Remembering Auschwitz and More Than 400 Purple Triangles
Jehovah’s Witnesses Among First Sent to the Death Camp

[Abuja] – [Jan.26,2024]—On Jan. 27, 2024, many around the world will commemorate the 79th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau, part of the infamous Auschwitz Nazi concentration complex.

For many, the observance of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau recalls atrocities toward targeted groups. In its nearly five years of operation, Auschwitz expanded to include a concentration camp, a forced-labor camp, and an extermination camp, as well as over 40 subcamps. Four gas chambers claimed as many as 6,000 lives daily. On Saturday, Jan. 27, 1945, the Soviet Union’s Red Army liberated some 7,000 prisoners from the death complex.

Some 400 Jehovah’s Witnesses of various nationalities, including Polish and German, were among those victimized at the infamous camp. A purple-triangle patch stitched near the prisoner number on the left side of uniforms identified the Witnesses who were imprisoned, not for their national or ethnic identity, but for their religious beliefs.

“The Witnesses’ moral principles and practices did not align with the Nazi ideology of racism, hate, and extreme nationalism. Because of this, the activity of Jehovah’s Witnesses was targeted by the Nazi Government, and they were banned throughout Germany as early as 1933,” said Folarin Odebode local spokesperson for Jehovah’s Witnesses. “How the Witnesses held on to their faith as they faced the daily cruelties of Auschwitz is a little-known part of Nazi-era history. Anyone with a strong conviction will find their story compelling.”

“On the scale of Auschwitz’s huge community, the Jehovah’s Witnesses constituted but a tiny, inconspicuous little group,” said sociologist and Auschwitz survivor Anna Pawełczyńska. “Nevertheless, the color of their triangular badge stood out so clearly in the camp that the small number does not reflect the actual strength of that group. This little group of prisoners was a solid ideological force, and they won their battle against Nazism.”

Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum records indicate that Jehovah’s Witnesses were among the first prisoners sent to the camp. Of the hundreds of Witnesses incarcerated at Auschwitz, at least 35 percent died there.

The museum’s website states: “Aside from brief mentions, the literature on the history of Auschwitz Concentration Camp does not take account of the Jehovah’s Witnesses (referred to in the camp records as Bible [Students]) who were imprisoned because of their religious convictions. These prisoners deserve closer attention because of the way they managed to hold on to their moral principles under camp conditions.”

This year, as conferences and exhibitions related to the 79th anniversary of the Auschwitz liberation take place around the world, Jehovah’s Witnesses have released a digital brochure titled: “Purple Triangles – “Forgotten Victims” of the Nazi Regime”.

The 32-page brochure is available for free download on their official website,, and
presents a selection of pictures and documents from a traveling exhibition curated by the Witnesses to educate the public about their persecution during the Holocaust. The 50 three-dimensional panels were exhibited at several memorial museums of former concentration camps and educational institutions throughout Europe. About 600,000 visitors had viewed the exhibit by the end of 2002.

Additionally, the Ghetto Fighters’ House Museum, the first Holocaust museum in the world, is currently featuring an interactive exhibition that highlights the Witnesses’ courageous stand in the face of Nazi Persecution.

The exhibition is titled “Wedontdothat,” inspired by the nickname given to Joachim Alfermann, one of Jehovah’s Witnesses persecuted by the Nazis. It is presented in Arabic, English, and Hebrew and will be on display until September 2024 at the museum’s Center for Humanistic Education in Western Galilee, Israel.

To view the free and downloadable brochure visit > Library > Books & Brochures >
Purple Triangles – “Forgotten Victims” of the Nazi Regime.