Leopold Engleitner And Jehovah's Prophetic Word

(Investigator 151, 2013 July)


The oldest known survivor of the Nazi concentration camps, Leopold Engleitner, was probably also the last Jehovah's Witness (JW) survivor of the final generation before the end of the world.

Leopold Engleitner died on April 21, 2013.

The British paper Metro reported:
Oldest Holocaust survivor laid to rest
AUSTRIA: The oldest known survivor of the Nazi concentration camps has died at the age of 107. Leopold Engleitner 'passed away peacefully' among friends in Herzogsdorf… He was imprisoned between 1939 and 1943 for refusing to renounce his Jehovah's Witness faith. Weighing just 28kg (4st 6lb) on his release, he went on to be a public speaker. (2013, May 3)
At 107 Engleitner was barely old enough to be of the "last generation" that would live to see Armageddon. JWs have a doctrine which states that millions of people who lived through 1914 and were of comprehension age would still be alive at the end of the world.  


JWs estimated the age of comprehension or understanding to be 10 to 15. In 1966 they wrote:
It is to be carefully noted that the youngest of those who saw with understanding the developing sign of the end of this system of things from its start in 1914 are now well over 60 years of age! In fact, the greater part of the adult generation that experienced the start of the "last days" has already passed away in death. (Awake! 1966 October 8, p. 18)
Occasionally JWs implied that survivors of the last generation would number millions:
Some persons living A.D. 1914 when the series of foretold events began will also be living when the series ends with Armageddon. All the events will come within the span of a generation. There are hundreds of millions of persons living now that were living in 1914, and many millions of these persons could yet live a score or more years. (The Watchtower 1952, September 1, p. 543)
This prophecy was labelled the "promise" of Jesus, "God's Word", the "Creator's promise", and "Jehovah's prophetic word":
Thus before the 1914 generation completely dies out, God's judgment must be executed. This generation still exists in goodly numbers. For example, in 1980 there were still 1,597,700 persons alive in the Federal Republic of Germany who were born in 1900 or before. The figure would be even larger had not millions of its citizens experienced premature death during the two world wars.

In promising that "this generation will by no means pass away," Jesus used the two Greek negatives ou and me. The Companion Bible explains this usage as follows: "The two negatives when combined lose their distinctive meanings, and form the strongest and most emphatic asseveration [affirmation]." Only now, at a time when it appears that the generation could pass away before all is fulfilled, do Jesus' words "by no means" take on real significance…

There is no reason to worry that God's Word will go unfulfilled. It has never failed.
(The Watchtower 1985, May 1 pp 4-5)

Most important, this magazine builds confidence in the Creator's promise of a peaceful and secure new order before the generation that saw the events of 1914 passes away.
(Awake! — Statement from 1982 to 1995 on the "Why Awake! is Published" page)

Jehovah's prophetic word through Christ Jesus is: "This generation [of 1914] will by no means pass away until all things occur." (Luke 12:32) And Jehovah, who is the source of inspired and unfailing prophecy, will bring about the fulfillment of his Son's words in a relatively short time… Just as Jesus prophecies regarding Jerusalem were fulfilled within the life span of the generation of the year 33 C.E., so his prophecies regarding "the time of the end" will be fulfilled within the life span of the generation of 1914. (The Watchtower 1984, May 15, pp 6-7)


Engleitner was born on July 3, 1905 and was aged nine in 1914 — therefore probably the last JW member of "the generation that will not pass away".

South Australia's Sunday Mail (April 24, 2013, p. 26) reported that the world's oldest person, former postman Jiroemon Kimura, had celebrated his 116th birthday.

Kimura was born on April 19, 1897, and would have been 17 in 1914. Kimura, therefore, was a member of "the generation that will not pass away" as defined by JW theology, except that in June 2013 he passed away.


The Times (2013, May 15) has a full-page obituary about Engleitner emphasizing his experiences as a pacifist under the Nazis. His life went public when historian and film-maker Bernhard Rammerstorfer researched his story and produced a biography titled Unbroken Will and a documentary film, Ladder in the Lion's Den.

The Times obituary concluded:
"Engleitner continued to tour with Rammerstorfer, even in advanced old age, to the US, Russia and elsewhere in Europe to talk about his experiences. And there was very belated recognition in his home country too when he was honoured by the Austrian government in 2007."


Any JW who challenged the prophecy about the 1914 generation, including Engleitner, would have been excommunicated as an "apostate" and shunned by JWs until he conformed or until he died.

How trustworthy then, according to JWs, is Jesus' "promise"? and the "Creator's promise"? and "God's Word"? and "Jehovah's prophetic Word"?

The truth about JWs and their treatment of "God's Word" on this website:


Dictionary of Jehovah's Witnesses at: