reprint of the May/Jun 1994 Free Minds Journal

Sleeping with the Enemy—Watchtower Style 

written by Colette Brooks

Contributing researcher: Linda Hull 

A photograph in the Watchtower book, True Peace and Security, How Can You Find It?, depicts several officials of the Roman Catholic clergy rendering a Heil Hitler salute.1 This is indicative of the Watchtower's neverending condemnation of the church, whom they allege "compromised woefully"2 during the second world war. Yet, people in glass houses shouldn't throw stones. Or, as Jesus so eloquently put it, "How can you take the speck out of your brother's eye when you've got a plank hanging out of your own?" Whether the Church endorsed or denounced the tenants of Nazism is not the thrust of this study. What is germane, however, is the fact that Watchtower leadership themselves attempted to compromise "woefully" with the German Reich!  

The books, Jehovah's Witnesses In The Divine Purpose and Jehovah's Witnesses, Proclaimer's of God's Kingdom, report that the Nazi government confiscated Watchtower property after raiding their Magdeburg Germany headquarter's twice during 1933.3 In response to the first raid, a "Declaration of Facts" was drafted by J.F Rutherford (2nd WT President), which they claim denounced Hitler, his government and Nazism.4 However, this Declaration, which was reprinted in The 1934 Yearbook of Jehovah's Witnesses, represents the proverbial "skeleton" in the Watchtower's closet.

M. James Penton, author of the explosive book, Apocalypse Delayed, exposed the Watchtower's hypocrisy in an article written for the Christian Quest Journal.5 According to Penton, the Watchtower took a definitive stance against the Nazi government only after Hitler rejected their Declaration.6 In a personal letter which accompanied the Declaration, Watchtower leaders endeavored to convince the Fuhrer that they supported the "principles" of his government--No doubt, an effort to continue their book selling activities in Germany.7 Hitler, however, was not impressed. In the declaration of facts, Rutherford wrote:

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 nation. 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 principles... [emphasis ours]8

What principles did Germany advocate under Hitler's rule? The Watchtower reported the following in their publication, God's Kingdom of A Thousand Years:

Shortly after the United States was plunged into World War II, information on this Nazi plan was gleaned from seized Nazi documents....This plan aimed at a Nazi world order that Hitler, if successful in World War II, would mercilessly enforce upon the world and mankind...[He] evidently had in mind the Germanic Holy Roman Empire...At any rate, there was no many people of Hitler's religion had hoped.9

While it is quite evident that the Society didn't believe in Nazism, the Declaration reveals that they are just as guilty as they claim Christendom is for "Sleeping With The Enemy." Consequently, one must also ask, what or whom was Rutherford referring to as the so called "Big Business oppressors?"10 He answers: "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.'" 11

During WWI and II the Society criticized ALL governments, including Germany, for being manipulated by the Catholic Church whom they identified as the "Great Whore Of Babylon."12 Yet the Declaration invariably exposes their own hypocrisy.

[The] Bible Students are fighting for the SAME high, ethical goals and ideals that the national German Reich proclaimed regarding the relationship of man to God....there are no opposing views....but that, to the contrary, respecting the purely religious and apolitical goals....these are in complete harmony with....the National Government of the German Reich."13 [emphasis ours]

As previously seen, the Watchtower publication, God's Kingdom of A Thousand Years reported that the "people of Hitler's religion" were disappointed when his plan ultimately failed.14 How then are we to view the above quote since the Watchtower claimed to be "in complete harmony" with the apolitical and religious views of the Third Reich?15 Consequently, anyone with the smallest historical inkling is familiar with the German Reich's "apolitical goals."16 Only a demented man such as Hitler could orchestrate the systematic annihilation of six million Jews while calling these deeds an act of divine will! The Society even acknowledged Germany's wickedness in later Watchtower editions, accusing them of complying with "Satan's attempt to turn all men away from God and His Kingdom."17 Moreover, in the personal letter to Hitler, they even falsely claimed the U.S. government persecuted them for refusing to publish anti-German propaganda during WWI. 18

Of course this claim totally contradicts their stand during the summer of 1918, when the Watchtower urged faithful Bible Students to purchase War Bonds.19 In fact, they even went so far as to support a National Day Of Prayer for Germany's swift defeat.20 Yet, the Society bashed Christendom for praying for the end of WWI in a 1985 Watchtower article. " 1914 when German troops marched into Belgium wearing belts inscribed with the word 'Gott mit uns' (God with us). On both sides the church was prolific in prayers for victory and vitriolic abuse of the enemy." 21 The Organization has never been lax about pointing an accusing finger at others, while ignoring their own blatant inconsistencies.

