The Mormons in Nazi Germany, by David Conley Nelson

The impulse to believe the absurd when presented with the unknowable is called religion. Whether this is wise or unwise is the domain of doctrine. Once you understand someone's doctrine, you understand their rationale for believing the absurd. At that point, it may no longer seem absurd. You can get to both sides of this conondrum from here.

Re: The Mormons in Nazi Germany, by David Conley Nelson

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Part 1 of 2

CHAPTER VII. THE ROCKS AND SHOALS OF MORMON MEMORY IN NAZI GERMANY, PART 1: THE SECOND WORLD WAR AND ITS AFTERMATH

One Sunday morning in December 1943, while serving as a Wehrmacht occupation soldier in Denmark, Herbert Klopfer felt an overwhelming desire to attend Mormon religious services. But he did not know where the local branch met. Dressed in his full military uniform, he walked the streets of the Jutland peninsula town of Esbjerg, humming an LDS hymn loudly enough to attract attention. A young girl approached and asked in Danish if he were a Mormon. Klopfer accepted the youth’s invitation to follow her to sacrament meeting, where he surrendered his gun belt to the branch president at the door. Invited to address the small congregation, he avoided the use of German—as he perceived that his coreligionists loathed the language of the invaders. Instead, he delivered a spiritual message in English, which another congregant translated into Danish. His remarks struck sympathetic chords with the small LDS congregation. Klopfer told of how he had lost his home, the Mormon mission headquarters across from Berlin’s Tiergarten Park, and all of his possessions to Allied bombing raids. But he was grateful that his family had been spared. He professed his love for his fellow Mormons and his belief in Joseph Smith’s “restored” gospel of Jesus Christ.1

Karl Herbert Klopfer is a memory beacon. He typifies the kind of German Mormon who is treasured in the collective wartime memory of the faithful, when Latter-day Saints became combatants, survivors, and victims. As the president of the Mormons’ East German Mission during the Second World War, he presents a stark contrast with some of his American predecessors. Unlike Alfred C. Rees, who aggressively tried to ingratiate the Mormon Church with Adolf Hitler’s regime, Klopfer gained privileges for the church without his predecessor’s lofty pretentiousness. After being drafted into the German Army in February 1940, while serving as a paymaster with the rank of a junior officer, Klopfer convinced his superiors to grant him a private room with a telephone line. From Fürstenwalde military base east of Berlin, Klopfer ran the affairs of the mission by phone and through weekend visits to Berlin until he was deployed abroad in 1943.2

Before the war, Klopfer was a well-loved, faithful, full-time employee of the Berlin-based Mormon mission. A skilled English and French linguist, Klopfer often received the flattering praise of his fellow countrymen, who complimented him on his command of German. His English skills were so proficient that Germans often thought he was an American who had acquired a remarkable fluency in German. When Klopfer was reported missing in action on the Russian front late in the war, German Mormons reacted with sadness. They recalled that he—like so many others among them—had missed his chance to avoid the war by emigrating. In 1928, Klopfer had intended to migrate to Utah but postponed his plans when German-Austrian Mission President Hyrum Valentine called him to serve a mission.3 Then he fell in love and eventually married a girl he had met on his mission, after a four-year courtship by correspondence. After Hitler took power, going to America became impossible, as the law prohibited emigration by a military-age Arian male. He instead served as a trusted confidant and translator for the American mission presidents based in Berlin. After the war, the Salt Lake City Mormon leadership tried to learn the fate of its favorite German son.4 It was not until 1948 that Klopfer’s widow learned that her husband had died of starvation in Russian captivity in March 1945.5

Klopfer’s installation as a Mormon memory beacon occurred during the last decade of the twentieth century, when the church’s collective memory of the Nazi epoch shifted. After November 1989, when the Berlin Wall fell and the reunification of Germany began, LDS leaders no longer felt compelled to restrain the writing of church history in consideration of the 3,700 German-speaking Mormons who lived behind the Iron Curtain. As Chapters Ten and Eleven recount, the church hierarchy lifted a twentyfive year proscription on dramatic works and scholarly publications written by Brigham Young University scholars concerning seventeen-year-old Hamburg Mormon Helmuth Hübener. In 1942, a red-robed Nazi tribunal had condemned Hübener to death and sentenced three other adolescents, two of whom were Latter-day Saints, to prison terms. They distributed anti-Hitler leaflets, produced with a church-owned typewriter, based upon information derived from listening to forbidden BBC broadcasts.

As European communism began to fall, so did the Mormon Church’s reluctance to glorify its few resisters and its many dutiful former Wehrmacht soldiers. In June 1990, the church-owned Deseret News, through its full-color Saturday religious supplement, the Church News, introduced Herbert Klopfer as an example of a righteous Latter-day Saint who bravely fought and died for Germany in the Second World War. “Enemy Soldier in the Pulpit,” written by Klopfer’s son, emphasized the danger that the European Mission President accepted when he worshiped in uniform with Danish civilians and relinquished his pistol to the congregational leader. Rather than engage in outright defiance against Hitler and overtly violate the Twelfth Article of Faith, as Hübener and his co-conspirators did, Klopfer obediently answered the call of his country while trying to maintain ties with his church. The faith-promoting article also emphasized that religious ties trumped wartime enmity. Said one Danish Mormon who was in attendance that Sunday morning in Jutland, “It was wonderful to see a man in the uniform we hated speak with so much love for us.”6

Klopfer’s story illustrates the approach that believing Mormon historians and storytellers have adopted regarding their congregants who supported and fought for one of history’s most reprehensible regimes. In the new collective memory of the Second World War, all Mormons are victims. This story line has a degree of validity, as the war impacted Latter-day Saint life in Nazi Germany on the same scale that it affected most citizens of the Third Reich. Mormon fathers and sons fell on the battlefield. Civilians died or lost their homes in bombing raids, made perilous escapes from burning cities, and cowered in fear of advancing Red Army soldiers.7

The war also interrupted Mormon religious life. It cut the ecclesiastical chain of authority through the removal of American missionaries. Military conscription of priesthood leaders disrupted the replacement German leadership structure. The loss of civilian life and church meetinghouses from aerial bombing also disturbed the normally fastidious Mormon record-keeping process. Apologetic author Gilbert Scharffs estimated that almost five hundred German Mormon soldiers and more than one hundred civilians died as the result of the hostilities.8 Earlier records revealed a lower total of German Mormon casualties, 184 killed in combat and 120 who died on the home front.9 If, instead of war, German Mormons had suffered casualties because of a peacetime calamity, such as a flood or a storm, carefully kept church records would have documented the losses precisely. Because of the catastrophe of war, no one can pinpoint an exact number of Mormon casualties.10

Instead of a detailed chronicle punctuated with statistics, the story of the Mormons in Germany during the Second World War unfolds through a series of memory beacons: courageous soldiers, resilient civilians, Germans who stepped into the role of the departed pre-war American leadership, missionaries who returned as gracious occupation soldiers, and a massive church-sponsored relief campaign that transpired as the American ecclesiastical leadership returned to impose Zion’s spiritual authority over its vanquished German congregants. The first such memory beacon appeared one week before the beginning of the Second World War.

Beacons of Memory: The Pre-War Evacuation of American Missionaries

For most combatants in Europe, the Second World War began on September 1, 1939, when Hitler’s Army invaded Poland. For Mormons in Germany, the war effectively started one week earlier on August 23. From his office in Salt Lake City, connected by a phone line to his former State Department colleagues in Washington, D.C., First Counselor J. Reuben Clark monitored shocking events happening half a world away. The Mormons’ second-in-command, a former undersecretary of state and ambassador, listened with apprehension to reports of a bilateral treaty being signed in Moscow. For the veteran diplomat and keen observer of international affairs, the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact between the Soviet Union and Germany could only mean one thing: war was inevitable. The unlikely alliance of a fascist and a communist state meant that Germany and the Soviet Union would divide the spoils. Several hours later, Clark dispatched a telegram to his European mission presidents. In the name of the First Presidency, he ordered all missionaries in Germany to evacuate.11

Having practiced the evacuation drill one year before, in the midst of the Sudetenland crisis, the elders who staffed the two German missions were well prepared to leave. Missionaries from the Berlin-based East German Mission began boarding trains. Within two days, all had arrived safely in Copenhagen. Joseph Fielding Smith, a member of the Council of the Twelve who was traveling in Germany at the time, took charge of the arrangements in Denmark. Within weeks, he dispatched the young Americans across the Atlantic to the United States from various European ports. Alfred C. Rees had returned to Utah one week prior to the evacuation because of ill health.12 Despite the fact that his designated replacement, acting East German Mission President Thomas E. McKay, was in Basel, Switzerland, when Clark’s telegram arrived on August 24, 1939, the mass exodus from the Berlin-based mission occurred without incident.13

That was not the case regarding the evacuation of American missionaries from the West German Mission in Frankfurt, which by 1939 also included the mission districts in Austria. Shortly after Mission President M. Douglas Wood’s elders began traveling north, the Dutch government limited entry by foreigners. Relying on its experience during the First World War, when The Netherlands had absorbed a flow of refugees that had taxed resources, Dutch officials denied passage to any non-citizen who did not have adequate funds and proof of onward passage. Later, a few days before the war began, Dutch officials closed their border altogether. The Netherlands LDS Mission in The Hague had been designated as a primary staging area for missionaries, as it had been during the September 1938 “fire drill” evacuation. The Mormon evacuation plan had called for missionaries to receive their steamship tickets at their staging areas; thus, when they could not show evidence of a ticket out of the country, the Dutch border authorities denied them entry.

Traveling in small groups and running short of funds, many missionaries had to improvise. A German law that prohibited taking more than ten marks out of the country aggravated the missionaries’ financial situation. Many, expecting the same kind of routine, uninterrupted journey they had enjoyed one year earlier, had made last-minute expenditures on souvenirs and consumer goods in order to comply with the currency export law. When thirty-one young elders did not report on schedule to their designated rendezvous points, Mission President Wood assigned a senior missionary, Norman George Seibold, to search for the missing young Americans amid the confusion of a country mobilizing for war, and to provide funds for their travel to alternative destinations—such as Denmark. He dispatched Seibold with a wad of cash and a handful of steamship tickets to roam German border cities and rail depots, looking for stranded Mormon missionaries.

Another group of missionaries, detained by Dutch authorities at the border, managed to communicate by telephone with the mission president in The Hague. Franklin D. Murdock sent a young elder, John Robert Kest, with funds that would allow the detained missionaries to make other travel arrangements. Kest arrived at the border, only to find that the young Mormons he sought had been deported back into Germany. On impulse, Kest decided to pursue them into Germany despite the fact that he did not have a visa to enter the country. Despite a confrontation with German authorities, during which Kest was searched and ordered to leave the country—instructions he disobeyed—he located the missionaries he sought at a hotel.14

Although most of the missionaries found their way out of Germany without assistance, later accounts described their chance encounters with Seibold and Kest as “miraculous.” Seibold and Kest became memory beacons in the scholarly and popular literature of the missionary withdrawal from the Third Reich. The evacuation of Mormon missionaries became an important nexus for the research of a Brigham Young University professor of religious education, David F. Boone, who wrote his doctoral dissertation on the subject and has published several articles and a book chapter on the missionary evacuation.15

The evacuation also inspired a faithful Mormon freelance writer Terry Montague to undertake a research project that resulted in the publication of a 148-page, softcover book, Mine Angels Round About—based entirely on the few days of confusion that resulted from the Dutch government’s decision to limit passage through its territory. In the late 1970s and early 80s, the author searched extensively for veterans of the West German Mission evacuation. She interviewed a few who lived close to her home in rural Idaho, many who lived in Utah, and queried others as far away as Israel and New Zealand.16 The result was a faith-promoting chronicle of escape from the rapidly tightening clutches of war; every obstacle in their path generated an opportunity for God to intervene miraculously.

The first perceived miracle occurred prior to the evacuation. When John R. Barnes, secretary for the West German mission, contacted the U. S. consulate general in Frankfurt regarding plans to send missionaries to neutral countries in anticipation of war, the diplomat was skeptical: “Mr. Barnes, if our military attaché has no knowledge of such [mobilization] activity on the part of the Nazi army, from what source did your church president get such information?” Barnes, apparently unaware of J. Reuben Clark’s diplomatic sources, replied: “I know he got the information from the Lord!” He then lectured the diplomat on the Mormon Church President’s gift of prophesy.17

When Mission President M. Douglas Wood first learned of the evacuation order, he was in Hanover, a six-hour drive from mission headquarters in Frankfurt. Wishing to fly instead, Wood received discouraging news from his hotel desk clerk, who said all flights were booked and that airline tickets must be reserved weeks in advance. Miraculously, according to Montague’s chronicle, Wood was able to obtain the last two seats on an airline flight leaving that afternoon.18 When Emma Rosenhan, one of the few single female American missionaries assigned to the Frankfurt-based Mormon mission, learned she must evacuate, her German branch president was “inspired” to advise her to purchase a ticket for trans-channel passage to London. Thus, when she arrived at the Dutch border, her onward ticket allowed her entry into The Netherlands that her male missionary companions were denied.19 Missionaries sent to search for stranded colleagues in crowded, chaotic train stations, according to Montague, seemed to sense when they should sing or whistle the first few notes of well-known church songs, such as “Do What is Right.” That attracted the attention of missionaries who would not have otherwise met their rescuers.20

Although Montague’s book primarily serves the needs of faithful readers seeking religious inspiration, the oral history interviews she conducted produced two important historical insights into the days that preceded the onset of the Second World War. Both occurred in train stations. The first revealed the pandemonium that accompanied the mobilization of Germany’s army for war and the rush of civilians to escape the hostilities. Mormon missionaries pushed and shoved their way onto overcrowded trains that offered standing-room-only accommodations to passengers, some of whom— because of age or infirmity—found themselves trampled or crushed. Taxi drivers, railroad porters, and restaurateurs engaged in price gouging, and helpless passengers found themselves at the mercy of ill-tempered soldiers who used the power of their uniform to enforce their own boarding priorities. Often, passengers would travel in cattle-car conditions from one town to the next, perhaps only twenty miles away, only to be evicted from the train when authorities commandeered it for military transport. Confusion reigned among the deposed passengers when no official at the next Bahnhof could predict the arrival of the next train headed north, nor whether space would be available.21

In a tragic series of historical vignettes, Montague’s missionaries described the desperate plight of many Jews who tried to escape the Third Reich at the last minute by using the German rail system. Missionary Frank Knutti remembered a conversation with a small Jewish boy, who told him that his family had been traveling for days, trying to escape Germany—but had been repeatedly turned away at border crossings with Germany’s neighboring countries. They would try Denmark next, but it would be their last hope.22 On the Dutch border that adjoins the Rhineland city of Emmerich, missionaries negotiating their way into The Netherlands observed the plight of several Jewish families seeking freedom from Hitler’s empire:

The Jews were hysterical; they argued loudly and many wept, but the guards refused to allow them to leave the train. One Jewish man, his wife and children looking on in despair, got down on his hands and knees, clasping a Dutch guard’s feet, and pleaded in vain that the guard take mercy on his family, but to no avail.23


In the city of Rheine in Westphalia, missionaries Richard Poll and Burt Horsley encountered an 18-year-old Jewish woman, the daughter of a wealthy foreign banker. Despite her possession of a valid Swiss passport and sufficient funds, she could not buy a ticket out of Germany. Stationmasters refused to sell tickets to a Jew. The missionaries agreed to help her but were stunned by her proposed solution. She asked one of them to marry her, arguing that the Germans would never refuse passage to the wife of an American citizen. She offered to pay handsomely for this special favor. When each missionary incredulously refused, she proposed another harebrained solution. The three of them would buy a car with her funds and they would run a border checkpoint at high speed. Finally, Poll and Horsley suggested a more sensible resolution. They went to the ticket window, and with her funds purchased rail passage for her, along with a ferryboat ticket to England. Grateful, she departed.24

Compared to the plight of Jews trying to escape the Nazis, the evacuating Mormon missionaries were never in danger. The greatest threat they encountered was a shortage of funds. If they had remained in Germany after the onset of hostilities, there is no evidence that they would have been in immediate peril. The United States did not enter the war for more than two years after Germany’s invasion of Poland. Undoubtedly, American citizens were able to leave Germany after the war broke out. The greatest impediment was obtaining reservations on sold-out transatlantic ocean liners, not antagonism by the German government. Nevertheless, the relative ease with which Mormon missionaries were able to book steamship passage back to the United States became another reason to credit God’s favorable intervention. J. Reuben Clark, predominantly responsible for formulating and triggering the evacuation plan, did not hesitate to thank divine providence for the success of the endeavor. Speaking in April 1940 at a church general conference, he said:

The whole group was moved from the disturbed areas in Europe to the United States . . . without one accident or one case of sickness. The entire group was evacuated from Europe . . . when tens of thousands of Americans were besieging the ticket offices of the great steamship companies for passage, and the Elders had no reservations. Every time a group was ready to embark there was available the necessary space, even though efforts to reserve space a few hours beforehand failed.25


The success of the Mormon missionary evacuation from Europe at the onset of the Second World War can be attributed to fastidious planning, a successful rehearsal during the Sudetenland crisis, and disciplined execution. Its only hitch resulted from the failure of J. Reuben Clark to study the history of Holland’s reaction to the flood of refugees that besieged its borders during the First World War, and his inability to anticipate that the Dutch would limit passage when war threatened again. Nevertheless, the evacuation was an overall success. Rather than relying on divine intervention, Mormons followed the counsel of St. Augustine—later incorporated into the Catechism of the Catholic Church—which Latter-day Saints subsequently attributed to Brigham Young: “Pray as if everything depends on the Lord, but work as if everything depends on you.”26

Battlefield Beacons: Courageous and Faithful Mormon Wehrmacht Soldiers

In the first decade of the twenty-first century, Jared Kobs was the kind neighbor every resident of suburban Salt Lake City cherished. A retired furniture upholsterer and salesman, and a veteran of the Second World War, Kobs kept a neatly manicured lawn and a garden planted with colorful flowers. He attended church regularly, spoke cheerfully to his neighbors, and doted over his seventeen grandchildren. Visitors to his house in Sandy, Utah, were struck by the bicultural humor of this German-American immigrant. On his front porch, readable from the sidewalk, was mounted a nameplate: The Kobsens. In German, many nouns take their plural forms by adding the suffix, “en.” In English, most add the letter “s.”27 The linguistically hybrid sign announced to passersby that Jared Kobs belonged to two worlds, one American and one German.28 The nexus was Jared’s membership in the Mormon Church, where the collective memories of the Second World War cast no aspersion on a veteran who fought valiantly and unashamedly for Adolf Hitler’s Nazi Germany.

In the pecking order among former soldiers in Utah, an American veteran of the Normandy D-Day invasion or the Battle of the Bulge enjoys no advantage over a combat veteran who served the enemy. At sacrament meeting or stake conference, America’s so-called “Greatest Generation”29 shares an equal degree of respect with Wehrmacht veterans like Kobs, who courageously fought to relieve Field Marshal Friedrich von Paulus’ encircled Sixth Army at the Battle of Stalingrad.30 These faithful German Army veterans hold comparable ecclesial rank in the Mormon priesthood. The immigration of hundreds of German Latter-day Saints after the war added this particular demographic to the Mormon Culture Region.

Jared Heinz Bruno Kobs is a memory beacon. He appears in the work of author Frederick Kempe, whose book Father/Land set out to examine inherited guilt for the Holocaust among the postwar generations of Germans.31 The book’s plot took a surprising twist when Kempe discovered a particularly reprehensible Nazi criminal in his own Mormon family tree, Erich Krause, who ran a “wild” concentration camp in Berlin.32 Kempe found himself confronted by the same inherited guilt that beset German descendants of the Nazis. For Kempe, his uncle Jared was, by contrast, one of the good Germans from the wartime era—apolitical but cognizant of the role that ordinary Germans played in supporting the Nazi regime. Jared told his nephew that his fellow Germans of that era seldom opposed Hitler, and that members of his own family were members of the Nazi Party, to which they owed their employment.33 Likewise, in correspondence with the author of this study, Kobs was blunt: “I don’t think I liked the government in Germany but I had to obey the law and shut up!”34

Kobs also contributed to the research of Steven Carter, who before this study had written the only doctoral dissertation on the Mormon Church in Nazi Germany.35 Carter discovered Kobs in Kempe’s book, and the affable Jared readily agreed to an oral history interview. When two Brigham Young University scholars, Robert C. Freedman and Jon R. Felt, began to research their book, Saints at War,36 they found in Kobs a faith-inspiring example of a teenage German soldier sent into combat with miniature copies of the New Testament and the Book of Mormon sewn into his uniform jacket. Jared’s mother had stitched them into the lining, positioned to cover her son’s heart.37

Kobs is a Mormon memory beacon because he was not only a good German soldier but also a good man. He took shelter from the Russian winter in peasants’ houses, shared in the household chores, treated the owners kindly, and never inspired fear that he would rape their daughters.38 The most important aspect of Kobs’ story is that he remained a faithful Latter-day Saint throughout his years of wartime tribulation and afterward, reconnecting with the church after his release from a POW camp in 1947. Later, he immigrated to the American Zion and became a patriotic American, but he never questioned the church leadership’s role in ingratiating itself with Hitler’s regime during the pre-war period. More than half a century later, he still had no doubts. Said Kobs in a letter to the author in 2005: “Latter-day Saints should support the government!” With that letter, Kobs enclosed a photocopy of a 2004 LDS Church Sunday school lesson manual. Entitled “The Teachings of Heber J. Grant,” it stressed compliance with the Twelfth Article of Faith and Section 134 of the Doctrine and Covenants.39

Kobs was not the first German combatant in the Second World War to become a Mormon memory beacon. However, in the days before the Iron Curtain fell, faithful Latter-day Saint authors were careful about commemorating the battlefield bravery of Mormon soldiers who fought honorably for a fascist cause. One of the first examples was a self-published book by Frederick H. Barth, born in Romania, who became a naturalized German citizen prior to the outbreak of war in 1939.40 Barth’s autobiography, Guided and Guarded, released in 1981, received an unusual degree of approval by the Mormon hierarchy for the time. Mormon Apostle Howard W. Hunter, who later became the Prophet, Seer, and Revelator for a brief period before his death in 1995, wrote the foreword. Barth had become acquainted with Hunter because of Barth’s full-time church employment as an Eastern European genealogical research specialist, one of the few LDS Church employees at the time who was fluent in Romanian.

Barth’s story was a relatively safe one to recount at a time when the LDS Church was still negotiating with the government of the communist German Democratic Republic on behalf of Mormons who lived in East Germany. Barth had not been born in Germany, nor was he a member of the Mormon Church when he served in Hitler’s military forces during the war. His conversion to Mormonism began in 1953 when two female missionaries rang his doorbell in Stuttgart. The bulk of his account, however, concentrates on the close calls and perceived divine intervention that spared his life during the war. For example, one night shortly after Barth had joined a Luftwaffe communications unit in 1941, he was not in his barracks, having received permission to make a phone call. Suddenly, in the mobilization for war with the Soviet Union, his unit received a deployment order that it executed within in a matter of minutes. When Barth returned to the barracks, he found his rucksack, rifle, and gas mask in the middle of the floor. His comrades were already gone. Rather than being sent to catch up with his unit, Barth received a posting to another outfit. He later learned that all of the men in his platoon had been killed in combat, except one who survived with an amputated leg.41

On another occasion, after having been deployed to the Russian front, Barth received a transfer when officials took belated action on an application he filed for an intelligence specialist’s position many months previously. Barth spent the next two years decoding messages for the ministry of aviation in Berlin. Meanwhile, his former Luftwaffe communications unit suffered heavy casualties inflicted by the Soviet Army and Russian winter.42 The pattern is familiar to readers of faith-promoting Mormon chronicles. God intervened at the last moment to preserve one of his faithful servants— in this case, someone who would render obedient service in the years to come. Barth wrote: “I began to recognize that some supernatural power was at work preserving my life and influencing my circumstances.”43 The divine intervention in his life became clear to him in the 1950s, when after his conversion to Mormonism he decided to immigrate to Utah and subsequently found his linguistic skills in demand at church headquarters. God preserved him as a Nazi soldier in order to do divine work after the war.

Although published testimonies like Barth’s were rare until after the demise of European communism, two forces conjoined afterward to facilitate the recognition of faithful Latter-day Saints who had fought for the Third Reich. First, German Mormons living in the former German Democratic Republic became citizens of the Federal Republic of Germany. Thus, the LDS Church leadership no longer worried about the effect of glorifying fascist warriors in resolutely anti-fascist, communist East Germany. Second, the nostalgia that surfaced in the western world for the aging veterans of the Second World War propelled an effort to recognize Mormon members of America’s “Greatest Generation.” Brigham Young University scholars Robert C. Freedman and Dennis Wright answered that demand by founding the Saints at War Project, a research effort that has produced more than three thousand contacts, and many detailed interviews, with Mormon veterans of the Second World War, Korea, and Vietnam. But this was not an objective oral history project. Their research recounts no tales of hard-drinking, profane, pin-up posting soldiers who forsake their religion in the throes of war. One byproduct of their work was the publication of German Saints at War, an unapologetically faith-promoting effort resembling an academic book yet issued by Cedar Fort Media, a purveyor of Mormon spiritual publications.44

It features no Nazi-saluting devotees of Hitler. Instead, Hitler’s soldiers in German Saints at War pull the trigger sparingly but seldom encounter trouble with their superiors because they lack enthusiasm for war. Instead, miraculous series of events spare their lives, allowing them to live while the less faithful perish. They all survive the war in order to serve the church as obedient members in the post-war years. Eugene Dautel, for example, was a nineteen-year-old draftee into an army medical unit who received an untimely transfer to an infantry battalion. However, just before deployment to the front lines, he experienced an allergic reaction to an inoculation, which allowed him to be transferred back to his original medical unit. The very next day, every member of the infantry platoon was killed or seriously wounded on their first day on the battlefield. The miracles did not stop there. Toward the end of the war, Dautel deserted his unit, survived an artillery barrage that killed many others, and then suffered the pangs of conscience—which compelled him to return to his outfit. An officer told him he would be shot, a common fate encountered by deserting Wehrmacht soldiers toward the end of the war. However, the officer then became pensive, reconsidered, and stamped Dautel’s orders to allow him to return to his unit. Said the author: “Once more the blessing was answered.” Dautel’s post-war actions also followed the faith- promoting paradigm. He married his Mormon sweetheart, became a branch president in the early 1950s, and subsequently immigrated to the American Zion.45

The remaining stories trace the same pattern. Wilhelm Krisch was a member of one of the first Wehrmacht units to cross into the Soviet Union when Hitler launched Operation Barbarossa in the summer of 1941. During one battlefield engagement, he sought refuge from an artillery attack with a group of other German soldiers. Fate intervened in his favor. In Krisch’s words, “I ran only a few steps toward the men, when a soft, quiet voice called me by name, telling me I should go back.” Krisch obeyed the “spiritual prompting,” and as soon as he found a different hiding place, an artillery shell exploded in the middle of his first intended refuge. His comrades were either killed or seriously wounded.46 In another vignette, Walter Kindt related the story of his miraculous, three-hundred-mile hike from his last battlefield at the end of the war to his home in Hamburg. During the trek, he eluded Allied troops who would have captured him and German soldiers who would have implored him to continue fighting.47

The most unusual story involved a young Mormon assigned as an administrative clerk to a Luftwaffe colonel who ran a training school for aircraft mechanics. Oskar Starke developed a close friendship with his commanding officer, who seemed to take an unusual interest in the young man’s career, promoting the young Mormon regularly through the ranks from private to sergeant. One day, when Starke surreptitiously read the colonel’s private journal, he learned that he was being groomed to fill two positions. The colonel wanted his young clerk to attend officer candidate school and then marry his half-Mischling daughter. The diary contained a compelling story of the colonel’s marriage to a Jewish woman during the pre-Nazi period, the birth of their daughter, and his subsequent abandonment of his wife after Hitler took power. Starke was interested in neither of the colonel’s propositions, as he was engaged to a Mormon girl from his hometown of Plauen. He had no desire to marry a girl he had never met, one who did not share his religious beliefs, nor did he want to become a military officer in a war that he knew his country was losing. Through fastidious prayer and contemplation, according to the narrative, Starke convinced the colonel to sign papers that allowed him to marry his fiancée.48 That only occurred after the colonel had refused to grant permission for his clerk to marry each day for one week. The reader can thus conclude that God protected this observant young LDS man by providing him with a relatively safe wartime assignment, during which he proved his spiritual mettle by remaining determined to marry within his faith.

Women, Children, the Elderly, and Evacuees: The Wartime Home Front

As the Second Counselor in the presidency of the East German Mission in 1944, Paul Langheinrich served as the second-ranking ecclesiastical leader for German Latter-day Saints who lived within the boundaries of the Berlin-based mission. Mission President Herbert Klopfer had been deployed to the Russian front as a junior officer in the Wehrmacht. Too old for military conscription, Langheinrich and First Counselor Richard Ranglack remained. They cared for home-front Mormons who were losing their houses and apartments to a relentless Allied aerial bombing campaign, their husbands and fathers to the battlefield, and many of their children to evacuation from cities imperiled by air raids.

Langheinrich assumed another responsibility. Employed by a company that provided heating services to railway stations, he obtained access to three different government radios and a telephone line. That allowed him to furnish a unique air raid early-warning system to alert fellow Latter-day Saints. When a military radio announced that enemy bombers were on their way to a particular city, Langheinrich telephoned specially designated Mormon contacts in that locality. The church’s early-warning network often got the word to members in the endangered city sooner than the government’s civil defense warning system. In Berlin, Langheinrich monitored the local police radio network, which efficiently reported the addresses of newly bombed-out houses and apartment buildings. Langheinrich maintained a list of Berlin church members. When he learned that a member’s residence had been bombed, he quickly dispatched church members to render assistance.49

The Mormon mutual assistance network in Germany functioned well despite wartime travel restrictions, the disruption of peacetime telephone and telegraph capabilities, and the deployment of so many male priesthood leaders to the front lines. The solution, in the latter case, was the intervention of women whose natural leadership abilities had been suppressed or conveniently managed by domineering male ecclesiastical leaders during less troubled times. When East German mission leaders, Ranglack and Langheinrich, decided to establish clothing distribution centers for needy church members, they found three vacant buildings, each in a rural location that made them unlikely targets for destruction by aerial bombing. The first was located in northeastern Germany on a railway line near the obscure village of Kruez. The second was at Neuzage, near the university city of Cottbus in Brandenburg. The third was at Neuwürschnitz, near the Erzgebirge in Saxony.

The two male leaders of the East German Mission located and rented the warehouses but they tasked Mormon women with stocking the shelves. Despite the shortage of consumer goods in a wartime economy, clothing losses in the bombing campaigns, frequent Nazi winter relief drives, and special appeals to send clothing to ill-equipped, beleaguered German troops suffering in subzero temperatures on the Russian front—the “sisters” of the mission performed in excess of expectations. Within six weeks, all three storehouses were filled to capacity and the leadership had to request that members make no more donations.50

Women played an ever-increasing wartime role in performing official church business. Some, faced with a shortage of men in the branches, even took on traditional male duties by performing unauthorized liturgical ordinances restricted to the all-male Mormon priesthood. That commenced as early as the 1938 “fire drill evacuation” during the Sudetenland crisis. According to Donald M. Petty, when missionaries returned from a three-week absence, they found a few isolated cases in which women had blessed (consecrated) and distributed the sacrament (Eucharist).51 Otto Berndt, president of the Hamburg District, recalled that during the war, he assigned women to the traditional male job of collecting tithes—a duty they performed assiduously. As a result, Berndt said, German Mormons remained faithful wartime tithe payers. At the end of the war, he turned over the entire cache of donated money to the mission office in Frankfurt.52 Mormon women also assumed responsibility for maintaining an informal church congregational barter system. One branch used a blackboard to track items available for trading.53

LDS wives and mothers also assumed the role of protecting their families from the threat of violence perpetrated by invading enemy troops. As the Red Army advanced toward Berlin, stories of Russian soldiers raping German civilians in the eastern states became prevalent in Berlin. Faced with the dual threat of Allied bombing and physical violence by Soviet troops, German women coined the cynical expression: “Better a Russian (rapist) on the belly than an American (bomb) on the head.” Mormon women, at least in the faith-promoting stories that have emanated since the war, saw no humor in such remarks. Roger Minert, a professor of religious education at Brigham Young University, interviewed a number of LDS survivors of the Red Army’s advance on Berlin. Rape was a threat they were determined to escape. Although no records provide the number of Mormon women assaulted by the Red Army, author Anthony Beevor stated that two Berlin hospitals estimated the number of local rape victims to number between 95,000 and 130,000.54 One LDS mother successfully disguised her seventeen-year- old daughter as an old woman in order to protect her from marauding and raping Soviet occupation soldiers.55 Others sent their daughters to live with relatives in the countryside. The records of the East German Mission do contain accounts of Mormons raped during forced evacuations from East Prussia.

