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Wooden sign with Biblical verse made in labor camp by a Jehovah’s Witness

Object | Accession Number: 1989.314.4

Plaque created by Franz Wohlfahrt presumably for the Nazi SS (Schutzstaffel; Protection Squadrons) while imprisoned in Strafgefangenenlager Rollwald labor camp in Germany in 1944. He was assigned the task as part of his forced labor service. However, an inscription on the back states that he made this one in secret out of wood scraps and paint samples and smuggled it home. Franz, 20, was jailed because, as a Jehovah's Witness, his beliefs did not permit him to put any authority before God. He would not submit to the authority of the German government or serve in the military. In 1943, at Rollwad, the new camp commandant, Karl Strumpf, was decorating his villa and Franz was assigned to the work detail. Franz experimented with latex paint and produced an effect like wallpaper, which was not available at the time. Strumpf got to know Franz through his work at the villa and saved his life on 3 occasions, shielding him from death by beheading for his refusal to serve in the military. The camp was liberated by the United States Army in March 1945.

Date
approximately 1944  (creation)
Geography
creation : Rollwald (Concentration camp); Nieder-Roden (Germany)
Language
German
English
Classification
Decorative Arts
Category
Woodwork
Credit Line
United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection, Gift of Franz and Maria Wohlfahrt, in memory of Gregor Wohlfahrt, father, and Gregor Wohlfahrt, brother, and the Wohlfahrt and Stossier families
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Record last modified: 2018-01-11 14:26:43
This page: https://collections.ushmm.org/search/catalog/irn1142