earlier ones. This activity was not easy for many of Jehovah’s Witnesses, but they looked at it as another way to serve Jehovah, another test of their loyalty to him.
Not everyone was pleased with the bold publicity that Jehovah’s Witnesses gave to their message. The clergy in Australia and New Zealand put pressure on the managers of radio stations to suppress all broadcasts sponsored by Jehovah’s Witnesses. In April 1938, when Brother Rutherford was en route to Australia to deliver a radio address, public officials allowed themselves to be influenced to cancel arrangements that had been made for him to use the Sydney Town Hall and radio facilities. Quickly the Sydney Sports Grounds were hired, and as a result of the extensive news publicity surrounding the opposition to Brother Rutherford’s visit, an even larger crowd came to hear his discourse. On other occasions, when the Witnesses were denied the use of radio facilities, they responded by giving intense publicity to meetings at which Brother Rutherford’s lectures were reproduced with transcription equipment.
The clergy in Belgium sent out children to throw stones at the Witnesses, and priests would personally go around to the homes to collect literature that had been distributed. But some of the villagers liked what they were learning from Jehovah’s Witnesses. They would often say: “Give me several of your booklets; when the priest comes, I can give him one to satisfy him and keep the rest to read!”
The following years, however, led to even stronger opposition to Jehovah’s Witnesses and the Kingdom message that they proclaimed.
Preaching in Europe in the Face of Wartime Persecution
Because they would not abandon their faith and desist from preaching, thousands of Jehovah’s Witnesses in Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, and the Netherlands were imprisoned or sent to Nazi concentration camps. There brutal treatment was the order of the day. Those not yet in prison carried on their ministry cautiously. They often worked with just the Bible and offered other literature only when making return visits on interested persons. To avoid arrest, Witnesses would call at one door in an apartment house and then perhaps go to another building, or after calling at just one house they would go to another street before approaching another house. But they were by no means timid about giving a witness.
On December 12, 1936, just a few months after the Gestapo had arrested thousands of the Witnesses and other interested persons in a nationwide effort to stop their work, the Witnesses themselves conducted a campaign. With lightning speed they put tens of thousands of copies of a printed resolution in mailboxes and under the doors of people throughout Germany. These protested the cruel treatment being meted out to their Christian brothers and sisters. Within an hour after the distribution began, the police were racing around trying to catch the distributors, but they laid their hands on only about a dozen in the entire country.
Officials were shocked that such a campaign could be carried out after all that the Nazi government had done to suppress the work. Furthermore, they became afraid of the populace. Why? Because when the police and other uniformed officials went to the homes and asked whether the inhabitants had received such a leaflet, most of the people denied it. In fact, by far the majority of them had not. Copies had been delivered to only two or three households in each building. But the police did not know that. They assumed that one had been left at each door.
During the months that followed, Nazi officials loudly denied the charges made in that printed resolution. So, on June 20, 1937, the Witnesses who were still free distributed another message, an open letter that was unsparing in its detail about the persecution, a document that named officials and cited dates and places. Great was the consternation among the Gestapo over this exposure and over the ability of the Witnesses to achieve such a distribution.
Numerous experiences of the Kusserow family, from Bad Lippspringe, Germany, manifested that same determination to give a witness. An example involves what occurred after Wilhelm Kusserow had been executed publicly in Münster by the Nazi regime because of his refusal to compromise his faith. Wilhelm’s mother, Hilda, immediately went to the prison and urgently requested the body for burial. She said to her family: “We will give a great witness to the people who knew him.” At the funeral Wilhelm’s father, Franz, offered a prayer that expressed faith in Jehovah’s loving provisions. At the grave Wilhelm’s brother Karl-Heinz spoke words of comfort from the Bible. For this they did not go unpunished, but to them the important thing was honoring Jehovah by giving a witness concerning his name and his Kingdom.