Women and girls, some just approaching adolescence, have been repeatedly ravished. One of the mothers was forced at the point of a gun to watch her daughter being ravished by a group of ten soldiers. Another girl, not yet twelve years old, has been raped several times. One of the sisters, whose husband was snatched out of his sick bed and deported to Siberia, was ravished three times in one night, resulting in the birth of a little Russian baby boy for whom she is now caring along with her other two children.56


For women caring for children and elderly family members, shelter became the next problem. Otto Berndt estimated that sixty to seventy percent of Hamburg’s Mormons lost their homes as a result of the horrific Allied aerial attacks in 1943, when the British Royal Air Force bombed by night and the American Army Air Force wreaked havoc by day. Only one Hamburg District branch meetinghouse, the rented Masonic Temple in Altona, survived the bombardment. By the end of the war, Hamburg’s Mormons were traveling on foot from all over the devastated city and its distant suburbs to attended services in Altona. Despite the hardships imposed by lack of shelter and a ruined public transit system, the city’s Mormons were able to operate their youth organization, the Mutual Improvement Association, throughout the war without interruption.57

Berlin’s Mormons had an additional problem. Not only did they have to provide shelter for bombed-out church members from their own city, but they also inherited the responsibility for accommodating German-speaking Latter-day Saints fleeing the relentlessly advancing Red Army from the East. In 1944, after one summer evening in which thirty-five Mormon families lost their homes to bombing of the former Prussian capital of Königsberg, Langheinrich wrote the city’s Mormon district president, advising Königsberg’s Latter-day Saint population to relocate. Because of Allied bombardment, Berlin was considered too dangerous to be a place of refuge, but it did serve as a way station for German-speaking Mormons being relocated to the towns of Zwickau and Erzgebirge in Saxony—where LDS families opened their homes to their fleeing coreligionists.58

The problem of finding temporary shelter for the refugees arriving in Berlin had been compounded in 1943 when the Berlin mission headquarters was destroyed in an air raid. The circumstances surrounding that attack provided another beacon in the collective memory of LDS wartime experiences. Mission President Herbert Klopfer, on leave from his military duties, tried to visit the stately building across from Berlin’s Tiergarten Park one evening but found himself locked out. Shortly after he left the premises, in search of his keys, enemy bombers raided the neighborhood, leaving much of the Hansaviertel suburb of Berlin in flames and ruins. As the postwar Mormon lore of Nazi Germany recounts, the Lord preserved Klopfer’s life by causing him to forget his keys.59

After the destruction of the mission home on Händelstrasse, Langheinrich moved all mission operations to his Berlin apartment. The limited space available would have proven inadequate for quartering evacuees in comparison to the former mission headquarters—except for the fact that many other tenants had chosen to abandon their flats. Believing that their apartments would never survive the Allied bombing campaign, many of Langheinrich’s neighbors handed over their keys and gave the Mormon leader permission to shelter refugees in their apartments. The building became the temporary refuge for evacuee Mormons from the east. Some thirty-seven church members took shelter there at one time, as they awaited placement with Mormon families in Saxony. Another problem surfaced when the newcomers learned that they needed Berlin ration cards. That required the short-staffed church leadership to accompany the refugees to their appointments with rationing authorities, to attest to their temporary residency in Berlin. Meanwhile, individual memory beacons continued to appear in the personage of Mormons who unselfishly shared scarce food with the needy transients. According to one account, a teenage girl, Ingrid Bendler, rode a bicycle “under fire” to Langheinrich’s apartment complex, bringing much needed margarine and cocoa to the hungry evacuees.60

The larger German cities proved no safer than the evacuated abodes of the eastern territories. Many Mormons who worked in essential industries continued to risk death by remaining in targeted metropolitan areas. Some worked exhausting day shifts, only to have their limited nighttime rest interrupted by air raid alerts. One Latter-day Saint later recalled that the prevailing attitude of defenseless civilians was that “today may be my last.” The physical and emotional strain of taking shelter each time the air raid sirens sounded began to wear on the populace. Langheinrich wrote that during the war years he had sought refuge in the air raid shelters a total of 395 times. The pressure was especially intense on the elderly. According to one account:

Eventually, the old and the weak, upon hearing the siren, pleaded to be left behind, resigning themselves to possible death rather than use up the strength of the younger people in carrying them to the shelters.61


Others were able to escape the threat of death that rained down from the skies. Some had relatives in rural Germany, where they could wait out the war in relative tranquility. A few with financial means paid to have their children placed in boarding schools or with families in small towns that were of no strategic interest to Allied aerial targeting planners. Max Reschke, an upper-level manager in a Hanover pharmaceutical manufacturing plant, could afford to send his eleven-year-old son, Horst, to a private school for well-connected German children in Austria in 1941 and 1942. Then, Max found Horst a suitable family with which to live in the medieval town of Hildesheim, located thirty kilometers southeast of Hanover. Even the relative safety of the countryside did not offer absolute protection, however. Once, when Horst was a passenger on a local train that he rode to school, the cars came under a strafing attack by an Allied dive bomber. A bullet penetrated his friend’s school satchel, positioned over the boy’s head on the luggage rack, and lodged in the boy’s books.62 If the machine gun round had found its mark in the child’s body, presumably this story would not have found its way into the trove of miraculous Mormon wartime accounts.

Wolfsgrün: A Beacon of German-Mormon Self-Help

The post-war period witnessed the continued diaspora of both German-speaking people from former German territories in the East, and of ethnic Germans from countries that the Third Reich had occupied. Understandably, many fled the advancing Soviet forces while the war raged, but even after the cessation of hostilities the migration continued because of forced expulsions. Altogether, some twelve to fourteen million German speakers, either Reichsdeutsche (German nationals) or Volksdeutsche (ethnic Germans) fled or were compelled to leave their homes between 1944 and 1950.63 Many died along the way because of exposure, starvation, or violence. Although Mormons fled along with other German speakers, relatively few perished. Their collective behavior while en route, sharing their limited provisions, preserved many lives. Some pushed their possessions in handcarts and wheel barrows, which many saw as emblematic of the Mormon “handcart migration” across the Great Plains from Nauvoo, Illinois to Utah almost one hundred years earlier.64 East German Mission leaders sheltered them upon arrival in Berlin. The Langheinrich apartments became a way station where, according to an American occupation soldier who once served as secretary of the German-Austrian Mission:

They received clean clothing from the mission’s reserve stock. They were seated around a long table and fed hot soup and nourishing food. Then the weary newcomers were allowed to sleep for as long as they wished. Then they were given a train ticket.65


The rail ticket took evacuees to the Saxon village of Wolfsgrün, situated several miles from the larger town of Eibenstock. There, a large manor house situated on a hill served as their refuge. From 1945 to 1947, the Latter-day Saints ran a home for displaced Mormons that housed as many as ninety-nine families.

How the East German Mission leadership obtained the property has become a beacon of memory in Mormon history and folklore. For many generations prior to the Second World War, the property belonged to the family of a turn-of-the-century industrialist named C. G. Bretschneider, who made his fortune in the paper industry. Between 1898 and 1902, Bretschneider constructed a large house that resembled a castle, complete with many bedrooms, an expansive dining hall, and a main portal that led to a grandiose reception area. He built the house amid a meticulously landscaped park with pathways, ponds, and lush, grassy lawns. During the National Socialist period, Bretschneider encountered financial difficulties because of his inability to court favor with the Nazis. Presumably, he would not join the Party. Eventually, the owner lost the property to the state, probably because of the inability to pay property or business taxes.66 The large manor house became the property of the Nazi Party social welfare organization, the Nationalsozialistich Volkswohlfahrt (NSV), who used it as a home for young mothers.67

The NSV, formed in Berlin in 1931 by a Nazi municipal counselor named Erich Hilgenfeldt, began with modest goals, to help Party members weather the economic difficulties brought on by the worldwide depression that hit Germany particularly hard. After the Nazis came to power, it absorbed various church and secular relief agencies, such as the German Red Cross. With sixteen million members in 1942, it became the second-largest Party auxiliary organization.68 Its programs to aid expectant mothers became known for its maternity and childcare workers, referred to as the “brown sisters”—in contrast to the “blue sisters,” Catholic nuns, who had run many of Germany’s pre-Nazi homes for unwed mothers.69 Ostensibly, the brown sisters had no objection to Hitler’s lascivious natalist policies, which cast no moral aspersion on women who wished to “give Hitler a baby” by engaging in premarital relations.

After the war, when the East German Mission leaders began looking for a place of refuge for its refugee members, the former Nazi property at Wolfsgrün was available. As the Mormons maintained good relations with the Soviet occupying authorities, the Red Army military commandant at Eibenstock granted permission for the Mormons to move in on the same day that the request was made, September 3, 1945.70 Because of the way that Donald C. Corbett worded his report, however, at least one historian and possibly other readers have mischaracterized the use of the Wolfsgrün property during the Nazi regime. Corbett said: “During the Hitler period, it had been used as a convalescent home for mothers.”71 That prompted Steven Carter to write: “Paul Langheinrich and Arnold Schmidt, a branch president from Krese, secured a former Lebensborn home in Wolfsgrün south of Berlin for an LDS refugee camp.”72 Schmidt confirmed that the Wolfsgrün had indeed been used as an NSV facility for mothers, but the property does not appear on the list of SS Lebensborn maternity homes.73 The Lebensborn program, according to differing historical accounts, served as either Heinrich Himmler’s pet project to allow Aryan women to bear their “racially pure,” outof- wedlock children without shame—or as an SS stud farm where black-shirted Nazis could have sex with genealogically screened German women in order to produce a “master race.” The Lebensborn project also became associated with the kidnapping of children from occupied countries, who were then adopted by SS families in Germany.74

Regardless of how the Nazis employed the Wolfsgrün facility during the war, afterward it continued to be embroiled in controversy. For the Soviet occupation forces, there was no problem with allowing a peaceful German religious denomination to use a former fascist facility to shelter refugees. For officials of the local government, though, the prospect of importing displaced war victims to their town threatened to tax limited food supplies. Others worried that the outsiders might pose a threat to law and order. During the period in which the Mormons operated the refugee facility, feeding its occupants and staving off local opposition remained a constant challenge.

Because local officials denied the Wolfsgrün occupants “grocery cards,” twiceweekly shopping trips for provisions had to be made to towns at least forty miles away. Occupants ground wheat into powder in order to make soup. During the winter of 1945- 46, the residents ate nothing but carrots. When Arnold Schmidt’s wife was able to convince a local farmer to sell her two pigs, Wolfsgrün’s residents anticipated a feast. However, after the hogs had been slaughtered, police from Zwickau arrived and confiscated the meat. Schmidt managed to hide a pot of lard, on which the residents subsisted for many days. In the spring of 1946, the residents planted a vegetable garden, but even this task was complicated by a lack of shovels.75

Throughout the Mormons’ stay at Wolfsgrün, they fought a constant battle against local authorities who were determined to close the facility. Between Christmas and New Year’s Day of 1946, the police commissioner of Saxony appeared with a notice to vacate within five days. Later in January, the local mayor, accompanied by four policemen, arrived with an evacuation notice. Several weeks later, Saxon authorities in Dresden sent a telegram that demanded the Mormons vacate the premises, along with their assurances that the refugees would be accommodated elsewhere. Enjoying the continued support of the Soviet military governor, Schmidt refused to comply with these edicts. In February 1946, under pressure from Russian military authorities, local authorities granted “food cards” to the residents, which allowed them to shop locally.76

The Mormon refugee home in Wolfsgrün operated until July 1947. A combination of factors led to its closing.77 Records of the East German mission indicate that government pressure to close the facility persisted throughout its twenty-two months of operation. Also, as food became more plentiful, complaints began to arise regarding the indolent work ethic of some of its residents. One report said residents had split into rival factions. Allegations of sexual improprieties arose.78 As economic conditions improved in Germany and Mormon assistance began arriving from the United States, the residents of Wolfsgrün began to find homes elsewhere. Through the effort of the mission office in Berlin, the majority relocated to cities under the occupation of the western powers. The remainder found places to live in the eastern zone under Soviet jurisdiction. Some thirty residents chose homes in the vicinity of Wolfsgrün, which allowed a small LDS branch to function for years afterward.79
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Re: The Mormons in Nazi Germany, by David Conley Nelson

Postby admin » Thu Jul 05, 2018 11:12 pm

Part 2 of 2

The Brightest Memory Beacon: Ezra Taft Benson and American War Relief

When Wehrmacht forces in Berlin surrendered to the Red Army on May 2, 1945, one nightmare ended for the city’s civilian population but another began. No more air raid sirens sounded and no more bombs or artillery rounds fell, but Germans found themselves unable to enjoy the tranquility of the night because of the pangs of hunger. Civil administration was in shambles and supply distribution networks, intermittent and unreliable during the war, ceased to function altogether. Ration coupons were worthless in the stores that survived amid the rubble. There was nothing on the shelves and no deliveries were scheduled. The Red Army had provisions for itself but little to share with the civilian populace. Indeed, Soviet soldiers looted whatever German stocks they could find.80 For three weeks, according to Donald C. Corbett, Berlin’s Latter-day Saints shared among church members the meager stocks of food they had, and what they could obtain from farmers if they could make it past Russian sentries and into the countryside. Then, the Russians began to establish food distribution centers that issued limited quantities of bread to the civilian population.81 It was not enough. During the month of July, the average daily nutritional intake in Berlin was eight hundred calories per person, worse than a concentration camp diet that had been deliberately designed to starve prisoners to death.82 By the end of the summer, the Allied military government established a meager ration of 1,550 calories per day as a basis for distributing limited food aid to Berlin’s surviving population of more than three million people.83 A British plan, “Operation Barleycorn,” called for German prisoners of war to work agricultural fields in its sector of occupation in order to bring in the summer harvest, but the operation failed when three continuous weeks of August rain ruined the German wheat crop.84

For Latter-day Saints, the situation began to improve when American servicemen arrived in Berlin. Missionaries who had served in Germany before the war and who were fluent in the language made a special effort to connect with their former congregants. On Sunday mornings, German Mormons tried to conduct sacrament meetings in darkened, bomb-damaged buildings without electricity or heat. Sometimes they received surprise visits from familiar faces dressed in U. S. Army olive and khaki. “Ein Bruder?” a famished, dispirited German Mormon might ask an unexpected visitor at his door.85 The look of astonishment would turn to one of glee when a soldier from Utah arrived bearing a standard military mail package of eleven or twenty-two pounds, dispatched by a Berlin resident’s American relative by way of a familiar missionary. Two former mission secretaries, Major Donald C. Corbett of the German-Austrian Mission and Major John R. Barnes of the West German Mission, using their privileges as commissioned officers, commandeered jeeps and other military vehicles in an attempt to deliver relief supplies to church members.86

The following winter was probably the worst that the German population had experienced since the allied blockade at the end of the First World War, which had been designed to ensure cooperation with peace terms to be dictated at Versailles. The first winter after the Second World War was worse, however, because that conflict inflicted vast destruction on the home front. Having no coal or wood for their stoves, Germans went to bed at night and “tried to cover themselves with old newspapers and wrapping paper.”87 Food, fuel, and shelter were in short supply in March 1946, when Mormon Apostle Ezra Taft Benson arrived in Berlin to coordinate an extensive postwar relief effort. Latter-day Saints in the United States and Canada provided a yearlong relief campaign for bombed-out and hungry Mormon victims of the war. Benson spent nine months in war-torn Europe that year, reorganizing the local church hierarchy and overseeing relief efforts.88 Germany and the eastern territories where German-speaking Mormons resided received the preponderance of his attention. His speeches to German Mormons attracted overflow crowds, some of them in partially destroyed meetinghouses.89

Except for the small quantities of relief supplies provided on an individual basis by American soldiers, the first church-dispatched aid arrived in Germany in June 1946 by way of Geneva, Switzerland. The Salt Lake City hierarchy enlisted the aid of the International Red Cross for its distribution, as the Red Cross enjoyed the cooperation of the military occupation authorities.90 While the Mormon relief effort had to overcome bureaucratic obstacles in each zone of occupation, particular difficulties surfaced in the Soviet zone. Russian officials feared that American aid might affect the political attitude of the populace.91 The Russians also insisted, for a time, that any relief supplies be distributed throughout the population and not reserved for church members.92 A second shipment of American food and clothing arrived in Berlin in early October 1946. By this time, the reluctance of the Soviet occupation authorities had been overcome.93 Canadian Mormon farmers in the western province of Alberta dispatched massive amounts of cracked wheat to Germany in three shipments in 1946 and 1947.94 Mormon relief efforts in support of distressed German members continued through the summer of 1947, when currency reform in the western sector of Germany coincided with an economic recovery that allowed most German Latter-day Saints to become selfsufficient. Some forty-one freight carloads of clothing and ninety-nine freight carloads of food, with a total value of $1,232,000, found its way from North American Latter-day Saints to European Mormons in 1946-47. The total cost, including shipping and insurance, was $1,736,000.95

American Mormons, particularly those of German descent, aided their Teutonic countrymen in another way. The year 1948 saw the beginning of a substantial German Mormon migration to the United States. Through the year 1962, according to one estimate, 4,493 German Latter-day Saints immigrated to the Mormon Culture Region.96 Many received aid from relatives who had come to America prior to the war. This occurred despite the Mormon hierarchy’s unwavering opposition to migration to the American Zion, a stance that had not changed since the 1920s. It happened in the midst of well-publicized LDS Church plans to construct its first Holy Temple in Europe in German-speaking Bern, Switzerland. That temple opened in 1955. Although German Mormons worshiped at the new temple enthusiastically, its establishment did not slow the rate of emigration.

Priorities: Mining Genealogical Records Amid Starvation

During the winter of 1945-46, while Berliners were subsisting on a quota of 1,550 calories per day and heating fuel was in short supply, the leadership of the East German Mission found its time occupied with additional interests. Besides saving lives by feeding the hungry and sheltering the homeless, the mission leadership concerned itself with saving the souls of the dead. The traditional Mormon practice of baptizing deceased non-members into the LDS Church by proxy took on increased importance in light of the Second World War’s carnage. There were many more dead souls to save. Less than a year had passed since liberating soldiers had exposed the horrors of Nazi gas chambers and crematoria to a shocked world. While destitute Germans, without coal or wood, wrapped themselves in paper at night to keep warm, Mormons sought other valuable papers to fuel their genealogical program. Aware that the Nazis’ fastidious record keeping had produced bountiful quantities of family history information, the LDS leadership kept a watchful eye for caches of records scattered during the war.

On August 9, 1945, barely three months after Germany surrendered, Second Counselor Paul Langheinrich wrote the commander of Soviet occupation forces, seeking information and a blanket authorization to retain any genealogical records that the Mormons might obtain. He told Field Marshall Georgy Zhukov:

Through the Reichsamt für Sippenforchung (Department of Genealogical Research) Berlin, N.W.7, Schiffbauerdamm 26, many family documents, pedigree charts, etc. were compiled. Films were also made of 50% of all German church records. Of particular value is also a complete file that has been compiled of Jewish people. All the records have been stored somewhere in a fire- and bombproof place, which is unknown to us. It must be in or near Berlin. These records are of no value to you. For us they are priceless.97 (my emphasis)


He asked if the Red Army had any knowledge of such records. One week later, the Soviet commanding general, through his chief of staff, replied that the Russians had no knowledge or interest in genealogical records, but granted the Mormons permission to keep any that they might find. General Wasili Sokolowski wrote:

We know nothing of . . . German church records and files of the Jews, and do not know where they are at this time. If you find them, and the contents agree with this, we do not object if you take possession of these.98


Langheinrich had been a Nazi government-certified genealogist who conducted research on bloodlines at the University of Berlin in 1934. He subsequently turned down an offer to become a government lecturer on genealogical subjects, on the basis that he was not a member of the Nazi Party. Nevertheless, his government certification had given him access to all genealogical records in the Third Reich.99 Regardless of the destitute condition of German Latter-day Saints during the first winter following the war, Langheinrich was determined to attend to the salvation of the dead in addition to the welfare of the living. In his correspondence with the Soviet authorities, he emphasized that: “None of us has ever been a member of the NSDAP or any of its departments.”100

In February 1946, one month before Ezra Taft Benson arrived from Salt Lake City to coordinate the Mormon war-relief drive, Langheinrich learned of the existence of a trove of genealogical records stored in a castle on a mountaintop in Thuringia. The records consisted of more than five thousand bound books of parish and civil registries covering the past several centuries, and thousands of thirty-five millimeter films in canisters—ostensibly recorded by the Nazis as part of their pre-war genealogical research efforts to document non-Jewish blood lines. The collection contained many names of Jewish Germans obtained from the historical records of synagogues. The records were part of a larger store of art works, gold, ancient scrolls, illustrated church books dating from the Middle Ages, and other treasures that Nazi authorities had hidden from the advancing Russian armies.101

The next step was to seek permission to expend church funds to retrieve the records. At the time, the two mission leaders could not write to Salt Lake City. Occupation authorities prohibited German civilians from communicating by mail with correspondents outside of the country. Instead, on a Sunday afternoon in February 1946, Langheinrich knocked on the door of Major Donald C. Corbett, who was serving on the staff of General Lucius D. Clay, the military governor of the American zone of occupation. Clay would later gain fame for his role in leading the Berlin Airlift of 1948- 49. Corbett, a former secretary to the president of the German-Austrian mission, was the highest-ranking American Mormon that Langheinrich could find. Money was not a problem. Germans had remained regular tithe payers during the war, and the mission had more than one hundred thousand Reichmarks in cash, and a million more in a frozen bank account. Langheinrich estimated that shipping the records to Berlin would require three railroad cars at a cost of RM 1,500 per car. Enthused by the prospect of obtaining so many names for temple ordinances but unsure of his authority to approve the expenditure of church funds, Corbett nevertheless granted permission for Langheinrich to finance the project.102

Years later, Corbett reported the retrieval of the records in an essay written for the LDS Church Historical Department. It contained several pages of perceived miraculous interventions that allowed the project to continue in the face of adverse weather, mechanical breakdown of equipment, and confrontations with Soviet soldiers. It also recounted the reaction of Mormon Apostle Ezra Taft Benson, who viewed the records on his trip to Berlin later that spring. Corbett described Benson’s first visit to the new East German Mission headquarters building, a stately structure obtained from the occupation government at the paltry rent of four hundred marks per month. The expansive house had belonged to a high-ranking Nazi functionary who committed suicide in the waning days of the war. Benson toured a house stacked with items from its floor to the ceiling. Half of the material was war-relief supplies. The other half was genealogical records. Benson was delighted to see both.103

One disquieting aspect of the record retrieval project stands out in the accounts of the event. The presence of numerous Jewish records among those retrieved for genealogical research and subsequent temple baptisms is prominently noted in Corbett’s report, in the East German Mission records, and in Langheinrich’s correspondence with Red Army officials.104 In a report that Langheinrich later wrote for the LDS Church Historical Department, he emphasized the importance of obtaining Jewish records, among the others. He recalled searching the basement of a destroyed Jewish synagogue in Berlin. He established contact with former employees of the Reich Genealogical Office in order to seek files of Jewish names. Describing the search for one particular quantity of records, the report described the “great regret we had to find out that a large part of the Jew [sic] file had been given to a paper mill.”105

The Mormon Church’s sordid practice of converting Jewish Holocaust victims and other Jews to its faith by posthumous baptism became well known in the last decade of the twentieth century. The post-war records retrieval project in Thuringia and related searches for genealogical data in the rubble of Nazi Germany may have represented the first steps in that process.

Resumption of American Ecclesiastical Authority

For German Latter-day Saints, the historical period that marked the Second World War came to a close in November 1946 with the appointment of American mission presidents and the official resumption of Salt Lake City’s ecclesiastical control over German Mormons. Walter Stover, a furniture sales magnate from Salt Lake City and a native German, assumed control over the Berlin-based East German Mission. Several months later, Gene Wunderlich, a prominent attorney from Los Angeles, took command of the Frankfurt-based West German Mission. Both men adhered to the same pattern that had proven successful for mission presidents in Germany during the first half of the twentieth century. Each man spoke fluent German and had served a mission in Germany as a youth. Each was married and had children. Both had achieved distinguished professional success prior to their calling as mission presidents and had sacrificed financially in order to accept the church post. Each had served in the Mormon hierarchy at the ward (parish) and stake (diocesan) level and was familiar with church governance.

Wunderlich began restoring American authority by correcting deviations in Mormon liturgical practice that had crept into Sunday sacrament meetings during the war. He found that one branch had covered its sacrament (Eucharist) table with red cloth and distributed the sacrament water in a gold chalice. Other congregations had served the sacrament with a musical accompaniment, either a violin or an organ. In one case, the young men who served the sacred bread and water clicked their heels in unison, as if they were practicing a military drill. His message: “Let’s get back to basics!”106 Despite his admonishments, the Mormons of the West German Mission apparently embraced their new American mission president with enthusiasm. His experience as an American attorney facilitated relations with Allied occupation officials.

By most accounts, Stover was also a well-loved leader of the Mormons in eastern Germany. However, his status as a former German citizen and a naturalized American caused periodic problems with military authorities in all zones of occupation.107 As the mission historical records noted:

It should be stated, perhaps, that President Stover has not been very successful in his contacts with the military officials in Berlin. This is probably due to his German background which places him under some suspicion, and also because he has been investigated and is being watched by the Criminal Investigation [Division] of the U. S. Army, because of the unusually large quantity of goods and supplies brought with him from America.108


Officials initially denied permission for Stover’s wife, Martha, to join him in Berlin.109 He found it difficult to receive the military’s permission to remain in Germany beyond the limit of his initial thirty-day travel authorization. At one point in the spring of 1947, he had to leave Germany for thirty days in order to gain eligibility to reenter.110 Eventually, after the intercession of Mormon officials with the military chaplain corps leadership, he received permission to dine at American military mess halls and purchase army gasoline.111 Stover also had periodic run-ins with Soviet authorities and with the nascent government of the German Democratic Republic when it formed in 1949. When Stover received permission to visit Latter-day Saints in the Soviet zone of occupation, that authorization was given verbally but never put into writing, which caused difficulties with border guards and policemen.112 On one occasion, Soviet authorities arrested Stover.113

For German Latter-day Saints who lived behind the Iron Curtain, greater results emerged under the informal direction of Walter Krause, a native German lay leader who was more successful in convincing GDR officials that Mormons could simultaneously owe allegiance to an American church and a communist government. Unlike Stover, Krause had never immigrated to the United States. As late as the 1970s, when Salt Lake City-based Mormon officials could only visit East Germany in conjunction with the annual Leipzig Trade Fair, Krause cultivated a degree of trust with GDR officials that allowed him to travel to Salt Lake City for periodic church general conferences. Nevertheless, the Mormon hierarchy had difficulty accepting the premise that mission leadership could be entrusted to anyone who had not undergone a spiritual apprenticeship in the American Zion. Walter Krause was never appointed to be a mission president.114 Despite the fact that native Germans acquitted themselves in an outstanding manner in the crucible of wartime leadership, when both world wars ended, the Salt Lake City hierarchy dispatched American replacements. It seemed as if the task of accommodating and ingratiating an authoritarian religious denomination with an equally rigid German civil government could only be entrusted, in both Nazi Germany and communist East Germany, to Americans.

______________

Notes:

1 W. Herbert Klopfer, “Childhood in the Big German City of Berlin: The  Ravages of World War II, My Father’s Life and Church Leadership” (unpublished  memoir, n.d., ca. 1980), Archives, Historical Department, The Church of Jesus Christ of  Latter-day Saints, Salt Lake City, Utah; W. Herbert Klopfer, “Enemy Soldier in the  Pulpit,” Ensign (June 1990): 59-60. Karl Herbert Klopfer’s story is told by his son, Wolfgang Herbert Klopfer, who in adult life legally changed his first given name to the initial W. According to the younger Klopfer, memories of Utah schoolyard bulling of a recently arrived German immigrant child named Wolfgang prompted the change.
 
2 Klopfer, “Childhood in Berlin,” 1-2; W. Herbert Klopfer, interview with David C. Nelson, 19 Sep. 2006, notes in my possession.
 
3 Ibid.
 
4 Thomas E. McKay to John R. Barnes, 17 Sep. 1945; Richard Ranglack and Paul Langheinrich to McKay, 5 Jan. 1946, Thomas E. McKay Papers, Archives, Historical Department, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Salt Lake City, Utah.
 
5 Erna Klopfer, “Report on the Life of K. Herbert Klopfer,” East German Mission Manuscript Histories. The report is dated December 1957 but is filed in the manuscript histories under the date of March 19, 1945, the date that Klopfer died in a Red Army field hospital. 
 
6 Klopfer, “Enemy Soldier at the Pulpit,” 59-60.
 
7 Dorothea Spech Condie, “Let’s Follow Dad—He Holds the Priesthood” in Gordon N. Davis and Norma S. Davis, ed., Behind the Iron Curtain: Recollections of Latter-day Saints in East Germany, 1945-1989 (Provo, Utah: BYU Studies Monographs, 2000), 32-37.
 
8 Scharffs, Mormonism in Germany, 116.
 
9 East German Mission Manuscript Histories, 21-24 Mar. 1946.
 
10 The same degree of uncertainty prevails when one tries to assess the number of casualties inflicted on the German populace as a whole. The official German military casualty reporting system broke down late in the war, and for many years historians  accepted approximately 3.9 million battlefield deaths, although that figure excluded  battles fought after January 1945. More recent research, conducted at the end of the  twentieth century by Rüdiger Overmans, estimated that German military losses  numbered as high as 5.3 million. See Overmans, Deutsche militärische Verluste im  Zweiten Weltkrieg (Munich: Oldenberg, 2000), 151-204. Similar uncertainty exists  regarding civilian casualties. The latest scholarship, published by Olaf Groehler,  estimated 406,000 civilian casualties from aerial bombardment in Germany and Austria.  See Das Deutsche Reich und der Zweite Weltkrieg, 16 vols. (Stuttgart : Deutsche  Verlags-Anstalt, 2008), 9:460. 
 
11 East German Mission Manuscript Histories (year-end report), 31 Dec. 1939.
 
12 Alfred C. Rees, Missionary Letter No. 11, 15 Aug. 1939, East German Mission Office Files, Archives, Historical Department, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Salt Lake City, Utah. Thomas E. McKay, Missionary Letter No. 12, 17 Aug. 1939, East German Mission Office Files.
 
13 East German Mission Manuscript Histories (year-end report), 31 Dec. 1939. 
 
14 David F. Boone, “The Evacuation of the Czechoslovakian and German Missions at the Outbreak of World War II,” BYU Studies 40-3 (2001): 122-154.
 
15 David F. Boone, “The Evacuation of Missionaries at the Outbreak of World War II,” in Regional Studies in Latter-day Saint Church History (Aalborg, Denmark: Mormon History Association, 35th Annual Meeting, Jun. 2000), 65-89. Also see: David F. Boone, “The Worldwide Evacuation of Latter-day Saint Missionaries at the Outbreak of World War II” (master’s thesis, Brigham Young University, 1981).
 
16 Terry Bohle Montague, Mine Angels Round About: Mormon Missionary Evacuation from Western Germany, 1939 (Murray, Utah: Roylance Publishing, 1989).
 
17 Montague, Mine Angels Round About, 17. 
 
18 Ibid., 23.
 
19 Ibid., 35-41.
 
20 Ibid., 60. 
 
21 Ibid., 30, 40, 66.
 
22 Ibid, 80. 
 
23 Ibid., 52.
 
24 Ibid., 44. 
 
25 Boone, “Evacuation of the Czechoslovak and German Missions,” 148.
 
26 United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, Catechism of the Catholic Church 2834, http://old.usccb.org/catechism/text/pt4sect2art3.shtml; “Quotes: Brigham Young,” Goodreads, http://www.goodreads.com/author/quotes/ ... gham_Young.

27 Kobs, interview, 20 Jul. 2006, notes in my possession.

28 This sign appears in Frederick Kempe’s book, Father/Land. I observed the sign when Mr. Kobs graciously granted me an oral history interview in July 2006. 
 
29 Tom Brokaw, The Greatest Generation (New York: Random House, 1998).
 
30 Jared H. B. Kobs, “WW II 1939-1945—Unforgettable Days at ‘The Gates of Hell’” (unpublished manuscript, n.d., ca. 2000), 5, copy in my possession.
 
31 Frederick Kempe, Father/Land: A Personal Search for the New Germany (New York: Penguin Putnam, 1999).
 
32 See Chapter XIII of this work. In Kempe’s book, the author protected the relatives of his murderous distant relative by awarding Erich Krause the pseudonym of Kramer.
 
33 Kempe, Father/Land, 81. 
 
34 Jared H. B. Kobs to David C. Nelson, 27 Jul. 2006, copy in my possession.
 
35 Carter, “The Mormons and the Third Reich,” 235.
 
36 Robert C. Freeman and Dennis A Wright, Saints at War: Experiences of Latter-day Saints in World War II (American Fork, Utah: Covenant Communications, 2001).
 
37 Kobs, “Unforgettable Days,” 5.
 
38 Ibid. 
 
39 Jared H. B. Kobs to David C. Nelson, 15 Aug. 2005, copy in my possession.
 
40 Frederick H. Barth, Guided and Guarded: German War Corporal Turns to Mormonism (Salt Lake City: Barth Associates, 1981). 
 
