January 2001 Newsletter

Association of Contemporary Church Historians

(Arbeitsgemeinschaft kirchlicher Zeitgeschichtler)

John S. Conway, Editor. University of British Columbia


Newsletter- January 2001- Vol. VII, no. 1

Dear Friends,
A very warm welcome to you all for the New Year. I trust your endeavours
will be successful and productive as we begin the new century, and I look
forward to being in touch, both personally and technologically, with as many
of you as possible in the coming months.

1) Book Reviews:

a) J.Stayer, Martin Luther, German Saviour
b) G.Lindemann, “Typisch jüdisch” Die Stellung der Hannoversche Kirche zu
c) M.Brenner et al. eds, Two nations. British and Geman Jews in Comparative

2) The Fascist repression of Jehovah’s Witnesses

1a) James Stayer, Martin Luther, German Saviour. German Evangelical
Theological Faculties and the Interpretation of Luther, 1917-1933. Montreal
and Kingston: McGill-Queen’s University Press. 2000 177pp.
James Stayer’s admirable study is written expressly for an English-speaking
Protestant audience. His self-stated purpose is to provide this readership
with a historical understanding of German Lutheranism in the 1920s, when the
passions engendered by the First World War led Luther studies to become a
battleground for such eminent Protestant scholars and theologians as Karl
Holl, Karl Barth, Paul Althaus and Emanuel Hirsch. According to Stayer, a
professor of Reformation History at Queen’s University in Kingston, Canada,
English-speaking scholars have failed to give sufficient attention to the
influence of nationalist and anti-liberal sentiments so prominent in
Lutheran circles during the First World War and in the aftermath of November
1918 revolution. He now successfully overcomes this deficit.
The early years of the Weimar republic have long been recognized as a
particularly contentious period for German Lutheran theology. Stayer
identifies three Evangelical theological orientations that flourished after
the war: the Luther Renaissance (Karl Holl, Emanuel Hirsch, and Erich
Vogelsang), Dialectical Theology (Karl Barth and Friedrich Gogarten), and
Lutheran confessionalism (Werner Elert and Paul Althaus). Although these
“schools” were often harshly critical of each other and disagreements raged
within each school, they did hold some common assumptions, most importantly
that nineteenth-century theological liberalism and Kulturprotestantismus,
which had sought an accommodation between Christianity and
nineteenth-century German culture, in particular bourgeois individualism,
were now theologically bankrupt. Despite the frequent criticism of their
liberal predecessors, Stayer insists that lines of continuity did exist
between prewar theologians and their postwar critics. Nevertheless, his
primary focus is on the radical shift that took place in the Protestant
scholarly community, a shift from the emphasis on church history and a
historicist theology to systematic and dogmatic theology.
The task of revitalizing and systematizing Luther’s theology in the wake of
a century of Kulturprotestantismus acquired greater urgency with the
outbreak of the First World War. “Against the background of war and defeat”,
Stayer declares, “the academic enterprise of rehabilitating Luther became
the search for a German saviour” (117). Men of the Luther Renaissance, the
dialectical theologians and the Lutheran confessionalists all held the
leading figures of nineteenth-century Protestant thought – Albrecht Ritschl,
Adolf von Harnack, and Ernst Troeltsch – responsible for leaving Luther
vulnerable to attack by Catholics, liberals, socialists and Jews. These
theologians had failed not only to understand the radical nature of Luther’s
theology of justification by faith but also to recognize, as Holl
maintained, that Luther’s “Rechtfertigungslehre was God’s special revelation
to the Germans”. (123)
Karl Holl emphasized the special sense of community in the German Lutheran
tradition, He was therefore particularly critical of Ernst Troeltsch’s
celebration of modernity, pluralism, and the Anglo-American model of
democracy. His former student, Emanuel Hirsch, further radicalized the
notion of community by infusing it with extreme nationalist and völkisch
ideas. Hirsch’s community was the German nation-state, “built on family and
tribe [and as such] a natural order of God’s creation” (106). Holl, and
later Hirsch, connected what they believed to be God’s special revelation to
the Germans to the moral superiority of German culture. Although Barth
sought to overcome the problems of Kulturprotestantismus from the left and
Holl and Hirsch from the right, they shared a common desire to replace an
individual soteriology with a theology of community. They believed that
Luther’s theology of justification could be understood and accessed only by
way of a theology of community since justification was God’s bestowing his
love on man in the community.