As wartime pressures mounted in the Netherlands, the Witnesses there wisely adjusted their meeting arrangements. These were now held only in groups of ten or less in private homes. Meeting places were frequently changed. Each Witness attended only with his own group, and none would divulge the address of the study, not even to a trusted friend. At that time in history, when entire populations were being driven from their homes as a result of the war, Jehovah’s Witnesses knew that people urgently needed the comforting message that is found only in God’s Word, and they fearlessly shared it with them. But a letter from the branch office reminded the brothers of the caution that Jesus had demonstrated on various occasions when confronted by opposers. (Matt. 10:16; 22:15-22) As a result, when they encountered a person who showed hostility, they made careful note of the address so that special precautions could be taken when working that territory in the future.
In Greece widespread suffering was experienced by the populace during the German occupation. The most severe treatment meted out to Jehovah’s Witnesses, however, came as a result of vicious misrepresentation by the clergy of the Greek Orthodox Church, who insisted that the police and the courts take action against them. Many of the Witnesses were imprisoned or were banished from their hometowns and sent to obscure villages or were confined under harsh conditions on barren islands. Nevertheless, they kept on witnessing. (Compare Acts 8:1, 4.) Often this was done by talking to people in parks and public gardens, by sitting on the benches with them and telling them about God’s Kingdom. When genuine interest was found, a precious piece of Bible literature was lent to the person. Such literature was later returned and used again and again. Many lovers of truth gratefully accepted the help offered by the Witnesses and even joined with them in sharing the good news with others, though this brought bitter persecution upon them.
An important factor in the courage and perseverance of the Witnesses was their being built up by spiritual food. Though supplies of literature for distribution to others eventually became quite depleted in some parts of Europe during the war, they managed to circulate among themselves faith-strengthening material that had been prepared by the Society for study by Jehovah’s Witnesses worldwide. At the risk of their lives, August Kraft, Peter Gölles, Ludwig Cyranek, Therese Schreiber, and many others shared in reproducing and distributing study material that was smuggled into Austria from Czechoslovakia, Italy, and Switzerland. In the Netherlands, it was a kindly prison guard who helped by procuring a Bible for Arthur Winkler. In spite of all the precautions taken by the enemy, refreshing waters of Bible truth from The Watchtower reached even into the German concentration camps and circulated among the Witnesses there.
Confinement in prisons and concentration camps did not stop Jehovah’s Witnesses from being witnesses. When the apostle Paul was in prison in Rome, he wrote: “I am suffering evil to the point of prison bonds . . . Nevertheless, the word of God is not bound.” (2 Tim. 2:9) The same proved to be true in the case of Jehovah’s Witnesses in Europe during World War II. Guards observed their conduct; some asked questions, and a few became fellow believers, even though it meant the loss of their own freedom. Many prisoners who were confined with the Witnesses had come from such lands as Russia, where very little preaching of the good news had been done. After the war some of these returned to their homeland as Jehovah’s Witnesses, eager to spread the Kingdom message there.
Brutal persecution and the effects of total war could not prevent the foretold gathering of people to Jehovah’s great spiritual house for worship. (Isa. 2:2-4) From 1938 to 1945, most of the lands of Europe showed substantial increases in the number sharing publicly in such worship by proclaiming God’s Kingdom. In Britain, Finland, France, and Switzerland, the Witnesses experienced increases of approximately 100 percent. In Greece, there was nearly a sevenfold increase. In the Netherlands, twelvefold. But by the end of 1945, details had not yet come from Germany or Romania, and only sketchy reports had come in from a number of other lands.
Outside Of Europe During Those War Years
In the Orient too, the world war gave rise to extreme hardship for Jehovah’s Witnesses. In Japan and Korea, they were arrested and subjected to beatings and torture because they advocated God’s Kingdom and would not worship the Japanese emperor. Eventually they were cut off from all contact with Witnesses in other lands. For many of them, the only opportunities to give a witness were when being interrogated or when on trial in court. By the end of the war, the public ministry of Jehovah’s Witnesses in these lands had virtually come to a halt.
When the war reached the Philippines, the Witnesses were mistreated by both sides because they would not support either the Japanese or the resistance forces. To avoid being seized, many Witnesses abandoned their homes. But as they moved from place to place, they preached—lending literature when there was some available, and later using only the Bible. As the war front receded, they even outfitted several boats to carry large groups of Witnesses to islands where little or no witnessing had been done.