41 Barth, Guided and Guarded, 40; George Bickerstaff, “Guarded by Grace,” This People (April 1982): 38-39.
 
42 Barth, Guided and Guarded, 74; Bickerstaff, “Guarded by Grace,” 39. 
 
43 Bickerstaff, “Guarded by Grace,” 39.
 
44 Robert C. Freeman and Jon R. Felt, German Saints at War (Springville, Utah:  Cedar Fort, Inc., 2008).
 
45 Ibid., 22.
 
46 Freeman and Felt, “German Saints at War,” 73.
 
47 Ibid., 126-128. 
 
48 Ibid., 266-268.
 
49 Donald C. Corbett, “Disaster Welfare in Germany” (unpublished report, n.d.,  ca. 1960), 7, Archives, Historical Department, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day  Saints, Salt Lake City, Utah.
 
50 Ibid, 2.
 
51 Petty, interview, transcript, 49.
 
52 Berndt, interview, transcript, 47, 69.
 
53 Ibid., 84. 
 
54 Anthony Beevor, Berlin: The Downfall, 1945 (London: Viking, 2002), 410-411.
 
55 Roger P. Minert, “Berlin East Branch, Berlin District” in In Harm’s Way: East German Latter-day Saints in World War II (Provo, Utah: Religious Studies Center, Brigham Young University, 2009), http://rsc.byu.edu/archived/harm-s-way- ... manlatter- day-saints-world-war-ii/berlin-district/berlin-east-branch-be.
 
56 East German Mission Manuscript Histories, 26 Jul.-7 Aug. 1946. 
 
57 Berndt, interview, transcript, 50, 70.
 
58 Corbett, “Disaster Welfare in Germany,” 2-3. 
 
59 Klopfer, “Childhood in Berlin,” 4-5; Klopfer, interview, notes.
 
60 Corbett, “Disaster Welfare in Germany,” 3. 
 
61 Ibid., 7.
 
62 Horst Reschke, “Would You Forget? An Explanation on Horst Reschke’s Comments Above,” Der Blumenbaum: The Sacramento German Genealogical Society Journal 20-4 (Apr.-Jun. 2003), 173. Although the town of Hildesheim was relatively safe during the period in which Horst Reschke lived with his host family, it eventually suffered heavy damage from Allied aerial bombing.
 
63 Swarthmore College, “Expulsion of Germans After World War II,” http://www.sccs.swarthmore.edu/users/08 ... ulsion_of_ Germans_after_World_War_II.html. The literature on the migration and expulsion of Germans after the Second World War is growing. Two of the most recent scholarly works are: R. M. Douglas, Orderly and Humane. The Expulsion of the Germans after the Second World War (New Haven, Connecticut: Yale University Press, 2012) and Ulrich Merten, Forgotten Voices: The Expulsion of the Germans from Eastern Europe after World War II (New Brunswick, N. J.: Transaction Publishers, 2012). 
 
64 Schmidt, “Mormon Home in Wolfsgrün,” 3; Frederick W. Babbel, On Wings of Faith (Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1972), 41. The literature of the nineteenth-century Mormon handcart migration is extensive. For an overview, see Allen, Story of the Latter-day Saints, 292-294, 321; Encyclopedia of Mormonism, s.v., “Handcart Companies.”
 
65 Corbett, “Disaster Welfare in Germany,” 15. 
 
66 Marko Schubert to David C. Nelson, 7 May 2007, copy in my possession. Entries concerning the Bretschneider property in Wolfsgrün appear in the Hendelsregister, the commercial registry of the Amtsgericht, the local court, for various dates from 1890 through 1943.
 
67 Arnold Schmidt, “An Account of the Mormon Home in Wolfsgrün” (unpublished manuscript, n.d., ca. 1970), 4, Archives, Historical Department, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Salt Lake City, Utah.
 
68 Jean-Denis Lepage, Hitler Youth, 1922-1945: An Illustrated History (Jefferson, N. C., McFarland & Company, 2009), 47-49. 
 
69 Ian Kershaw, Hitler, 1936-45: Nemesis (New York: W. W. Norton, 2000), 424; Walter Rinderle and Bernard Norling, The Nazi Impact on a German Village (Lexington: University Press of Kentucky, 1993), 168.
 
70 Schmidt, “Mormon Home in Wolfsgrün,” 5.
 
71 Corbett, “Disaster Welfare in Germany,” 14.
 
72 Carter, “Mormons and the Third Reich, 193.
 
73 “Homes of Lebensborn,” Axis History Factbook, http://www.axishistory.com/ index.php?id=3108. Also see: Marc Hillel and Clarissa Henry, Of Pure Blood (New York: Pocket Books, 1978)
 
74 “The Lebensborn Program,” Jewish Virtual Library, http://www.  jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/Holocaust/Lebensborn.html; “Hitler’s Master Race,”  ABC News documentary, televised 26 Apr. 2000, transcript, http://abcness.go.com/  onair/2020/transcripts/2020_000426_lebensborn_trans.html
 
75 Schmidt, “Mormon Home in Wolfsgrün,” 6-8, 10.
 
76 Ibid., 10-11.
 
77 Ibid., 18.
 
78 East German Mission Manuscript Histories, 24 Mar. 1946. 
 
79 Schmidt, “Mormon Home at Wolfsgrün,” 18.
 
80 Douglas Botting, From the Ruins of the Reich: Germany 1945-1949 (New York: Crown, 1985), 311.
 
81 Corbett, “Disaster Welfare in Germany,” 9-11. 
 
82 Botting, Ruins of the Reich, 133.
 
83 Corbett, “Disaster Welfare in Germany,” 20.
 
84 Botting, Ruins of the Reich, 132.
 
85 Donald C. Corbett, “Visit of Elder Ezra Taft Benson to Berlin, Germany, in 1946” (unpublished essay, n.d., ca. 1960), 3, Archives, Historical Department, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Salt Lake City, Utah.
 
86 Corbett, “Disaster Welfare in Germany,” 13; “Former Missionary Returns to Mission as Army Officer,” Deseret News, 24 Nov. 1945. Corbett’s account identifies Barnes as a major. The Deseret News article refers to him as a colonel.
 
87 Botting, Ruins of the Reich, 139.
 
88 “Elder Benson Tells Story of Church Welfare in Germany,” Deseret News, 6 Jul. 1946. Also see: Sheri L. Dew, Ezra Taft Benson: a Biography (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1989). 
 
89 Babbel, On Wings of Faith, 35-66; Corbett, “Elder Ezra Taft Benson,” 6-9.
 
90 East German Mission Manuscript Histories, 21 Jun.-4 Jul. 1946.
 
91 Ezra Taft Benson, “General Report to the First Presidency,” 7 Aug. 1946 in East German Mission Manuscript Histories, 7 Aug. 1946; “First Church Welfare Supplies Reach Members in Berlin Area,” Deseret News, 26 Oct. 1946.
 
92 Alma Sonne, LDS European Mission President, to the First Presidency, n.d., ca. 1946, included in East German Mission Manuscript Histories under the date, 31 Mar. 1947.
 
93 East German Mission Manuscript Histories, 5-23 Oct. 1946; “Elder Benson Reports Second Berlin Shipment,” Deseret News, 2 Nov. 1946.
 
94 Richard Holzapfel, “Friends Again: Canadian Grain and the German Saints,” Journal of Mormon History 23-2 (Fall 1997), 67-70. 
 
95 Garth Mangum and Bruce Blumell, The Mormons’ War on Poverty: A History of LDS Welfare, 1830-1990 (Salt Lake City: University of Utah Press, 1993), 152.
 
96 See Table 10, Chapter X. 
 
97 Ibid.; Richard Ranglack and Paul Langheinrich to Field Marshall Georgy  Zhukov, Commander in Chief of the Soviet Occupation Forces in Germany, 9 Aug. 1945  in East German Mission Manuscript Histories, 9 Aug. 1945.
 
98 General Wasili Sokolowski to Richard Ranglack and Paul Langheinrich, 16 Aug. 1945, Archives, Historical Department, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Salt Lake City, Utah; East German Mission Manuscript Histories, 16 Aug. 1945.
 
99 Ibid., 3.
 
100 Ranglack and Langheinrich to Zhukov, 9 Aug. 1945. 
 
101 Donald C. Corbett, “Records from the Ruins” (unpublished manuscript, n.d.,  ca. 1960), 5, Archives, Historical Department, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day  Saints, Salt Lake City, Utah.
 
102 Ibid., 5-6.
 
103 Ibid., 11,13-16; Babbel, On Wings of Faith, 57-58. 
 
104 Corbett, “Records from the Ruins,” 13; East German Mission Manuscript Histories, 9 Aug. 1945.
 
105 Paul Langheinrich, “Report of Procurement of Church Records, Films, and Photocopies” (unpublished report, n.d., ca 1960). Archives, Historical Department, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Salt Lake City, Utah. This report, written by Langheinrich and translated from German, appears in the East German Mission Manuscript Histories under the date of 16 Aug. 1945. It was undoubtedly written many years later after Langheinrich’s immigration to Utah. 
 
106 Wobbe, interview with Heiss, 79.
 
107 East German Mission Manuscript Histories, 16 Feb. 47.
 
108 Ibid.
 
109 Ibid., 4 Dec. 1946.
 
110 Ibid., 26 Feb. 1946.
 
111 Ibid., 10 Dec. 1946.
 
112 Ibid., 26 Feb. 1947
 
113 Ibid., 7 Apr. 1947 
 
114 “Walter Krause, Legendary for his Post-War Service, Dies,” Deseret News, 17  Apr. 2004.
 
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Re: The Mormons in Nazi Germany, by David Conley Nelson

Postby admin » Thu Jul 05, 2018 11:34 pm

CHAPTER VIII. THE ROCKS AND SHOALS OF MORMON MEMORY IN NAZI GERMANY, PART 2: FORGOTTEN HEROES AND REDISCOVERED VILLAINS

Max Reschke, whose heroism in saving a Jewish couple on Kristallnacht begins this narrative, never imagined that he would become a Mormon saving angel amid the godless reprobates of Nazi Germany or that his coreligionists would find discomfort in the memory of his valor. In the decades that followed his spontaneous acts of courage that saved lives but violated the Mormons’ accommodating strategy, his church and even his family struggled with how to tell the story of his nonconformist courage. After a period of resistance, Latter-day Saints have embraced the puerile wartime courage of the Helmuth Hübener group of adolescent resisters. Books, plays, DVDs, and websites laud the trio of LDS boys, and one non-Mormon, who saved nobody but whose anti-Nazi rebellion cost their teenage leader his life. Yet Reschke’s bold defiance remains practically unknown, in part because of the conflicts between his public and personal life that make his memorialization difficult. In his public persona, he was a prestigious industrial leader who fought the Nazis behind the scenes. In his private life, he was a spiritually revered branch president turned excommunicated adulterer. Faithful historians, and even his loving children, have not sought Reschke’s public recognition as the flawed hero to whom at least three people owed their lives. Such a task may have involved revealing more of their church’s stance toward the Nazis, and more of Reschke’s private failings, than faithful historians and his family were willing to do.

For most of his life, Max Reschke was the consummate conformist, albeit one with a conscience. A German patriot as a young man, he needed his father’s signature to allow underage enlistment in the Kaiser’s army during the First World War. His battlefield service, as painfully described in his diary, included the trauma of killing an enemy soldier whom he had stared in the face before he pulled the trigger. Max was sixteen years old when he took a human life in the service of his country. When a different kind of militancy gripped Germany later in Reschke’s life, he reacted by saving lives at the risk of being considered traitorous.

The peaceful interlude between the tragedy of war and the catastrophe of National Socialism revealed the kind of man that Reschke wished to be. Deliberate, well-thought-out decisions characterized his professional life, resulting in career advancement and financial prosperity. Upon discharge from the military, he embarked upon an apprenticeship that resulted in his certification as a journeyman metalworker at age nineteen. Thereafter, he found work in a number of mechanically related enterprises—as a boilermaker, a tractor and diesel engine mechanic, and finally as the lead mechanic at a manufacturing plant. His skill in dealing with machines and people qualified him to enter the supervisory ranks, where he eventually attained the second highest managerial position in a large pharmaceutical firm in Hanover. He loyally served Dr. Wolfgang Laves and his company, Laves-Arzneimittel GmbH, for twenty years.1

The same measured approach applied to his spiritual life. As a youngster, he rebelled against taking Lutheran religious classes. Only his father’s desperate plea to the pastor, and a spanking applied to Max’s bottom, allowed him to secure his confirmation. Thereafter, he put his religious life on hold until the relative maturity of his thirties led him to seek spiritual fulfillment. When Reschke and his second wife attended an LDS service in 1931, they did so as part of a methodical religious search that included the consideration of another denomination, the New Apostolic Church. After his Mormon baptism in June of that year, Reschke faithfully and unpretentiously served his new Latter-day Saint congregation in various callings until Philemon Kelly, president of the Swiss-German Mission, chose him to become the leader of the Hanover Branch in 1937.2

Reschke’s patience wore thin during his dealings with the Nazis. In 1932, at the urging of a friend, Reschke attended one of Hitler’s political speeches. Unimpressed by the bombastic message and the pompous messenger, he nevertheless decided to sign up for Nazi Party membership at the urging of a companion, who said it could help him professionally. Noticing that the line to greet Hitler was shorter than the one at the enrollment table, he elected to meet the Führer first. “His hand felt like a wet sponge,” Reschke remembered. “I had such a revolting feeling that I resolved on the spot never to have anything to do with that man or his party.”3

Reschke obviously conveyed his sentiments to his Mormon congregation’s Boy Scouts in early 1934 when the Hitler Youth took over over the troop. In front of a furious HJ adult leader Reschke watched his boys “tear the patches off of their [Scouting] uniforms, take down the troop flag and other insignia, soak everything in kerosene, and set fire to it.” Unlike other Mormon boys of Scouting age, who embraced the Hitler Youth enthusiastically, Reschke’s church troop staged the only protest it could. Later, when an adolescent Hitler Youth leader came to his door demanding the enrollment of Reschke’s son, the father politely but firmly refused. Then the teenager made a mistake. He stuck his foot in the door and vowed he would not leave until Reschke sent his son to Hitler Youth meetings. Reschke’s son recalled what happened next: “Max grabbed the startled young man by the scruff of his neck and the seat of his pants, carried him down two flights of stairs, and unceremoniously threw him on the lawn.” For that assault, Reschke was arrested but soon freed.4 In this and other confrontations with the Nazis, he could rely on the intercession of Laves, the influential Hanover industrialist and owner of the pharmaceutical firm that Reschke helped manage.

Not every confrontation Reschke had with the Nazis resulted in an explosion of temper. Some required imperturbability and sangfroid. Reschke was an ardent Social Democrat who had been active in the metalworkers’ union, but when the Nazis seized power, they outlawed all independent trade unions. When the Nazi Labor Front moved into Wolfgang Laves’ factory, the boss and his trusted employee conferred. In order to mitigate the influence of the Nazis in his workplace, Laves was able to have Reschke appointed as shop steward. For several years, Reschke was the only non-Nazi shop steward who attended mandatory political indoctrination meetings in Berlin. His refusal to join the Party eventually resulted in his forced removal as the labor leader for his factory.5

Reschke responded with a plainspoken refusal whenever someone urged him to participate in a Nazi activity. His sober words often got him in trouble in a Germany that seemed to be inebriated with Hitler. To raise funds for the 1935 Nuremberg rallies, party hacks pestered everyone to purchase small, tin badges. Reschke declined brusquely: “If the party wants to stage a congress, the affair ought to be paid for by its members, not its non-members. I am not a member of the party; therefore I’m not buying anything.” For that verbal indiscretion, he faced a formal police hearing, charged with anti-party sentiments. He escaped with a reprimand. On another occasion, a plebiscite conducted in 1936 to ratify Hitler’s decision to remilitarize the Rhineland, Reschke voted “no” with a Nazi observer looking over his shoulder. The poll watcher recorded an “unpatriotic act.”6 “In the end,” wrote Max Reschke’s son, Horst, “he became a figure so well known at the local Gestapo headquarters that when he was hauled in, he did not always have to go through the regular booking process.”7 At work, his secretary devised a euphemism to inform Reschke’s family that he was once again in custody. She would dispatch a message to his home: Max was “out of town” again.8

Insubordinate words alone did not result in the greatest danger Reschke faced because of his defiance during the Nazi years. Because he bravely hid a local Jewish, man, Kurt Lazarus, from deportation to the ghettos in the 1940s, in his vacation cottage in the countryside and then in his apartment in town, authorities sent Reschke to a concentration camp outside of Hanover for a short period of time in 1941. Then, Reschke’s status as an important manager in a critical local industry once again expedited his release. Lazarus, a prominent Hanover banker, was a decorated captain in the German Army during the First World War, a status that he naively thought would save him when the Nazis first came to power.

Kurt and Kaete Lazarus were family friends of Lilly Reschke, Max’s third wife. Lilly’s mother, Sophie, had enjoyed long-term domestic service employment in the Lazarus home during the happier years before Hitler’s ascension. “The Lazarus family showered [grandmother] with affection,” wrote Max’s son, Horst Reschke. “They had special names and expressions of endearment for her. Knowing of her loyalty and uprightness, they entrusted her [with] their funds, keys to their house, and their possessions.”

The Reschke family did not forget Sophie’s former employers once Hitler reduced the Jewish couple to the status of Untermenschen. When Kaete Lazarus was forced to wear a yellow star on her coat, Horst wrote, she would visit Max’s house once a week to exchange her coat for one that belonged to Max’s wife, “so she could go to the beauty shop. With the star visible, the beauticians would have had to refuse service.” The family also dispatched ten-year-old Horst to the Lazarus house with supplies. “My sister was under five and entitled to whole milk coupons,” he wrote. He explained further, “The rest of us received only skim milk. She heard that Mrs. Lazarus was ill and sent me with the milk.” Horst recalls being stopped by a policeman “who scolded me for going into the house with ‘those Jews.’” Horst also remembers the account of Sophie’s last visit to Kaete Lazarus, after her former employer had been driven out of her house and into Hanover’s ghetto:

Having forced her way past the SS guard into the cramped [ghetto] quarters in Hanover’s old town, where the Jews had been taken just prior to their forced departure, Sophie was the last person in our family to see Mrs. Lazarus alive, and the picture of the misery and the sorry plight of all the good people, for whom she had such high regard, never left her.9


Kurt Lazarus escaped confinement in the Hanover ghetto where his wife had been dispatched. Lazarus, the college-educated banker, sought refuge with Reschke, a skilled tradesman. As a former German army officer, Lazarus accepted the hospitality of a former enlisted man. Both men had fought bravely for the Kaiser but Hitler treated each of them so differently. Lazarus caused no trouble for the Reich, but as a Jew he hid from his countrymen and perished when caught. Reschke, as a member of a controversial American religious sect but the manager of an important company, openly defied the Nazis but survived his brushes with authority. Horst Reschke viewed their relationship through a child’s eyes and later wrote:

We had [Kurt Lazarus] live in our Gardenlaube on the edge of town. But one night, he came to our apartment, asking if we could take him in. The howling wind, the lonesome feeling and the need to keep out of sight were too much for him. He stayed with us and we learned to love him. Eventually, a neighbor must have seen him. The Gestapo came in and took both him and my father.


Kurt Lazarus never reached a concentration camp. He died in the city of Hamelin’s Zuchthaus, a maximum-security prison in which inmates performed backbreaking labor. The Germans deported Kaete Lazarus from the Hamburg ghetto to the horrific Section R ghetto for German Jews in Riga, Latvia. Inmates who survived the Riga ghetto were sent to a number of slave labor camps, particularly Kaiserwald and its satellites. No record documents the fate of Kaete Lazarus. Assumed to have perished, she remains officially listed as “missing.” Max Reschke was sent to the Ahlem concentration camp near Hanover, but was soon released because of the intervention of highly placed friends.10

Max Reschke did not take risks solely for Jews. In late 1939, shortly after Germany invaded Poland, the Laves’ pharmaceutical company received the services of a sixteen-year-old Polish slave laborer named Stanislaw. Reschke, whose West Prussian background provided him with a command of the Polish language, befriended the young man and once saved him from a dangerous confrontation with an enraged German police officer. Stanislaw survived the war, immigrated to the United States, took the name Stanley Blake, and served in the American military. He later exchanged correspondence with Max Reschke and his children.11

Reschke saved the life of a Russian prisoner of war, a Red Army captain and forward artillery spotter sent as a prisoner of war to Hanover for slave labor. In doing so, he defied the regulations prescribed for relationships between German civilians and military captives. Horst Reschke told the story of his father’s rescue of “Nikolai” from a swarm of emaciated Soviet prisoners brought to their city.

He was a pathetic figure in rags, sitting there in our living room, an alien creature from another world. Max had been given permission to pick him out of a camp. Lilly (Max’s wife) was aghast. She whispered to him that this could be a dangerous man, one who could slit their throats. . . . ‘Don’t be silly,’ Max said, not keeping his voice down at all. ‘This is one poor, starving human being, and you don’t have to talk in a whisper. He can’t understand you anyway.’


Had Reschke possessed an ordinary German’s sense of obedience to the wartime regime, Nikolai would have been locked up in the company factory at night and furnished only with the bare essentials necessary to sustain life. Instead, on that first night in 1944, with fuel supplies running short in Germany, the Reschke family sacrificed its weekly bath in order to provide Nikolai with two tubs of hot water, “one for the first hard scrubbing and one for a nice, leisurely soaking-type bath.” When Nikolai reappeared, clean, shaven, and dressed in Max’s old clothes, Reschke again horrified the rest of his family by seating Nikolai at the family dinner table and compelling his children to introduce themselves to the stranger who spoke no German.

Over the weeks and months that followed, Reschke learned that Nikolai was an educated man, one who had earned a Ph.D., whose quick-witted change of clothing with a dead Red Army private—his radio operator—saved him the uncertain fate of having been captured in the uniform of an officer. Reschke used his influence with local authorities to allow Nikolai to be employed in the rubble-clearing operation of the Laves Company’s bombed-out Hanover plant. Reschke was able to continue earning a living as the manager of Laves’ satellite facilities that remained undamaged.

When American occupation forces arrived in Hanover, they found the ghastly remains of most of Nikolai’s fellow Russian prisoners of war. SS troops had murdered them in the last days of the war. American soldiers went door to door, conscripting German residents to view the mass grave and to rebury the bodies. When a young American officer knocked on Max Reschke’s door, Nikolai greeted him, introduced himself as a Russian army captain, and persuaded the American soldier to excuse his host family from the grisly detail. Against all advice, Nikolai subsequently made a harrowing trip back into Soviet-occupied territory after the war, seeking to determine the fate of his family. Having learned that they had died, and after escaping a brush with military police sent to arrest him, he eventually settled in Australia—where Max’s son Horst traced him.12

Max Reschke’s strongest character traits seemed to manifest themselves after an eruption of temper. For an otherwise tolerant, even-keeled man who was appalled by what the Nazis were doing to his country, the vilest provocation occurred on one of the worst days in German history. On the evening of November 9, 1938, the fatherland of Goethe, Schiller, Beethoven, Bach, and Einstein became a cradle of vandalism, abduction, arson, assault, and murder. Kristallnacht, framed as the spontaneous eruption of popular rage because of the murder of a diplomat in Paris, was instead a carefully choreographed act of domestic state terrorism against Germany’s Jews. Conceived at the highest levels of a malicious Nazi state and carried out by legions of brown-shirted thugs, the “Night of the Broken Glass” left at least one thousand dead, many thousands more in concentration camps, businesses destroyed, synagogues burned to the ground, and quaint, cobblestoned streets transformed into rivers of shattered glass.

If it had not been for a half dozen goose down pillows, Max Reschke would have been a bystander to this horrific event. Because his second wife, Wilma, had sent him on an errand, to retrieve bedding she had left at a laundry one week before, Reschke joined a small group of brave non-Jewish Germans who courageously rescued Jews from the Nazis’ murderous clutches. Reschke joined an even smaller group. He is probably the only such hero whose religious denomination has shunned commemoration of his heroism. His faithful family still struggled—generations later—with how to appropriately memorialize his life on earth.

The Scheurenbergs, a Jewish couple who ran a small business in downtown Hanover, were not close family friends. Horst Reschke described them as “at least close acquaintances.” When Max Reschke went to town on a pillow-fetching errand that tragic evening, he found a city in chaos. A uniformed SA hoodlum blocked the door to the Scheurenbergs’ business. First politely and then brusquely, the plainspoken plant manager asked the brown shirt to step aside. “Nobody goes up to that Jewish pigsty!” the storm trooper replied. Horst Reschke described what happened next:

Max’s temper, which he normally kept under control, quickly flared. He warned the man that he’d better move on the count of three. . . . At the end of the count, Max applied some kind of judo grip, swung the brown-shirt over his head, and laid him out on the sidewalk.


Reschke found a horrific sight upstairs: pillow feathers and smashed furniture were scattered about. Human excrement had been rubbed into the furniture, on the windows, and onto the ceiling. There was no trace of the owners. Worrying about the consequences of his actions, Reschke fled before the unconscious Nazi thug could awake and spread the alarm.13 Broken emotionally, he hurried home to tell his family what was happening. Horst wrote:

My father came home, sat down and wept, [and] told us what was going on in the city. I was horrified to hear him tell about the destruction of the Jewish stores and homes and in particular the burning of the synagogue. The display windows of the Jewish businesses were being smashed by hordes of people. The Jewish people were being herded through the streets, some of them in their nightclothes.14


Then, the shock of what he had seen and the fear of retribution for his assault on the storm trooper began to fade. A sense of duty regarding unfinished business shocked him to a sudden realization: “I forgot to check on the Scheurenbergs!” he told his startled family. Against Wilma’s pleadings, he went back to town. Horst recounted what happened two hours later:

He came back with the bedraggled couple. He had found them at the end of a column of people being herded through the streets by armed guards. Calmly Max stepped up to a uniformed guard and, flipping his overcoat lapel in the manner of a plainclothes policeman to show his concealed badge, he said, pointing to the Scheurenbergs, ‘I’ll take these two.’ ‘Very well, Sir!’ the guard said, saluting.15


Max Reschke put the Jewish couple in an automobile and embarked upon a fourhundred- kilometer odyssey through the troubled night toward the Swiss border. No record recounts the difficulty they may have encountered in crossing into Switzerland, which at the time was consumed with an internal political debate regarding Jewish refugees.16 How the Scheurenbergs found temporary sanctuary, and the story of their immigration to Shanghai in the midst of the Second Sino-Japanese War, would have made a riveting narrative. The account of their return to Germany after the war to thank Max Reschke would have told a heartwarming story.17 Except for one paragraph written in a privately published biography of Max Reschke, the remaining details of this heroic rescue remain untold.

One wonders why, in the midst of certain late-twentieth century events that challenged the Mormon-Jewish relationship, a faithful LDS historian would not have undertaken a scholarly project to demonstrate that at least one Mormon, along with a scant number of other Christians, courageously saved Jews in Nazi Germany. In 1984, when Brigham Young University announced plans to build a satellite on Jerusalem’s Mount Scopus, objections to potential Mormons proselytizing led to a Knesset investigation.18 In 1995 Jewish leaders condemned the Mormon practice of posthumously baptizing Jewish victims of the Holocaust, a controversy that continues to percolate each time more posthumous baptisms are discovered.19 In the context of either of these events, the story of Max Reschke would have argued against the contention that Mormons disrespected Jews and their faith.

One prominent LDS scholar, historian Douglas Tobler, learned of Reschke’s courageous exploits but devoted only one paragraph of a scholarly article entitled, “The Jews, the Mormons, and the Holocaust,” to the story. Tobler had heard about Reschke from one of Max’s grandsons, who had enrolled in his history class at BYU.20 After writing five sentences about Reschke in a thirty-three-page article, Tobler concluded: “The full story of Reschke’s heroism is yet to be told.”21 At least two other scholars with roots in the Mormon Culture Region had incidental knowledge of Reschke’s heroism. In the mid-1990s, University of Utah professor Ronald Smelser hosted Horst Reschke during his university’s workshop on the Holocaust. In the context of arguing that not all Germans approved of Hitler’s methods, Max Reschke’s son told his father’s story.22 In an extensive “selective chronology,” included as an appendix to D. Michael Quinn’s two-volume study entitled, The Mormon Hierarchy, published in 1997, the former BYU historian summarizes Reschke’s heroism in nine lines of eight-point type.23

It was left to Reschke’s four children by his second marriage, all of whom immigrated to the United States during the postwar period, to tell their father’s story. Max Reschke also immigrated but never attained a sufficient command of the English language to recount his own narrative in his new country. He died on May 3, 1971 at the age of seventy-two. Only Horst, the second-oldest child, left written remembrances that are available to the historical researcher. Even those are hard to access. The best consists of a well-written, privately published, professionally bound, illustrated, 164- page paperback book that he distributed to family and friends. Max: A West Prussian Odyssey is available only in a few municipal libraries in the United States that have presumably acquired copies through donation by the original owners. Horst Reschke also authored a few articles for obscure genealogical magazines that mentioned his father.

Max Reschke qualifies for induction into Yad Vashem’s “Righteous Among the Nations,” an official recognition by the State of Israel of non-Jews who rescued Jews from death at the hands of the Nazis. However, induction requires sworn, eyewitness testimony. That would have been available in past decades but the trail of evidence has now gone cold. The Jewish couple he rescued, the Scheurenbergs, has not been heard from since they visited Germany after the war to thank Max. Horst’s accounts do not contain their given names, and it is unlikely they are still alive. Horst died in 2011 and was predeceased by his younger brother, Dieter. Horst’s older sister, Ursula, who witnessed the drama unfold in the Reschke living room on Kristallnacht, remains untraceable. She would be eighty-three years old in 2012. Wilma, Max’s second wife who begged him not to go back into Hamburg on Kristallnacht, and Lilly, his third spouse who came to America with the family, are both dead.

According to Rabbi Mordecai Paldiel, a former director of the Department of the Righteous for Yad Vashem, no known Latter-day Saint numbers among the 23,788 Righteous Among the Nations from forty-five countries.24 The LDS Church, after having pursued its policy of accommodation and ingratiation that put its members on the wrong side of history, could use a hero—if only to illustrate that sometimes a lone believer’s conscience trumps the collective wisdom of a religious hierarchy. Before he died in 2011, Horst Reschke declined assistance in attaining this special degree of recognition for his father. He stated that simple family modesty prevented him from seeking Yad Vashem’s recognition of Max Reschke.25 That may be true, but an important clue Horst Reschke included in his book suggests consideration of an additional motive.

To use his son’s words, Max Reschke was “a ladies’ man.” He married three times. The divorce from Ida, his first wife, was amicable despite Max’s philandering— according to Horst’s account. Max and Ida remained friends after nine years of marriage that produced no children. When the couple divorced in June 1929, the woman whom Max would take as his second wife, Wilma, was already pregnant with the couple’s first child, a daughter they named Ursula. She was born in late 1929, just a few months after Max and Wilma wed in September. According to Horst, Wilma attended Max and Ida’s divorce proceeding, and two months later Ida was cheerfully on hand to see Max marry Wilma.26

Max and Wilma stayed married for twelve years. She gave him two sons and two daughters. She bore the brunt of the pressure when Max would run afoul of the Nazis and be hauled off to Gestapo headquarters. She was at home on Kristallnacht and begged Max not to go back into the dangerous streets. Their domestic life was not tranquil. Apparently, Max fought a two-front war, one at work against the Nazis and another at home in a stressful marriage. When they divorced in 1941, the separation was not amicable. They fought for custody and, for a while, each cared for two of the children. Eventually, they settled the custody issue when they sent the children to the countryside to escape the wartime bombing of Hanover.27

Max’s third wife, Lilly, had been a trusted friend of the family who had provided childcare and cooking for years. Apparently, their relationship began while Reschke was still married to Wilma, his second wife, and was a factor in the breakup. After the divorce but before Max and Lilly married at the end of January 1942, Max became involved with a fourth woman. In September 1942, Paula Golombeck gave birth to Max’s son, Klaus. Lilly forgave Max for his indiscretion and acquiesced to his support of his illegitimate child, but they did not tell the rest of Max’s children about young Klaus for ten years. At some point after the couple immigrated to the United States along with Max’s four children by his second marriage, Klaus, Max’s love child, joined them.

In the early 1940s, Max Reschke’s philandering attracted the attention of the Mormon Church authorities. With Wilma, his second wife and the mother of his first four children, he had joined the LDS Church—a fact that was not lost on the elders who sat on the “church court.” During their marriage, Reschke served as branch president, a position in which he was expected to maintain the highest standards of morality. Following the example left by the departed American mission presidents, the LDS district leadership convened a disciplinary tribunal and excommunicated Reschke for adultery. Stubborn as ever, Max refused to attend the proceedings.28

For Max Reschke, the Nazi government and the Mormon Church each presented rigid systems that required unyielding submission and threatened drastic consequences for disobedience. He defied both of them, risking physical death in one case and spiritual damnation in another. During the period in his life when he saved the Scheurenberg couple from the horrors of Kristallnacht, surreptitiously driving them across the Swiss border, he was stealthily defying his church’s proscription against marital infidelity. When he sheltered Kurt Lazarus from deportation and sent milk to Kaete Lazarus in the Hamburg ghetto, he was beginning a third marriage while awaiting the birth of his girlfriend’s love child. When he saved the life of a Russian prisoner of war in 1944, Reschke was a man without the promise of eternal salvation, having been damned through the loss of his church membership.