For his part, Karl Barth stressed the “dialectical, paradoxical,
Kierkegaardian Luther” (63). God, for Barth, was an inaccessible mystery. To
claim that human morality had anything to do with God, as Holl did, was
sheer hubris. Barth believed that Dialectical Theology was a much-needed
restoration of the theology of the Reformers in light of the liberal
theologians’ acceptance of the self-satisfied bourgeois culture and its
comfortable synthesis with Christianity. Although Barth’s theocentric
repudiation of Kulturprotestantismus had much in common with Holl, he
rejected outright in his 1922 edition of the Epistle to the Romans the
possibility of regenerative soteriology, which “gave too much glory to the
human creature (58-9). The nineteenth-century search for God in history and
culture was necessarily a failure because God sought humanity, not the other
way round. “Let God be God”, Barth thundered. By contrast, the Lutheran
confessionalists insisted that the vehicle of divine revelation was human,
historical and contingent. Werner Elert, for instance, maintained that
revelation for Luther was “the entry of God into history, not the negation
of history” (85). Moreover Elert’s and Althaus’s völkisch-nationalist
political sympathies, which were at least as reactionary as Hirsch’s, spelt
out how they understood God’s revelations in history. Althaus maintained
that the state, the church, the family and the nation (das Volk), were all
revelations of God’s law and examples of the order of creation designed by
God. Lutheran confessionalists expressly used this “orders of creation”
theology to fortify conservative, nationalist, and patriarchal views against
the moral licentiousness of Weimar modernism and the theological critiques
of Catholics and Calvinists. The reactionary politics of Elert and Althaus,
Stayer believes, led to a greater distortion of Luther’s theology,
especially after Hitler came to power in 1933, than those of Holl, Barth or
Hirsch – all of whom were guilty of embellishment.
For the non-German audience Stayer’s study provides essential insights into
the complex motivation of early twentieth-century theologians in their
effort to rejuvenate and strengthen Martin Luther’s singular contributions
to Christian thought. Although elements of Stayer’s thesis will be familiar
to scholars of early twentieth-century German theology, whether native
English-speakers or not, this slim volume debunks any lingering myths that
the period collectively known as the Luther Remaissance was a mere scholarly
exercise. For most German Protestants it was an expression of national
patriotism – and for that they should be embarrassed.
Matthew Hockenos, Skidmore College

b) Gerhard Lindemann, “Typisch jüdisch”: Die Stellung der Ev.-luth.
Landeskirche Hannovers zu Antijudaismus, Judenfeindschaft und Antisemitismus
1919-1949. (Schriftenreihe der Gesellschaft für Deutschlandforschung, Bd
63). Berlin: Duncker und Humblot. 1998 1037 pp. DM 138
This review first appeared in the Catholic Historical Review, Vol LXXXVI, no
3, July 2000, p. 525-7.
This is an intimidating book. Its size alone is daunting: over a thousand
pages long, it includes 155 pages of sources and indices. According to the
foreword, the book is a lightly revised dissertation (Heidelberg, 1997);
5000-plus footnotes attest to these origins. The title deepens the potential
reader’s sense of dread. Gerhard Lindemann’s ironic use of the stereotype
“typisch jüdisch” – “typically Jewish” – shows his hand. His study of
>anti-Jewishness and anti-Semitism in the Protestant church of Hanover, he
signals, will emphasize Christian prejudice, ecclesiastical failure, and
continuity. In other words, Lindemann’s book promises to be relentless,
convincing, and profoundly depressing. Those who read it will discover that
it delivers in all three regards. At the same time, it offers a nuanced,
human account of Protestant church life in Germany across three decades.