In Burma (now Myanmar), it was not Japanese invasion but pressure from Anglican, Methodist, Roman Catholic, and American Baptist clergymen exerted on colonial officials that led to a ban on the literature of Jehovah’s Witnesses in May 1941. Two Witnesses working in the cable office saw a telegram that alerted them to what was coming, so the brothers quickly moved literature out of the Society’s depot in order to avert its being confiscated. Efforts were then made to send much of the literature overland into China.
At that time the U.S. government was trucking vast amounts of war material over the Burma Road to support the Chinese Nationalist government. The brothers tried to secure space on one of those trucks but were rebuffed. Efforts to obtain a vehicle from Singapore also failed. However, when Mick Engel, who was in charge of the Society’s Rangoon (now Yangon) depot, approached a high U.S. official, he was granted permission to transport the literature on army trucks.
Nevertheless, after that when Fred Paton and Hector Oates approached the officer controlling the convoy into China and asked for space, he nearly had a fit! “What?” he shouted. “How can I give you precious space in my trucks for your miserable tracts when I have absolutely no room for urgently needed military and medical supplies rotting here in the open?” Fred paused, reached into his briefcase, showed him the letter of authorization, and pointed out that it would be a very serious matter if he ignored the direction given by officials in Rangoon. Not only did the road controller arrange to transport two tons of books but he placed a light truck, with driver and supplies, at the disposal of the brothers. They headed northeast over the dangerous mountain road into China with their precious cargo. After witnessing in Pao-shan, they pressed on to Chungking (Pahsien). Thousands of pieces of literature telling about Jehovah’s Kingdom were distributed during the year that they spent in China. Among others to whom they personally witnessed was Chiang Kai-shek, the president of the Chinese Nationalist government.
Meanwhile, as bombing intensified in Burma, all but three of the Witnesses there left the country, most of them for India. The activity of the three who remained was, of necessity, limited. Yet they continued to witness informally, and their efforts bore fruit after the war.
In North America too, Jehovah’s Witnesses were confronted by severe obstacles during the war. Widespread mob violence and unconstitutional application of local laws brought great pressure on the preaching work. Thousands were imprisoned because of taking their stand as Christian neutrals. Yet, this did not slow down the house-to-house ministry of the Witnesses. Furthermore, beginning in February 1940, it became common to see them on the streets in business districts offering The Watchtower and Consolation (now Awake!). Their zeal became even stronger. Though undergoing some of the most intense persecution ever experienced in that part of the world, the Witnesses more than doubled in numbers in both the United States and Canada from 1938 to 1945, and the time they devoted to their public ministry tripled.
In many lands identified with the British Commonwealth (in North America, Africa, Asia, and islands of the Caribbean and of the Pacific) either Jehovah’s Witnesses or their literature was put under government ban. One of such lands was Australia. An official notice published there on January 17, 1941, at the direction of the governor-general, made it illegal for Jehovah’s Witnesses to meet for worship, to circulate any of their literature, or even to have it in their possession. Under the law it was possible to challenge the ban in court, and this was promptly done. But it was over two years before Mr. Justice Starke of the High Court declared that the regulations on which the ban was based were “arbitrary, capricious and oppressive.” The full High Court removed the ban. What did Jehovah’s Witnesses do in the meantime?
In imitation of the apostles of Jesus Christ, they ‘obeyed God as ruler rather than men.’ (Acts 4:19, 20; 5:29) They continued to preach. In spite of numerous obstacles, they even arranged for a convention at Hargrave Park, near Sydney, December 25-29, 1941. When the government refused rail transportation to some of the delegates, a group from Western Australia equipped their vehicles with gas-producing units operating on charcoal and struck out on a 14-day cross-country trek, which included spending one week traversing the pitiless Nullarbor Plain. They arrived safely and enjoyed the program along with the other six thousand delegates. The following year another assembly was held, but this time it was divided up into 150 smaller groups in seven major cities across the country, with speakers shuttling from one location to the next.
