Jehovah’s Witnesses

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  • Agent operation "Zavet" against Jehovah's Witnesses, Ukraine 1953-1955

    This photograph was enclosed in a KGB surveillance file from 1952-1955 on Jehovah’s Witnesses in the Rivno region, western Ukraine. The image pictures a group of Jehovah’s Witnesses from the Rivno region. It was enclosed in an envelope along with 6 other confiscated or intercepted photographs. Each depicted person was marked with a number and on the reverse side a secret police officer wrote their names, date of birth, information on their origin and place of residence, as well as their role within the Jehovah’s Witness organization, such as: “ordinary member of the underground,” “active Jehov
  • KGB covert operation against Jehovah's Witnesses, Ukraine 1951-1954

    This network scheme of the Jehovah’s Witness organization comes from a four-volume top-secret file titled LKB, Legendirovannoe Kraevoe Biuro (Regional Bureau Covert Operation). It was produced by the Ukrainian secret police in 1953 and shows Jehovah’s Witness districts and circuits located in the Soviet Union with the organization’s country committee (called by that time the Regional Bureau) as the governing body of Soviet Jehovah’s Witnesses. The scheme shows the connections of Soviet-based groups of believers with the Jehovah’s Witness organization abroad: the East-European Bureau in Poland,
  • Jehovah's Witness Coded Reports from Ukraine

    Being surveilled and under constant risk of arrest, many clandestine religious communities developed their own coded language to communicate with each other and with their religious centres. This enabled them to avoid the disclosure of sensitive information in case of arrest and confiscation. Jehovah’s Witnesses were among the groups who developed their own coded system of communication, which they used in their missionary materials and finance reports and tallies. The secret police, in turn, made great efforts to intercept clandestine communication channels and to decipher coded messages.
  • External surveillance photographs of Jehovah’s Witnesses in Ukraine

    These photographs come from a KGB surveillance file on Jehovah’s Witnesses in Ukraine, 1955-1956. The photographs, which were taken with a hidden camera, capture the meeting of a KGB agent with a group of Witnesses in the town of Morshyn, western Ukraine. The agent was a Witness minister recruited by the KGB as an informer. He was appointed by the secret police to meet with members of the Jehovah’s Witness regional committee in Ukraine in order to gain their confidence and to intercept the communication channels of Ukrainian Jehovah’s Witnesses with their headquarters abroad. During one of the
  • Secret police network scheme of Jehovah’s Witnesses in Romania

    This network scheme comes from a documentary file on Jehovah’s Witnesses in the former administrative region of Cluj. Titled as “Organisation Scheme of the organisation “Jehovah’s Witnesses” in Cluj Region, it shows the structure of the group with names, ranks and connections of each of the functionaries (indicated by circles). The blue box at the top stands for the national leaders, while the rectangular boxes at the bottom represent the six territorial units in the region with the number of their subunits and members. The scheme also informs the viewer of the progress the authorities had ma
  • Crime scene photographs from a file on Jehovah’s Witnesses in Romania

    These crime scene photographs were selected from a documentary file on Jehovah’s Witnesses in the former administrative unit called Cluj region. The pictures were taken during various house searches conducted by the secret police in the homes of Jehovah’s Witnesses or people related to them. The photos in the first image show a "normal sized piece of firewood" with its inside carved out and the reports of the Huedin circuit (territorial unit within the Jehovah's Witnesses organisation) from 1951–1954 that were hidden inside it. It was found in the home of the already arrested Huedin circuit se
  • Jehovah's Witnesses bunker printing press Ukraine

    These images were included in a 14-volume criminal file against seven Jehovah’s Witnesses (JW) leaders from western Ukraine (former Drohobych and Stanislav region), 1955-1956. The photographs were produced during a police raid of an underground bunker printing press operated by the Witnesses in a rural location. The photographs were used as incriminating evidence of their clandestine illegal activities. The first image shows a rural private house in Smodne village under which the bunker was constructed. The place was also used as a safe house where several members of the JW organisation were