Although regional in focus, Lindemann’s study resonates beyond the borders
of the Hanoverian Protestant church. Anyone interested in Christian
anti-Semitism, German Jewry, Nazi genocide, or religious conversion and
exclusion in the twentieth century can learn much here.
Some of the most shocking parts of the book involve developments before and
after Nazi rule. Lindemann devotes eighty pages to the case of the Lutheran
pastor Ludwig Münchmeyer, who during the 1920s used his pulpit and his local
following to keep Jews off the North Sea island of Borkum. Only after
violent clashes between supporters and detractors of the anti-Semitic
clergyman, intervention by state authorities, and a series of court cases
did the Hanoverian Protestant church take disciplinary action. Münchmeyer’s
anti-Catholicism, sexually offensive behaviour, and an exodus of members of
his congregation from the Protestant church added ammunition against him –
and worried church authorities more than did attacks on Jews. Still,
Münchmeyer kept his position and his “Pastor” title until 1926.
Lindemann’s reluctance to generalize can make reading even such intriguing
material frustrating. Nevertheless, his discussion of the situation on
Borkum reveals some significant tendencies within the Protestant leadership:
fear of public disruption or scandal; acceptance of anti-Semitic
stereotypes; and general weakness of will to defend the downtrodden. Those
failings, troublesome enough in the Weimar Republic, would prove fatal in
the Nazi era.
Most of Lindemann’s book addresses the experiences of Christians of Jewish
background in Hanover from 1933 to 1945. He treats this topic with
sensitivity and empathy. Careful to avoid anachronistic and offensive labels
such as “Jewish Christians” or “baptized Jews”, he offers precision and a
wealth of biographical detail. Lindemann zeroes in on key individuals,
notably the pastors Paul Leo in Osnabrück, Bruno Benfey in Göttingen, and
Rudolf Gurland in Meine/Gifhorn, to show how Nazi measures against people
defined as Jews affected the lives and livelihoods of Christian clergymen
with Jewish ancestry.
These men’s stories differ greatly in the details but share overwhelmingly
similar themes of persecution, humiliation, desperation, and betrayal. Both
Leo and Benfey were forced out of their positions after the 1935 Nuremberg
Laws. Local anti-Semites made trouble because of the men’s Jewish ancestry;
instead of providing protection, church authorities retired the pastors.
Gurland, an ethnic German from Vilna, lasted longer, but in the wake of
Kristallnacht in 1938, he too was forced to retire, as was a fourth pastor
of Jewish background, namely Gustav Oehlert in Rinteln. Like many clergy,
for a brief time in 1933, Oehlert belonged to the pro-National Socialist,
Protestant “German Christian Movement” (p.584). Nevertheless, Nazi activists
demanded dismissal, and church leaders agreed.
Lindemann’s close-up, personal approach highlights both the everyday routine
of persecution and the banal, self-serving motivations of those who
perpetrated and tolerated Nazi attacks. Hanover’s Protestant bishop, August
Marahrens, revealed in the works of Gerhard Besier and others as far from
the staunch anti-Nazi many once considered him to be, is ubiquitous in
Lindemann’s study. We see Marahrens sympathize in private with his
beleaguered clergy of Jewish background and then abandon them in public,
presumably in the interest of maintaining peace in the church and preserving
good relations with the state. Even after the war, he did nothing to restore
Leo, Benfey, and Gurland to their positions, or to acknowledge publicly the
wrongs done them. Only Oehlert received a post; the others, it seems, were
considered too likely to be lightning rods. Human weakness, Lindemann’s
analysis suggests, will go to extraordinary lengths to prevent its own
For all its sobering predictability, Lindemann’s account is never
simplistic. He takes pains throughout the book to show that countervoices to
anti-Semitic brutality existed at every step. “Ordinary Germans”, he shows,
assaulted their neighbours of Jewish background, but sometimes they also
defended them. Many Protestant pastors were indifferent to the fate of their
colleagues of Jewish ancestry, but some supported them courageously.