What does the Society say of this Declaration and the events surrounding it? As should be expected, they shifted the blame. In their 1974 Yearbook they claimed a German Witness "accused" another, Paul Balzereit, of altering it.22 They even went so far as to assert that Balzereit penned the letter to Hitler, which was supposedly done behind Rutherford's back.23 However, Penton challenged this claim:

Regardless of who wrote, edited, or 'weakened' the Declaration, the fact is that it was published as an official document of The Watch Tower Society. Thus the American leaders...and Judge Rutherford in particular--were directly responsible for what was outright anti-Semitism and a willingness to compromise their loudly trumpeted principles of 'Christian neutrality' in order to continue their publishing and preaching work in Germany...24

Moreover, Penton also uncovered an eyewitness account of shocking proportion. Konrad Franke, a German Jehovah's Witness added this to the Nazi scandal:

...I had the privilege of traveling with Brother Albert Wandres from Wiesbaden to Berlin...But we were shocked when we arrived at the Tennis Hall (the Watchtower's Magdeburg Headquarters) the next morning...When we entered, we found the Hall bedecked with Swastika flags!...when the meeting started, it was preluded by a song which we had not sung for years...the notes were (taken from) the melody of 'Deutschland, Deutschland, uber alles'!25 These notes were the melody for the German National Anthem! 26

Since Witnesses today are forbidden to salute national flags, were the German Bible Students under a different standard?----Apparently so, since the Society continued to cover up historical facts with revisionistic slights of hand. In their book, Paradise Restored To Mankind By Theocracy, the Watchtower again demonstrated their propensity for double-standards. "[Jehovah's Witnesses] discerned their commission...They stuck to this course even amid WWII. They stuck to an absolute Christian neutrality toward international controversies." 27

Since Rutherford previously authored two books advocating the Jews prophetic preeminence,28 one would think an "about face" of this nature impossible. However, this "new light" was a prelude to the "Spiritual Israel/Great Crowd" doctrine. To this end, how could the Watchtower support the Jews since their very existence undermined this newest divine revelation? The Watchtower spiritualized many biblical promises made to the Jew---claiming they now applied to their "anointed class."29 How then could the Society continue to support them? Theoretically speaking, could an anti-semite possibly be "faithful and wise," considering the fact that the King of Kings is a Jew? Do not the words "anti-semitic Christian" create a logical absurdity? Although the organization under 1st Watchtower President (Charles Taze Russell) strongly supported Zionism, Rutherford abolished this position some 16 years after Russell's death. He wrote:

...during the World War the Jews received recognition of the heathen nations. In 1917 the Balfour Declaration, sponsored by the heathen governments of Satan's organization, came forth, recognized the Jews, and bestowed upon them great favors....The Jews have received more attention at their hands than they really deserved.30 [emphasis ours]

This represented a tremendous change from his previous writings. In his book Life, Rutherford claimed the Balfour Declaration was part of God's divine plan for bringing fleshly Israel back into His favor.31 The Balfour Declaration paved the way for Israel's claim to Palestine, which Jehovah gave them thousands of years ago. However, Rutherford no longer believed the Jew had any part in God's plan, as evidenced by the following quote from his book Enemies: "...The Protestant clergy...with the rabbis of the Jewish religious organization, follow the lead of the Roman Catholic organization...all such practice religion, of which the Devil is the author."32 Although their literature betrays them, they continue to distort and deny what has already been printed by their own presses. They wrote: "[Jehovah's Witnesses] have never meddled in or even taken part in the politics of any nation with which there is mudslinging and the stirring up of so many hostilities and divisive hatreds."33 Considering Rutherford's immense hypocrisy, is it possible the following statements could provoke "hostilities and divisive hatreds" amongst the Jewish community? "Today the so called 'Protestants' and the Yiddish clergy openly co-operate with and play into the hand of the Roman Catholic Hierarch like foolish simpletons..."34 He even went so far as to say: "Amongst her (The Whore of Babylon) instruments that she uses are the ultra-selfish men called 'Jews' who look only for personal gain."35

One must wonder whether Rutherford ever read Romans ch.11, where Paul cautioned believers against pride over natural Israel's present state of unbelief:

You will reply, "The branches have been broken off so that I may be grafted in." Well said!...Be not haughty...For if God did not spare the natural branches, neither will He spare you...if they do not persist in their unbelief...God is able to graft them in again. And if you have been cut from a naturally wild olive tree and were grafted contrary to much more readily will these natural branches be grafted into their own original tree!

The facts show that Rutherford was VERY familiar with this scripture since he expounded on it at length in his book Deliverance--commenting that there was still hope for fleshly Israel.36 Apparently "new light" adjusted his thinking.