As conditions in Europe deteriorated in 1939, some pioneer ministers of Jehovah’s Witnesses volunteered to serve in other fields. (Compare Matthew 10:23; Acts 8:4.) Three German pioneers were sent from Switzerland to Shanghai, China. A number went to South America. Among those transferred to Brazil were Otto Estelmann, who had been visiting and helping congregations in Czechoslovakia, and Erich Kattner, who had served at the Watch Tower Society’s office in Prague. Their new assignment was not an easy one. They found that in some farm areas, the Witnesses would get up early and preach until 7:00 a.m. and then do further field service late into the evening. Brother Kattner recalls that as he moved from place to place, he often slept in the open, using his literature bag as a pillow.—Compare Matthew 8:20.
Both Brother Estelmann and Brother Kattner had been hounded by the Nazi secret police in Europe. Did their move to Brazil free them from persecution? On the contrary, after just a year, they found themselves under prolonged house arrest and imprisonment at the instigation of officials who were apparently Nazi sympathizers! Opposition from the Catholic clergy was also common, but the Witnesses persisted in their God-given work. They constantly reached out to cities and towns in Brazil where the Kingdom message had not yet been preached.
A review of the global situation shows that in the majority of lands where Jehovah’s Witnesses were located during World War II, they were confronted with government bans either on their organization or their literature. Though they had been preaching in 117 lands in 1938, the war years (1939-45) saw bans on their organization or literature, or deportation of their ministers, in over 60 of those lands. Even where there were no bans, they faced mob violence and were frequently arrested. In spite of all of this, the preaching of the good news did not stop.
The Great Crowd Begins to Manifest Itself in Latin America
Right in the midst of the war years, in February 1943, with an eye on work to be done in the postwar era, the Watch Tower Society inaugurated Gilead School in New York State to train missionaries for foreign service. Before the end of the year, 12 of those missionaries had already begun to serve in Cuba. The field there proved to be very productive.
As early as 1910, some seeds of Bible truth had reached Cuba. C. T. Russell had given a discourse there in 1913. J. F. Rutherford had spoken on the radio in Havana in 1932, and there was a rebroadcast of the material in Spanish. But growth was slow. There was widespread illiteracy at that time and much religious prejudice. Interest shown was at first largely among the English-speaking population that had come from Jamaica and other places. By 1936 there were just 40 Kingdom proclaimers in Cuba. But the planting and watering of seeds of Kingdom truth then began to yield more fruit.
In 1934 the first Cubans had been baptized; others followed. Starting in 1940, daily radio broadcasts coupled with bold street witnessing reinforced the house-to-house ministry there. Even before Gilead-trained missionaries arrived in 1943, there were 950 in Cuba who had embraced the good news and were preaching it to others, though not all of them were sharing regularly. During the two years following the arrival of the missionaries, the numbers increased even more rapidly. By 1945, Jehovah’s Witnesses in Cuba numbered 1,894. Although most of them had come from a religion that taught that all faithful supporters of the church would go to heaven, the vast majority of those who became Jehovah’s Witnesses eagerly embraced the prospect of eternal life on earth in a restored paradise. (Gen. 1:28; 2:15; Ps. 37:9, 29; Rev. 21:3, 4) Only 1.4 percent of them professed to be spirit-anointed brothers of Christ.
In yet another way, help was provided for the Latin American field by the Society’s world headquarters. Early in 1944, N. H. Knorr, F. W. Franz, W. E. Van Amburgh, and M. G. Henschel spent ten days in Cuba to strengthen the brothers there spiritually. During that time a convention was held in Havana, and arrangements for better coordination of the preaching work were outlined. This trip also took Brother Knorr and Brother Henschel to Costa Rica, Guatemala, and Mexico to assist Jehovah’s Witnesses in those lands.
In 1945 and 1946, N. H. Knorr and F. W. Franz made tours that enabled them to speak and work with the Witnesses in 24 lands in the area from Mexico to the southern tip of South America as well as in the Caribbean. They personally spent five months in that part of the world, providing loving help and direction. In some places they met with just a handful of interested persons. So that there would be regular arrangements for meetings and field service, they personally assisted with the organizing of the first congregations in Lima, Peru, and Caracas, Venezuela. Wherever congregation meetings were already being held, they attended these and, on occasion, provided counsel on how to improve their practical value in connection with the evangelizing work.