Including such examples of fortitude serves at least two functions. On the
one hand, it counters the monolithic, Goldhagian image of the “uniquely” –
and uniformly – German anti-Semite. But on the other hand, it pulls the rug
out from under one of the most widely used excuses for German – and
Christian – inaction in the face of Nazi persecution of Jews and other
targets: “we did not know”. Doris Bergen, University of Notre Dame
c)) Michael Brenner, Rainer Liedtke and David Rechter, eds., Two Nations:
British and German Jews in Comparative Perspective (Tubingen: Mohr Siebeck,
This book was published under the auspices of the Leo Baeck Institute and
comprises a compilation of papers from the conference Two Nations: The
Historical Experience of British and German Jews in Comparison in Cambridge
(1997). Contributors were asked to draw on a comparative methodology and
contrast the Jewish Diaspora experience in Britain and Germany during the
modern period. This informative scholarly contribution ranges from
Jewish-Gentile relations in different political cultures, post-emancipation
Jewish identity to post-Holocaust debates on Jewish heritage preservation.
With two exceptions, all essays are commented on by fellow scholars who
critically examine and reevaluate the authors’ arguments. The dialogical
framework makes for an evenly balanced account that is both an excellent
overview and an invitation to further probe the issues at stake. The editors
point out that they are interested in contesting prevailing notions of the
common experience of the Jewish Diaspora: acculturation, emancipation (legal
equality), and assimilation. Yet this Anglo-German comparison has a far more
ambitious scope: it raises the question why anti-Jewish sentiments remained
latent in Britain, and escalated into virulent exterminationist
anti-Semitism in Germany.
With such a far-reaching theme in mind, these essays seldom offer
fundamentally new insights. However, they also skillfully avoid what could
have easily become the downfall of a transnational comparison: to portray
Britain as the honorable norm and Germany as the evil aberration. Referring
to Daniel Goldhagen, David Cesarani thus rejects a mindset that places
teleological stereotypes of exemplars of tolerance versus willing
executioners. Instead, he and his fellow scholars carefully shed light on a
difficult and complex issue without reducing it, as Tony Kushner laments, to
exercises in “polarized mythmaking.” The majority of essays reflect on the
relationship between Jewish social groups and institutions and state power.
One of the central questions is to what extent Jewish emancipation was
imposed by external circumstances or internally developed such as in the
case of the Haskalah (the German Jewish Enlightenment). David Feldman
challenges current Anglo-Jewish historiographers who portray the
relationship between the Jews and the state as one-sided, the Jews being
passively receptive. In his view, particularly between 1850 and 1900, Jews
in Britain successfully negotiated with the political establishment. An
essential point is raised by one of the editors, Rainer Liedtke, who writes
on the 19th century Jewish welfare systems in Hamburg and Manchester. His
analysis convincingly suggests that the degree of Jewish social integration
cannot be measured solely in terms of political or legal success. He
maintains that in establishing “a class-based solidarity” on the community
level, Jewish welfare was instrumental in solidifying a collective Jewish
identity, or “subculture.”
In one of the more provocative essays, “Comparing Antisemitism: A Useful
Exercise?,” Tony Kushner compares collectively held stereotypes and myths in
everyday life. In his view, anti-Semitism is a “cultural code” that provides
us with meaningful data from “lived experience.” He stresses “the importance
of subjectivity in ordinary people’s attitudes towards Jews”. At the same
time, he questions the legitimacy of a comparative approach: It is in the
voices of “ordinary” people that the reader can find “a comparative model .