Many heroes are, in reality, flawed human beings who compensate for weaknesses in one facet of their lives by excelling in another. Max Reschke pushed the extremes of that paradigm with his unbridled courage and consistent philandering. He successfully saved lives without hesitation but struggled to save his marriages. In the eyes of faithful Mormon historians, and especially those of his children, the opportunity to memorialize Max Reschke for his admirable heroism may have been offset by the task of explaining his failure to adhere to church moral standards. It was, perhaps, too great a burden.

Erich Krause: An Unwelcomed Mormon Memory Beacon

When Wall Street Journal journalist Frederick Kempe decided in the 1990s to write a book about contemporary Germany’s “inherited guilt” for the sins of Nazism, he thought he would rely on contacts he established during years of reporting from central Europe. Kempe, a lapsed Mormon whose German father arrived in Utah early enough to fight for the United States Army in the Second World War, was confident that he would be able to conduct his research as a detached, dispassionate observer. Instead, an old trunk that contained family journals became the first step on an investigative trail that led to a startling realization. If guilt for the crimes of Hitler were a heritable commodity, Kempe himself would be subject to such an unsettling bequest of culpability.29

By sleuthing in the close-knit German Mormon community that settled in the Mormon Culture Region before and after the Third Reich, Kempe discovered that a distant relative he had never met, the German Mormon who married his great aunt, had been an especially cruel and sadistic Nazi torturer and murderer. Through research conducted in the archives of the Federal Republic’s prosecutor, and in the recently opened archives of the East German secret police, the reporter learned the ghastly details of his distant relative’s offenses. He also discovered that the LDS Church, through its American mission president sent to reestablish Zion’s authority in Germany after the war, loaned bail money and pleaded for the accused’s pre-trial release when West German prosecutors charged the perpetrator with crimes against humanity.

Erich Krause murdered dozens and tortured hundreds as the brown-shirted commandant of a “wild” concentration camp in Berlin during the early days of the regime. Then, as a military policeman in the eastern theatre during the war, he sent correspondence home stamped with the postmarks of a town known to have housed a prominent Jewish ghetto that served as a way station for the Final Solution’s gas chambers and crematoria. Having joined the Mormon Church in 1923 and the SA in 1928, Krause validated, in an extreme way, the concept that one could strive to serve both the Mormon Church and Nazi Party.

Krause also personified the German expatriate community’s worst nightmare, even though he never immigrated to Utah. At crowded family reunions up and down the Wasatch Front in the latter half of the twentieth century, many spoke in whispers—in German and in German-accented English—about their special relative. That person could have been someone who performed small acts of kindness for beleaguered Jews. Conversely, the subject of those hushed tones could have been a relative who embraced Nazism a bit more enthusiastically than society can now comfortably forgive— considering how the war turned out. Few families could claim a hero as admirable as Max Reschke or a villain as evil as Erich Krause. The collective memory of the ghastly excesses of Nazi Germany, however, is not only contained on the European side of the Atlantic. It also is not limited to Germans who lived through the war and migrated afterward. As journalist Frederick Kempe discovered, those nightmares of memory can haunt the descendants of émigrés who left Germany before Hitler took power. Kempe’s father arrived in time to fight for his new country in the war; his mother was born in the United States, but the great uncle left behind was the murderous Nazi.

When Erich Krause leapt out of the pages of Kempe’s book in 1999, his unwelcomed arrival in Utah created a belated victim of Hitler’s treachery. Ingrid Hersman knew the Second World War only from history books and the infrequent comments of her forward-looking parents. She was born in Germany in 1956. At seventeen, she realized the dream of many faithful LDS girls who were not fortunate enough to have been reared in the Mormon Culture Region. She immigrated to the United States in order to attend college in Utah, where she aspired to attain an education and find an “R.M.,”—a returned missionary to take her to the Holy Temple. Life’s reality mitigated her dreams by the end of the twentieth century. Her celestial marriage had ended in earthly divorce. That had been her greatest sorrow, until that sickening, turn-of-the-century phone call from a half-brother with news of a new book that had just hit the shelves. It turned her life upside down.30

It was Vati! The loving father who had never spanked her, the hardest working genealogical researcher in her postwar German church congregation, and the man who fervently preached Joseph Smith’s restored gospel from the podium during Sunday services—had suddenly become a monster. Ingrid’s four siblings by her father’s third marriage, solemnized in a 1955 civil ceremony and posthumously sealed in the Holy Temple, also took the news with difficulty. For one, it was an emotional shock that aggravated an already existing physical ailment. How does one deal with the news of a loving and ostensibly godly parent’s hidden treachery, the cold-blooded killings and torture of human beings before he bequeathed life to his offspring?

Ingrid sought redemption by making a pilgrimage to a huge, multi-story, redbrick building on General-Pape-Strasse in Berlin’s Tempelhof district.31 Here, in the basement of a former police barracks, her father had directed a chamber of horrors that terrorized more than two thousand of the Nazi regime’s alleged political opponents, mostly Communists and Social Democrats, between March and December 1933.32 Ingrid found the structure locked and only a small plaque noted its nefarious past. As she walked around the periphery, she may have conjured up images described in the state prosecutor’s investigation. Erich Krause, holding the rank of SA Obertruppenführer and wearing a brown shirt with “red collar patches and two stars with a braid,” reserved some of the worst treacherous excesses for himself. He beat prisoners with a rubber truncheon and an iron bar. He sliced open the soles of their feet and packed pepper into the wounds. He made other barefooted prisoners run outside on gravel. He gave one man a rope and told him to hang himself. Presumably weary of the torture, the emotionally drained prisoner went into the lavatory and complied. Krause exercised prisoners to the point of exhaustion and extreme thirst, and then made them drink a concoction of waste water and human feces. He told one prisoner that he was free to go, and then had him shot as an escapee on his way out. He staged “sporting nights,” when his drunken SA companions made prisoners run a gauntlet of clubs and batons. A number of prisoners died of gunshot wounds, which he never inflicted in front of others—but he made other prisoners fall to their hands and knees and lick up the spilled blood with their tongues. 33

On that walk around this citadel of horror, Ingrid may have recalled the language of postcards Krause dispatched to his second wife and her half-brothers when he was a staff sergeant in the military police. After the book came out, Ingrid’s half-brother, Fridtjof, sent copies of those cards. Many of them contained admonitions to remain true to the family’s Mormon faith, and for the children to take their Sunday school lessons seriously. The first Feldpost cards arrived from Poland, where Krause’s MP unit had followed behind the September 1939 invasion. He also dispatched cards from France, Yugoslavia, and the Ukraine, as the Wehrmacht advanced relentlessly. Then the postmarks became more disturbing. In 1944 a card arrived from Lodz, the site of Poland’s second-largest Jewish community after Warsaw. It was also the location of a ghetto from which Jews were dispatched to Auschwitz and Theresienstadt. As Fridtjof Krause said of his father: “One only chose the most trusted of Nazis to break up the ghettos.”

Erich Krause returned to German society in 1949 after his release from Soviet postwar confinement. Soon after his arrival in Berlin, he began having violent family arguments that resulted in frequent beatings of his second wife and children. After a brush with East German authorities, he fled to West Berlin. In October 1950, one of his Pape Street victims recognized him and filed a report with the authorities. In December, West Berlin police arrested him, after which he spent a year in “investigative custody.” After his release, his second marriage dissolved, but he was soon back in prison. In 1952 the Berlin State Court “charged him with murder, crimes against humanity, and applying torture and violence to gain confessions.” 34

Author Frederick Kempe consulted the recently released Stasi archives, as well as the records of the state court transcripts. Among the pages of revolting testimony against Erich Krause, the journalist found a sworn statement from Krause’s first wife, Käthe Elsa Antonie Ziburski. Theirs was a marriage made in hell and destroyed on the altar of anti-Semitism. They met at the gravesite of the infamous brown-shirted martyr, Horst Wessel, where Erich was stationed as an SA honor guard. She had gone to the memorial to pay her respects to Hitler’s most revered thug, accompanied by another storm trooper. Krause wooed her away, married her, impregnated her, and then later divorced her because his genealogical research revealed she had a Jewish ancestor.35

Another surprise stood out among the pages of vile evidence. The president of the Mormons’ East German Mission, Walter Stover, attested to Krause’s character in an effort to win his freedom. Stover, a native German, had joined the LDS Church in 1923, the same year in which Erich Krause converted. Stover moved to Utah in 1926, where he became a bedroom furniture manufacturer and advanced to the clerical rank of high priest—an ordination not normally performed in the German mission field. He also became a naturalized American citizen. Stover returned to Germany as a mission president in 1946 and served until 1951.36 Early in Krause’s confinement, Stover asked the court to release the accused to the custody of his family and offered the LDS Church as guarantor. Stover paid two thousand marks from church funds as bail. Said Stover in his letter to the authorities:

Herr Krause is personally known to me as a member of our church. I am convinced that he will keep himself available to the court at any time and hasn’t any intention to suppress evidence or leave Berlin.


Stover continued his plea by citing Krause’s six years in military service and five in Russian postwar confinement, which he termed “enough punishment for any man.”37

Despite the seriousness of the charges against Krause, and the violent nature of his relationship with his family, the Mormon community in Berlin stood behind one of its own. According to Ingrid Hersman, who became Krause’s first child by his third marriage but knew little about his Nazi background until Frederick Kempe’s book, her father became very devout in his faith. When he was in jail, the members of his ward (congregation) would visit him regularly.38 He was a stake genealogy leader and later advanced to the position of stake high councilman, a member of the governing board for a Mormon organization comparable to a diocese.39 Frederick Kempe, paraphrasing one of Krause’s sons, summarized how the former storm trooper reconciled his faith in God and his faith in Hitler.

He felt very strongly about the church. Mormonism and National Socialism were his two greatest passions. Both worlds offered a man discipline and a doctrine of absolutes by which to lead his life. One required absolute faith in some superior being, and the other demanded absolute loyalty to a Führer.40


At the end of his trial, Erich Krause, faithful Mormon and ruthless killer, walked free. Prosecutors produced no eyewitness testimony to his murders. Anyone who had watched him kill seemed, conveniently, to have already died. With regard to the charges of nonlethal assault and torture, numerous witnesses testified to confirm his culpability. However, his defense team secured an acquittal based upon a five-year statute of limitations that applied to non-capital crimes.

Ingrid Hersman, through the eyes of a daughter born eleven years after the war ended, never knew the man who appeared in a distant cousin’s book, or even the one who emerged from a five-year legal proceeding the year before she was born. Ingrid saw a different man, one who seemed incapable of violence: “He never laid a hand on me or any of us.” She recalled the worst punishment he ever inflicted on her. One evening when she was a young child, she threw a stack of papers out of their apartment’s second-story window. A policeman arrived in the middle of the night and instructed her father to clean up the mess. “So, the next day,” Hersman recalled, “my parents walked me to the police station so that the police could explain to me that it was not correct. That was scary.”

On only one occasion during her childhood did the events of the past intrude on Ingrid:

I remember one time in the seventh grade our school was getting ready to go to a concentration camp to clean it up. It was going to be a field trip and I wanted to go. There was this terror on his face. I was not allowed to go. Just seeing his whole countenance change to absolute terror, I couldn’t stand seeing that and respected it. Whatever that meant [at the time], I had no idea.41


During his lifetime, Erich Krause never gave his daughter an explanation. On one occasion when Ingrid was still an adolescent, she asked her father about his prior life. He refused to discuss it. “There will be a time,” he promised. That time never came. The brutal Nazi killer turned placid family man died in August 1983, without ever having alluded to shocking news that his children would later learn from the pages of an unwelcomed book. If indeed he was sincere when he became religiously observant later in life, part of his reluctance may have had its roots in Mormon theology. In the LDS concept of redemption, premeditated murder cannot receive godly forgiveness while the perpetrator is still living. Heavenly Father can only grant that absolution in the afterlife, and presumably only if the sinner showed genuine repentance during his lifetime. Erich Krause could never promise his daughter that she would reap one of the unique benefits of Mormonism, a heavenly afterlife in which families are together forever.

Today, Ingrid Hersman clings to a single account of her father’s life, one that gives her hope that they will meet again. It is based on information she learned by happenstance. In a chance encounter with one of her father’s old friends after the publication of Frederick Kempe’s book, Ingrid learned of a postwar conversation that occurred on a Berlin streetcar. A group of Krause’s old friends recognized him: disheveled, unshaven, and wearing a dirty winter coat. They shouted: “Erich! Erich! Erich!” He hung his head and tried to ignore them; he wanted to cut all ties with his past. Finally after their persistent beckoning, he reluctantly conversed. Erich Krause—storm trooper, killer, sadist, ghetto liquidator, loving father, and repentant Mormon—told his old companions, “I have served the wrong master.”

Horst Reschke, in contrast to Ingrid Hersman, had no doubt about his father’s status in the afterlife. Eight years after Max Reschke’s excommunication, the courageous lifesaver and serial philanderer was “re-baptized.” That restored his Mormon Church membership. Several years later, after having moved with his third wife and rest of his children to Utah, the family entered the Holy Temple to be sealed “for time and all eternity.” That is the LDS ceremony that binds husbands to wives and children to parents on earth and in heaven. The son who so carefully controlled the memory of his father’s exploits in this life was content to have his father’s heroism recognized in another.

______________

Notes:

1 Reschke, West Prussian Odyssey, 61, 75, 81-82; Horst A. Reschke, interview  with David C. Nelson, 6 Feb. 2006, notes in my possession. Laves-Arzneimittel  GmbH, established in 1908 by Wolfgang Laves’ father, Dr. Ernst Laves, still flourished in 2012 as a family-owned German pharmaceutical manufacturer.
 
2 Reschke, West Prussian Odyssey, 79-80; Horst Reschke, interview. notes.
 
3. Reschke, West Prussian Odyssey, 83; Horst A. Reschke, “There but for the Grace of God” (lecture, University of Utah, n.d., ca. 1998), photocopy, 2; Horst Reschke, interview, notes.
 
4 Reschke, West Prussian Odyssey, 84; Horst A. Reschke, “Scouting in Nazi Germany: A Mormon Family’s Experience,” Der Blumenbaum: Sacramento German Genealogy Society 21-4 (Apr.-Jun. 2004): 162; Horst Reschke, interview, notes.
 
5. Reschke, A West Prussian Odyssey, 83; Horst Reschke, interview, notes.
 
6 Ibid.
 
7. Reschke, “There but for the Grace of God,” photocopy, 2; Horst Reschke, interview, notes.
 
8 Reschke, A West Prussian Odyssey, 84; Horst Reschke, interview, notes.
 
9. Reschke, “There but for the Grace of God,” photocopy, 4-6; Horst Reschke,  interview, notes.
 
10 Horst A. Reschke to Ismar Schorsch, Chancellor, The Jewish Theological  Seminary of America, 11 Jan. 1993, copy in my possession; Reschke, A West Prussian  Odyssey, 91-92; Horst Reschke, interview, notes.
 
11 Horst A. Reschke to Stanley Blake, 25 Apr. 1982 and Stanley Blake to Horst A.  Reschke, 23 May 1982, copies of both in my possession; Horst A. Reschke, “He  Understood” (unpublished essay, n.d.), copy in my possession; Reschke, A West  Prussian Odyssey, 84-86; Horst Reschke, interview, notes.
 
12 Reschke, West Prussian Odyssey, 86-88; Reschke, “There but for the Grace of  God,” photocopy, 7-8; Horst Reschke, interview, notes.
 
13 Reschke, A West Prussian Odyssey, 91; Horst Reschke, interview, notes.
 
14. Ibid; Horst A. Reschke to Ismar Schorsch, 11 Jan. 1993. 
 
15 Reschke, A West Prussian Odyssey, 91. Horst Reschke, interview, notes.
 
16 See Alfred A. Häsler, The Lifeboat is Full: Switzerland and the Refugees, 1933-1945 (New York: Funk & Wagnalls, 1969).
 
17 Reschke, A West Prussian Odyssey, 91. Horst Reschke, interview, notes. 
 
18 Encyclopedia of Mormonism, s.v. “Brigham Young University: Jerusalem Center for Near Eastern Studies”; H. M. Watzman, “Israeli Cabinet agrees to investigate Brigham Young’s Jerusalem Center,” The Chronicle of Higher Education 31 (1986): 33–34.
 
19 Andrea Stone, “Mormon Baptism Targets Anne Frank—Again,” Huffington Post, 21 Feb. 2012, http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/02/2 ... usbaptism- anne-frank_n_1292102.html
 
20. Douglas F. Tobler, telephone interview with David C. Nelson, 17 Jul. 2001, notes in my possession.
 
21 Douglas F. Tobler, “The Jews, the Mormons, and the Holocaust,” Journal of Mormon History 18-1 (Spring 1992): 87. 
 
22 Reschke, “There but for the Grace of God,” 2-8. Horst Reschke, interview, notes.
 
23 Quinn, Extensions of Power, 826.
 
24 Mordecai Paldiel, Director, Department of the Righteous, Yad Vashem to David C. Nelson, 4 Apr. 2000, copy in my possession. For statistics on the Righteous, see http://www1.yadvashem.org/yv/en/righteo ... istics.asp.

25 On February 6, 2006, I had the honor of being welcomed into Horst Reschke’s home in Riverton, Utah. Mr. Reschke was suffering from an advanced stage of Parkinson’s disease and did not feel well enough to submit to a full-fledged oral history interview. However, he kindly confirmed orally all of the important facts about his father that he had written in his book. He also generously provided copies of the other documentation I have cited in this chapter and elsewhere. I asked him, for the second time, if I could assist in nominating his father as a candidate for membership in Righteous Among the Nations. He politely but firmly declined.
 
26 Reschke, A West Prussian Odyssey, 76; Horst Reschke, interview, notes. 

27 Ibid., 77, 99.
 
28 Ibid., 115.

29 Frederick Kempe, Father/Land: A Personal Search for the New Germany  (New York: G. P. Putnam’s Sons, 1999).
 
30 Ingrid Hersman, interview with David C. Nelson, Kearns, Utah, 1 Feb. 2006, 1.
 
31 Ibid., 4. 

32 Jennifer A. Jordan, Structures of Memory: Understanding Urban Change in Berlin and Beyond (Palo Alto: Stanford University Press, 2006), 159-161; Kempe, Father/Land, 262.
 
33 Kempe, Father/Land, 265, 271, 275, 278-279.

34 Ibid., 183, 270.
 
35 Ibid., 264.
 
36 East German Mission Manuscript Histories, 24 Mar. 1946; “East German Mission Head Named,” Deseret News, 20 Jul. 1946.

37 Kempe, Father/Land, 274, 283.
 
38 Hersman, interview, transcript, 5-6.
 
39 Kempe, Father/Land, 282
 
40 Ibid., 179-180.

41 Hersman, interview, transcript, 6, 10.
 
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Re: The Mormons in Nazi Germany, by David Conley Nelson

Postby admin » Fri Jul 06, 2018 12:01 am

CHAPTER IX. THE ROCKS AND SHOALS OF MORMON MEMORY IN NAZI GERMANY, PART 3: MORMONS AND JEWS, AN INCONVENIENT ASSOCIATION

Egon Engelbert Weiss was a Mormon of Jewish descent, a member of the Vienna Branch of the Swiss-Austrian Mission in 1938. Although few details of his life have survived, the historical record offers a reasonable synopsis of how he lived before and after Hitler’s troops marched into Austria in March of that year. Jews had enjoyed full rights of citizenship in the Hapsburg Empire since a decree from Emperor Franz Joseph I in 1869. Under the Austrian Republic that emerged after the First World War, Mormons like Weiss peacefully coexisted with others, even though their small religious denomination numbered in the hundreds and exerted no political influence. As a citizen of Jewish origin in the 1930s, Weiss probably could have been counted among Austria’s intellectually and commercially privileged. Some sixty-two percent of Vienna’s lawyers, forty-seven percent of its medical doctors, and twenty-nine percent of its university faculty were Jewish. According to the Nazis’ own estimates, one-quarter of Vienna’s businesses were owned or operated by Jews, including sixty percent of those in banking or “big industry.”1 When the Nazis took control of Austria, the Mormon mission leaders had one concern—how to configure the boundaries of the German-speaking missions to conform to the new political reality. “Brother Weiss,” as his fellow Mormons called him, had more serious worries. Regardless of his devotion to Mormonism, his pedigree branded him with the indelible mark of Judaism.

After Austria became a member of the Third Reich, all of the dangers and indignities that Germany’s Jews had experienced over the past five years hit the Austrian Jewish community like a sudden thunderclap. In just one day, when Jewish students were banned, Austrian universities lost forty percent of their students. Shortly after the Anschluss, Adolf Eichmann established the Central Office for Jewish Emigration in Vienna, which was in reality an agency to promote intimidation of Jews and pressure them to leave the Reich. For those Jews who remained, it later coordinated ghettoization and deportation to concentration camps. Its subsidiary agency, the Asset Transfer Office, stole Jewish possessions and “transferred” them to non-Jews. The horror of Kristallnacht did not stop at a former national border. In Egon Weiss’s Vienna, paramilitary thugs burned forty-two synagogues, vandalized and looted 4,038 Jewish shops, and desecrated the city’s Jewish cemeteries. If Weiss’ residence was like most others occupied by Jews, he watched the mob destroy it.2

With no other recourse, Brother Weiss took a pen in hand and appealed to his Mormon coreligionists in the American Zion. On November 23, 1938, two weeks after Kristallnacht, he wrote to the First Presidency in Salt Lake City. Then he addressed eight additional letters to former missionaries in Utah and Idaho whom he had befriended when they served in the German-speaking missions. To each young man, he complained that, “Conditions are terrible for us Jewish people.” To the prophet, seer, and revelator, Heber J. Grant, he addressed a plea “to make the necessary affidavit to enable his family to escape to America.” His letter closed, “Your brother in the Gospel.”3

No available record reveals Grant’s response, but Jewish pleas for help to the Mormon hierarchy ran into solid resistance from the second-ranking member of the LDS leadership triad, J. Reuben Clark. Clark dispatched a boilerplate response. Historian D. Michael Quinn, who wrote two biographies of Clark, summarized the language used by the Mormons’ first counselor whenever such a plea came across his desk:

In regard to ‘your interesting letter,’ President Clark began his standard reply to these desperate Jews in January 1939, ‘we have so many requests of this sort from various persons, including members of the Church, that we have found it necessary to ask to be excused from making the required guarantee.’ His letter recommended that the petitioners, some of whom were LDS, contact Jewish organizations for help.4


The LDS Church thus erected a firewall between its resources and the Jews who needed them to leave Germany, even if they had converted to Mormonism. It did not, however, refrain from using its influence to seek diplomatic help for those not tainted by a Jewish heritage. Several months prior to the arrival of Weiss’ plea, using a term made popular by the Nazis, Clark requested the assistance of his former State Department colleagues in expediting the immigration to the United States of a Mormon couple. “She and her husband are Aryan natives and nationals of Switzerland,” Clark implored. Subsequently, according to Quinn, Clark privately urges the State Department not to help Jewish children to leave Nazi Germany if their parents are trying to send them to the United States.5 Thus, if a non-Jew needed assistance, the LDS hierarchy stood ready to help. If a Jew asked, it not only refused, but also urged its government not to assist.

Clark explained his opposition to Jewish immigration in a letter to Allen Dulles, a prominent law partner in the New York firm of Sullivan & Cromwell and a future founder of the Central Intelligence Agency.

I share all of the sentiments you expressed, both of sympathy for those who are in distress, and anxiety over the vast numbers of people who are coming to this country. We have had a tremendous meal of aliens in the last two or three years, and I am just a little bit afraid that we may have over-eaten a bit. I think, therefore, we should allow a little time for digestion to begin before eating very much more.6


That remark illustrates two important prejudices that Clark brought to the LDS leadership. As Quinn maintained, this prominent lawyer, statesman, and religious prelate subscribed to xenophobia and nativism, characteristics that he displayed early in life. In 1898, as valedictorian of the University of Utah’s graduating class, Clark drew an enthusiastic round of applause when he proclaimed, “America must cease to be the cesspool into which shall drain the foul sewage of Europe.”7 Clark explained this admonition with the kind of bombastic, anti-immigrant rhetoric typical of early-twentieth century progressivism.

Great tidal waves of foreign paupers are rolling in upon our shores. Time after time have these mountainous ocean swells, racing with a mighty imperative, crested and thrown far inland a continent’s filth. . . . These great, undesirable elements have invaded our lands, are pillaging our homes, and threatening our lives. ‘Tis time these thieves, anarchists, and assassins were excluded from our shores.8


Catholic immigrants, Italians and Irish, attracted Clark’s disdain during this turn-of- the-century address. Later in life, his experience in the practice of law on the East Coast cultivated a new prejudice: a particularly virulent strain of anti-Semitism that remained in the forefront of his character for the remainder of his life. He dealt with Jews, both as clients and as legal opponents, during the years between his stints of State Department service. These contacts, established in the adversarial arena of the law when large amounts of money were at stake, led Clark to embrace the anti-Semitism that was a popular American vice at the time—one that saw Jews as both selfish and dishonest in their financial dealings.9

Another factor may have aggravated Clark’s anti-Semitism. He lost two primary election campaigns, in 1922 and 1928, for the Republican senatorial nomination from Utah. Clark’s victorious opponent was a Jewish mining magnate, Ernest Bamberger. Frank Fox, another Clark biographer, said that Bamberger “simply believed that public offices could be purchased, and in 1922 he decided to buy himself one.” Bamberger organized a political money-raising machine called “The Order of the Sevens.”

An inner ring of seven principals each recruited seven satellites, who in turn drafted seven of their own, and so on. The group held secret meetings and had a colorful ritual of recognition beginning with the question, ‘Which way are you going?’ and ending [with] the words ‘Jere’ and ‘Miah’ to form the name of an ancient prophet.10


With regard to those mystic rites, Clark should not have been offended. At the same time that his political opponents were engaging in ritualistic fund-raising ceremonies, J. Reuben Clark participated in the quasi-Masonic Mormon temple endowment observance, with its secret handclasps and vows to avenge the murders of Joseph Smith. Nevertheless, the fact that a Jewish candidate could defeat a Mormon favorite son in Utah seemed to cement another aspect of Clark’s prejudice.11 Not only were Jews corrupt in their financial dealings, he believed, but the way they conducted political affairs also suggested contempt for America’s governing system.

Clark had built his foundation of anti-Semitism upon three pillars: his anti-immigrant nativism, a belief that Jews were financially dishonest, and a conviction that Jews placed their own interests over that of their country. He left a long written trail of evidence, both before and after the Second World War, to substantiate each facet of his prejudice. Presumably, Clark brought his biases with him when he visited the twentieth century’s bastion of anti-Semitism, Nazi Germany, and negotiated with the financier who bankrolled Hitler’s campaign against the Jews, Hjalmar Schacht.

Clark understood why Jews wished to leave Germany. The persecution of Jews in Hitler’s Reich made headlines in the Deseret News daily newspaper that Clark helped to control editorially. In addition, his own Mormon missionaries were keen observers. Young American elders walked streets littered with the shattered glass of Jewish businesses, conversed with Mormon congregants who had Jewish friends, and dispatched their observations to the mission president—who forwarded the information up the chain of command to Salt Lake City. One of those reports could have come from Sterling Ryser, who served in the western part of Germany. In the months before Kristallnacht, he observed:

You could tell what was going to happen. It had a routine to it. A Jewish store would be selected. The first thing you would see is anti- Jewish slogans. The next step would be a broken-in front window. The next step would be a fire. Then you would see it all, all through the city, and some of them were big stores. The thing was pretty obvious. As you know, they had some scandal sheets that they published that were all anti-Jewish propaganda. I have [saved] four or five of those someplace.12


When Jews decided to leave Germany, they often fled after forfeiting most of what they owned to a Nazi state that devised elaborate mechanisms to steal their wealth. This was obvious to Mormon missionaries who sent their reports up the ecclesiastical ladder to J. Reuben Clark and his associates in the First Presidency. Donald R. Petty, while waiting to board an ocean liner for the passage home, wanted to insure that his luggage would not be forgotten:

Going through the warehouses in Hamburg when I wanted to check out my baggage, I saw these long extensive warehouses with these big wooden crates packed with household belongings, mostly of Jewish people, wanting to come to America. This was July of 1939, when there just wasn’t enough time to send even part of it over.13


Petty probably understood later that the Nazis never intended to allow Jewish possessions to be shipped. Clark already knew that, but he was more worried about the arrival of Jewish people in his country than their belongings.

Clark’s papers contain newspaper-clipping files classified by subject. One folder, marked “Jews,” includes eleven articles written from 1939 to 1942.14 All except two pertain to the migration of Jews from Germany to Palestine and the United States, and most were extensively underlined, indicating that he read them carefully. Clark seemed especially interested in the May 1939 voyage of the SS St. Louis, which carried 937 German Jewish refugees on a futile voyage to Cuba, where they were supposed to wait for visas to enter the United States. Clark underlined inflammatory words that raised his hackles, such as “powerful influences in the United States” that advocated for the refugees. Another article, written before the United States entered the Second World War, concerned Jews who had successfully landed in Cuba but had waited several years for entry visas. Heavy underlining in key passages of “Havana is the waiting room for America” may have piqued Clark’s nativist sentiments.15 Another article that drew Clark’s attention featured a picture of a bearded man wearing a hat and a long coat, standing on the steps of the United States Capitol. It announced that for the first time an Orthodox Jewish rabbi had given the opening prayer for a session of the U. S. House of Representatives. Clark circled words “orthodox rabbi.” Clark also extensively marked on a four-column display advertisement that advocated the formation of a Jewish army in Palestine. His handwritten comment asked, “To whom would they owe allegiance?”16

In political speech, according to Quinn, Clark barely disguised his anti-Semitic xenophobia by using “code words” for Jews: “political émigrés, aliens, and alien émigrés,” who were “boring termite-like into our national structure—financial, economic, social and political.” Clark, whose rabid Republican partisanship increased in tenor the farther away from Salt Lake City that he spoke, saw a Jewish conspiracy behind the New Deal policies of Franklin D. Roosevelt. A typical anti-FDR speech contained its quota of anti-Semitic imagery: “Alien émigrés, with their puppets in . . . key positions in administration, have secured the setting up in our Federal Government of a mass of governmental agencies—the alphabet bureaus.”17

Clark also disliked Jews because he thought they were anti-democratic and displayed a propensity toward communism. He expressed these feelings to anyone who sought his opinion, regardless of his correspondent’s status or position in society. In a long letter to Herbert Hoover in 1942, he blamed Jews for the Treaty of Versailles and “the present war.” He added:

They are completely dominating the entire government policy at this time. They are brilliant, they are able, they are unscrupulous, and they are cruel. They are essentially revolutionary, but they are not statesmen. They, as a race, are sowing dragons teeth in this country . . . The harvest which they will reap will be as dire, if not more so, than any they have reaped in any other country in the world.18


To an ordinary Latter-day Saint in Idaho who forwarded the outline of a proposed theological book, Clark admonished: “There is nothing in their history which indicates that the Jewish race loves either free agency or liberty. ‘Law and order’ are not facts for Jews. . . . Whenever the Jew has power, he has been as oppressive as any race in history.”19

According to Quinn, Clark considered some of the world’s most dangerous political radicals to be Jews. The list of left-wing Jewish politicians and revolutionaries he loathed included Leon Trotsky and Vladimir Lenin of the Soviet Union, Karl Marx, William and Karl Liebknecht, and Rosa Luxemburg of Germany, Leon Blum of France, and Americans such as anarchist Emma Goldman and Communist Party-USA cofounder Benjamin Gitlow.20 Apparently, Clark never saw a contradiction between his belief that Jews were dangerously communistic and his other anti-Semitic tenet, that Jews made too much money by exploiting the capitalist system with ruthless efficiency.

Clark often shared his anti-Semitism with a missionary’s zeal. He was a devotee of the early-twentieth-century Russian secret police forgery, The Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion, which purported to describe a high-level Jewish plot to achieve world domination. From the time he accepted his governing position in the LDS Church in the early 1930s until his death in 1961, Clark distributed copies of the Protocols with the enthusiasm of a young elder handing out a tract.21 He ordered batches at a time from the same printing house in Houston.22 To Ernest L. Wilkinson, a Utah attorney wholater became president of Brigham Young University, Clark recommended reading the Protocols, calling the contents “chilling . . . they will give you the shivers.”23 To Ezra Taft Benson, Dwight Eisenhower’s secretary of agriculture and later the prophet, seer, and revelator of the Mormon Church, Clark referred to a point in the paper linking communism and Zionism, and recommended that Benson read the Protocols.24

Clark not only distributed anti-Semitic material; he was also a collector. His papers at Brigham Young University contain a file of brochures and articles that link Jews with anti-capitalist world revolution and communist domination. Most were dated after the Second World War. One picture shows men clothed in religious robes. Some are bearded. Others wear yarmulkes. All glare at the reader with hostile, penetrating stares. The caption reads:

Praying Jews. Yahweh, the god of the Jews, they invoke as follows: ‘Let madness strike the non-Jewish councils, and disconcert their brains. Let their Leaders be madmen. Dethrone their kings by severe wars, and let fall on them Thy revenge. In Thy fury crush their heads against the ground.