Where possible, arrangements were made for public Bible talks during these visits. The talks were given intensive publicity through the use of placards worn by Witnesses and through handbills distributed on the streets. As a result, the 394 Witnesses in Brazil were pleased to have 765 at their convention in São Paulo. In Chile, where there were 83 Kingdom proclaimers, 340 came to hear the specially advertised discourse. In Costa Rica the 253 local Witnesses were delighted to have a total of 849 at their two assemblies. These were occasions of warm fellowship among the brothers.
The objective, however, was not merely to have memorable conventions. During these tours the representatives from headquarters placed special emphasis on the importance of making return visits on interested people and conducting home Bible studies with them. If people were going to become real disciples, they needed regular instruction from God’s Word. As a result, the number of home Bible studies grew rapidly in this part of the world.
While Brother Knorr and Brother Franz were making these service tours, more Gilead-trained missionaries were arriving in their assignments. By the end of 1944, some were serving in Costa Rica, Mexico, and Puerto Rico. In 1945, other missionaries were helping to get the preaching work better organized in Barbados, Brazil, British Honduras (now Belize), Chile, Colombia, El Salvador, Guatemala, Haiti, Jamaica, Nicaragua, Panama, and Uruguay. When the first two missionaries arrived in the Dominican Republic in 1945, they were the only Witnesses in the country. The effect of the ministry of the early missionaries was quickly felt. Said Trinidad Paniagua about the first missionaries sent to Guatemala: “This was exactly what we needed—teachers of the Word of God who would help us understand how to go about doing the work.”
So the groundwork was being laid for expansion in this part of the world field. On the Caribbean islands, there were 3,394 Kingdom proclaimers by the end of 1945. In Mexico, there were 3,276, and another 404 in Central America. In South America, 1,042. For this part of the world, that represents an increase of 386 percent during the previous seven years, a very turbulent period of human history. But it was just a beginning. Growth of truly explosive proportions was yet ahead! The Bible had foretold that “a great crowd . . . out of all nations and tribes and peoples and tongues” would be gathered as worshipers of Jehovah before the great tribulation.—Rev. 7:9, 10, 14.
When World War II began in 1939, there were just 72,475 of Jehovah’s Witnesses preaching in 115 lands (if counted according to the national divisions of the early 1990’s). In spite of the intense persecution that they experienced on a global scale, they more than doubled in number by the end of the war. Thus, the report for 1945 showed 156,299 Witnesses active in the 107 lands for which it has been possible to compile reports. By that time, however, 163 lands had actually been reached with the Kingdom message.
The witness given during the years from 1936 to 1945 was truly amazing. During that decade of world turmoil, these zealous Witnesses of Jehovah devoted a total of 212,069,285 hours to proclaiming to the world that God’s Kingdom is the only hope for humankind. They also distributed 343,054,579 books, booklets, and magazines to help people to understand the Scriptural basis for that confidence. To help sincerely interested ones, in 1945 they were conducting, on an average, 104,814 free home Bible studies.
[Blurb on page 455]
Though wartime conditions forced them to flee, they kept on preaching
[Box/Pictures on page 451-453]
They Refused to Stop Witnessing Even Though Imprisoned
Shown here are only a few of the thousands who suffered for their faith in prisons and concentration camps during World War II
1. Adrian Thompson, New Zealand. Imprisoned in 1941 in Australia; his application for exemption from conscription was rejected when Australia banned Jehovah’s Witnesses. After his release, as traveling overseer, he strengthened the congregations in their public ministry. Served as a missionary and the first traveling overseer in postwar Japan; continued to preach zealously until his death in 1976.
2. Alois Moser, Austria. In seven prisons and concentration camps. Still an active Witness in 1992 at 92 years of age.
3. Franz Wohlfahrt, Austria. Execution of his father and his brother did not deter Franz. Held in Rollwald Camp in Germany for five years. Still witnessing in 1992 at 70 years of age.
4. Thomas Jones, Canada. Imprisoned in 1944, then held in two work camps. After 34 years of full-time service, he was appointed in 1977 to be a member of the Branch Committee supervising the preaching work in all of Canada.