. . with valuable and lasting insights.” A truly fascinating article is
“Jewish Self-Hatred in Britain and Germany” by Todd M. Endelman. The author
criticizes the academic over-exposure and misappropriation of the term
‘Jewish self-hatred’. Instead, he provides a differentiated cultural history
that contextualizes the causes and results of ethnic self-loathing. Most
enlightening are his examples of two prominent statesmen: Walther Rathenau
and Edwin Montagu. The articles by Liedtke, Kushner, and Endelman belong to
a minority employing interdisciplinary strategies and focusing on
Alltagsgeschichte. “Two Nations” largely deals with elites, social policies
and organized Jewish movements. The emphasis is predominantly historical as
only nine out of 26 authors are affiliated with other departments than
I am not quite sure whether this compilation should have limited itself to
Germany and Britain. What can be gained from such a polarized and narrow
comparison? Gunnar Svante Paulsson emphasizes that little research has been
done on the cultural exchange between the Western and the Eastern Jewry. If
we consider that beginning in around 1880, immigration from East Europe
increased the number of Jews living in Britain from 60,000 to 300,000, it
would be worthwhile to explore how those communities interacted with one
another. Since an extensive migration took place from the former Soviet
Union into Germany after 1989, a comparison could be potentially revealing.
Moreover, I would take serious issue with the fact that the majority of
contributions are by male scholars who have ignored the field of gender
studies. Within this body of works, Susan L. Tananbaum is the sole
contributor who brings attention to a socially unique phenomenon in Imperial
Germany: the Jewish Feminist Organization, the Judischer Frauenbund (JFB),
which was founded in 1904 by Bertha Pappenheim. Considering that as many as
twenty five percent of eligible German Jewish women were members, this
organization is a valuable resource about female self-understanding
vis-a-vis Jewish and non-Jewish environments. Ironically, it is the only
essay (apart from the concluding piece by Bernd Weisbrod) that remains
uncommented. Further, it is puzzling to me that this volume would exclude
perspectives on Jewish domestic life and community structures, as well as on
Jewish Orthodoxy. An approach that stresses “the Jewish experience” seems
elitist and top-down, if not to say flawed, if it fails to include the
experience of the other half of what constitutes a Jewish community. On the
same note, it needs to be pointed out that, apart from Kushner, the question
of how Jewish people understood their Jewishness is only marginally
addressed. The reluctance to tackle this issue might be related to Werner E.
Mosse’s uneasiness with the concept of identity. In his introductory remarks
he contends that “identity” is “a pretentious and fashionable post-Freudian
term, [that] is of comparatively little use in historical discourse.” Yet I
was even more surprised that the editors treated the post-Holocaust period
almost merely within the realm of Jewish heritage preservation. Little
mention is made of the Second Generation, and not one essay deals with the
current debates on the political instrumentalization of Holocaust memorials.
Although “Two Nations” does only partial justice to the notion of a “Jewish
experience,” given its caliber of scholarship and wealth of information, it
is a welcome addition to the fields of Jewish Studies and minority studies.
Charlotte Schallie, Vancouver
2) The Fascist Repression of Jehovah’s Witnesses
Jehovah’s Witnesses began their preaching work in Italy at the turn of the
century. Their first community was founded at Pinerolo (Torino) in 1908. In
1925, their first convention was held there at Pinerolo where, just a few
years earlier, they had opened an office. There was small expansion in the
1920’s and 1930’s, when the Witnesses spread to various provinces including
Sondrio, Aosta, Ravenna, Vincenza, Trento, Benevento, Avellino, Foggia, L’
Aquila, Pescara and Teramo.
The first mention of Jehovah’s Witnesses’ existence in Italy’s official
archives is the decree of the Military Court of Alessandria concerning
Remigio Cuminetti, a Witness who refused military service during World War
I, becoming the first conscientious objector of modern Italy.1
Examining papers regarding Jehovah’s Witnesses in the State Record Office,
we find some interesting items. There are documents dating from 1927:
statements from the Prefect of the Department of the Interior; information
>from the Department itself, from various Prefects, and from the
Superintendent of Police; reports from the O.V.R.A. (the notorious Fascist
police department); information about house searches and interrogations,
etc. All of these are of concern not only to Jehovah’s Witnesses, but also
to the many who show interest in and respect for their upright way of life.