Another pamphlet, headlined “Bolshevism is Judaism,” advises in all-capital letters that “The Jews are the children of the devil according to the Gospel of St. John 8:44. Therefore, for my country—against the Jewry.” Another, entitled “The Letter,” consists of six pages of single-spaced, typewritten names of Jewish governmental officials and diplomatic consular representatives in all European countries of the postwar Communist Bloc. It then lists prominent Jews in the British and American governments, and Jewish diplomats accredited to the United Nations. A tabloid entitled Common Sense: America’s Anti-Communist Newspaper, contains the masthead slogan, “All the News Kept Out of Print,” featuring a seventy-two-point headline that proclaims, “UN—World Jewish Plan.” The first sentence of the front-page article states: “The Jewish plan for world conquest and for ruling the world is now well underway.”25

Although Clark often spoke in nuanced terms and moderated his anti-Semitism when addressing someone he did not know, his reserved his harshest comments about Jews for his friends, family, and close political and religious associates. He may have shown some restraint when speaking with his counterpart in the First Presidency, Second Counselor David O. McKay, who developed a reputation throughout his years of church service as a promoter of Mormon-Jewish relations. McKay, a moderate Republican and an internationalist with regard to foreign policy, possibly mitigated some of Clark’s more extreme rhetoric. He obviously had no influence in the prewar years regarding the Mormons’ decision not to accommodate its Jewish members, or any Jews, who wished to escape Nazi Germany. That also applied to charitable contributions. In 1940, when Utah’s Jewish leaders asked the LDS Church to donate several hundred thousand dollars for the relief of European Jews, Clark led the opposition.26

Not all Mormons agreed with Clark, but those who did not were often ineffective. Two United States Senators from Utah, Elbert Thomas and William King, both Mormons and both Democrats, spoke out against Hitler’s excesses prior to the Second World War. When Thomas returned from his ten-week fact-finding trip to Germany in the autumn of 1934, he was appalled at what he had seen in the Third Reich. He later introduced a resolution in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that would have created a government agency to rescue refugees. In the midst of the Great Depression, federal action to allow foreign refugees into the United States was not politically popular. Thomas was unable to gain the support of Franklin D. Roosevelt. Finally, in 1944 after the reality of what the Nazis were doing to Europe’s Jews became undeniable, the Senate created the War Refugees Board. By then it was too late. In 1940, King introduced a bill that would have opened the Territory of Alaska to Jewish refugee settlement, a proposal that received the endorsement of both the Interior and Labor Departments. The King-Havenner Bill never became law, in part because of anti-immigrant and anti- Semitic sentiments that prevailed in the United States at the time, and in part because of opposition from Alaskan interests.27

Despite Clark’s anti-Semitism and the Mormons’ refusal to help their Jewish converts escape Nazi Germany, one scholar who has studied the prejudices of Latter-day Saints does not consider the LDS Church to be theologically anti-Semitic. Sociologist Armand Mauss wrote, “The unique doctrine of Semitic identification” makes ‘Mormons less likely than any of the other denominations to hold secular anti-Jewish prejudices, such as that ‘Jews cheat in business or are disloyal and unpatriotic.’”28 The term “Semitic identification” refers to the main plot of the Book of Mormon, in which a family of six Jews sailed to the Americas after the fall of Babylon in the sixth century BC. Descendants of this family became the American Indians, according to LDS beliefs. Mauss implies that Mormons exhibit another form of anti-Jewish prejudice, a spiritual anti-Semitism inherited from traditional Christianity. That pertains to the treatment of Jesus Christ by Jewish elders prior to his crucifixion and the subsequent failure of Jews to convert to Christianity.29 But it does not carry over into day-to-day relations between Jews and Latter-day Saints in the Mormon Culture Region.

Mauss’ analysis seems to be supported by the historically amicable relationship that Latter-day Saints enjoy with Utah’s small but accomplished Jewish minority. Several Jewish businessmen served as directors of the Salt Lake City Chamber of commerce in the late nineteenth century. Utah was only the third state to elect a Jewish governor, Democrat Samuel Bamberger, in 1916. Salt Lake City elected a Jewish mayor, Louis Marcus, in 1932.30 When Ernst Bamberger lost the 1938 general election to Senator William King, the Jewish Telegraph Agency’s dispatch said: “Religious prejudice appears to have played very little, if any, part in the contest. No mention was made of it in the public prints.”31

There is no trace of anti-Semitism in the writings of front-line Mormon missionaries, either before or during the Nazi period. Their failure to embrace and protect Jewish converts, who numbered no more than several dozen, seems to have been a pragmatic decision. German-speaking Mormons, the third-largest immigrant group that populated the Mormon Culture region, were predominantly descendant from Protestant or Catholic lineage. German Christians were much more important to the Mormons’ objectives than the few Jews who found a home in the LDS Church. Steven Carter, using an unpublished paper authored by Douglas Tobler and Alan Keele, estimated that five to ten percent of German Mormons in the 1930s joined the Nazi Party.32 Undoubtedly, more of them participated in Nazi auxiliary organizations that did not require party membership. Given the hatred of Jews that prevailed within the Nazi Party, it is not surprising that American Mormon missionaries found it convenient to tolerate, although not to endorse, their German members’ prejudices.

It was up to individual Mormons to determine how they would treat their coreligionists of Jewish dissent. Anecdotal evidence is rather scarce, but what exists does not reflect favorably upon Mormons as their brother’s keeper. Jacob Kobs, who lived through the Nazi period as a child, discussed his uncle Theo, a grocer who felt sympathy for a Jewish family that could not shop in his store because of harassment from customers. Theo would leave bags of groceries at the couple’s apartment door late at night, when nobody could see him befriending a Jew. Kobs also told the story of

a Jewish convert to his Mormon Church showing up each Sunday with his yellow star—until one of the fascist members of the congregation spoke out so strongly against him that he never returned. ‘We couldn’t stop what happened because of the pressure on us not to get involved.”33


Douglas Tobler recounted an interview with an American missionary, Hyrum J. Smith, who invited a Jewish family to Sunday services at some point in 1936 or 1937. Smith said: “The boy was snubbed by the members. They told me that no Jew boy was going to take the sacrament and that Jews were not welcome in the meetings.”34

In 1938, Arthur Zander, a Nazi Party member since 1933, led the St. Georg Branch in Hamburg. “He was quite enthused about it,” recalled Karl-Heinz Schnibbe, who as a youth was involved in the Helmuth Hübener gang of resisters. “He saw good in [the Nazi Party]. No more unemployment, the autobahn was constructed, and everyone had work under Adolf.” Franz Jacobi, Zander’s first counselor and also a Party member was, in Schnibbe’s words, a “super Nazi.” The two congregational leaders wanted to begin Sunday services with the Hitler salute, but found their enthusiasm overruled by the district president. Regardless of the Mormons’ determination to accommodate and ingratiate themselves with the Nazis, altering the liturgical sequence of a sacrament meeting would never have been acceptable. However, when the Führer would speak over the airwaves, Zander would provide a radio and lock the doors so that nobody in the congregation could leave during the broadcast.35 Church policy allowed a congregational leader, a bishop or a branch president, the latitude to change the starting time of church services. Although it was doubtful that the church elders intended to accommodate political speeches, Zander’s accommodation of Hitler’s speeches was technically permissible.

According to Schnibbe, Zander and his assistant weren’t the only enthusiastic National Socialists in the congregation: “In our branch, we had some who came in their SA uniforms to the meetings.” Schnibbe did not think of his brown-shirted congregants as “the brutal, street fighter types.” Many of the storm troopers who sat through Sunday services in St. Georg were musicians; they played in the local SA band.36 Another local Mormon was a Nazi of a more dangerous variety, a black-shirted member of the Totenkopfverbände—the Death’s Head SS that guarded concentration camps. It was an open secret in Schnibbe’s congregation that this man had been involved in the coldblooded murder on the street of a communist organizer.37

A conflict arose when Salomon Schwarz, a member of a smaller LDS congregation in Hamburg, wished to attend choir practice at St. Georg. According to his Mormon Church records, he was a full-fledged member, having been baptized on June 7, 1935. He held the Aaronic priesthood rank of teacher. On the other hand, according to the Nuremberg Race Laws adopted three months after his baptism, the government did not consider Schwarz to be a citizen worthy of associating with other Germans. Nazi bureaucrats mistakenly assigned him the status of a “full Jew,” even though they classified each of his siblings as a first-degree Mischlinge, a “half-Jew. Schwarz considered himself to be neither, as he had never practiced his mother’s Judaism, but the distinction eventually proved fatal.

Salomon was born in the Siberian city of Balagnsk. His mother was a Hungarian of Jewish descent whom Russian Army soldiers abducted during the First World War. One soldier raped and impregnated her. When Schwarz was two years old, his mother married a German prisoner of war. She had been able to buy Hermann Schwarz’s freedom. By paying a bribe, the couple could live outside the walls of the POW camp. With the assistance of the German Red Cross, they resettled in Hamburg after Hermann Schwarz was released from his prisoner’s status.38 Hermann gave Solomon his surname and treated him like a son.

The entire family, including Salomon’s three siblings, attended the Evangelical (Lutheran) Church in Hamburg before they eventually converted to Mormonism. Salomon Schwarz was an enthusiastic Latter-day Saint who participated in every activity his small branch offered. According to his sister, Anna Marie Schwarz, “Whenever there was a church meeting of any kind, Salomon was there.” Unfortunately, Arthur Zander, the St. Georg Branch president, thought the visitor who arrived for choir practice “looked Jewish.” Zander did not want a Jew in the building. He badgered Schwarz for racial identity papers to prove that he was an Aryan. When Salomon could provide none, Zander erected a sign outside that announced Jews were not allowed to enter.

Few Mormon leaders in those days practiced Nazism with the relentless devotion of Arthur Zander. Alfred Schmidt, president of the Barmbek Branch, welcomed Salomon Schwarz back to his smaller Mormon congregation, but Schwarz’s unfortunate experience with the St. Georg Branch president continued to prove troublesome. When on September 1, 1941, Reinhard Heydrich, chief of the Reich Main Security Office (SD), declared that all “full Jews” in Germany must wear a yellow Star of David, Schwarz no longer attended the services of any Mormon congregation. Instead, a group of his closest friends from the Barmbek congregation, led by the branch president’s father, Walter Schmidt, risked punishment by visiting Salomon at home.39

With his friends in Barmbek praying and fasting for him, Salomon Schwarz left his apartment to lodge a personal appeal for reclassification as a half-Jew or first degree Mischlinge. If he had won his appeal, he would have been able to shed the Star of David, dispense with food coupons stamped with the letter “J,” and return to church services. He made a fatal mistake on his journey; he did not wear his yellow star. His sister, Anna Marie Schwarz, said in a letter to Hübener group conspirator Rudy Wobbe:

One time when Salomon traveled to Berlin to go to the Ethnicity Office of the Reich, the whole branch prayed for him. Still, while he visited the Ethnicity Office, somebody denounced him to the Gestapo. I know and you know who denounced him. I don’t want under any circumstances for his name to be revealed.40


Salomon Schwarz’s appeal may have been successful. According to his sister, “On the seventeenth of July [1942], I received a communication, after making an inquiry, that the possibility existed that Salomon could be classified as a cross-breed first grade.” However, it was too late. Anna Marine Schwarz continued:

At the same time, the denouncement took place. The Gestapo arrested Salomon. . . . The person who denounced him brought about some heavy consequences. . . . Had the denouncement not happened, Salomon could have been reclassified as a cross-breed.


For not wearing a yellow Star of David on his clothing, Schwarz spent three weeks in an “education camp.” When released in August 1942, according to his sister, “He was a wreck. He often had fainting spells and heart problems.” Life deteriorated after that. In September, still classified as a “full Jew,” Salomon Schwarz entered the Hamburg ghetto. Walter Schmidt, the father of the Barmbek branch president, visited Schwarz in the ghetto on many occasions, despite warnings from the Gestapo and pleas from his own wife not to endanger himself. “Walter had it in his heart to help him,” Anna Marie Schwarz said. On February 12, 1943, Salomon Schwarz left Hamburg in a packed railroad cattle car. His destination was Auschwitz, where he perished.41

Most German Mormon congregational leaders were neither as fanatically loyal to Hitler as Arthur Zander nor as faithful to their few Jewish members as Alfred and Walter Schmidt. Most decisions made by German LDS leaders and their American missionaries were based on carefully calculated assessments of risk. Missionary Donald M. Petty told of the limited assistance he was able to provide to a Jewish Mormon in Wuppertal, a city in the Rhineland. A man he referred to as “Brother Goldberg,” a tailor by trade, was married to a German woman who was not Jewish. When Hitler came to power, Goldberg elected to live apart from his wife and child in order to protect them from harassment. From time to time, Petty and his missionary companion would visit Goldberg or his wife, acting as couriers to deliver small amounts of money and written messages. Goldberg never asked and presumably never expected anything more from the Mormon Church. He tried to escape from Germany by crossing the border on his own, was caught, and went to a concentration camp. He and his wife survived the Nazi regime, but their marriage did not. Petty explained the missionaries’ reluctance to do more: “If we got too involved in their difficulties we were breaking our own rules. Our job was to proselyte the gospel. We were also endangering ourselves if we were caught helping or sympathizing.”42

Likewise, the purveyors of memory, those who told their own stories of Mormonism in Nazi Germany and the faithful historians who published those accounts, exercised careful discretion. Joseph Dixon, who wrote the first scholarly article on the Mormons in the Third Reich in 1972, devoted only two sentences to an unnamed Latter-day Saint who tinkered daily with the machinery of murder. He was a mechanic at Auschwitz. Dixon euphemistically said that the man was in charge of maintaining “specialized machinery.” That was code language for gas chambers and crematoria. Dixon dutifully noted that his subject—ostensibly guilt-ridden—had a nervous breakdown when he returned from the war.43 Likewise, when Alan Keele wrote an article for a BYU-sponsored scholarly magazine, he told the story of a Mormon who had enlisted in Hitler’s elite, black-uniformed Schutzstaffel. Keele’s subject became no ordinary purveyor of genocide. This SS man developed a conscience, based upon his prewar Mormon religious instruction. He elected to become a wartime deserter.44 If these two cogs in Hitler’s killing machine had been unrepentant, they probably would not have appeared in articles authored by believing scholars.

For German Jews who did not wait too long and had the money, it was possible to leave the country before the onset of the Second World War. In fact, Nazi policy officially encouraged emigration of Jews prior to October 1941, although the difficulty of fleeing after the war started was greatly intensified. Some thirty-six thousand Jews left Germany and Austria in 1938 and seventy-seven thousand followed in 1939. After Kristallnacht, the United Kingdom admitted an additional ten thousand Jewish refugees from Germany and Austria.45 For Jews who had embraced another faith, like Egon Weiss or Salomon Schwartz, another barrier presented itself. When Weiss desired to become one of four thousand Austrian Jews who emigrated after Kristallnacht, he could not count on the help of various Jewish relief agencies that provided a limited amount of funding. Even though a religious conversion did not exempt a German from the “tainted” blood of Judaism in Nazi Germany, conversion from Judaism would have made it harder to seek Jewish help.

Considering the few Jewish converts to Mormonism in Nazi Germany, and the desire of the Nazis to rid themselves of as many Jews as possible in the pre-war period, it would have been relatively easy for the Mormon Church to rescue its own. Such an effort, if conducted with the same degree of skilled diplomacy that J. Reuben Clark brought to his meetings with Hjalmar Schacht, could have become successful without endangering American missionaries or German congregants. Because of xenophobia and anti-Semitism at the highest levels of the LDS hierarchy, the Mormons chose not to approach this challenge with the wisdom of Solomon or the charity of Jesus Christ. Instead, the Mormon tactic resembled that of Pontius Pilate. When presented with this moral dilemma, the Mormons washed their hands of the matter.

______________

Notes:

1 “Anschluss & Extermination: The Fate of the Austrian Jews,” Holocaust  Education and Archive Research Team, http://www.holocaustresearchproject.org/  nazioccupation/anschluss.html.
 
2 Ibid.
 
3 Quinn, Extensions of Power, 826.
 
4 Quinn, Elder Statesman, 333, with differences in Quinn, Extensions of Power, 827. 
 
5 Quinn, Extensions of Power, 827 (my emphasis).
 
6 J. Reuben Clark, Jr. to Allen Dulles, 11 Apr. 1939, Clarkana Papers.
 
7 Quinn, Elder Statesman, 319. 
 
8 “The State University: The Twenty-ninth Annual Commencement Exercises; J. Reuben Clark’s Masterly Effort,” Salt Lake Herald, 16 Jun. 1898.
 
9 Tobler, “The Jews, the Mormons, and the Holocaust,” 70; Quinn, Elder Statesman, 325.
 
10 Fox, The Public Years, 415-416. 
 
11 “Ernest Bamberger Chosen Republican Senatorial Nominee,” The Deseret  News, 15 Jul. 1922. Clark actually finished third in the balloting at the 1922 Republican  nominating convention, behind Bamberger and another Mormon, William H. Wattis.
 
12 Ryser, interview, transcript, 21.
 
13 Petty, interview, transcript, 30. 
 
14 “Jews,” Office Files, 1939, Clarkana Papers.
 
15 “Refugee Ship Sails from Cuba, then Anchors; May Go Back: Americans Reported Intervening to Let Jews In,” New York Herald Tribune, 3 Jun. 1939; “Havana Called Waiting Room for Refugees,” New York Herald Tribune, 13 May 1941.
 
16 “Orthodox Rabbi in Robes Says House Invocation,” New York Herald Tribune.
 
17 May 1942 and “Suez Must Not be Another Singapore: What Reason Can There be NOW for the British Government Not to Create a Jewish Army in the Middle East?,” New York Herald Tribune, 28 Feb. 1942; both in “Jews,” Office Files, Clarkana Papers.
 
17 Quinn, Elder Statesman, 331.
 
18 J. Reuben Clark, Jr. to Herbert Hoover, 14 May 1942, Herbert Hoover Presidential Library, West Branch, Iowa. 
 
19 J. Reuben Clark, Jr. to N. L. Nelson, 24 Jun. 1941, Clarkana Papers.
 
20 Quinn, Elder Statesman, 326.
 
21 When I began my research in the LDS Historical Department’s archives, I noted that the catalog offered seventeen copies of the Protocols. As the story unraveled, I found that J. Reuben Clark had distributed copies liberally to members of the church administration. Presumably, once a recipient retired and donated his office bookshelf material, it enabled the archives to stock many more copies than it would normally have acquired through customary procurement procedures. 
 
22 J. Reuben Clark, Jr. to Pyramid Book Shop, Houston, Texas, 22 Sep. 1958, Clarkana Papers.
 
23 J. Reuben Clark, Jr. to Ernest L. Wilkinson, 5 Feb. 1949, Clarkana Papers.
 
24 J. Reuben Clark, Jr. to Ezra Taft Benson, n. d., ca. Dec. 1957, Clarkana Papers. 
 
25 “Jews,” Office Files, Miscellaneous, Clarkana Papers.
 
26 Quinn, Elder Statesman, 328. 
 
27. Hannah L. Mitsen, “The King-Havenner Bill of 1940: Dashed Hopes for a Jewish Immigration Haven in Alaska,” Alaska History 14 (Spring-Fall 1999): 23-32.
 
28 Armand L. Mauss, “Mormon Semitism and Anti-Semitism,” Sociological Analysis 29-1 (Spring 1968): 11. 
 
29 Armand L. Mauss, All Abraham’s Children: Changing Mormon Conceptions of Race and Lineage (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2003), 158-161.

30 Utah History Encyclopedia s.v., “The Jewish Community in Utah,” http://www.media.utah.edu/UHE/j/JEWISCOM.html.

31 “Ernest Bamberger Loses in Utah Senate Race,” Jewish Telegraph Agency: Jewish News Archive,” 8 Nov. 1928, http://archive.jta.org/article/1928/11/08 /2773757 /ernest-bamberger-loses-in-utah-senate-race 
 
32 Carter, “Mormons and the Third Reich,” 100n110.
 
33 Kempe, Father/Land, 84. 
 
34 Tober, “The Jews, the Mormons, and the Holocaust,” 83.
 
35. Holmes and Keele, When Truth Was Treason, 26. 
 
36 Ibid., 13.
 
37 Ibid., 14. 
 
38 Ibid., 324n44; Rudi Wobbe and Jerry Borrowman, Before the Blood Tribunal  (Salt Lake City: Covenant, 1992), 27-28.
 
39 Anna Marie Schwarz, sister of Salomon Schwarz, to Rudy Wobbe, 5 Oct. 1987 in Appendix 2, Rudolf Gustav Wobbe, interview by Matthew Heiss, Jul.-Aug. 1988, Archives, Historical Department, The Church of Jesus-Christ of Latter-day Saints, Salt Lake City, Utah.
 
40 Ibid. Although Anna Marin Schwarz did not name the person who reported her brother for traveling without his Star of David, all indications point to Arthur Zander. The St. Georg branch president, an enthusiastic Nazi, seemed to have maintained a personal vendetta against Salomon Schwarz. Documentation concerning the Helmuth Hübener group, retrieved from the Hamburg Municipal District Archives, the Stadtteilarchiv, contains no evidence of any other Mormon who bore a grudge against Schwarz. (Hübener was a member of the same St. Georg branch that Zander led.) Several documents do attest to the enmity that Zander had for Schwarz. Anna Marie Schwarz’s reluctance to name the person who reported her brother to the Gestapo was probably a consideration for the welfare of the large German Mormon post-war expatriate community in Utah. Enthusiastic Nazis like Arthur Zander and Nazi opponents like Max Reschke joined hundreds of others in a Mormon diaspora that left Germany for the American Zion after the Second World War. If Zander did not report Salomon Schwarz, it is likely that the person who did so also emigrated after the war.  Most émigrés settled in the Salt Lake City metropolitan area and many lived closer to each other in the United States than they had in Germany.
 
41 Anna Marie Schwarz to Rudy Wobbe, 5 Oct. 1987. 
 
42 Petty, interview, transcript, 36.
 
43 Dixon, “Mormons in the Third Reich,” 75.
 
44 Alan F. Keele, “A Latter-day Saint in Hitler's SS: The True Story of a Mormon Youth Who Joined and Defected from the Infamous Schutzstaffel," BYU Studies 42-3/4 (2003): 21-28.
 
45 United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, Holocaust Encyclopedia, s.v. “German Jewish Refugees, 1933-1939,” www.ushmm.org/wel/en/article.php? Module=10005568.
 
 
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Re: The Mormons in Nazi Germany, by David Conley Nelson

Postby admin » Fri Jul 06, 2018 1:14 am

Part 1 of 2

CHAPTER X. THE ROCKS AND SHOALS OF MORMON MEMORY IN NAZI GERMANY, PART 4: HELMUTH HÜBENER, AN ADJUSTABLE BEACON OF MEMORY

On a crisp October evening in 1942, a fair-skinned, blue-eyed, seventeen-yearold boy, naked from the waist up, walked under guard into a darkened chamber at Berlin’s Plötzensee Prison. Hands bound behind his back, he stared momentarily at a crucifix mounted on a black altar, illuminated by two flickering candles.1 Then, cooperating completely with his jailers, he mounted a nineteenth-century guillotine.2 When the state executioner severed the Hamburg native’s head, carrying out a red-robed Nazi court’s condemnation for high treason, he became the only Latter-day Saint executed for resistance to Adolf Hitler’s regime. Perhaps more significantly, he claimed anti-fascist martyrdom as the religious equivalent of a stateless person. Ten days after the Gestapo arrested the young man for producing anti-Hitler tracts with a church-owned typewriter, the lad’s Mormon leader, an enthusiastic Nazi, excommunicated Helmuth Hübener from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.3

Helmuth Hübener is a memory beacon. His bright, redeeming light cuts through the murky shame of Mormon behavior in Nazi Germany. Principled and heroic, Helmuth presents a stark contrast to a mission president who rendered the Hitler salute, to a “mission matron” who rode with the Führer in a black Nazi limousine, and to a church hierarchy that washed its hands of Mormonism’s Jewish converts. But Hübener’s memory beacon comes equipped with a dimmer switch that allows his commemorative light to be brightened or darkened according to the self-interest of the Salt Lake City church leadership.

In the early postwar period, the light of Hübener’s memorialization brightened slowly. Those traumatized by war sought refuge in forgetting and rebuilding. In the aftermath of the Second World War, many members of Hübener’s St. Georg congregation immigrated to the American Zion. Those who stayed behind busied themselves with creating what became known as the Wirtschaftswunder, the postwar German Economic Miracle. In the process, German Mormons on both sides of the Atlantic tried to put their wartime recollections behind them. The memory of this brave and idealistic young man dimmed to the point of near extinguishment. Then, in the early 1960s, a Hamburg high school student, Ulrich Sander, tasked with researching local resisters, rediscovered the Hübener group.4 His newspaper articles attracted the attention of novelist Günter Grass, who used the adolescent gang of four resisters as the inspiration for his 1969 novel, Örtlich betäubt and his 1970 play, Davor.5 Neither Sander nor Grass is Mormon.

Grass’ tale interested Alan F. Keele, a professor of Germanic languages at Brigham Young University. Keele’s research focused on Grass, an author who used German memory of the Second World War as a foundation for his fiction. Together with a colleague in BYU’s history department, Douglas F. Tobler, Keele began investigating the story of a Hamburg youth who listened to forbidden wartime broadcasts of the BBC and wrote seditious summations distributed by three friends, two of whom were fellow Mormons. At a faculty seminar in the early 1970s, Keele and Tobler approached their colleague Thomas Rogers, a professor of Russian who dabbled as an amateur playwright. Keele and Tobler suggested that Rogers, who had written several dramatic works performed on campus, produce a play based on Hübener’s exploits.6

The ensuing stage performance was a resounding box office success, in fact, too successful for the comfort of the Mormon Church leadership. Rogers’ play, Huebener, attracted capacity audiences during its extended run and prompted newspaper reviews statewide.7 The play’s success prompted wealthy BYU alumni to offer sponsorship to stage the play in California. After a visit from a high-ranking member of the Salt Lake City Mormon leadership, however, the university banned future performances.

The LDS hierarchy became alarmed by the complaints of German Mormon expatriates, some of whom had been Nazi Party members or sympathizers prior to immigrating to Utah. Mormon leaders negotiating with the East German government on behalf of Latter-day Saints who lived behind the Iron Curtain were concerned about the example of a rebellious Mormon teenager. Other Mormon officials, living in the era of South American dictators and military juntas, feared that the play would inspire Mormon youth to protest against oppressive foreign governments. The president of BYU, acting on instructions from higher church authorities, banned subsequent performances of the play and prohibited Rogers from releasing his script for performance by others.8

Then, the Mormon hierarchy ordered a hold on the publication of Hübenerrelated scholarship by Keele and Tobler. That was the unfortunate drawback of having the history of Mormons in Nazi Germany told by faithful scholars at an LDS-supported university. They remained subject to church discipline and employment sanction regardless of their status as tenured professors.9 Intervention by higher ecclesiastical authorities eventually generated more news and controversy than would have occurred if church leaders had remained uninvolved. Eight years after Huebener’s curtain call, when BYU persisted in denying Rogers the ability to release his script to others, Mormons began writing their own plays and books that glorified the young hero.10 A BYU graduate’s play enjoyed a four-week engagement at a Salt Lake City theater. The Deseret News, ostensibly because of pressure from its Mormon Church publisher, refused to review it.

The story of the original banning became public knowledge in 1984. After a wire service reporter attempted to interview a high-ranking Mormon official and received a curt response, articles appeared in newspapers worldwide. The church’s interference with scholarly and artistic freedom became a prominent sidebar in accounts of Hübener’s courage. Individual Mormons were not subject to mandates that had affected church employees. In the 1980s and early 90s, Karl-Heinz Schnibbe and Rudi Wobbe, Hübener’s surviving Mormon cohorts, published their own books. In the case of Schnibbe’s book, however, the publisher carefully checked with the LDS Church before sending the book to press. 11

After the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 and after most of Utah’s aging Nazis had died or lost their influence, Brigham Young University allowed Thomas Rogers to resume production of his play, Huebener, lifting a ban that had existed for fifteen years.12 The University of Illinois Press published Keele’s monograph on Helmuth Hübener in 1995, twenty years after the first church proscription on his scholarly writing.13 In the ensuing years, popular accounts in the form of books, magazine articles, and at least one documentary film have appeared. As late as 2002, however, commercial publishers were still seeking the LDS Church’s blessing before investing in books and documentary videos about Hübener.14 These new efforts to glorify a genuine Mormon hero tell only one phase of Hübener’s story. They stop in 1948, when the Salt Lake City hierarchy ratified a local German Mormon leader’s decision to nullify Hübener’s excommunication. Contemporary Hübener accounts do not narrate the postwar struggle to honor one of the few prominent Mormons who was on the right side of history in Nazi Germany.

During the first eighty years of Mormon presence in Germany, the LDS Church did not always “render unto Caesar.” Mormons selectively defied civil government. Then, for six years during the pre-war Nazi period, the church conformed to a strict interpretation of the Twelfth Article of Faith. Fifteen months after the American leadership evacuated as the Second World War began, a trio of Mormon teenagers defiantly and spectacularly refused to render unto Hitler. They instead mounted a propaganda campaign that they naively thought would cause a popular uprising against the Führer. After the war, the church pursued the only policy it knew, one it had perfected in Nazi Germany. While the LDS Church in the United States embraced the anti-communism of the Cold War, in Eastern Europe it still preached adherence to the Twelfth Article of Faith. The Latter-day Saints leadership did not want its flock to become known as members of a resistance church. Likewise, the church leadership did not want those living in Zion who had embraced Hitler to be subjected to recrimination.

Thus, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints spent the last half of the twentieth century with its heavy hand on the dimmer switch that controlled Helmuth Hübener’s beacon of memory. After the fall of Eastern Bloc communism, it twisted Helmuth Hübener’s memory control to the fully bright position, shining light on a brave young Mormon boy whom it had once excommunicated for the sin of opposing Adolf Hitler. In 1990, it finally became desirable to honor Helmuth Hübener. It was time to promote the myth that the Mormons, like courageous anti-Nazis everywhere, stubbornly fought the Third Reich. There were no more foreign dictators to appease and few domestic Nazis to placate.

Helmuth Hübener: The Evolution of a Young Revolutionary

Helmuth Hübener, conceived during the commission of a single crime, died at the hands of a Nazi government so felonious that its crimes defy enumeration. In 1924, his mother succumbed to workplace blackmail by her corrupt foreman at the government mint in Hamburg. She had illegally provided metal blanks for the fraudulent stamping of Pfennig and Reichsmark coins that he pocketed. Sex was the price she paid for his silence.15 The birth of a principled and highly intelligent young man was her reward. Helmuth embraced his religious faith and excelled in school. Like most German students on the Oberbau or “honors track” at the Realschule, he took four years of English.16 Unlike most, he mastered the language with diligent study and some help from the American missionaries.17 He made excellent grades in a variety of subjects, including typing and shorthand, and especially embraced his coursework in history and political thought.18 One of his partners in treason against the Nazi state, Karl-Heinz Schnibbe, called Helmuth “the professor.”19

Like most boys growing up in Nazi Germany, Hübener was active in the Party’s youth activities. “He was very well liked in the Hitler Youth,” said Schnibbe.20 Marie Sommerfeld, to whom Helmuth wrote a good-bye letter on the day he was executed, remembers that “Helmuth was quite enthused at the beginning” about the Hitler Youth.21 Another co-conspirator, Rudi Wobbe, believed Helmuth “was not an ardent follower of Hitler,” but instead “put up a smoke screen so others would not see his real convictions.”22 Regardless of how Hübener’s attitudes evolved, he derived one tangible benefit from his experience in the Hitler Youth, an organization not known to encourage intellectual development. He wrote an award-winning, pro-Nazi graduation thesis, “The War of the Plutocrats,” at the conclusion of his studies in the spring of 1941.23 His reward was a coveted civil service job. He worked for a government social welfare agency located at the Bieber-Haus, a prominent building in Hamburg. His employment gave him access to an extensive archive of books, some of which had been banned in Nazi Germany. Said Rudi Wobbe: “This allowed Helmuth to occasionally sneak out books for us to read.”24

Helmuth Hübener’s intelligence drove a confrontational personality that could annoy older Mormons.25 “When he talked to the elders in the church, he asked them questions he knew they couldn’t answer,” Schnibbe recalled, and then explained, “He liked to embarrass them a bit.”26 Wobbe remembered that Helmuth would loan books to his friends and then quiz them on their reading: “He had a great depth for one so young and a remarkable ability to share his insights.”27 Hübener’s dysfunctional family upbringing may have also fueled his nonconformist tendencies. His mother did not marry the corrupt supervisor who impregnated her with Helmuth. She had been divorced from the father of his two older half brothers for many years when she married Hugo Hübener in 1939. Hugo, a low-ranking SA storm trooper, legally adopted Helmuth, probably at the urging of his mother. 28 But Helmuth could not stand his new father. Like an older half-brother, Gerhard Kunkel, Helmuth embraced his first opportunity to move away. When Kunkel went into the Nazi Labor Front, Helmuth moved into Gerhard’s room in his maternal grandparents’ apartment. They lived only one block away.29 That proved to be a fateful decision, as the lack of supervision at his grandparents’ house later provided a convenient opportunity for the Helmuth Hübener resistance group.

