The German parliament has approved the construction of a memorial in Berlin to the Jehovah’s Witnesses persecuted under the Nazis, a plan the country’s culture minister hopes will help end their status as “forgotten victims.”
On Thursday evening, lawmakers backed a motion formally calling on the government to support construction of the memorial in the capital’s central Tiergarten park.
It will follow memorials already constructed in Berlin over the past two decades to Jewish, gay, Sinti and Roma, and disabled people murdered by the Nazis. Lawmakers also have mandated a project to build a memorial to the Polish victims of World War II.
The foundation that oversees the existing memorials, which also will be in charge of the one for Jehovah’s Witnesses, pointed to the Christian denomination’s resistance from the start to the Nazi regime, and to the help it gave other persecuted groups, noting that its members refused to give the Hitler salute or join state organizations such as the Hitler Youth. It was banned shortly after the Nazis came to power in 1933.
Members were persecuted, sent to concentration camps and killed. The foundation said that at least 1,700 Jehovah’s Witnesses died as a result of Nazi rule.
“They were persecuted, tormented, locked up and murdered,” Culture Minister Claudia Roth said, according to German news agency dpa. The aim of the planned memorial is to ensure “that they will no longer be forgotten victims of Nazism,” she added.