Preaching Behind the Iron Curtain
“THOUGH Divided—Still United: Germany.” Thus read one of the ninety beautifully illustrated greeting signs from as many different lands that decorated Yankee Stadium at the time the New World Society Assembly of Jehovah’s Witnesses was held there in July, 1953. Emphasizing that unity were the reports of the activity of Jehovah’s witnesses behind the Iron Curtain, a few of which are given herewith.
At present there are more than eleven hundred brothers in prisons of the Eastern Zone of Germany because of their witness for the truth. But even in prison God’s Word is not bound. At one of the permanent controls in trains, that is, customs inspection, a woman who had become interested in Jehovah’s witnesses was arrested because they found she had with her the book The New World, a witness Bible-study aid. In court she was asked if she would continue to believe in Jehovah. Then and there she dedicated herself to Jehovah and answered “Yes!” She was given a two-year sentence and while in prison was able to learn more about the truth and was secretly baptized. After her release she wrote the Watch Tower Society in West Berlin: “I am grateful with all my heart that I was able to bear witness to Jehovah’s name even under oppression. It was a good lesson for me.”
Calling at a home to give the family further Bible instruction one of Jehovah’s witnesses found a policeman present. He detected an air of tenseness and the family’s uneasiness. How should he conduct himself and what would the outcome be? After silent prayer, the witness fearlessly gave the witness he had prepared. His courageous action set the family’s interest aglow. They now explain: “We were so uncertain about our existence. Through this message our life has become enriched. You cannot imagine how happy we are to have found the truth.”
Among the best opportunities for giving the witness in East Germany are the funeral services. Very often hundreds of persons are present at the cemetery. Although it is strictly forbidden for Jehovah’s witnesses to speak on such occasions, they do it anyway, and this usually very unexpectedly so that their enemies are caught off guard.
A Communist official was arrested before he had opportunity to carry out his plans to flee to West Germany. While in prison he came in contact with Jehovah’s witnesses. After some time he began to witness to Jehovah, and as a result of having been “contaminated by Jehovah’s witnesses” he was put in solitary confinement and had to suffer much, especially because of his refusal to eat blood sausage. A clergyman of Communist leanings was placed in the cell with him to win him away from Jehovah, but in vain. Soon thereafter he was baptized in prison. Upon his release he told his fellow witnesses: “Instead of its being prison time, that was really school time for me.”
A husband, bitterly opposed to his wife’s being one of Jehovah’s witnesses, wrote a letter to the police giving names and addresses of the witnesses directing the work in his town as well as of others who were interested in their work; also the time and place of meetings. On his way to mail the letter he had a heart attack and dropped dead. His wife found the letter in his pocket, stamped and addressed to the police, together with a personal copy.
Witnesses arrested while engaged in the preaching work often manifest a wonderful spirit in the presence of their enemies. Despite cruel beatings they remain silent, not revealing the names of their fellow servants. The prosecuting attorney asked a witness in the course of his trial how many copies of The Watchtower he had taken into a certain town. He replied: “Mr. Judge, you wouldn’t be able to stand the strain of hearing the number!” Another witness, at the conclusion of giving his defense, stated: “Whether I have to go to prison for five, ten, fifteen or twenty years—there is no gallows too high and no ax [guillotine] too sharp—I am and remain a witness of Jehovah.” Truly the Iron Curtain has not divided Jehovah’s witnesses in Germany.
The name of Jehovah is a strong tower; the righteous runneth into it, and is safe.—Proverbs 18:10, AS.