The Austrian was not Jewish, but rather a conscientious objector and a Jehovah’s Witness who was imprisoned in Buchenwald, Niederhagen and Ravensbrueck camps between 1939 and 1943. The U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum estimates that more than 1,500 Jehovah’s Witnesses died in camps or after being convicted by military tribunals for refusing to serve in the German military. By 1939, about 6,000 Witnesses were detained in Nazi prisons or camps.
Engleitner had been offered freedom at the expense of renouncing his faith but refused to do so. Eventually he was released regardless, weighing only 62 pounds, after he agreed to forced, unpaid agricultural labor for the rest of his life. U.S. troops liberated him in 1946 after he spent time hiding in the mountains to escape being drafted into the Nazi army.
His life, both during the Holocaust and afterward, was documented in the book and film “Unbroken Will.”