2005, Gramma Books, Copenhagen (English language edition). 160 pages, small format hardback (19x13cm), black and white photographs, references.
In this touching and thoughtful autobiography, Horst Schmidt describes his life as a conscientious objector in Nazi Germany. As one of Jehovah’s Witnesses, he refused to join Hitler’s forces. Instead, he went underground with the Gestapo in hot pursuit. While travelling incognito with the banned publications of his religion he met his future wife, Hermine, in Danzig. Both were arrested. She was sent to a concentration camp, and he was sentenced to death by the People’s Court, Nazi Germany’s highest court.
The reader also gains insight into Horst’s foster-mother Emmy Zehden’s remarkable life. In 1944 Emmy Zehden was executed in Berlin-Ploetzensee for hiding her son and other conscientious objectors. A street leading to the former place of execution has been named after her and now bears the name “Emmy Zehden Way.”
The book has been edited by the historian Dr Hans Hesse, who since 1995 has studied Jehovah’s Witnesses in Germany. Dr Hesse has added a fine section about the Nazi persecution of Jehovah’s Witnesses in which he points out that after the war, the new Federal Republic of Germany included the right to conscientious objection in its Constitution, largely due to the example set by Jehovah’s Witnesses.
“In just a few years, the life of the Schmidts has changed. As contemporary eywitnesses, they are invited to relate before large audiences details of their sufferings during the NS period. … Having become acquainted with these two wonderful people only after events with contemporary eywitnesses, I am amazed that no one had approached these and other survivors of concentrations camps with request for the reports before now.” -Dr Detlef Garbe, Neuengamme Concentration Camp Memorial
Sample pages below (Click on page to magnify)