“Defiance That Commands Respect”
DURING his ruinous term as German chancellor, Adolf Hitler received tens of thousands of letters. In 1945, after the Russians occupied the territory surrounding Berlin, many of these letters were taken to Moscow and stored there. Historian Henrik Eberle has examined thousands of such letters in the Moscow archives in order to study who wrote to Hitler and why. Eberle published his conclusions in the book entitled Briefe an Hitler (Letters to Hitler).
“Teachers and students, nuns and priests, the unemployed and top businessmen, admirals and ordinary storm troopers—they all wrote to Hitler,” says Dr. Eberle. “Some revered him as the born-again Messiah; others saw in him the very essence of wickedness.” Did Hitler receive letters of protest from church officials concerning the outrages perpetrated by the National Socialists, or Nazis? There were some, but such letters were few and far between.
In the Moscow archives, however, Eberle found a file containing a number of letters sent to Hitler by Jehovah’s Witnesses from different parts of Germany, protesting against the conduct of the Nazis. In fact, Witnesses from about 50 countries sent Hitler some 20,000 letters and telegrams protesting the mistreatment of Jehovah’s Witnesses. Thousands of Witnesses were arrested, and several hundred were executed or died following ill-treatment by the Nazis. Dr. Eberle concludes: “In view of the millions of victims of the Nazi regime, this number [of Witness victims] appears small. But it nevertheless testifies to an act of collective and uncompromising defiance that commands respect.”