What, then, was the reason for such intensive scrutiny and careful record
keeping? It was to prevent Jehovah’s Witnesses from introducing their
publications into Italy. In Italy, as in Germany, this religious group was
looked upon with grave concern because of its pacifism (members chose to
refuse military service), its political neutrality, and its dislike of any
form of totalitarianism. Investigations were made into any citizens who had
even taken a subsc

ription to the ‘Watchtower’, the Witnesses’ main
Eventually, the O.V.R.A. managed to identify all the members of the Italian
group, about 150-200 Jehovah’s Witnesses, many of whom were condemned to
prison or sent into forced residence for allegedly plotting against the
Fascist regime. In fact, the Witnesses were often forced to live in secluded
villages in the south of Italy, villages that were freed by the allies
before September, 1943, allowing them to avoid deportation. This spared many
>from the Nazi concentration camps, where most of the Italian prisoners went.
In spite of this, not all managed to avoid the Holocaust. Salvatore Doria
>from Cerignola was not released from Civitavecchia’s prison after the 8th of
September. Guilty of ‘insulting the king,’ he was transferred to Sulmona’s
Abbey, then deported to Dachau’s hell.3 Narciso Riet of Cernobbio was
responsible for contact between the Italian and German Witnesses. He was
arrested after the armistice and taken first to Dachau, then to Plotzensee
Prison in Berlin. There, in November 1944, he was informed that the Court of
Justice had condemned him to death. He was moved to Brandenburg Prison, and
shot in early 1945. 4
No other religious group during the Resistance period was so affected by the
Fascist regime; Jehovah’s Witnesses had been the most persecuted, and was
practically the only group brought before the Special Fascist Court. The
Court had condemned 26 Witnesses to prison terms from 2 to 11 years, for a
combined total of 186 years and 10 months. (Sentence n.50 of April 19,
1940). An examination of the volume “Aula IV – Tutti i Processi del
Tribunale Speciale Fascista” [“Fourth Courtroom – All Trials of the Special
Fascist Court”]). A collection of all trials held by the above-mentioned
Court, shows that apart from two Pentecostals, only the 26 Jehovah’s
Witnesses were condemned.5
Those 26 were not the only ones affected, however. After the O.V.R.A.’s
investigations and its related proposal, 22 other people considered
‘dangerous’ were sent into forced exile from their homes, 29 ‘not
particularly active’ were given warnings, and 60 ‘simple followers’ were
treated with distrust. The entire group of 137 Witnesses was criminalized.6
Examining a circular promulgated by the Department of Interior during the
Fascist period brings us to the same conclusion: Jehovah’s Witnesses were
the main object of religious persecution during the Fascist regime. That
circular, n.441\027713 of August 22, 1939, was entitled “Religious Sects,
‘Pentecostals’ and Others”. In it, booklets that had been sequestered were
claimed to belong to the “sect of the Pentecostals,” though the circular
also precisely stated those booklets contained no reference to the
Pentecostals!7 Well then, whose literature was it? It was published by the
Watchtower Society; written by its president, J.F. Rutherford (Rutherford
had not as yet been recognized as director/ publisher of the Society’s
publications). Clearly, Jehovah’s Witnesses were already victims of Fascist
Another circular, entitled n.441\02977 of March 13,1940, recognized the
victims by name: “Religious Sect of ‘Jehovah’s Witnesses’ or Bible Students
and Other Religious Sects Which Have Principles in Contrast with Our
Institution.” It discussed the “exact identification of those religious
sects…that differ from the already known sect of the ‘Pentecostals'”,
underlining “the verification of the existence of the sect of the ‘Jehovah’s
Witnesses’ and the fact that the literature we have already examined in the
above mentioned circular of the 22nd August 1939
n. 441\027713, is attributed to them, must not cause one to think that the
sect of the ‘Pentecostals’ is politically harmless…such a sect must be
considered harmful, even th
There is proof that the clergy played a definite role in contributing to the