Hamburg’s once-diverse political climate, straight jacketed under the Nazis, was probably on Helmuth Hübener’s mind when he contemplated contemporary events. He read extensively about political subjects and was just barely old enough to remember the turbulence of the last years of the Weimar Republic.30 Helmuth’s best friends, Rudi Wobbe and Karl-Heinz Schnibbe, came from families that had been active in Germany’s Social Democratic Party. Wobbe, one year younger than Hübener, recalled the “torchlight parades . . . machine gun nests on building roofs . . . and men with revolvers stationed behind overturned cars” that marked the street violence that pitted National Socialists versus the German Communist Party (KPD) in his neighborhood.31 As a port city with a large maritime industry, Hamburg had been a stronghold for the KPD and its labor-organizing efforts. “Hamburg never did go completely over to the Nazis,” said Karl-Heinz Schnibbe; “There were too many Communists and Social Democrats there.” Marie Sommerfeld, a St. Georg congregant and Hübener family friend recalled: “There were quite a few communists in the area.”32

Sommerfeld also remembered that Helmuth’s opinion of the Nazis began to change because of conflicts in the neighborhood and in church.33 Wobbe related a street confrontation that Helmuth had with a Hitler Youth patrol:

Most of the time we liked to sing hymns but occasionally we would sing American songs, such as ‘You Are My Sunshine’ or ‘Moonlight and Roses,’ that the missionaries had taught us. One day a Hitler Youth patrol stopped us . . . and demanded to know why we were singing English songs. ‘These are not English songs, but American,’ Helmuth smarted off, ‘and why shouldn’t we sing them? It’s not against the law! Talking about the law, what right do you have to harass German citizens on the street? You’ve not been given the authority of a policeman to question people!’


The Hitler Youth group, confounded by Hübener’s tirade, backed off. After they left, Helmuth continued:

That’s the trouble with these people—put them in a uniform and they think they have the authority to bully people around. It doesn’t matter whether they belong to the Hitler Youth, the SA, or the SS. . . . Our country is being run through threats, intimidation, and even brutal force! And something has to be done about this!34


Events at Helmuth Hübener’s St. Georg congregation of the Mormon Church also affected his evolving opinion of the Nazis. “The final straw for Hübener,” said historian Douglas F. Tobler, “was that he saw Nazi ideas coming into the LDS Church.”35 Branch President Arthur Zander, who joined the Nazi Party in 1933, overtly politicized a diverse group of congregants with his desire to render the Hitler salute during services and his insistence that congregants listen to Hitler’s speeches on the radio.36 When, as part of the broadcast, the Horst Wessel Song was played, Zander required the congregation to sing. According to Otto Berndt, Sr., who initially served as a congregational youth leader under Zander, the branch president would station spies around the room to report who was not singing in tribute to the Nazi martyr. “Zander was one hundred fifty percent for the Nazis,” recalled Berndt.37 Berndt maintained that District President Alwin Brey had installed Zander as branch president in 1938 because of his political beliefs, in order to facilitate good relations with the Nazi Party.38

Berndt remembered an incident that put him at odds with Zander and other pro- Nazi branch leaders, such as First Counselor Franz Jacobi. One year, near Christmas, the congregation rented additional rooms in the building where it held church meetings. During remodeling, a picture of Adolf Hitler appeared on the wall, replacing pictures of Jesus Christ and Joseph Smith. Berndt’s temper exploded:

I couldn’t stand it. I called one of the leaders in and said, ‘I’ll give you five minutes to take that picture down and hang the picture of Christ and the picture of Joseph Smith back up.’ He said: ‘Are you against the Führer?’ I said, ‘I have nothing against the Führer. . . . This is the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and His picture goes there! Joseph Smith founded this church and his picture goes there, not Adolf Hitler! Joseph Smith was born near this time [of year], and when we celebrate Christmas, we celebrate it for these two persons, and not for Adolf Hitler!’ 39


The branch leaders took down Hitler’s picture and restored the pictures of Christ and Joseph Smith, but they retaliated by dismissing Berndt from all of his “callings” or jobs in the congregation. Later, when Berndt returned from a period of military service, he became acting district president, Zander’s supervisor. As “acting” president, he did not have the power to remove Zander, although he could veto individual decisions made by the branch president. Rudi Wobbe, one of the Hübener conspirators, remembered Zander as someone “who did a lot for the St. Georg Branch, but he was a dyed-in-thewool Nazi.”40 Karl-Heinz Schnibbe, the other Hübener conspirator, called Zander “a dedicated branch president, a natural leader of young and old” who “took charge in the branch and made things happen,” including “enlarging the branch house and installing a baptismal font” and “[making] certain there was always cake and hot chocolate for the volunteer workers.”41

Those “natural” leadership skills manifested themselves when he cleansed his congregation of Jews and other “subversive” influences. Arthur Zander was the leader who erected the sign, “Juden ist der Eintritt verboten,” on the St. Georg meeting house door, a proscription aimed at Salomon Schwarz, the sole Mormon of Jewish heritage who visited.42 Zander also refused baptism to another man of partial Jewish lineage who desired to become a Mormon, Rudolph Kaufmann. Otto Berndt, who had the authority to override that decision as the acting president, baptized Kaufmann into the church.43 Zander, whose church typewriters Hübener eventually used to produce his anti-Hitler handbills, also saw to it that no enemy propaganda contaminated his congregation. Said Rudi Wobbe:

On her way to church one morning, an elderly sister stopped to pick up a leaflet dropped by [a] British [aircraft] onto the streets of Hamburg. When she arrived at church, she casually showed it to some of the other members. When [Zander] saw what she was doing, he ripped the leaflet from her hand and started shouting, ‘If you ever bring enemy propaganda literature into this branch house again, I will see to it that you are brought to a concentration camp.’44


Helmuth Hübener undoubtedly heard of this incident, as he was aware of most of what transpired and probably all of the gossip in his small Mormon congregation of less than two hundred. What happened to one of the branch’s most devout members, sixty-six- year-old Heinrich Worbs, must have profoundly expedited sixteen-year-old Helmuth along his path from Nazi loyalist to resister. Worbs, who would stand air raid spotter duty with the younger boys in the congregation once the war started, made an intemperate remark on the streetcar one day in Hamburg in 1941.45 Passing a newly dedicated monument to a martyred Nazi, the plainspoken Worbs said: “Another statue for one of those Nazi butchers!” Someone heard his remark and reported Worbs to the Gestapo. Rudi Wobbe described the consequences:

The Gestapo immediately arrested him and shipped him to Neuengamme concentration camp. . . . They kept him for six months. After being released, he attended church meetings again, but we could hardly recognize him. He was a broken man, a shadow of his former self. Brother Otto Berndt took him under his wing and slowly nursed him back to where he could at least carry on a conversation. When Helmuth and I had a chance to question him privately, he told us he was not allowed to talk about [it]. He’d been forced to sign a paper that said he was simply there for educational purposes and that he had been treated well. 46


Berndt was able to coax information from Worbs. While in the camp, Worbs had been treated, in Berndt’s words, “worse than an animal.” Worbs came back with a swollen mouth, missing all of its teeth. On several occasions, guards had chained him outside in winter temperatures, stripped naked, knee-deep in snow for periods of up to forty-eight hours. They positioned him so that water would drip on his hands, which would then freeze.47 Periodically, a guard would appear with a rubber hose and sadistically beat Worbs’ hands in order to remove the ice and “warm you up,” as the guard would say. That broke his fingers.48

Prisoners also had to watch executions. The camp commandant would select one prisoner to be the hangman. If he refused to hang the condemned man, the commandant would order the condemned and the hangman to switch places.49 Six weeks later, Worbs died. The last weeks of his life were not pleasant. According to Rudi Wobbe:

What upset Helmuth and me the most was the way the other members of our congregation treated Brother Worbs upon his return. Rather than rally to his defense to comfort him, many turned a cold shoulder, refusing to speak to him. He was ostracized because he ‘kicked against the pricks’ by opposing the government. Many, I suspect, were afraid to be seen with him for fear the Nazis would suspect them as well.50


Helmuth Hübener kept no diary to record the evolution of his attitude regarding National Socialism. By the summer of 1941, based on comments he made to his close circle of young friends, it was becoming evident that he had adopted a rigidly anti-Nazi viewpoint. The young man who once wrote an honors thesis that extolled Nazi economic theory questioned aloud how Germany had the resources to win a war against the rest of the world. The numbers did not add up, he told Karl-Heinz Schnibbe. Before the Wehrmacht invaded the Soviet Union in June 1941, Hübener wondered how Germany would obtain access to the petroleum it needed to sustain combat.51 After Hitler launched Operation Barbarossa, Hübener listened skeptically to the official news reports, which lauded the tremendous losses sustained by Soviet forces with scant mention of German casualties. He asked how a country of sixty-five million could defeat a combined enemy population of more than five hundred million.52 Hübener appeared confounded regarding a solution. To Rudi Wobbe, he quoted Napoleon: “Revolutions are rare, because human life is too short. Everyone thinks to himself, ‘It will not profit me to upset the existing order, so why bother?’” He brooded over Heinrich Mann’s assessment of the German people: They are too fatalistic to engage in revolution.53 Yet events during the summer of 1941 prompted Hübener to conduct what he described as “a full fledged information resistance.”54

Helmuth Hübener: The Quixotic Anti-Goebbels

A dictatorship that relies on propaganda to bamboozle its citizens in wartime has one overriding fear: the enemy’s propaganda. On September 1, 1939, the same day that Germany started the Second World War by invading Poland, Nazi Propaganda Minister Joseph Goebbels announced the “Extraordinary Radio Measures” decree. Listening to foreign radio stations became a crime punishable by imprisonment. Distributing information derived from foreign broadcasts carried a maximum penalty of death. To transmit its own propaganda to its citizens, Nazi Germany provided inexpensive, mass-produced, reflex-technology radio receivers with a limited selection of channels and a short reception range. The larger variety of the Volksemfänger, the people’s receiver, sold for seventy-six marks. A smaller model, the DKE38, cost thirty-five marks. Germans derisively nicknamed it Goebbels-Schnauze, Goebbels’ snout.55

Helmuth Hübener was hungry for information that he could not glean from the Nazi propaganda masquerading as news that came out of the Volksemfänger. Gerhard Kunkel, his half-brother who was five years older, unwittingly satisfied Helmuth’s curiosity. While serving abroad in Reich Labor Service, Gerhard acquired a much more powerful radio. Unlike the German Volksemfänger—purposely designed to limit the listener’s choice of broadcast stations—Kunkel’s French Markerola used “superheterodyne” technology and allowed the listener to tune in shortwave broadcasts. It provided a longer reception range and greater choice of stations, which is precisely what the Nazis wanted to deny to the German people. Kunkel stored his long-range radio in a locked closet at his grandparents’ apartment before he departed for service in the Wehrmacht. At some point afterward, Helmuth committed the only real crime of his life. He broke into the cabinet.56

Rudi Wobbe remembered that Hübener brought a radio to air raid spotter duty on December 31, 1940.57 The next time one of his friends saw the radio was on June 22, 1941, a fateful day in the history of the Second World War. That evening, after his grandparents had gone to bed, sixteen-year-old Hübener welcomed seventeen-year-old Karl-Heinz Schnibbe—a friend since their days together in Mormon “primary,” the church activity for children. With the Markerola’s volume turned high, Karl-Heinz watched Helmuth carefully turn the turning dial until, at precisely ten o’clock in the evening, the first four notes of Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony cut through the annoying static. The musical pattern formed Morse code for letter “V,” three dots and a dash. That symbolized Winston Churchill’s “V for Victory.” In perfect German, the announcer welcomed his listeners to the BBC’s German-language news program. The broadcast led with the Wehrmacht’s surprise invasion of the Soviet Union.58

Karl-Heinz listened, spellbound. It became obvious to him that this was not Helmuth’s first time listening to forbidden enemy broadcasts. Several weeks later, his friend sprang another surprise. One night, after Schnibbe had listened to another broadcast, Helmuth pulled out a small, red, typewritten pamphlet—imprinted with an official Nazi Party stamp. Schnibbe read it in shocked silence. Entitled “Down with Hitler,” the brochure used a pun to denounce the Führer. Helmuth modified the German word for “people’s leader,” Volksführer by adding a three-letter syllable in the middle. It became Volksverführer, the people’s seducer. He also called Hitler the “people’s corruptor” and the “people’s traitor.”59

Douglas F. Tobler, the BYU historian who researched Hübener in the 1970s, believed that the shocking German invasion of the Soviet Union and Helmuth’s ability to hear alternative news and opinions not available through the Nazi-controlled media, served as the capstone to the young man’s evolving revolutionary spirit. “As Helmuth Hübener listens to the BBC, he is immediately convinced they’re telling the truth,” Tobler said.60 “The British provided much more detail,” added BYU’s Alan Keele.61 As he continued to listen, Hübener noted that the BBC would discuss the losses of British troops, aircraft, and ships. The Nazi-controlled media never enumerated German battlefield losses. 62

Within weeks, Hübener introduced another close boyhood friend from the Mormons’ St. Georg congregation to the broadcasts, fifteen-year-old Rudi Wobbe. Wobbe lived in Rothenburgsort, a Hamburg neighborhood known in the Weimar Republic days for its communist leanings. Hübener wanted to sow his revolution on sympathetic ground. Wobbe also noticed the difference between the British and German versions of the news: “BBC London gave the casualties precisely for both sides—not at all like a typical German news report which sounded something like, ‘Massive casualties were inflicted on the Russian Army, with relatively few losses of our own victorious troops.’” Then, just as Helmuth had done with the older Karl-Heinz Schnibbe, he initiated Rudi as a full-fledged conspirator. Wobbe said:

He gave me a handbill, about one quarter of the size of a sheet of typing paper, and asked me to read it. Entitled, ‘Hitler the Murderer,’ . . . it talked about the murder of General von Schroeder, military commander of Serbia. I told him the pamphlet looked great, particularly because it was printed on red paper. ‘Then let’s go to work,’ Helmuth replied. He handed me a stack of leaflets and said, ‘Put them in mailboxes, telephone booths, and other places—be inventive.’ I went [to an apartment building] and began dropping off the handbills in the mailboxes. . . . I covered about three apartment houses before my supply ran out. I distributed about thirty to thirty-five handbills that night.63


The following Sunday, using the Mormon meetinghouse as a rendezvous point, the trio of conspirators discussed their next steps. Hübener had prepared another series of pamphlets. Two took aim at German propaganda that accused the British of initiating bombing raids against civilian targets. “Hitler’s Guilt” and “Hitler is the Sole One Guilty” maintained that before the Royal Air Force’s strikes against German cities, the Luftwaffe had bombed Warsaw and Rotterdam, “where unarmed women and children, cripples and old men were killed.” Another pamphlet, “Who is Lying?,” compared the battlefield reports from German and British media regarding the Eastern front. German broadcasts claimed insignificant opposition from the Red Army as the Wehrmacht marched toward strategic objectives. The BBC reported pitched battles. Schnibbe and Wobbe surreptitiously distributed these pamphlets the following week. Said Wobbe: “I [found] that the Nazi Party had placed bulletin boards at the entrance of every apartment building in the area with the intriguing title of ‘Bulletin Board of the N.S.D.A.P’. . . . I couldn’t resist the challenge of placing our handbills on these boards.”64

For Rudi and Karl-Heinz, working with Helmuth seemed to be an adventure, but they also had ideological motivation. Wobbe cited “the excitement of doing something secretive.”65 He recalled the days when he and Schnibbe had served as Hübener’s lieutenants in an imaginary “Lord Lister Detective Agency,” a name they took from a popular comic strip. Helmuth had membership cards printed. The boys would comb the newspaper’s crime reports and try to guess who was guilty.66 Both Wobbe and Schnibbe had time to play detective. Rudi had resigned and Karl-Heinz had been dismissed from the Hitler Youth for insubordination and failure to attend meetings. Both were devout Mormons but they gave little credence to the Twelfth Article of Faith as justification to support the Nazis. Wobbe recalled his disappointment at not being able to join a church scout troop.67 Mormon scouting had been banned in Nazi Germany in 1934.

Although Schnibbe and Wobbe may have considered their activities to be an adventure, Hübener imagined his campaign as a precursor to revolution. “Helmuth Hübener hoped to incite a mass uprising,” said Alan F. Keele. “He was hoping that there would be a tidal wave of information flow.” At age sixteen, Keele said, Helmuth “had emerged as a full-blown anti-Nazi.”68 Many pamphlets encouraged the reader to listen to the BBC. For the next eight months, three Mormon teenagers, ages fifteen, sixteen, and seventeen, waged a propaganda war with Joseph Goebbels. They fought that war with the unwitting assistance of the government they were trying to topple and the pro-Nazi church leaders they refused to appease.

Listening to forbidden foreign broadcasts on a powerful radio that his brother had acquired while in labor service for the Third Reich, Hübener would tune in to the BBC late at night after his grandparents had gone to bed. Most of the time he listened in German, but it is probable that he also listened to English-language broadcasts, as he was fluently bilingual. Skilled in shorthand that he learned at his state-funded school, he would make extensive notes. Then, using carbon paper and other materials obtained from his government job at the Bieber-Haus, he would type as many as five copies at a time.69 Hamburg Nazi researcher Ulrich Sander claimed that Hübener would produce as many as sixty copies in such a fashion, retyping the original eleven times.70 Hübener obtained his church-owned typewriters, at first a portable and then a Remington desk model, from Branch President Arthur Zander, who had tasked Hübener with writing frontline soldiers. Helmuth, while trying to overthrow the Nazi regime that Zander loved, worked in a church “calling” as the clerk for Zander’s ecclesiastical boss, District President Otto Berndt. Berndt had given Helmuth a key to the building and to his office.71 Then, after Hübener finished typing and stamping a swastika emblem on each pamphlet with the stamp he stole from his job at the Bieber-Haus, he would meet with his Mormon co-conspirators, Schnibbe and Wobbe. Karl-Heinz and Rudi would take public transportation to various places in Hamburg, looking for new and creative targets for their message.72 Those who attended stage renditions of the Hübener story saw the boys crash a large hotel party and gain access to the coat closet. They stuffed anti-Nazi messages into the overcoat pockets of guests, some of whom may have been Nazi Party functionaries.73

The two couriers, Schnibbe and Wobbe, exercised a great deal of caution and periodically expressed reservations to Helmuth about the danger of what they were doing. Schnibbe said they would often read about people being caught and punished for violating the prohibition against listening to foreign broadcasts. “But I just had to know,” Karl-Heinz said.74 One evening, Schnibbe, his pockets filled with subversive pamphlets, encountered a police patrol that demanded to know why he was out so late. Suspecting that the Gestapo must be looking for the author of the seditious propaganda, he approached the policemen with trepidation, fearing that he would be searched. Instead, the police merely cautioned him to go home, as they expected an RAF bombing raid that night.75 Schnibbe said: “I never took a leaflet home. I always carried matches with me. If I didn’t get rid of all of [the pamphlets], I’d burn them.”76 One Gestapo statement later stated that Wobbe had also carried matches, and had destroyed a number of brochures that he could not distribute.77 Helmuth never displayed a hint of fear; the other boys found his cockiness disarming. Once, Karl-Heinz expressed reservations about the danger involved in their project. They next time they saw each other at church, Helmuth loudly mocked him: “Karl, have they arrested you yet?” Horrified to hear his impetuous young friend say this in front of their fellow congregants, Karl-Heinz could only respond: “Would you just shut up?”78

Helmuth Hübener: Poet, Satirist, and Revolutionary

At some point during his eight-month tenure as a quixotic warrior of words against Joseph Goebbels’ relentless propaganda machine, Hübener decided to expand his brochures to full-size paper. This allowed his transition from sloganeering to the authorship of full-fledged satirical essays, based in part on what he learned from the BBC and in part on his contempt for Adolf Hitler and his minions. He even wrote anti- Nazi poetry. One of his targets was Hermann Göring, supreme commander of the Luftwaffe, who had once boasted that, if Allied aircraft ever flew into German airspace, his fellow citizens could call him “Meier.” Hübener, knowing that his fellow Germans called air raid sirens, “Meier’s Buglehorns,”79 loved to poke fun at

Good old fat Hermann: Reichsmarshall. . . . Yes, he has something on the ball, this little rogue with the saucer eyes. A dazzling career, a pretty actress,80 and a very ample salary that is not to be sneezed at, but no brains! When the RAF gets around to bombing Berlin, you can call me Meier he said at the beginning of the war. Today, the streets of Berlin show clear evidence of the British air offensive, yet Göring is still Göring, and he is glad that he is!


Hübener cited Göring’s wealth, referring to him “as a shrewd war profiteer and businessman, from his war factories.”81 Helmuth believed that Göring was the most corrupt of all Nazi leaders, several years before the Nuremberg tribunal revealed the extent to which Göring profited from the seizure of Jewish assets, including priceless art treasures.82 At Hübener’s trial in August 1942, the red-robed Nazi judges chuckled at the humor directed toward “fat old Hermann” during the reading of the handbill.83

Helmuth could be crude with his satire but he could also write poetry. On December 20, 1941—only eleven days after Hitler declared war on the United States— the Führer appealed to the German people to donate items of winter clothing to beleaguered German soldiers on the Russian front, who were ill equipped to survive the winter cold.84 In one of his many grave miscalculations, Hitler had thought that the Soviets would succumb to the same blitzkrieg tactics the Wehrmacht had employed in Western Europe. But the campaign was not over in three months. Helmuth responded with a doggerel poem: “I’ve Calculated for Everything.”

Poor ‘Joseph’ stands at the microphone,
Entirely unable to bring forth a tone.
How am I going to convince the Volk
that Hitler’s figures aren’t just a joke?
How could he have said—so embarrassingly—
That he’s calculated for everything.

What Joseph says sounds pretty slack;
Oh woe is us, alas, attack:
‘It’s winter now and bitter cold.’
(Even chillier when you sit in a hole
'cause shooters always seem to freeze.)
Didn’t Hitler calculate for these?


This handbill had several goals. First, Hübener wished to sow popular discord regarding Hitler’s decision to attack the Soviet Union with the expectation that victory would be attained before the harsh Russian winter set in. Second, he wanted to provoke indignation that the government could not provide basic necessities for its soldiers, such as winter clothing.

‘We’re engaged in a battle, at the turning place
So everyone step up the wool-collection pace!’
That’s what Goebbels begged for, and he also believed
That you’d follow his orders and be deceived.
That everything you own you would quietly give,
And keep nothing at all on which to live.

Yes, Hitler’s the reason the people must share
From their meager belongings whatever they’ll bear!
For Hitler’s mistakes the Volk must now pay,
What good now is Russia, it’s lost anyway.
And that Stalin now marches the victor in the war,
The Führer neglected to calculate for.


In response to Hitler’s appeal, German civilians provided nearly seventy million articles of clothing for their freezing soldiers. Many of the articles donated were useless. They were women’s sweaters, children’s gloves and hats, and threadbare socks. Two years of clothing rationing limited what the home front could donate to the Russian front.85 As the word spread among the civilian populace, undoubtedly because of letters sent home by soldiers, Hübener sought, as his third goal, to stoke mistrust of the entire wool collection effort as a front for Nazi profiteering: “Time will tell whether the government cheated the people out of their woolens and furs only to graciously allow them back later on their ration cards. Time will tell!!!”86

The longer handbill format allowed Hübener to quote from Hamlet and William Tell, to list the German-language broadcast schedule for the BBC—including special programming for Wehrmacht troops, early shift workers, and early-retiring farmers— and to provide periodic comparisons of the tactical situation on all battle fronts. It also allowed the targeting of special audiences, such as boys in the Hitler Youth. He made two appeals to young men affected by a HJ policy that allowed confinement for disciplinary purposes. Boys given “weekend detention” could be fed bread and water diets. Longer “youth service arrest” could confine a Hitler Youth as young as fourteen to a standard jail cell for a maximum of ten days, for infractions as minor as insubordination or sloppy uniform preparation.87

So this is the Hitler Youth, praised far and wide. A compulsory organization of the first order for recruiting Nazi-enslaved national comrades. Hitler and his accomplices know that they must deprive you of your free will at the beginning, in order to make submissive, spineless creatures out of you. . . . ‘You are the future of Germany,’ they will tell you but then you are tyrannized and punished for any little offense.88


Hübener seemed fascinated with the flight of Rudolf Hess, Hitler’s deputy Führer and the third-ranking Nazi behind Hitler and Göring, who fled Germany on the eve of the invasion of the Soviet Union. Hess flew solo to Scotland in an effort to negotiate an unauthorized peace treaty. Helmuth recounted the details of Hess’ Christmas 1941 shortwave broadcast from captivity in Great Britain. He contrasted that message with previous holiday broadcasts Hess had made to the German people. In his latest broadcast, according to Hübener, Hess criticized the Gestapo, the invasion of Russia, and a perceived plot against his life that would have been carried out if he had remained in Germany.89 In a shorter pamphlet, Hübener speculated that Hess left Germany because he did not agree with Hitler’s plans to invade Russia or with the Führer’s murderous desires.90

Other pamphlets decried the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, questioned the will of the Italian people to support Mussolini, and projected Germany’s shortfall of critical petroleum supplies. Hübener saved his most intense vitriol for Adolf Hitler. Almost every pamphlet criticized the Führer’s character and ability to lead the German people. In one publication devoted to a Hitler speech, Hübener called him a “false prophet” who utters many words but says little of substance.

For nearly two hours the Führer continued this vacuous beating of his gums; for nearly two hours he blew one soap bubble after another. But still, despite this . . . and despite the numbers of propagandists, politicians or armchair politicians, and scribblers, who are also willing to trim to size this or that sentence, to garnish Hitler with glimmers of hope and calculated optimism, in order to make it palatable to the man on the street, Hitler has lost his halo. After the extraordinary prophesies of the past year, after dozens of futile promises of ultimate victory, scarcely anyone still believes in him and in his prophetic words.91


What did Hübener not say? As Table 9 shows, in the twenty-nine pamphlets, he did not mention Nazi anti-Semitism. In the documentary video released in 2002, Truth & Conviction, historian Douglas Tobler stated that Hübener “did not like the way the Nazis treated the Jews. It was a central component of his political beliefs.” No documentation either supports or refutes Tobler’s contention. Both of Helmuth’s Mormon coconspirators, Rudi Wobbe and Karl-Heinz Schnibbe, said they had been sickened by the treatment of Jews in Nazi Germany. Hübener expressed no opinion on the issue. More than likely, he had made a tactical decision. He understood Nazi anti-Semitism, as he also understood the unfortunate reality of anti-Semitism among many Germans of that era. He would win no converts to his cause by being sympathetic to Jews.

Helmuth Hübener’s Anti-Nazi Handbills
A Synopsis of Twenty-Nine Leaflets Seized by the Gestapo
The Small Leaflets
Title / Content


Down with Hitler / Hübener calls Hitler The People’s Seducer, The People’s Corrupter, and The People’s Traitor.
Hitler, the Murderer / Hitler is responsible for the death of General von Schröder, the Military commander in Serbia.
Hitler’s Guilt, Hitler’s is the Sole Guilty One / Both of these pamphlets state that the Luftwaffe, not the RAF, initiated unrestricted air war against civilian populations.
Who is Lying? / Takes issue with official reports that “the roads to Moscow, Kiev and Leningrad are open.” Cites ongoing battles.
One and One-Half Million / Reports that 1.5 million have died in the Russian campaign and urges readers to listen to the BBC. Broadcast schedule provided.
137th Infantry Division, They Are Not Telling You Everything / Both pamphlets list the names of regiments and divisions that have sustained heavy losses. “For that you can thank Hitler!”
Where is Rudolf Hess? / Hess fled because “he had a heart” and did not want to accept responsibility for Hitler’s murders and the invasion of the East.

The Large Leaflets
Title / Content


On Page 199 in Hitler’s Mein Kampf / Challenges propaganda claims of military and naval success with BBC reports of German ships sunk. Lists broadcast times.
3 October – 3 February / Four months after Hitler said the campaigns of the East had been decided, our soldiers are suffering greatly in the winter.
Monthly Military Review, December/January / Reviews German casualties sustained on three Russian fronts: Eastern, Middle, and Donets. Evaluates the war in Africa.
The Voice of Conscience / Long review of Rudolf Hess’s Christmas address to the German people via shortwave broadcast from captivity in England.
Battle Against Bolshevik Sub Humanity / The logistical situation facing the Axis powers is “critical” while the enemy’s ability to supply itself is “inexhaustible.”
The Nazi Reichsmarshal / Sarcasm directed toward Göring, “Good old fat Hermann,” for Luftwaffe’s inability to protect German cities from bombing. The Riddle of Hess Speculates why Rudolf Hess fled Germany.
Hitler Youth / Calls German youth to rebel against tyrannical HJ adult leaders and says that young people are beginning to see through Hitler.
Weekend Incarceration / Criticizes the Hitler Youth policy of “youth service arrest,” the bread-and-water “detention” of HJ members who rebel.
Comrades in the South, East, North and West / Criticizes Hitler’s “mouth offensive” in light of German and Italian military reversals in North and East Africa.
I’ve Calculated for Everything / Suggests government fraud in the “wool collection program” to provide winter garments for soldiers. Suggests civilians may be buying them back with their ration cards. Long poem included.
In the East Asian Theater There are Still Numerous Attack Bases / Pessimistic view of the war’s progress based upon the death of military leaders, including Field Marshall von Reichenau.
Perfidious Rome / Criticizes Italian fascist government for its colonial policies and cites military reversals in the North African military theater.
As it is Now Known / Expresses doubt about the will of the Italian people to fight for Mussolini, as well as the ability of the Italian armed forces.
A Wave of Oil / Predicts German military failure based upon the inability to attain sufficient quantities of petroleum. Voice of the Homeland Criticizes the Nazis for disregarding Christian principles and says the Anti-Christ has established his Reich. Poetry included.
Victorious Advance into the Shining Battles of Annihilations / Warns against believing in the ultimate success of the Japan’s war gains based upon early Japanese military victories.
1942—The Year of Decision / Predicts the defeat of the Axis powers and urges German people to overthrow the government.
The Führer’s Speech / Accuses Hitler of speaking for two hours and failing to address the concerns of the German people regarding military reversals.
Who is Inciting Whom? (In typewriter when Hübener arrested) / Defends U. S. in light of Pearl Harbor and criticizes Japan for treachery and its “abandonment” of Imperial Germany in 1919.


Table 9: Helmuth Hübener’s Anti-Nazi Handbills – A Synopsis of Twenty-Nine Leaflets Seized by the Gestapo

The Downfall of the Helmuth Hübener Group

At nine o’clock in the morning on February 4, 1942, a thirty-eight-year-old woman filed a complaint at Hamburg’s Forty-Third Police Precinct. Bertha Flögel, born in Altona and a resident of Hamburg, reported that earlier on that Wednesday morning she found a flyer when she entered a telephone booth to make a call. Because of the suspicious nature of the material, she promptly brought it to the police station. She told the investigating officer that she had no idea who had left it.92

For eight months, Helmuth Hübener, Karl Heinz-Schnibbe, and Rudi Wobbe produced and distributed more than one thousand copies of their seditions tracts. Each pamphlet bore the instruction: “This is a chain letter. . . . So pass it on!”93 No evidence exists that any recipient forwarded the original or made a copy. Only “eight or nine” concerned citizens reported the illegal literature to the municipal police.94 Nobody turned in a pamphlet to the Gestapo office in the Rothenbergsort district of Hamburg, where Wobbe had scattered so many anti-Nazi tracts in his home neighborhood—known for its communist sympathies. 95 But the brochures prompted no attempt to overthrow the government of Adolf Hitler. After nine years of the Nazi police state and two years of war, most readers had other priorities. Survival trumped initiative in wartime Nazi Germany.

The downfall of the Helmuth Hübener group began when its lead conspirator decided to recruit accomplices outside of his close circle of Mormon friends. In January 1942, the month in which Hübener turned seventeen, he approached Gerhard Düwer, a coworker at the government social services office in the Bieber-Haus. Düwer was also seventeen. According to the Reich attorney general’s indictment, Hübener asked Düwer if he would like to join a “spy ring.” He gave Düwer as many as fifteen copies of two different leaflets. Later in the month, Düwer tried to interest three friends in reading the anti-Hitler literature, but each refused.96 His friends questioned Düwer’s sanity, but they did not report him.

