German MPs backs memorial for Jehovah’s Witnesses persecuted and killed by Nazis

BERLIN — The German parliament votes in favor of the construction of a memorial in Berlin for Jehovah’s Witnesses who were persecuted and murdered during the Nazi regime.

Members of the Christian evangelical movement, known for going door-to-door to try to convert people, were subject to intense persecution under the Nazis.

They antagonized the authorities in various ways, such as by refusing to give the Nazi salute, refusing to join party organizations or to undergo military service.

The memorial will be built near the goldfish pond in Berlin’s large Tiergarten park, where Jehovah’s Witnesses used to meet in secret during the Nazi era.

The motion that parliament backed calls for the government to support the erection of a sculpture along with information boards.

Uwe Neumaerker, director of Berlin’s Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe, says the move was “long overdue.”

“It honors the courage of Jehovah’s Witnesses during [the Nazi era] and at the same time sets an example for empathy, for religious tolerance and against the exclusion of minorities in present times.”

Before Adolf Hitler’s Nazis took power in Germany, there were 25,000 to 30,000 Jehovah’s Witnesses in Germany, according to the Holocaust Museum.

At least 3,000 were sent to concentration camps in the Nazi era, many of whom died.

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