persecution of Jehovah’s Witnesses by the Fascist regime. For example, in
1939, the magazine “Fides” carried an article written by an anonymous
“priest caring for souls.” He affirmed “the association of Jehovah’s
Witnesses is atheistic communism and openly attempted to attack the safety
of the state.” This anonymous priest defined himself as being “actively
dedicated against this religious association for three years,” raising
himself as a protector of the Fascist State. Surely, he knew that hurling
these accusations would provoke the regime’s intervention.9
The leader of the fourth zone of the O.V.R.A., in a report on the “Religious
Sect: Jehovah’s Witnesses,” wrote that its office in Milan was closed by
Police Headquarters “because of the reaction of the Catholic clergy and of
the antifascist accent of the books that had been distributed.”10 Even the
magazine “Rivista Abruzzese di Studi Storici dal Fascismo alla Resistenza”
(Abruzzese Magazine of Historical Studies from Fascism to the Resistance)
confirms the fact: “The instruction of the hierarchy of the national
Establishment, military and civil, lay or ecclesiastical, was for the
annihilation by means of condemnation of the supposed leaders and of those
considered the most active followers of the newest ‘Protestants’,” that had
come to disturb the “healthy country environment of Abruzzo, Puglie,
Campania and Trentino.”11
This is reminiscent of the Catholic Church’s involvement with the group in
Nazi Germany; reporting activities of Jehovah’s Witnesses to the
authorities.12 To their credit, both under Nazi and Fascist rule, Jehovah’s
Witnesses were one of the few groups that did not blemish themselves by
collaborating with the dictatorial regime. Catholic American writer Gordon
Zahn has admitted that, “except for the position that some minor Protestant
sects took – the Jehovah’s Witnesses and the traditional ‘Churches of Peace’
, for example – there is no reason to believe that the attitude of the
German Protestantism was different to that of the Catholic Religion that
gave support to the Nazi war.”13
With the end of World War II, the group of Jehovah’s Witnesses in Italy
started to reorganize the activity of proselytism that has brought the
number of their preachers from 120 in 1946 to the present 215,000. With
their 2,800 communities scattered throughout the national territory, they form the most consistent religious association
in the country, second only to the Catholic Church.14
Matteo Pierro
1 – Sentence n. 309, of August 18, 1916. Files of the Military Court of
2 – Circular of the Department of Interior, n. 442\41732, of September 21,
3 – Letter of December 30, 1995. By historian and ex-deportee Giovanni
4 – “Riet Narciso” documents, Archive of Matteo Pierro.
5 – From the book “Aula IV – Tutti i Processi del Tribunale Speciale
Fascista” (Fourth Courtroom – All the Trials of the Special Fascist Court),
AA. VV. Milano, 1976, pp. 324, 325, 405, 406.
See also the book “Regime Fascista e Chiese Evangeliche” (Evangelist
Churches and the Fascist Regime), by G. Rochat, Torino, 1990, p. 318.
6 – Central File of the State, PS. GI. 314, report n. 0799 of January 3,
1940 of General Police Inspector Dr. Pasquale Andriani, Fourth Zone
O.V.R.A., p. 18,
with attachment n. 89 (p. 290-292), n. 90 (p. 292-296), n. 91 (p. 297-303).
See also the Department of Interior’s communication “General
Direction of the Police, General and Reserved Affairs Department”
First Division, record n. 441\0218, of February 1, 1940.
7 – General File of the State.
8 – General File of the State.
9 – “Fides” magazine of February 1939, article: “The Jehovah’s Witnesses in
Italy,” p. 77-94.
10 – Report n. 0799 of January 3, 1940 of General Police Inspector Dr.
Pasquale Andriani, quotation p. 34.
11 – “Abruzzese Magazine of Historical Studies from Fascism to the
Resistance,” 3rd year, n. 3, 1982, p. 561.
12 – G.Lewy, The Catholic Church and Nazi Germany, New York 1964, p.70.
13 – G.Zahn, German Catholics and Hitler’s Wars, New York, p.60.
14 – “The Watchtower” magazine, January 1, 1996, vol. 117, n. 1, p.13,


Just a reminder that anyone wishing to make a written contributioon to this
Newsletter is most welcome to do, and should send it to this address below
by the 15th of the month.
With every best wish,
John Conway