5. Maria Hombach, Germany. Repeatedly arrested; in solitary confinement for three and a half years. As a courier, she risked her life to take Bible literature to fellow Witnesses. In 1992, a faithful member of the Bethel family at 90 years of age.
6. Max and Konrad Franke, Germany. Father and son, both imprisoned repeatedly, and for many years. (Konrad’s wife, Gertrud, was also in prison.) All remained loyal, zealous servants of Jehovah, and Konrad was in the forefront of rebuilding the preaching work of the Witnesses in postwar Germany.
7. A. Pryce Hughes, England. Sentenced to two terms at Wormwood Scrubs, London; had also been imprisoned because of his faith during World War I. In the forefront of the work of Kingdom preaching in Britain down till his death in 1978.
8. Adolphe and Emma Arnold with daughter Simone, France. After Adolphe was imprisoned, Emma and Simone continued to witness, also to distribute literature to other Witnesses. Emma, when in prison, was put in solitary confinement for persistently witnessing to other prisoners. Simone was sent to a reform school. All continued to be zealous Witnesses.
9. Ernst and Hildegard Seliger, Germany. Between them, more than 40 years in prisons and concentration camps for their faith. Even in prison they persisted in sharing Bible truths with others. When free they devoted their full time to preaching the good news. Brother Seliger died a loyal servant of God in 1985; Sister Seliger, in 1992.
10. Carl Johnson, United States. Two years after baptism, imprisoned with hundreds of other Witnesses at Ashland, Kentucky. Has served as a pioneer and as a circuit overseer; in 1992, still taking the lead in the field ministry as an elder.
11. August Peters, Germany. Torn away from his wife and four children, he was imprisoned 1936-37, also 1937-45. After release, instead of doing less preaching, he did more, in full-time service. In 1992, at 99 years of age, he was still serving as a member of the Bethel family and had seen the number of Jehovah’s Witnesses in Germany grow to 163,095.
12. Gertrud Ott, Germany. Imprisoned at Lodz, Poland, then Auschwitz concentration camp; next in Gross-Rosen and Bergen-Belsen in Germany. After the war she served zealously as a missionary in Indonesia, Iran, and Luxembourg.
13. Katsuo Miura, Japan. Seven years after his arrest and imprisonment in Hiroshima, much of the prison where he was confined was destroyed by the atom bomb that desolated the city. However, doctors found no evidence that he suffered injury from the radiation. He used the final years of his life as a pioneer.
14. Martin and Gertrud Poetzinger, Germany. A few months after marriage, they were arrested and forcibly separated for nine years. Martin was sent to Dachau and Mauthausen; Gertrud, to Ravensbrück. In spite of brutal treatment, their faith did not waver. After release they devoted all their efforts to Jehovah’s service. For 29 years he served as a traveling overseer throughout Germany; then, as a member of the Governing Body until his death in 1988. In 1992, Gertrud continued to be a zealous evangelizer.
15. Jizo and Matsue Ishii, Japan. After distributing Bible literature throughout Japan for a decade, they were imprisoned. Though the work of Jehovah’s Witnesses in Japan was crushed during the war, Brother and Sister Ishii witnessed zealously again after the war. By 1992, Matsue Ishii had seen the number of active Witnesses in Japan increase to over 171,000.
16. Victor Bruch, Luxembourg. Imprisoned in Buchenwald, Lublin, Auschwitz, and Ravensbrück. At 90 years of age, still active as an elder of Jehovah’s Witnesses.
17. Karl Schurstein, Germany. A traveling overseer before Hitler came to power. Incarcerated for eight years, then killed by the SS in Dachau in 1944. Even within the camp, he continued to build others up spiritually.
18. Kim Bong-nyu, Korea. Confined for six years. At 72 years of age, still telling others about the Kingdom of God.
19. Pamfil Albu, Romania. After being brutally mistreated, he was sent to a labor camp in Yugoslavia for two and a half years. After the war he was imprisoned two more times, for another 12 years. He did not stop speaking about God’s purpose. Before his death he helped thousands in Romania to serve with the global organization of Jehovah’s Witnesses.
20. Wilhelm Scheider, Poland. In Nazi concentration camps 1939-45. In Communist prisons 1950-56, also 1960-64. Until his death in 1971, he unwaveringly devoted his energies to the proclaiming of God’s Kingdom.