According to Rudi Wobbe, Hübener wanted Düwer to act as intermediary in recruiting another worker at the same office—Werner Kranz, who was fluent in French. Hübener did not speak French and needed someone who did. Helmuth wanted to incite rebellion among French military prisoners of war at a camp near Hamburg.97 On January 20, 1942, Hübener and Düwer approached Kranz, and asked for help in translating a document. Initially, Kranz was receptive but when he read the brochure, he brusquely refused. This reaction attracted the attention of the office informer, whose desk sat across the room. Heinrich Mohns was the designated Betriebsobmann, the Nazi Party shop steward and political overseer.98

After Hübener and his friend Düwer left, Mohns approached Kranz and asked what happened. The French speaker told him about the pamphlet. The shop steward instructed Kranz to approach Düwer and express a willingness to do the translation. Mohns wanted a copy of Hübener’s subversive pamphlet to use as evidence. When Kranz complied, Düwer told him about the second pamphlet. Mohns, the Nazi shop steward, then approached Düwer and ordered him to turn over both seditious tracts. Düwer stalled for almost two weeks but eventually obeyed. The fourth conspirator in the Hübener group, Gerhard Düwer, gave Mohns two red, swastika-stamped tracts that criticized Adolf Hitler. It was Wednesday, February 4, 1942, the same day that Mrs. Bertha Flögel, as a patriotic citizen of Nazi Germany, reported the flyer she found in a telephone booth. The Nazi shop steward studied the pamphlets overnight. The next day, Mohns insured that both Hübener and Düwer were in the building. Then he made a phone call.99

The Gestapo arrived ten minutes later.
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Re: The Mormons in Nazi Germany, by David Conley Nelson

Postby admin » Fri Jul 06, 2018 1:17 am

Part 2 of 2

Interrogation, Trial, Conviction, and Execution

That Sunday, February 8, 1942, Arthur Zander, a member in good standing of the National Socialist German Workers’ Party and the branch president of the St. Georg congregation of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, stood at the pulpit. As Rudi Wobbe recalled:

The branch president announced that he’d like everyone to stay seated after the service for a special meeting. It was then that he dropped the bomb. Helmuth Hübener, a member of the St. Georg branch, had been arrested a few days before by the Gestapo. He told us he didn’t have any details but he knew it was for political reasons. He also said that as his branch clerk, Helmuth had been given the use of the meetinghouse typewriter to write servicemen in the field, but had misused that trust to write antigovernment propaganda, which had resulted in its confiscation.100


Karl-Heinz Schnibbe and Rudi Wobbe sat in the pews, stunned. The three boys had made an informal pact. If one of them was arrested, he would take the blame as the lone culprit.101 So far, Helmuth Hübener, their smallish, non-athletic, intellectual friend had withstood Gestapo interrogation for almost three days.102 The Gestapo had not been easy on Helmuth. After arresting Düwer and Hübener on Thursday, agents took each suspect to his respective home to search for incriminating evidence. Düwer, having stalled the Nazi shop steward, had ample time to purge his residence of all traces of the plot. Arrest had been a surprise to Hübener. When the agents arrived at his grandparents’ apartment, they found the Markerola radio and the church’s Remington typewriter. Wound around the rubber platen, they discovered seven pages of red paper with carbon paper inserted between each page. The essay’s title read: “Who is Inciting Whom?”103

“He was terribly beaten up,” Helmuth’s mother Emma told a fellow congregant when her son arrived in the custody of Gestapo agents. He was not allowed to speak to his relatives in the short time that the agents searched the apartment.104 Then, after retrieving the evidence of his guilt, the Gestapo had one overriding concern in subsequent interrogations: Who were the adults behind this enemy propaganda operation? The Nazi secret police could not believe that an adolescent could mastermind and execute such a sophisticated campaign. Foreign agents or domestic collaborators must have been involved. When Helmuth told the truth, that no adults from his church or employment had a role in the scheme—the Gestapo beat him. When he maintained that he was the lone perpetrator, which was a lie—he became the target for more savage violence.

The Gestapo kept carefully detailed records of its interrogations, written in chillingly euphemistic language. One report said: “Only after lengthy remonstrations and explicit admonitions, was Hübener moved to give a confession about the scope of his destructive activity.”105 Another chronicle of sadism said, “Responding to assiduous persuasion, he admitted to having distributed documents.”106 After five days of torture, deliberately understated in the Gestapo’s official documentation, Helmuth Hübener gave his tormentors the name of Karl-Heinz Schnibbe. Helmuth had kept his bargain for as long as he could.

The Gestapo then took Schnibbe into custody on Tuesday, February 10, 1942, at the job site where he worked as a painter. When the agents insisted that Schnibbe come with them, he told his colleague that he would be “back in a minute.”107 He returned seven years later.108 Karl-Heinz then joined Helmuth in a daily routine of brutal interrogation at the infamous “hall of mirrors,” the Gestapo’s interrogation facility in the basement of the old Hamburg city hall. With walls painted white, excessively bright illumination, and uncomfortably hot temperatures, it served to make the Gestapo’s suspects as miserable as possible while waiting their turn to be interrogated. It employed a full-time staff of sadistic inquisitors who, after a hard day of extracting information by inflicting cruelty, went home to their wives and children.109 Then, in the evening, a paddy wagon took the captives to the Gestapo’s infamous “Kola-Fu” prison on the grounds of the Fuhlsbüttel concentration camp.110 The concentration camp’s prison supported the daytime interrogation at Gestapo headquarters by breaking down a prisoner’s resistance. The nighttime regimen consisted of physical assault, exhausting exercise, poor nutrition, and sleep deprivation.111 Nevertheless, Hübener and Schnibbe managed to avoid incriminating Rudi Wobbe for another eight days.112

In the search for adult instigators, the Gestapo turned its attention to the St. Georg Branch of the Mormons Hamburg District. In Branch President Arthur Zander, it found a Party loyalist who seemed more concerned about retrieving the confiscated church typewriter than the fortunes of three lost sheep named Hübener, Schnibbe, and Wobbe. Because the Gestapo did not apprehend Wobbe until February 18, 1942, almost two weeks after it caught Helmuth Hübener, Wobbe observed the congregation’s initial reactions to the arrest of his two friends. Opinions were mixed. Wobbe heard his church friends say:

‘Those poor boys, I wonder what made them do it?’ and ‘Who else is behind this?’ Someone else said, ‘How terrible getting arrested by the Gestapo—they do awful things to people!’ Then, there were other voices, full of anger and hurt, such as, ‘How could they oppose a government that is installed of God?’ Another asked, ‘Doesn’t this violate the Twelfth Article of Faith which says we should be subject to our rulers and sustain the laws of the land? Someone else spoke up and said, ‘They surely have broken the law. I hope they throw the book at them!’


One comment made a lasting impression: “This is treason, and they should be shot—if I had a gun I would shoot them myself!” The responsibility for those words, according to District President Otto Berndt, belonged to Branch President Arthur Zander. Berndt said Zander made that remark during sacrament meeting, the main Sunday worship service.113 Others, including Rudi Wobbe, said First Counselor Franz Jacobi, who was also a member of the Nazi Party, might have been the one who advocated shooting Hübener.114 Regardless who made that extreme statement, strong emotions permeated the St. Georg Branch on the first Sunday after Hübener’s arrest. Many years later, Rudi Wobbe said that the St. Georg Branch was “the Hochburg,” the high castle, “of Nazism” in the Mormon Church in Germany.115

Zander had already taken two actions that influenced his flock. In his sermon, he preached “about the importance of keeping the laws of the land and supporting and sustaining the Führer who was ordained of God.”116 Three days earlier, without consulting with District President Otto Berndt, Zander excommunicated Helmuth Hübener from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.117 Otto Berndt said Zander might have performed the excommunication because he believed it would placate the Gestapo. But, added Berndt, “He did it behind my back.”118 According to Mormon theology, Zander had withdrawn the companionship of the Holy Ghost from Helmuth as he tried to survive the Gestapo’s daily brutality. In removing Helmuth’s name from the church membership rolls, and simultaneously defrocking him from the universal Mormon male priesthood, Arthur Zander had decreed that Helmuth Hübener’s soul could not enter the Celestial Kingdom, the Mormon concept of Heaven.119

That was a steep price to pay for defaming Adolf Hitler, but apparently the Nazi Party was pleased with Zander’s actions and with the attitude of his congregants. On February 24, 1942, nine days after Zander’s excommunication of Hübener, the Hamburg district leader for the Nazi Party wrote to the Gestapo: “This [St. Georg Mormon] church congregation is legally recognized and stands on a firm footing with the present government.”120 One possible suspect within the Mormon leadership remained, Hamburg District President Otto Berndt. He had vetoed some of Zander’s more egregious pro-Nazi manifestations, such as beginning Sunday services with the Hitler salute. Hugo Hübener, the SA Rottenfüher who married Helmuth’s mother, accused Berndt of being the plot’s adult instigator. Berndt recalled that he “was a guest of the Gestapo” for a period of three days during the early weeks of the Hübener investigation. That description seems as euphemistic as the language that described the Gestapo’s interrogations. Nevertheless, Berndt was able to survive the questioning, an accomplishment that he attributed to divine intervention.

When I went to the police headquarters I prayed like I had never prayed before. When I entered the room and the questioning started, I felt that my spirit left my body and another spirit entered and took over my thinking. I was asked hundreds of questions in rapid succession and I, or I should say the spirit of the higher power that had possession of my body, was able to answer them all without hesitation. I felt very sure of myself.


One incident that happened during the interrogation probably had a profound effect in convincing the Gestapo agents that Berndt, even though he was not a Nazi Party member, embraced the dictates of National Socialism.

The question of genealogy was brought up. I had to prove that I was an Aryan. Since my ancestors had been living in Germany for many generations and since I had my lines traced back about eight generations, to the surprise of the investigating officer who was only required to have proof for the last three generation, I was able to pass this test with flying colors. 121


Eventually, the Gestapo stopped looking for a nonexistent adult leader of the Helmuth Hübener gang. In seeking to try Hübener as an adult, and thus condemn him to death, the Reich attorney general argued that the defendant “in spite of his youth, already possessed a sufficient capacity of political discernment.” The indictment cited the political sophistication that Hübener displayed in writing his pro-Nazi graduation thesis.122 On February 28, 1942, having been convinced that the Hübener resistance gang was limited to the four conspirators, the torturous interrogations stopped.123

The Gestapo transferred Hübener, Schnibbe, Wobbe, and Düwer to the Hamburg “investigative prison” to await the bureaucratic process of indictment and subsequent trial. The five peaceful months spent at the city jail were a stark contrast to the bedlam of the previous weeks in the Gestapo’s custody. “It was so quiet,” recalled Karl-Heinz Schnibbe. “I thought I was on vacation. It was the first time I had slept in weeks.” But the investigative prison had a maddening routine of its own. From March until the end of July, each young man stayed in an isolated cell with no companionship and nothing to read. During the day, prisoners could not lie down, but instead had to sit on a wobbly stool.124

In early August 1942, authorities loaded the four accused traitors onto a train for Berlin. On the eleventh of the month, they faced trial in the Third Reich’s highest criminal tribunal, the Volksgerichtshof, the People’s Court. Informally, Germans called it the “Blood Tribunal.” The impressively decorated courtroom bespoke the power of the Nazi state. The participants sat on different levels, according to their legal status. The defendants sat in the floor’s lowest recess, their attorneys positioned on raised platforms beside them. The prosecution’s elevated rostrum stood across the room. In front, towering above all, sat three judges who had been appointed to the court by Hitler. They wore crimson robes and caps. Behind them on the paneled wall appeared the emblem of Hitler’s state, the Hoheitsadler, a large eagle clutching in its talons a wreath encircling a swastika. Each judge’s robe bore an embroidered rendition of the same symbol. The court’s other officers, bailiffs and recorders, wore perfectly tailored black and brown uniforms of the SS and the SA. The state attorney general charged each defendant with high treason and aiding the enemy, in addition to violating the Extraordinary Radio Measures law.125

Each defendant had one attorney, chosen from a pool provided by the National Socialist Lawyers’ League.126 Wobbe quickly became convinced that his attorney was merely going through the motions. Their pretrial conference had consisted of one question. His lawyer, who had pledged loyalty to Adolf Hitler, asked if Rudi could volunteer any information not contained in the indictment. When the chief justice, a jurist named Fikeis, began to speak, Wobbe deduced that they would be convicted without a fair hearing.127 Helmuth Hübener knew that also. Rather than argue for his acquittal, he engaged the judges in debate. One judge asked: “Young man, do you honestly believe Germany will lose the war? Hübener responded: “Don’t you?” Another asked: Do you mean to tell me that the German broadcasts are wrong and the English ones are correct? Helmuth answered, “Exactly.” Astonished, Hübener’s attorney turned to him and asked: “Are you nuts?”128

Hübener was not insane. Instead, in Wobbe’s opinion, his friend was deliberately focusing all of the court’s hostility on himself, diverting the judges’ enmity away from the other defendants.129 In the end, it did not matter. For three of the four young men, the judges awarded sentences more severe than the prosecutor requested. The attorney general requested a minimum of two years imprisonment for Gerhard Düwer and Karl-Heinz Schnibbe. Instead, Düwer received four years in a labor camp. Schnibbe, because he listened to the forbidden broadcasts in addition to distributing leaflets, got five years. The prosecutor recommended seven years for Wobbe, as he had distributed leaflets in the politically volatile communist neighborhoods. The judges awarded ten. Hübener received the maximum sentence, death, as the state had requested.130 Helmuth’s final exchange with the judge marked the last stage of his evolution as a revolutionary. Given the opportunity to speak at the end of the proceedings, Hübener negated any chance he may have had to receive post-conviction commutation. He told three red-robed justices: “I have to die now for no crime at all. Your turn is next!”131

At five minutes past one in the afternoon on October 27, 1942, the warden of Berlin’s Plötzensee informed Helmuth Hübener that Adolf Hitler had personally denied an appeal for clemency.132 The warden allowed Helmuth to write letters, one to his mother, one to his maternal grandparents, and one to Marie Sommerfield, an elderly friend of the family who cared for Helmuth as a child.133 At eight-thirteen in the evening, Hübener walked into a converted prison tool shed that housed the guillotine. If the state executioner, Wilhelm Röttger, followed protocol that evening, he wore a top hat and tails. Eighteen seconds later, Röttger severed Helmuth’s head, for which he was paid eighty marks in addition to his annual salary of three thousand marks.134 Helmuth’s body was sent to a medical school.135 The next day, his mother learned of her son’s death by reading one of the bright red posters erected throughout Hamburg to announce Helmuth Hübener’s execution. It was her birthday.136

Before services the next Sunday at the St. Georg Branch, District President Otto Berndt pleaded with other members of the branch hierarchy not to mention Helmuth’s death to the congregation. Those who cared already knew. Arthur Zander, who never missed a chance to urge adherence to the Twelfth Article of Faith in Nazi Germany, ignored the advice of his ecclesiastical superior. With Helmuth’s mother in the audience, Zander announced the lad’s execution from the pulpit.137

Beacons of Memory: The Last Mormon Diaspora

Excommunication is not an unusual occurrence in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Since the denomination’s founding in 1830, some of the more common justifications have included adultery or fornication, defiance of priesthood authority, and the failure to attend meetings. When St. Georg Branch President Arthur Zander scribbled on Helmuth Hübener’s membership record on February 15, 1942, he probably noted the only excommunication in Mormon Church history for “intercepting and spreading foreign broadcast transmissions.”138

In 1946, freed of both the Nazi government and Zander’s branch presidency, Hamburg district president Otto Berndt saw his courage validated. A clerk wrote “excommunicated by mistake” on Hübener’s membership record. Then, on January 24, 1948, by order of the prophet, seer, and revelator, George Albert Smith, the entry was made, “Decision of excommunication reversed by the First Presidency of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, who ordered this notation placed upon the record of excommunication.”139 According to Gerhard Kunkel, Helmuth’s half-brother, members offended by Zander’s vigilante style of ecclesiastical justice took several extra steps, “just to make sure.” They submitted Hübener’s name for posthumous temple ordinances.140 On January 7, 1948, Hübener was “baptized for the dead” in the Holy Temple. He received the “temple endowment” ordinance on June 8, 1948, after which he was ordained an elder in the senior Melchizedek Priesthood.141

Berndt probably felt a sense of redemption upon the nullification of the excommunication. Hübener’s status in the afterlife was now secure, as was Berndt’s legacy as someone who had battled Nazis in the church congregations he supervised. For three grueling days of Gestapo interrogation, Berndt had stubbornly refused to revoke the young man’s membership.142 On the other hand, the Gestapo had no difficulty convincing Zander to perform the excommunication. It is just as likely that terminating Hübener’s membership was Zander’s idea. Berndt’s rift with the St. Georg Branch Nazis was also personal. Zander once called Berndt a communist because of his lack of enthusiasm for Hitler. Franz Jacobi, Zander’s first counselor, once threatened to have Berndt sent to a concentration camp.143

Berndt had the last laugh. After the war, Ezra Taft Benson, who coordinated the LDS Church’s relief effort in Germany, invited Berndt to serve a mission in Frankfurt.144 Berndt’s nemesis, Arthur Zander, was in a different position in 1946. He was in the United States, interned in a POW camp. At some point after Zander announced Hübener’s execution from the pulpit in October 1942, he was drafted into the Wehrmacht and subsequently captured on the battlefield. Zander did not return to Germany until 1947.

In 1952, after Berndt’s missionary service had been prolonged by a second assignment, he made a life-changing decision. At age forty-eight, he became one of more than four thousand who joined the postwar German Mormon diaspora to the American Zion. The LDS Church provided substantial postwar welfare aid to German members and continued to encourage its flock to remain at home and build a German Zion. Nevertheless, the desire to join family members and coreligionists in the Mormon Culture Region proved too strong for the church hierarchy to overcome. It was not by accident that the LDS Church built its first European temple in a German-speaking city. The Swiss Temple in Bern opened its doors in 1955, providing “sealing” rooms for couples to be joined in celestial marriage, “for time and all eternity.” It did not stem the tide of German emigration.

“We were commanded to immigrate!” declared W. Herbert Klopfer, the son of the wartime East German Mission president.145 The younger Klopfer, born in 1936, was not referring to a new, postwar directive from the church’s hierarchy.146 The leadership in Salt Lake City had not changed the “immigration discouraged” attitude that it adopted in the early 1920s.147 Klopfer referred instead to an inherited outlook, dating from the nineteenth century that compelled Mormons to “gather” in the American Zion. During the Roaring Twenties, despite official opposition from the Salt Lake City leadership and restrictive new American immigrations laws, a record number of Mormons left Germany for the Mormon Culture Region. The Great Depression stifled that flow. Then, the peacetime Nazi years brought new German laws that limited emigration by Aryans.

German-Speaking Mormon Immigration to the United States in the Post-World War II Era
Douglas Alder’s Method148
-- / Swiss Mission / West German Mission150 / East German Mission / Total


1946 / 9 / 0 / 0 / 9
1947 / 44 / 18/ 0 / 62
1948 / 71 / 21 / 27 / 119
1949 / 97 / 71 / 12 / 179
1950 / 76 / 116 / 37 / 229
1951 / 54 / 250 / 74 / 378
1952 / 37 / 348 / 133 / 518
1953 / 55 / 265 / 247 / 567
1954 / 25 / 257 / 173 / 455
1955 / 37 / 59 / 151 / 247
1956 / 51 / 310 / 121 / 482
1957 / 112 / 201 / 224 / 537
1958 / 47 / 140 / 523 / 710
1959 / -- / -- / -- / --
1960 / -- / -- / -- / --
1961 / -- / -- / -- / --
1962 / -- / -- / -- / --
Total / 715 / 2056 / 1722 / 4493


Table 10, Part 1: German-Speaking Mormon Immigration to the United States in the Post-World War II Era.

German-Speaking Mormon Immigration to the United States in the Post-World War II Era
Gabriele Kindt’s Method149
Germany


1946 / --
1947 / --
1948 / 32
1949 / 91
1950 / 131
1951 / 290
1952 / 398
1953 / 583
1954 / 418
1955 / 288
1956 / 431
1957 / 339
1958 / 458
1959 / 215
1960 / 153
1961 / 292
1962 / 89
Total / 4208


Table 10, Part 2: German-Speaking Mormon Immigration to the United States in the Post-World War II Era.

By the end of the Second World War, a smoldering desire to emigrate had been stoked into a flaming passion by the postwar economic conditions. German Mormons found sponsors among American missionaries who had proselytized among them.153 They formed immigration clubs to share ideas and formulate migration strategies. 154 Relatives took out loans in American banks to fund ocean liner tickets; the new arrivals thankfully assumed those loans on the day they arrived.155 See Table 10.

By the early 1950s, it did not matter if a prospective immigrant had been a Nazi. The governments of the United States and West Germany were growing weary of the denazification process. The Cold War’s anxieties regarding communism replaced older concerns about fascism. In 1952, the same year that Otto Berndt immigrated to the United States, a former executive of a soap distribution company also joined the Mormon migration. Arthur Zander, who had marketed Persil laundry detergent at work while selling Hitlerism at church, had no trouble obtaining his Persilschein.156 Time and changing priorities had scrubbed him clean of his Nazi past. Zander, his wife of twenty-one years, and his three sons, aged eighteen, eleven, and nine, embarked on a ship anchored in Hamburg harbor and sailed to the United States. Zander, who had joined the Nazi Party in 1933 in order to “get ahead at work,” was preparing to embrace a new life in the country that helped topple the fascism he once embraced.157

In 1952, only three years after returning from a Soviet prisoner of war camp, Karl-Heinz Schnibbe spent the last of three indemnity payments, provided to German citizens persecuted by the Nazi regime, for a steamship ticket to the United States.158 The next year, Rudi Wobbe, his wife, and two daughters made the same journey. Wobbe had been released from captivity in June 1945 and, like Berndt, served a mission for the Mormon Church afterward.159 Helmuth Hübener’s two half-brothers, Hans and Gerhard, also immigrated to Utah, as did Marie Sommerfeld, to whom Helmuth wrote from Plötzensee Prison on his last day of life. Schnibbe and Wobbe quickly found work in their respective trades, Karl-Heinz as a painter and Rudi as a machinist. Forty-fiveyear- old Zander, who had a managerial background but could speak little English, went to work for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. For nineteen years, he worked as a janitor at a local church meetinghouse, sweeping the floors in a venue similar to one where he had presided over as the highest ministerial authority.160

Utah welcomed its German immigrants of the post-World War II generation. All carried their hopes to the place where previous generations of foreign converts had entered Zion’s ecclesiastical melting pot. Most gravitated initially to German-speaking LDS church units, which resembled the small branch and district structure they left behind. Once a month, there was a German-language devotional on Temple Square in central Salt Lake City. There were many social activities that the newly arrived immigrants could enjoy while speaking their own language. When Rudi Wobbe’s wife went into labor with their third child, Rudi had to be summoned from rehearsals with his German-language theatrical troupe.161

Once the immigrants learned enough English, a fresh life beckoned. A new identity could be forged in the catacomb of wards and stakes, clerical units that underlaid city blocks and neighborhoods. One could live barely a mile from a neighbor who had been a National Socialist but never see him at church or conferences. Mormons do not shop for churches; one attends services in his assigned neighborhood ward. The LDS identity trumped all previous allegiances. Only the most callous, or perhaps the most ignorant, of Mormon brothers and sisters wondered if a new neighbor had been a Nazi. On rare occasions when that pejorative word may have been mentioned, it could have clumsily and mistakenly been interchanged with the word “German.” In Utah of the 1950s, all that really mattered was the new immigrant’s willingness to work, congeniality, and of course, love for the “restored gospel” of Jesus Christ.

Arthur Zander, relegated to custodial duty at work, found his own version of the American Dream in his hobby. He promoted the game of soccer. He started several clubs and in 1954, only two years after he arrived in Utah, he provided the impetus for the founding of the Utah High School Soccer Association. His obituary would later read that he introduced the sport to Brigham Young University. For twenty years he ran the Arthur Zander Soccer Equipment Store from the basement of his home, and later from a small shop in his backyard. In 1956, the German Soccer Association awarded him its “Silver Pin” in recognition of his efforts to promote the sport in his new country.162 In the few years that had passed since his ship sailed past the Statue of Liberty, the former Nazi had forged a new identity.

Zander’s dream of blissful anonymity continued until professors from Brigham Young University began asking questions about a young man named Helmuth Hübener.

______________

Notes:

1 First Public Prosecutor Ranke and Clerk of the Justice Department Renk to Attorney General of the People’s Court, Berlin, 27 Oct. 1942, in Holmes and Keele, When Truth Was Treason, 241.
 
2 Galo Mann, Reminiscences and Reflections: A Youth in Germany (New York: Norton, 1990), 292. Initial Hübener scholarship said the executioner wielded an ax. The Third Reich judicial system employed the guillotine, which had been used in Germany since the Napoleonic invasions, for the first few months of 1933 until nativist sensitivities dictated that the “non-German invention” be replaced with an ax or a hangman’s rope. After two years, complaints about unskilled ax-wielding executioners and their botched beheadings promoted a return to the guillotine. Officials solved the political problem by emphasizing its German name, the Fallbeil or “drop ax.”
 
3 Membership Record of Helmuth Hübener, Hamburg District Record of  Members, Archives, Historical Department, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day  Saints, Salt Lake City, Utah.
 
4 Hanjo Seisser, “Shedding Light on a Dark Past: German Nazi Hunter Ulrich Sander has Never Let Go,” Atlantic Times, Jan. 2009, http://www.atlantictimes. com/archive_detail.php?recordID=1619. Sander, the child of a Hamburg wartime resister, made a career of researching the crimes of Nazi Germany committed on the home front. He publicized the transgressions of German military units who carried out atrocities and crusaded to remove the names of known Nazis from streets and public buildings.
 
5 Örtlich betäubt appeared in English in 1970 under the title Local Anesthetic. The English translation of Davor emerged in 1972, entitled “Max.”
 
6 BYU to Dramatize Mormon vs. Nazis,” Deseret News, 2 Oct. 1976; “BYU Drama: Mormons Caught in Nazi Toils,” 3 Oct. 1976; “Gripping, True Drama Relates Terror of Nazi Tyrrany in Original BYU Play,” Provo Herald, 3 Oct. 1976;
 
7 Howard Pearson, “Huebener Moving, Powerful New Drama,” Deseret News, 8 Oct. 1976; Mary Dickson, “Utah’s Huebener: A Brilliant, Powerful Work,” Salt Lake Tribune, 17 Oct. 1976.
 
8 Thomas F. Rogers, telephone interview with David C. Nelson, 23 May 2000, notes in my possession; Alan F. Keele, telephone interview with David C. Nelson, 23 May 2000, notes in my possession. 
 
9 Tobler and Keele probably had no desire to rebel against the university administration. Their employment was never in jeopardy. However, for examples of how Brigham Young University has used coercion to control the research, scholarly publication, and public pronouncements of faculty members—tenured and nontenured— see: Bryan Waterman and Brian Kagel, The Lord’s University (Salt Lake City: Signature, 1998), 13, 177-180. D. Michael Quinn, “A Marketplace of Ideas, A House of Faith, and a Prison of Conformity,” Sunstone 64 (March 1988): 6-7; “BYU Professor under Fire for Violent Book,” Sunstone 99 (Aug. 1995): 86-87; Todd Hollingshead, “BYU Fires Teacher over Op-Ed Stance,” Salt Lake Tribune, 14 Jun. 2006.
 
10 “Play about Mormon Youth’s War on Hitler Stirs Conflict in Church,” New York Times, 15 Feb. 1984; Cecelia Warner, “Helmuth Huebener: Antagonist or Protagonist,” Sunstone Review 4-3 (Mar. 1984): 3; Margaret Blair Young, “Doing Huebener,” Dialogue 21-4 (Winter 1988): 127-132; Rogers, interview, 23 May 2000.
 
11 Alan F. Keele, email to David C. Nelson, 19 May 2012.
 
12 Nancy Melich, “BYU’s Huebener Plays it Safe with Tough Play,” Salt Lake Tribune, 8 Apr. 1992.
 
13 Holmes and Keele, When Truth Was Treason, 1995.
 
14 Keele, email to Nelson, 19 May 2012.
 
15 Gerhard Kunkel, the younger of two older brothers of Helmuth Hübener, interview by Douglas F. Tobler and Alan F. Keele, 1974, transcript, James Moyle Oral History Program, Archives, Historical Department, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latterday Saints, Salt Lake City, Utah, 1.
 
16 Holmes and Keele, When Truth Was Treason, 25. According to Karl Heinz- Schnibbe, “The Oberbau was not for those who were on the expensive and elite university track, but were going into some other challenging profession.” Hübener desired to attend the university but thought it was out of his reach because of financial limitations. The Realschule was a high school of intermediate difficulty between the vocational Hauptschule and the college-preparatory Gymnasium.
 
17 Ibid., 178, 276.
 
18 Keele and Tobler, “The Führer’s New Clothes,” 21.
 
19 Holmes and Keele, When Truth Was Treason, 29. 
 
20 Ibid., 178; Rick McFarland and Matt Whitaker, Truth & Conviction: The Helmuth Hübener Story (Salt Lake City: Covenant Communications, 2002), DVD: 3:59.
 
21 Marie Sommerfeld, interview with Douglas Tobler, 1974, transcript, Archives, Historical Department, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Salt Lake City, Utah, 9.
 
22 Wobbe and Borrowman, Before the Blood Tribunal, 15.
 
23 Ulrich Sander, “Helmuth Hübener Gruppe” in Streifichter aus dem Hamburger Widerstand 1933-1945, ed. Ursel Horchmuth and Gerhard Meyer (Frankfurt: Roderberg Verlag, 1969), 326; Statement of Hans Kunkel, the eldest of two older brothers of Helmuth Hübener, in Holmes and Keele, When Truth Was Treason, 277; McFarland and Whitaker, Truth & Conviction, DVD: 3:29; The Superior Attorney General of the Reich, “Indictment of Helmuth Gunther Hübener, Karl-Heinz Schnibbe, Rudolf Gustav Wobbe, and Gerhard Heinrich Jacob Jonni,” 28 May 1942 in Holmes and Keele, When Truth Was Treason, Document 27; 193. 
 
24 Holmes and Keele, When Truth Was Treason, 29; Wobbe and Borrowman, Before the Blood Tribunal, 23.
 
25 Holmes and Keele, When Truth Was Treason, 25.
 
26 McFarland and Whitaker, Truth & Conviction, DVD 3:12.
 
27 Wobbe and Borrowman, Before the Blood Tribunal, 15.
 
28 Otto Hübener held the rank of Rottenführer, the SA rank equivalent of a military lance corporal and someone who would be assigned to lead a group of no more than three or four men.
 
29 Gerhard Kunkel, interview, transcript, 11; Holmes and Keele, When Truth Was Treason, 25.
 
30 Holmes and Keele, When Truth Was Treason, 29, 325n58.
 
31 Wobbe, interview with Heiss, transcript, 6.
 
32 Marie Sommerfeld, interview with Douglas Tobler, 1974, transcript, Archives, Historical Department, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 9.
 
33 Marie Sommerfeld, “He was Terribly Beaten Up,” Catalogue of the Exhibit in the Hamburg Municipal District Archive of Hamm, 26 Oct.-10 Dec. 1991 in Holmes and Keele, When Truth Was Treason, Document 72; 273.
 
34 Wobbe and Borrowman, Before the Blood Tribunal, 21.
 
35 McFarland and Whitaker, Truth & Conviction, DVD: 7:43.
 
36 Holmes and Keele, When Truth Was Treason, 26.
 
37 Otto Herman Willie Berndt, Sr., interview by Douglas F. Tobler, 1 and 15 Oct. 1974, transcript, Archives, Historical Department, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latterday Saints, Salt Lake City, Utah, 29, 33. (Read with permission of the Church Archives.)
 
38 Ibid., 35.
 
39 Ibid., 31. 
 
40 Wobbe, interview with Heiss, 15.
 
41 Holmes and Keele, When Truth Was Treason, 27.
 
42 Keele and Tobler, “The Führer’s New Clothes,” 21; McFarland and Whitaker, Truth & Conviction, DVD: 7:43. In McFarland and Whitaker’s documentary, the sign on the meeting house door read: “Juden ist der Zutrittt Verboten!” 
 
43 Gerhard Kunkel, interview, transcript, 14; Sommerfeld, interview, transcript, 7; Wobbe, interview with Heiss, transcript, 16. Kunkel said that Otto Berndt consented to baptize Kauffmann. Rudi Wobbe, in his interview with Matthew Heiss, said the baptism was performed by the previous district president, Alwin Brey.
 
44 Wobbe and Borrowman, Before the Blood Tribunal, 31; Wobbe, interview with Heiss, transcript, 15. Wobbe declined to name the victim of Zander’s temper in his book; however, in his interview with Matthew Heiss of the LDS Church Archives staff, he identified the “elderly sister” as Emma Hasse.
 
45 Ibid., 19. 
 
46 Ibid., 25-26. In Otto Berndt’s interview with Douglas Tobler, Berndt said that Worbs had been confined in Geesthact concentration camp. This was probably a satellite camp of the main Neuengamme camp near Hamburg.
 
47 Berndt, interview, transcript, 54.
 
48 Wobbe, interview with Heiss, 22.
 
49 Berndt, interview, transcript, 54. 
 
50 Wobbe and Borrowman, Before the Blood Tribunal, 26; Holmes and Keele, When Truth Was Treason, 334n109; Berndt, interview, transcript, 54. The official LDS membership records state that Worbs did not die until October 8, 1945, but this is probably a clerical error. Berndt, Wobbe and Schnibbe—interviewed separately—insist that Worbs died six weeks after his release as a result of maltreatment suffered in the concentration camp.
 