To add insult to injury, the Watchtower also claimed the German government organized mandatory flag salutes in the schools but Witness children refused to participate due to "conscience."37 While we do not doubt their strict dedication to the Society's precepts, we must question the honor and integrity of Watchtower leadership. Why didn't they practice what they forced others to preach? Why did they allow hundreds of Witnesses to die in concentration camps after they themselves attempted to court the fuhrer? To this end they wrote:

The rulers, and particularly the clergy are not now proud of the record they made during the World War, and when Jehovah's Witnesses call attention to the unfaithful and wicked deeds committed then and continuously since then the clergy and their allies feel a stinging shame because they are exposed, and hence they endeavor to prevent the publication of the truth...concerning their acts during the war, their unfaithfulness to God, and their connection with the Devil. They find no glory in the record they have made and are making."38

Consequently, we must again re-emphasize the fact that people in glass houses should never print books, literature, tracts or anything else that will aid others in finding them out.  


1 True Peace and Security, How Can You Find It?, (The Watchtower Bible and Tract Society, 1986) p.25

2 The Watchtower, 1/1/89, p. 21

3 Jehovah's Witnesses In The Divine Purpose (The Watchtower Bible & Tract Society, 1959) p. 130; Jehovah's Witnesses-Proclaimer's Of God's Kingdom (The Watchtower Bible & Tract Society, 1993) p. 693-94

4 ibid.

5 M.J. Penton, "A Story Of Attempted Compromise: Jehovah's Witnesses, Anti-Semitism, And The Third Reich," Christian Quest Journal, Vol. 3, No. 1, Spring 1990, ed. M. James Penton, (Pub. Robert S. Righetti, Idyllwild, CA)

6 Ibid, p. 39

7 Ibid, p. 37-38, 42

8 1934 Yearbook Of Jehovah's Witnesses, 'Declaration of Facts', (The Watchtower Bible & Tract Society, 1933) p. 135-36

9 God's Kingdom Of A Thousand Years, (The Watchtower Bible & Tract Society, 1973) p. 8, 9

10 1934 Yearbook, (above)

11 Ibid, p. 134 (Although this quote has been shortened for space consideration, it has not been taken out of context. We invite readers to read the quote in its entirety in the 1934 Yearbook)

12 Charles Taze Russell, Posthumous Work Of, The Finished Mystery (International Bible Students Association, 1917) p. 259

13 M.J. Penton, p. 79

14 God's Kingdom Of A Thousand Years, (The Watchtower Bible & Tract Society, 1973) p. 9

15 M.J. Penton, p. 79

16 Ibid.

17 The Watchtower, 6/1/35, p. 166

18 M.J. Penton, . p.78

19 Watchtower Reprints, 1918, p. 6257 & 6268

20 Watchtower Reprints, 1918, p. 6271

21 The Watchtower, 8/1/85, p. 6

22 1974 Yearbook Of Jehovah's Witnesses, (The Watchtower Bible & Tract Society, 1973) p. 110-11

23 Ibid.

24 M.J. Penton, p. 42

25 Ibid, [Konrad Franke's Testimony] p. 50 (Penton reported that Franke died as a Witness in good standing. See The Watchtower, 11/1/83, p.31)

26 Ibid.

27 Paradise Restored To Mankind-By Theocracy, (The Watchtower Bible & Tract Society, 1972) p. 334

28 J.F. Rutherford, Life, (The Watchtower Bible & Tract Society, 1929); J.F. Rutherford, Comfort For The Jews, (The Watchtower Bible & Tract Society, 1925)

29 J.F. Rutherford, Vindication, Vol 2, (The Watchtower Bible & Tract Society, 1932) p. 257-58; The Watchtower, 4/1/35, p. 99-108

30 J.F. Rutherford, Vindication, Vol. 2, (The Watchtower Bible & Tract Society, 1932) p. 258

31 J.F. Rutherford, Life, (The Watchtower Bible & Tract Society, 1929) p. 125-144

32 J.F. Rutherford, Enemies, (The Watchtower Bible & Tract Society, 1937) p. 212

33 Man's Salvation Out Of World Distress At Hand!, (The Watchtower Bible & Tract Society, 1975) p. 178

34 J.F. Rutherford, Enemies, (The Watchtower Bible & Tract Society, 1937) p. 222

35 Ibid, p. 281

36 J.F. Rutherford, Deliverance, (The Watchtower Bible & Tract Society, 1926) p. 329-31

37 Jehovah's Witnesses In The Divine Purpose, (The Watchtower Bible & Tract Society, 1959) p. 143

38 The Watchtower, 6/1/35, p. 167

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