Russia's Supreme Court ordered the dissolution of the Jehovah's Witnesses in Russia in April 2017 (AFP Photo/Vasily MAXIMOV)
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum remains deeply concerned over the continuing harassment and persecution of Jehovah’s Witnesses by Russian authorities. Since the Russian Supreme Court labeled Jehovah’s Witnesses an “extremist organization” in April 2016, Witness property has been seized by the state, numerous Witnesses have been arrested, and hundreds have fled the country.
“The state-sponsored persecution of Jehovah’s Witnesses continues to escalate in the Russian Federation,” said Tad Stahnke, the Museum’s director of international educational outreach. “The Museum urges leaders from across society to forcefully denounce the anti-Jehovah’s Witness campaign currently underway.”
During the Nazi regime, the German government targeted Jehovah’s Witnesses because their religious beliefs prevented them from adhering to the requirements of the Nazi state. Witnesses do not swear allegiance to any state or serve in the military. These religious convictions as well as their international connections—the headquarters are in the U.S. and some Witnesses travel abroad for their missionary work–-made them a perceived threat to Nazism. Of the 25,000 – 30,000 active Jehovah’s Witnesses in Nazi Germany, about half were convicted and sentenced during the Nazi period. Of those convicted or sentenced, between 2,000 and 2,500 were sent to concentration camps, as were a total of about 700 to 800 non-German Witnesses. An estimated 1,000 German Witnesses and 400 non-German Witnesses died in the camps.
A living memorial to the Holocaust, the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum inspires citizens and leaders worldwide to confront hate, prevent genocide, and promote human dignity. Its far-reaching educational programs and global impact are made possible by generous donors. For more information, visit ushmm.org.
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