Tuesday, August 08, 2006


Last weekend I went to Krakow, Poland, and visited Auschwitz, which, as you can imagine, was quite a sobering experience (and I just hate having my buzz harshed). One strange fact was brought to my attention, however. In the camp all prisoners' uniforms had a triangle whose color signified what they were imprisoned for. Yellow were Jews, red were political prisoners, pink were gays (no comment), and purple were for Jehovah's Witnesses. I of course thought it rather strange that the JW's should be singled out and given their own color, so I asked our rather taciturn guide why the Witnesses in particular were persecuted. She didn't know but she said there were only about 400 there in Auschwitz (.0025% of the population).

Why the JW's and not, for example the Mormons whom I consider just as annoying*? My mind grasped for explanations: did one of them knock on Goering's door too early one weekend morning? Did the Reich have an extra 400 purple triangles to give away to some lucky group?

Of course, Wikipedia came to my rescue. It turns out the Witnesses, disparagingly called Ernste Bibelforscher (Earnest Bible Students) refused to swear allegiance to Hitler or to serve in the military. In fact, the Witnesses in pre-war Germany were often linked with Communist movements, which runs counter to their current conservative image here in the States. In addition, they were persecuted in the US and other countries for refusing to serve in the military (in Canada were interned in camps along with political dissidents and people of Japanese and Chinese descent). Now, the Supreme Court has ruled that they are allowed to be exempt from military service, and their children also don't have to say the Pledge of Allegiance! (Don't let the LGF wingnts find that out, or they'll start in on the JWs as well.)

So, I got to give the Witnesses their props. The next time one of them knocks at my door I will tell them how much I respect their nonviolent stance and regret their bethren who died in the camps. Then I'll sic my dog on them.

*I was raised a Mormon, so I am particularly attuned to them. I can spot them a mile away, although of course in most circumstances that is not difficult.

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