21. Harald and Elsa Abt, Poland. During and after the war, Harald spent 14 years in prison and concentration camps because of his faith but continued to preach even there. Elsa was torn away from their infant daughter and then held in six camps in Poland, Germany, and Austria. In spite of a 40-year ban on Jehovah’s Witnesses in Poland even after the war, all of them continued to be zealous servants of Jehovah.
22. Ádám Szinger, Hungary. During six court trials, sentenced to 23 years, of which he served 8 1/2 years in prison and labor camps. When free, served as a traveling overseer for a total of 30 years. At 69 years of age, still a loyal congregation elder.
23. Joseph Dos Santos, the Philippines. Had devoted 12 years as full-time proclaimer of Kingdom message before imprisonment in 1942. Revitalized the activity of Jehovah’s Witnesses in the Philippines after the war and personally continued in pioneer service until his death in 1983.
24. Rudolph Sunal, United States. Imprisoned at Mill Point, West Virginia. After release he devoted full time to spreading the knowledge of God’s Kingdom—as a pioneer, a member of the Bethel family, and a circuit overseer. Still pioneering in 1992, at 78 years of age.
25. Martin Magyarosi, Romania. From prison, 1942-44, continued to give direction for the preaching of the good news in Transylvania. When released he traveled extensively to encourage fellow Witnesses in their preaching and was himself a fearless Witness. Imprisoned again in 1950, he died in a labor camp in 1953, a loyal servant of Jehovah.
26. R. Arthur Winkler, Germany and the Netherlands. First sent to Esterwegen concentration camp; kept preaching in the camp. Later, in the Netherlands, he was beaten by the Gestapo until unrecognizable. Finally he was sent to Sachsenhausen. A loyal, zealous Witness until his death in 1972.
27. Park Ock-hi, Korea. Three years in Sodaemun Prison, Seoul; subjected to indescribable torture. At 91 years of age, in 1992, still zealously witnessing, as a special pioneer.
[Map/Picture on page 446]
Alexander MacGillivray, as overseer of the Australia branch, helped to plan preaching expeditions to many countries and islands
(For fully formatted text, see publication)
Place Names Are Ones That Were in Use During the 1930’s
[Map/Pictures on page 460]
By late 1945, missionaries from Gilead School had already taken up service in 18 lands in this part of the world
Charles and Lorene Eisenhower
John and Adda Parker
Emil Van Daalen
(For fully formatted text, see publication)
[Picture on page 444]
Some colporteurs placed many cartons of literature; householders received numerous Bible sermons in each book
[Picture on page 445]
Armando Menazzi (center front) and a happy group that traveled with him on a preaching expedition in their “pioneer home on wheels”
[Picture on page 445]
Arthur Willis, Ted Sewell, and Bill Newlands—three who took the Kingdom message to the Australian outback
[Picture on page 447]
Frank Dewar (shown here with his wife and their two daughters) went to Thailand as a lone pioneer in 1936 and was still a special pioneer in 1992
[Picture on page 447]
Chomchai Inthaphan used her ability as a translator to reach the Thai people with the good news found in the Bible
[Picture on page 448]
In Germany, Jehovah’s Witnesses gave this open letter extensive public distribution in 1937, even though their worship was under government ban
[Picture on page 449]
Family of Franz and Hilda Kusserow—every one of them a faithful Witness of Jehovah, though all in the family (except a son who had died in an accident) were put into concentration camps, prisons, or reform schools because of their faith
[Pictures on page 450]
Some in Austria and Germany who risked their lives to duplicate or distribute precious material for Bible study, such as that shown in the background
[Picture on page 454]
Witnesses at convention in Shanghai, China, in 1936; nine of this group got baptized on that occasion
[Picture on page 456]
In spite of a ban on their worship, these Witnesses held a convention at Hargrave Park, near Sydney, Australia, in 1941
[Picture on page 458]
Cuban Witnesses at a convention in Cienfuegos in 1939
[Picture on page 459]
N. H. Knorr (left) at São Paulo convention in 1945, with Erich Kattner as interpreter