Monday, March 6, 2017

Franz Zürcher

Although relating to events a little more recent than the general focus of this blog, this is an account that many may find of interest. Thanks are due to “Franco” who kindly sent the scans used in this short article.

Franz Zürcher (1891-1978) worked at the Bible Students/Jehovah’s Witnesses Central European Office in Switzerland for nearly 55 years. He started in 1923, although his first couple of years were spent taking the Photodrama of Creation film out to Belgium, Alsace-Lorraine, along with locations in Switzerland. For many years he was the Branch Servant in Switzerland. In the 1930s he was the editor of the German edition of The Golden Age magazine. In 1943 he was sentenced to gaol [ie: jail] for his activities.

He is known for writing a book published by the Society, which apparently was never officially translated into English. Crusade Against Christianity was first published in German in 1938, and then translated into French and Polish in 1939. It detailed the persecution of the witnesses under the Nazi regime, and some of the material appeared in the English edition of Golden Age.

Here are some covers of the three language editions.

First published in German in 1938. The publisher was Europe-Verlag, Zurich-New York.

Translated into French and Polish (both 1939)

The French translation was also published by Europe-Verlag, Zurich-New York. However, you will note that the Polish translation added Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society, Berne.

Franz Zürcher remained an active witness in the Berne Bethel until the end of his life, and is one of the comparatively few witnesses to have an obituary in the Watchtower magazine. See Watchtower for August 1, 1978, page 31.


Sha'el, Princess of Pixies said...

I have the German edition. The book is in two parts, first doctrinal, then about the persecution of Witness adherents in Germany. The doctrinal section is an easy read, even for me. I found the persecution section more difficult because it has a vocabulary beyond my limited German vocabulary.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for this Jerome. Since this was a contemporary Witness account of their suffering, it has always baffled me that a translation in English was never made. A number of fine scholars (notably Garbe, Hesse and King) have enlightened our understanding of this subject, but a belated translation made in our present age would add much to our understanding of this period.


P.S. To my great shame I admit to being a linguistically challenged brother from England who hasn't yet mastered his native tongue, let alone contemplated the complexities of German.

Sha'el, Princess of Pixies said...

Jerome posted this and added some text, but we owe this post to Franco too. He provided the images.

Donald Jacobs said...

Is the text is out of copyright? And would that allow for an independent English translation?

Sha'el, Princess of Pixies said...

Yes, under American copyright law, it is in public domain.

Anonymous said...

My apologies to Franco for not mentioning his input earlier. Thank you Franco. (Also to Rachael for kindly pointing this out.)

I hope there might be some mileage in the translation and re-publication idea.


jerome said...

As noted in the article, thanks are due to Franco who kindly sent in scans used. He has sent a lot of interesting material recently, and such contributions are very much appreciated.

Donald Jacobs said...

I think the book was originally published in German and later translated into French and Polish? I don't suppose anyone with language skills has ever determined if there are significant differences between the different language editions.

I ask because I have a copy of the German version and I was wondering if that is optimal version for translation.

I have some other semi-rare items including: a few German copies of The Golden Age from the 1920s (interesting because it appears to be independently edited in this period); a copy of the 1915 Convention Report; a few Swedish anti- Watchtower pamphlets produced by independent Bible Sudents in the early 20th century; plus a German one that was posted here a couple of weeks ago. I have not checked if these items are already online. And in fact I would need to hunt them out of my very disorganised "library".

If they are of interest I could scan them, with some advice on the best way to scan such material. I tend to just photograph stuff for sending but don't know if that's sufficient.

Anonymous said...

Hi Donald

It would be a long job, but I would be interested in a PDF scan of the whole text of Zurcher's German version please. As I have already said, translation is way beyond my ability ... but I know of contacts who might be able to oblige and would like to run with this idea to see if Jehovah gives it wings!

I suspect you may already have my contact details Donald, from another forum we occasionally contribute to.


bruciolis said...

you can download in pdf the book in French

jerome said...

Many thanks for link to French version. Virus software threw a fit initially, but managed ultimately to download safely.

roberto said...

Traduzone Italiana - Italian translation

Sebbene si tratti di una storia un po’ più recente rispetto al periodo da noi analizzato, molti lettori la troveranno interessante. Un sentito grazie va a Franco (Bruciolis) che ha gentilmente inviato le foto per questo piccolo articolo.
Franz Zürcher (1891-1978) lavorò all’ufficio centrale del centro Europa degli Studenti Biblici/Testimoni-di-Geova situato in Svizzera per quasi 55 anni. Iniziò nel 1923, sebbene i primi due anni fossero spesi a proiettare il Foto-Dramma della Creazione, in Belgio, Alsazia-Lorena e Svizzera. Per molti anni fu il Servitore di filiale in Svizzera. Negli anni 30 fu il direttore dell’edizione in lingua tedesca dell’Età D’Oro. Nel 1943 fu condannato alla prigione perla sua attività.
È conosciuto per aver pubblicato un libro edito dalla Società, che sembrerebbe non essere mai stato tradotto in inglese. “Crociata Contro IL Cristianesimo” fu prima pubblicato in tedesco nel 1938 e quindi tradotto in francese e polacco nel 1939. Raccontava la persecuzione dei Testimoni di Geova sotto il regime nazista, e parte del materiale fu anche pubblicato nell’edizione inglese de L’Età d’Oro.
Nelle foto potete vedere le copertine del libro nelle tre lingue.
L’edizione francese fu pubblicata anche dalla Europe-Verlag, Zurich-New York, mentre l’edizione polacca indicava la Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society, Berna.
Franz Zürcher rimase un Testimone di Geova attivo alla Betel di Berna per tutta la vita fino alla sua morte, ed è uno dei pochi Testimoni di Geova che ha un necrologio nella Torre di Guardia (Torre di Guardia inglese del 1978, 1 agosto p. 31)