51 McFarland and Whitaker, Truth & Conviction, DVD: 12:39. 
 
52 Holmes and Keele, When Truth Was Treason, 29.
 
53 Wobbe and Borrowman, Before the Blood Tribunal, 22.
 
54 Holmes and Keele, When Truth Was Treason, 37.
 
55 Fischer, Nazi Germany, 370.
 
56 Kunkel, interview, transcript, 24.
 
57 Wobbe and Borrowman, Before the Blood Tribunal, 19. 
 
58 Holmes and Keele, When Truth Was Treason, 30.
 
59 “Down with Hitler!” in Holmes and Keele, When Truth Was Treason, Document 28; 194; McFarland and Whitaker, Truth & Conviction, DVD: 18:34.
 
60 McFarland and Whitaker, Truth & Conviction, DVD: 11:03. 
 
61 Ibid., 11:31.
 
62 Ibid., 18:20.
 
63 Wobbe and Borrowman, Before the Blood Tribunal, 36.
 
64 Ibid.
 
65 Rudolf G. and Herda S. Wobbe, interview by Douglas F. Tobler and Alan F. Keele, 1974, The James Moyle Oral History Program, Archives, Historical Department, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Salt Lake City, Utah, 3. 
 
66 Wobbe and Borrowman, Before the Blood Tribunal, 15-16.
 
67 Wobbe, interview with Tobler and Keele, 3.
 
68 Ibid., 18:10, 18:34. 
 
69 “About the Person, Helmuth Hübener,” 9 Feb. 1942, in Holmes and Keele, When Truth Was Treason, Document 10; 156. During Hübener’s interrogation by the Gestapo, he stated that he sometimes made up to seven copies at one time. The last edition of a pamphlet, found in the church typewriter when the Gestapo searched his room, consisted of an original and six carbon copies. In Wobbe’s Before the Blood Tribunal, Rudi claimed Helmuth used the church duplicating machine to reproduce his pamphlets. No other document, including records of Gestapo interrogations or government indictments, verifies this claim.
 
70 Sander, “Helmuth Hübener Gruppe,” 330.
 
71 Berndt, interview, typescript, 36. By this time, Berndt has been promoted to full-fledged district president, in contrast to the “acting” position he filled earlier. Berndt maintained that, contrary to some accounts, Hübener’s secretarial position was a district (diocesan) rather than a branch (parish) position. Zander had asked Hübener to write soldiers from the St. Georg branch, and for that purpose the branch president loaned the typewriters to the young man. 
 
72 McFarland and Whitaker, Truth & Conviction, DVD: 16:06.
 
73 The hotel coat closet scene appears in Thomas Rogers’ Huebener and David Anderson’s Huebener against the Reich. No historical documentation confirms that particular escapade, although it is possible that Wobbe and Schnibbe recounted that adventure to the playwrights.
 
74 Ibid, 12:39.
 
75 Ibid.,22:45.
 
76 Ibid, 23:09 
 
77 “Indictment,” The Superior Attorney General of the Reich, 28 May 1942 in Holmes and Keele, When Truth Was Treason, Document 27; 189.
 
78 McFarland and Whitaker, Truth & Conviction, DVD: 19:25.
 
79 Grunberger, 12-Year Reich, 334.
 
80 Göring’s second wife was German actress Emmy Sonnemann, whom he married in 1935 in a spectacular wedding ceremony during which squadrons of Luftwaffe aircraft flew overhead. 
 
81 “The Nazi Reichsmarshall” in Holmes and Keele, When Truth Was Treason, Document 37; 202.
 
82 Fisher, Nazi Germany, 485-486.
 
83 Holmes and Keele, When Truth Was Treason, 68.
 
84 “Hitler Appeals for Warm Clothing for Eastern Front,” World War II Today, http://ww2today.com/20th-december-1941- ... ternfront- troops. 
 
85 Irene Guenther, Nazi Chic: Fashioning Women in Nazi Germany (New York: Berg, 2004): 222.
 
86 “I’ve Calculated for Everything” in Holmes and Keele, When Truth Was Treason, Document 42; 206-208. Alan F. Keele translated Hübener’s poem from German. I have included only four of the seven stanzas Hübener wrote.
 
87 Rampel, Hitler’s Children, 71. 
 
88 “Hitler Youth” and “Weekend Incarceration,” in Holmes and Keele, When Truth Was Treason, Documents 38 and 39; 203-204.
 
89 “The Voice of Conscience” and “Where is Rudolf Hess?” in Holmes and Keele, When Truth Was Treason, Documents 31 and 36; 195, 200-202. A smaller pamphlet, “The Riddle of Hess,” is referred to in the attorney general’s indictment but does not appear in Holmes and Keele’s listing of primary documents.
 
90 Fisher, Nazi Germany, 466-467. 
 
91 “The Fuhrer’s Speech” in Holmes and Keele, 212. 
 
92 “Mrs. Flögel Delivers a Flyer,” Hamburg 43rd Police Precinct Case No. 92/42, 4 Feb. 1942 in Holmes and Keele, When Truth Was Treason, Document 3; 147.
 
93 Wobbe and Borrowman, Before the Blood Tribunal, 39; “Report,” State Secret Police, Hamburg, 5 Feb. 1942 in Holmes and Keele, When Truth Was Treason, Document 27; 188.
 
94 McFarland and Whitaker, Truth & Conviction, DVD: 23:32. 
 
95 Wobbe and Borrowman, Before the Blood Tribunal, 39.
 
96 “Indictment,” When Truth Was Treason, Document 27; 189.
 
97 Wobbe and Borrowman, Before the Blood Tribunal, 40. 
 
98 Ibid., 40.
 
99 Ibid., 40; McFarland and Whitaker, Truth & Conviction, DVD: 26:38. Holmes and Keele, When Truth Was Treason, 47, 346n15. In 1950, a German court convicted Heinrich Mohns of “crimes against humanity” for his “denouncement” of Helmuth Hübener. It sentenced Mohns to a term of two years imprisonment. In a plea reminiscent of the Nuremburg tribunals, Mohns had argued that he was only doing his duty. In 1953 an appeals court overturned the verdict, arguing that Mohns was not guilty as an accessory to Hübener’s death, but instead only culpable as an accessory to illegal deprivation of Hübener’s freedom. It also ordered the lower court to consider Mohns’ conduct in light of emergency laws in effect at the time. In essence, the appeals court agreed that Mohns was doing his duty. Mohns served no time in prison.
 
100 Wobbe and Borrowman, Before the Blood Tribunal, 41.
 
101 Holmes and Keele, When Truth Was Treason, 50.
 
102 Ibid., 271. Frederich Peters, a member of the St. Georg Branch who was five years older than Helmuth, recalled: “He was the littlest . . . in sports Helmuth was absolutely nothing . . .we often went to the athletic fields . . . he was never there. He was interested only in intellectual things.” 
 
103 “Report,” State Secret Police, Hamburg, 5 Feb. 1942 in Holmes and Keele, When Truth Was Treason, Document 6; 148-149.
 
104 “He was Terribly Beaten Up,” in Holmes and Keele, When Truth Was Treason, Document 72; 273.
 
105 “About the Case,” State Police Agency, Hamburg, 5 Feb. 1942 in Holmes and Keele, When Truth Was Treason, Document 10; 155. 
 
106 McFarland and Whitaker, Truth & Conviction, DVD: 28:36.
 
107 Ibid., 29:26.
 
108 After Schnibbe’s prison term, he was drafted into the army, served on the Eastern front, became a prisoner of the Russians, and did not return to Germany until 1949.
 
109 McFarland and Whitaker, Truth & Conviction, DVD: 36:58.
 
110 Kola-Fu was an abbreviation for Kozentrationslager Fuhlsbüttel. Fuhlsbüttel was a satellite facility of Hamburg’s Neuengamme concentration camp. 
 
111 Holmes and Keele, When Truth Was Treason, 342n34, 342nn41-45.
 
112 McFarland and Whitaker, Truth & Conviction, DVD: 29:26. 
 
113 Berndt, interview, transcript, 41.
 
114 Wobbe, interview with Tobler and Keele, 30-31.
 
115 Wobbe, interview with Heiss, transcript, 22.
 
116 Wobbe and Borrowman, Before the Blood Tribunal, 47.
 
117 “Statement of Otto Berndt,” n.d. ca. 1961, Archives, Historical Department, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Salt Lake City, Utah. Also found in Holmes and Keele, When Truth Was Treason, Document 65; 257-258.
 
118 Berndt, interview, transcript, 40. 
 
119 For a discussion of the Mormon perspective on excommunication as it applies to one’s potential for salvation, see Bruce R. McConkie, Mormon Doctrine 2nd ed. (Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1966), 258.
 
120 District Leader, Hamburg District 5, National Socialist German Workers’ Party to State Secret Police, Hamburg, 24 Feb. 1942 in Holmes and Keele, When Truth Was Treason, Document 17; 175. 
 
121 “Statement of Otto Berndt” in Holmes and Keele, When Truth Was Treason, Document 65; 258.
 
122 “Indictment,” in Holmes and Keele, When Truth Was Treason, Document 27; 189.
 
123 “Final Report of Investigating Officers Wangemann and Müssener,” in Holmes and Keele, When Truth Was Treason, Document 15; 171-173. 
 
124 McFarland and Whitaker, Truth & Conviction, DVD: 39:06.
 
125 Wobbe, Before the Blood Tribunal, 69.
 
126 Bund Nationalsozialistischer deutscher Juristen.
 
127 Wobbe, Before the Blood Tribunal, 72.
 
128 McFarland and Whitaker, Truth & Conviction, DVD: 40:27.
 
129 Wobbe, Before the Blood Tribunal, 72. 
 
130 “Verdict of the People’s Court,” 11 Aug. 1942 in Holmes and Keele, When Truth Was Treason, Document 52; 219-220.
 
131 McFarland and Whitaker, Truth & Conviction, DVD: 44:55.
 
132 Memorandum from First State Attorney Ranke and Secretary of Justice Renk 27 Oct. 1942 in Holmes and Keele, When Truth Was Treason, Document 60; 239.
 
133 Holmes and Keele, When Truth Was Treason, 71. 
 
134 Memorandum from First State Attorney Ranke and Secretary of Justice Renk 27 Oct. 1942 in Holmes and Keele, When Truth Was Treason, Document 62; 241; “Beheadings in the Third Reich,” Axis History Forum, 4 Dec. 2004, http://forum. axishistory.com/viewtopic.php?t=35191.
 
135 Memorandum from First State Attorney Ranke and Secretary of Justice Renk 27 Oct. 1942 in Holmes and Keele, When Truth Was Treason, Document 59, 238-239.
 
136 McFarland and Whitaker, Truth & Conviction, DVD: 47:57.
 
137 Berndt, interview, transcript, 41.
 
138 “Abhören u. Verbreiten ausl. Rundfunksenden”.
 
139 Membership Record of Helmuth Hübener, Hamburg District Record of Members, Archives, Historical Department, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Salt Lake City, Utah.
 
140 Properly carried out, an excommunication requires that a “church court” be convened and that evidence be heard before a decision is rendered. The accused does not have to be present, however. In absentia excommunications are common. Often, the accused elects not to appear.
 
141 Kunkel, interview, transcript, 21.
 
142 “Statement of Otto Berndt” in Holmes and Keele, When Truth Was Treason, Document 65; 258. Berndt said: “When I was questioned by the Gestapo, I was told to see that the accused Helmuth [Hübener] was to be cut off by the LDS Church. I flatly refused to do this.”
 
143 Berndt, interview, transcript, 30.
 
144 Richard Lloyd Dewey, Hübener vs. Hitler: A Biography of Helmuth Hübener, a Mormon Teenage Resistance Leader 2nd ed. (Salt Lake City: Academic Research Foundation, 2004), 288-292. 
 
145 W. Herbert Klopfer, Interview with David C. Nelson, 19 Sep. 2006, Salt Lake City, Utah, notes in my possession.
 
146 “Emigration,” Der Stern 84 (1958), 343-346. On the contrary, the LDS hierarchy continued to publish articles in church-sponsored publications urging Mormons not to migrate to the United States.
 
147 Alder, “German-Speaking Immigration to Utah,” 71. 
 
148 For the period covered, Douglas D. Alder relied upon the tabulations of emigration from the German-speaking missions found in the LDS Church-published bimonthly periodical, Der Stern. See Alder, “The German-Speaking Immigration to Utah, 1850-1950, Appendix F, 123. Alder completed his master’s degree at the University of Utah in 1959; thus, the year 1958 is the last included in his tabulations.
 
149 Gabriele B. Kindt, an undergraduate at Brigham Young University, used two sources that she compared for accuracy. Each year branch and district clerks completed the LDS Church’s Form E, the “Transcript of Records of Members,” which it submitted to the mission president’s office. Each mission then used the data on Form E to tabulate its Annual Mission Financial and Statistical Report, which it submitted to the church’s headquarters in Salt Lake City. The German ecclesiastical units began using Form E after the arrival of the American mission presidents in 1947. After 1962, the LDS Church ceased using Form E, thus limiting the time frame of Kindt’s study. See Kindt, “Statistical Study: Emigration of German Members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1945-62” (unpublished paper, Brigham Young University, 1977), Archives, Historical Department, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Salt Lake City, Utah.
 
150 The West German Mission included Austria during the period of Alder’s study.
 
153 Klopfer, interview.
 
154 Gerald H. B. Kobs to David C. Nelson, 3 Jul. 2006, copy in my possession.
 
155 Wobbe, Before the Blood Tribunal, 147.
 
156 In postwar West Germany, a citizen who desired privileges such as government housing or a business license needed to be certified to be free of prior connections with the Nazi Party. The old term Persilschein, meaning a whitewash, came into popular use when someone with a shady past received a clean political bill of health. The term’s root word, Persil, is the brand name of a popular laundry detergent in Germany. 
 
157 McFarland and Whitaker, Truth & Conviction, DVD: 5:59.
 
158 Holmes and Keele, When Truth Was Treason, 144.
 
159 Wobbe, Before the Blood Tribunal, 143-144, 147-150.
 
160 Salt Lake City, Utah, City Directories (Dallas: R. L. Polk, Co., 1953-1972). 
 
161 Wobbe, Before the Blood Tribunal, 152.
 
162 “Arthur Zander, Obituary,” Deseret News, 4 Jun. 1989.
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Re: The Mormons in Nazi Germany, by David Conley Nelson

Postby admin » Fri Jul 06, 2018 7:54 am

CHAPTER XI. THE ROCKS AND SHOALS OF MORMON MEMORY IN NAZI GERMANY, PART 5: BEACONS OF MEMORY, A PREMATURE CURTAIN CALL

Margetts Arena was not the main theater on the campus of Brigham Young University in the mid-1970s. With a seating capacity of only two hundred forty, it served as a laboratory for thespians. In October 1976, because of an unusual dramatic presentation, it took center stage at the nation’s largest religious university. Ticket demand for Thomas Rogers’ Huebener caused students to stand “in long, serpentine lines . . . as generally happens only when tickets are sold for football, basketball, or rock concerts.”1 Ninety-eight percent of BYU’s students were members of the Mormon Church. Seventy-five percent came from Utah. The idea that a principled young Mormon their age fought the Nazis was a captivating idea, especially when he defied his Nazi branch president. The playwright, Thomas Rogers, said:

It gave them a heroic counterpart from their own century about whom, until then, few if any were even aware. We all need heroes with whom, in terms of our particular values and personal ideological commitment, we can identify. Helmuth Hübener did that for young Mormons.2


Huebener featured a cast of a dozen main characters and eighteen supporting actors who took the real-life names unearthed in Alan F. Keele’s and Douglas F. Tobler’s research. Two exceptions prevailed in the case of living Nazis; their names were changed to protect the culpable. First Counselor Franz Jacobi became Sandman and Branch President Arthur Zander became Arnold Zoellner. Zander’s pseudonym was so close to his real name that no doubt existed regarding his identity among those who knew him in the immigrant community.

Playwrights write fiction. They assume no obligation to follow the historical record. Rogers adhered closely to most verifiable details, including the trademark of Gerhard Kunkel’s French shortwave receiver. He departed from reality on a few of the bigger points. Rogers transformed the branch president into a morally complex character. When “Zoellner” repeatedly pontificated on the need to obey civil authority, or when he exchanged “Heil Hitler!” greetings with Helmuth’s stepfather, the audience was free to feel contempt. But when Zoellner found an anti-Hitler tract mistakenly left in the church’s duplicating machine, a reality that never confronted Arthur Zander, the audience felt sympathy for a church leader in the horns of a moral dilemma. In the play, Zoellner granted Hübener the confidentiality of the confessional when they debated whether the safety of the congregation justified collaboration with the Nazis. Then, when he announced Helmuth’s excommunication from the pulpit at church services, and handed over Schnibbe and Wobbe to the Gestapo in front of the congregation—the audience was left to wonder. Did Zoellner betray Hübener to the Nazis, or was the branch president merely acting to protect his flock after the French-speaking employee turned in his office colleague?

Fiction can play a valuable role in teaching history, provided that it does not lead to distorted conclusions. The documents Tobler and Keele discovered, and the interviews they conducted, leave no doubt that the real branch president, Arthur Zander, would have never debated the moral righteousness of opposing the Nazis. According to all sources, he always put the party first and the church second. If Zander had found one of Helmuth’s pamphlets, all evidence indicates that he would have gone straight to the Gestapo. There would have been no principled debate in the branch president’s office.

As the attendees filed out of Margetts Arena, ushers offered them a handbill. It explained that no evidence existed that the real branch president was aware of Hübener’s exploits until the boy’s arrest. It also said the historical record revealed no attempt by the Gestapo to have Hübener excommunicated. 3 But a handbill could hardly offset the dramatic effect of the play’s emotional words and stark images. Some older members of the audience had probably served as congregational leaders in the Mormon system of lay church governance. Presenting the branch president in a sympathetic light was reassuring to them.

The artistic license granted the playwright distorted Hübener’s memory in another important way. Having the fictional Zoellner surrender Hübener’s coconspirators to the Gestapo deprived Hübener and Schnibbe of recognition for their greatest feats of courage. Helmuth withstood torture for five days before being forced to name Karl-Heinz. Both boys underwent another week of horrific Gestapo interrogation before incriminating Rudi Wobbe.

More than five thousand attended during the play’s three-week engagement, which had been extended by extra performances.4 Statewide, newspapers ran laudatory reviews, including the LDS Church-owned Deseret News.5 According to leading lady Margaret Blair Young, who played Helmuth’s mother, the play Huebener became a “BYU event,” with cast members receiving recognition on campus comparable to star athletes. The cast, ecstatic because of the reception they received, looked forward to taking the play on the road to California, one of ten offers Rogers had received to perform off campus.6 Wealthy BYU alumni were ready to open their pockets to spread the gospel of a genuine Mormon hero who had fought the Nazis.7

Two honored guests attended and personally greeted the performers. Karl-Heinz Schnibbe saw the play three times. Rudi Wobbe came once. Schnibbe joked backstage with the young actors, teasing them about their fake German accents, which had been a mandate from director Ivan Crosland. Both figured prominently in the play’s crowning moment: October 27, 1976, the thirty-fourth anniversary of Helmuth’s beheading. At the curtain call, two graying men stood on the tiny, darkened theater’s stage, each illuminated by a spotlight. A third beam exposed the naked floor between them, where Helmuth Hübener should have stood. The deafening applause slackened only when spectators reached to wipe tears from their eyes.8

Two additional spectators figured significantly in this thespian memorial, one who attended and another who watched with trepidation from afar. Thomas S. Monson, a member of the Council of the Twelve and a key player in the Mormons’ efforts to normalize Zion’s relations with communist East Germany—where many Latter-day Saints still lived—viewed a performance during the play’s last week of production. He watched in the company of BYU President Dallin Oaks.9 The other “spectator” resided forty-five minutes north of the Provo campus. Arthur Zander had been living a quiet and unremarkable life when two BYU faculty members, Tobler and Keele, arrived unannounced at his house one day and requested an interview. He had not responded to phone messages and postal inquiries.10 They promised to tell his side of the story and treat him fairly. He responded courteously but refused to be interviewed. He said he would tell his side of the story one day.11 If he ever spoke out, more than likely he did so through the confidential chain of authority that began with his ward bishop. At the top of that ecclesiastical rank structure stood Thomas S. Monson.

Monson was the Mormons’ point man with regard to dealing with all German matters, from interaction with German-Americans at home to relations between Mormons and the East German government. He had been a rising star in the LDS Church since becoming a ward bishop, the pastor of a large Mormon congregation, at the unusually young age of twenty-two.12 His first assignment was a Salt Lake City ward with many German-American members, recent immigrants and descendants of Germans who had come to Utah in previous generations.13 Monson made numerous friends. Thereafter the German-American community in Utah had the ear of a highly influential member of the Mormons’ governing council.

The BYU production caused German immigrants, lulled into complacency by decades of assimilation into the Utah mainstream, to sit up and take notice. For a few like Zander, who had a past worth hiding, the play proved to be particularly disturbing. When the historians who tried to interview Zander were unsuccessful, they started questioning others. They talked to members of the Salt Lake City German-American community who knew Zander. According to what they learned, Zander’s calm, courteous demeanor when confronted by Keele and Tobler changed in the presence of family and friends. Friends reported his irrational fear of retribution by B’nai B’rith, the Jewish Defense League, or some other imagined enemy.14 According to Rudi Wobbe, who stayed in touch with his former branch president, Zander regarded Tobler and Keele as representatives of his fantasy “American Gestapo.”15

Just prior to their penultimate performance in Provo, with visions of their California tour beckoning, the cast of Huebener gathered around director Ivan Crosland. He made a shocking announcement. As the actress who played Helmuth Hübener’s mother, Margaret Blair Young, described it:

After Brother Monson’s visit, the church said California was off limits. . . . The play, Crosland reported, would apparently summon too many memories in the German members and perhaps awaken old resentments. There could be problems. Our show was branded ‘verboten.’


Old resentments were not quashed when the Margetts Arena darkened after Huebener’s final curtain call. After Rudi Wobbe appeared on stage, and after he became the subject of newspaper and broadcast interviews, not all of the reviews were positive. He wrote:

I was surprised to receive a number of disturbing phone calls. I’d pick up the receive and hear a voice say, ‘Landsverräter’ (traitor). It became clear to me that the underground Nazi movement, led by German diehards, was alive and active, even in the remote mountain deserts of Utah. Obviously, the report of our story touched a nerve with these people.16


He told the Salt Lake Tribune that following the BYU play, unidentified callers would shout: “You traitor, you Bolshevik.” Then they would hang up. “So that tells me that there are still people around who are taken in by that Nazi jargon,” Wobbe said. “I’m not afraid of these people . . . We must never forget.”17

For various reasons, forgetting became a priority for the Mormon hierarchy in the mid-1970s. At some point prior to the 1976 Huebener play, an associate professor of history at Brigham Young University approached Thomas S. Monson in the Salt Lake City airport. Knowing Monson’s interest in German Latter-day Saints, Douglas F. Tobler wanted to describe the exciting new research he was conducting. Tobler told Monson the story of Helmuth Hübener. Monson’s response was not what Tobler expected. Instead of encouraging the young scholar, Monson asked to review any manuscript that Tobler and Alan Keele wrote prior to its submission for publication. In an interview in 2001, Tobler recalled that he had been “lathered up,” the natural resentment that a scholar would feel when pressured to stifle promising research.18 Keele remembered his colleague to have been “somewhat rattled” by having a member of the Council of the Twelve wanting to supervise his scholarship.19

After Monson viewed a performance of Huebener in the last week of its scheduled run, BYU President Dallin Oaks summoned Tobler, Keele, and Rogers to his office. There he ordered the “hold” on Hübener-related articles and books, and on subsequent performances of Rogers’ play. Oaks forbade Rogers from allowing any other theater group to use his script. Keele and Tobler had already written the draft of a scholarly article and were in the process of negotiating with a journal. They were also working on the manuscript of a book. Oaks cited only the sensitivities of German- American Mormons to the resurrection of the Hübener story, but said there were other reasons that he could not divulge.20

There were indeed other reasons, and they included a fundamental misunderstanding by the Mormon hierarchy about how the communist East German government would view a young, anti-fascist who rebelled during the Nazi period. In 1968, Monson had become the Council of the Twelve’s liaison with German Mormons living in East Germany. Although some church members had moved to West Germany and others had immigrated to the United States in the years following the Second World War, some 3,700 remained behind the Iron Curtain. During the Cold War, their status as members of an American-based church in the officially atheistic German Democratic Republic caused problems. It became impossible for the Salt Lake City hierarchy to maintain the customary chain of authority.

Brigham Young University religious historian Bruce Van Orden said that Monson, in addition to his experience working with German-Americans, had another qualification to be the Mormons’ lead negotiator with the GDR. As the youngest member of a twelve-man governing gerontocracy, Monson was probably the only Mormon apostle “vigorous enough to endure the rigors of forty-eight hour visits behind the Iron Curtain.”21 East Germany in those days permitted a visiting American only a two-day visa. That was an improvement over the previous decades, when contact with East German Latter-day Saints could take place only once a year—when Mormon leaders accredited as trade representatives visited with the faithful at the internationally renowned Leipzig trade fair in March.22

Monson had another problem, one that emanated from within the Quorum of the Twelve. Ezra Taft Benson, formerly Dwight Eisenhower’s Secretary of Agriculture, was an older Mormon apostle. Because of Benson’s seniority among the Twelve, he was almost certain to ascend to the position of Prophet, Seer, and Revelator.23 Benson was a member of the John Birch Society and an outspoken anti-communist. His “neo- McCarthyism,” as historian D. Michael Quinn termed it, stood in stark contrast to the image that Monson and the East German Latter-day Saints wished to project. In dealing with the GDR, it was essential to stress that one could be a good Mormon and a good citizen of a socialist state.24 Benson’s frequent bombastic anti-communist tirades, combined with the less-frequent and less-vitriolic anti-communist pronouncements of Church President David O. McKay, made life difficult for East German Mormons.25 Tobler wrote:

LDS leader Walter Krause remembers how the anti-Communist speeches of President David O. McKay and Ezra Taft Benson were monitored in East Berlin. Police and government officials fattened their files with speech after speech that stigmatized ‘godless Communism’ as the incarnation of evil.26


When Richard Nixon initiated détente with Chinese and Soviet communist governments in 1971, a crack emerged in the East German section of the Iron Curtain. The LDS Church negotiated permission for a selected few East German Mormons to attend the 1973 regional conference in Munich, where new Church President Harold B. Lee dutifully admonished them to return to their homes in the GDR.27 That same year, an East German LDS leader received permission to attend the church’s General Conference in Salt Lake City.28

As the situation in East Germany was appearing to become slightly more favorable for the Mormons, other conflicts worldwide stoked the fears of the Salt Lake City leadership. When Huebener appeared on a Provo, Utah, stage in October 1976, it had been only several months since an Argentine military coup d’état overthrew the presidency of Isabella Perón. In the months that followed, the disappearance of many Peronist sympathizers and other opponents of the new military junta—including many young people—were making headlines as the “Dirty War” unfolded. It had also been only three years since right-wing Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet had taken power in a coup d’état against socialist Salvador Allende. The Pinochet regime became notorious for its record of human rights abuses. Based on the political climate of the mid-1970s, another member of the Council of the Twelve, Joseph Wirthlin—who was the LDS Church’s “area authority” for Europe—feared the example that Helmuth Hübener might set for Mormon young people who lived in dictatorships worldwide.29 He also opposed continued performances of the play and the publication of scholarly works that brought Helmuth Hübener into the spotlight. By the end of 1976, after a brief interlude of light, the heavy hand of the Mormon hierarchy had firmly rotated the dimmer switch of Helmuth Hübener’s memory to the fully dark position.

Keele, Tobler, and Rogers had no choice but to comply with the edicts of the LDS leaders who controlled their continued employment at Brigham Young University. For the young students who performed Huebener, it was a bitter disappointment. Individual cast members threatened to form their own theatrical troupes and stage their own tour.30 But rebellion is a short-lived phenomenon at BYU, where decisions from university administrators are expected to be met with the same reverence Mormons accord pronouncements from their church hierarchy, guidance they consider divinely inspired.

Rogers, hamstrung by the ban on releasing his own intellectual property, continued to provide encouragement to young playwrights who approached him with their own versions of the Hübener story. He read their scripts and advised them as to whether their own literary creations deviated sufficiently from his own.31 Keele and Tobler used BYU President Dallin Oaks to negotiate with Monson and other members of the Twelve. It was difficult to make headway against what the two scholars saw as unreasonable fears.32 Both understood that Helmuth Hübener’s anti-fascist rebellion would never pose a threat to Erich Honecker’s communist East German government. An independent Mormon intellectual journal wrote in 1984:

Sources inform The Sunstone Review that the most likely reason for the Church’s concern was the fear that East German Saints would follow Hübener’s example and engage in anti-communist activities. ‘That would never happen,’ retorts Keele. ‘The fortunes of the Church in East Germany would not be disturbed by publicity concerning the Huebener Group because no East German would equate anti-fascism with anti-communism. It would not be misconstrued as an example of opposition to unpopular governments.33


Keele spent the last half of the 1970s arguing with the Mormon hierarchy, using Oaks as his intermediary, that Hübener’s example would help, not hinder, the LDSs Church’s private diplomacy with the GDR government. He once told Oaks that East Germany should be the next stop for Rogers’ play. Helmuth Hübener was a well-known figure in the GDR’s anti-fascist collective memory, Keele maintained, and his identification with the Mormons would only help the LDS Church in that communist country.34

In 1980, Oaks, a noted legal scholar, left BYU’s presidency to become the chief justice of the Utah Supreme Court. Then, Keele and Tobler decided they had waited long enough. They approached the editors of BYU Studies, a journal that publishes peerreviewed academic articles that do not interest mainstream publications, such as scholarly treatments of Book of Mormon topics. According to Keele, the on-campus editors—themselves employees of the LDS Church—initially expressed interest but then “got cold feet.”35 Tobler and Keele then submitted their article to Sunstone, an independently published, interdisciplinary Mormon scholarly magazine. “The Führer’s New Clothes,” which appeared in Sunstone’s final 1980 edition, introduced the Mormon intellectual community to Helmuth Hübener.36 The ten-page illustrated article summarized the young resister’s bravery and set it in the context of Mormon accommodation with the Nazi state. One facet left over from the 1976 play manifested itself in their article. The two co-authors used Rogers’ stage name, the mythical Arnold Zoellner, as a pseudonym for Helmuth Hübener’s branch president. Thirty-five years after the fall of the Third Reich, the Mormon Church was still taking care of Arthur Zander, employing him as a janitor in one of its Salt Lake City meetinghouses and protecting him from unwanted notoriety with a pseudonym concocted by its scholars.

Beacons of Memory: The Brightening but Filtered Light of Memory

On October 9, 1982, a surprise announcement from Salt Lake City provided a significant clue for solving the riddle of Mormon interference with the work of its scholars and playwrights. After four years of negotiation, the communist government of the German Democratic Republic agreed to allow the LDS Church to construct the first Holy Temple behind the Iron Curtain. For the Mormons, it ended years of difficult bureaucratic wrangling whenever East German Latter-day Saints wished to visit the Bern temple in Switzerland. For the GDR government, it provided a much-needed source of American money to bolster its hard currency reserves. The proposed temple in Freiberg, Saxony, received priority for expedited construction. The GDR government allowed the temple to tap into the Trans-Siberian Pipeline as an energy source. Groundbreaking for the Freiberg Temple occurred in April 1983. It opened in June 1985, which outpaced the construction schedule for the Frankfurt Temple in West Germany. The Frankfurt Temple was announced earlier and finished later.37

The Freiberg Temple cannot, however, explain Mormon hierarchy’s decision to suppress Tom Rogers’ Huebener play in 1976. For the Salt Lake City leadership, the opportunity to build a temple in East Germany was a surprise. The issue surfaced two years after the play at BYU, in 1978, because of a suggestion by the GDR government. It took four years to complete the negotiations, longer than subsequently required to build the temple.

Tobler and Keele suffered no recrimination for publishing the Helmuth Hübener story without the permission of the LDS hierarchy in 1980. The university president who imposed the ban had taken a new job, reviewing judicial appeals in Salt Lake City. But four years later, in 1984, when a Salt Lake City attorney wished to have the Huebener play performed by his theater group, he found that playwright Thomas Rogers was still bound by the original proscription. Undaunted, David Anderson wrote his own script. Huebener Against the Reich debuted at Salt Lake City’s Shire West Theater in February 1984 for a one-month engagement. Both of Salt Lake City’s daily newspapers, the LDS-owned Deseret News and the family-owned Tribune, wrote articles in advance of the play.38 However, only the Tribune reviewed Anderson’s play.39 When an official of the theater troupe inquired as to why the church-owned newspaper declined to review the play, he was told it was not an inadvertent omission. Instead, an “editorial decision” had been made.40

The refusal of Brigham Young University to authorize the release of the original script and the failure of the church-owned daily newspaper to review the play attracted the attention of an Associated Press writer based in Salt Lake City. Reporter David White began making inquiries, one of which led him to Thomas S. Monson, who was responsible for shutting down Rogers’ BYU play and inspiring Oaks to place a “hold” on Hübener-related scholarship. Obviously irritated by what he considered to be the reporter’s impertinent questioning, Monson snapped, “Who knows what was right or wrong then? I don’t know what we accomplish by dredging these things up and trying to sort them out.”41 White’s article—and Monson’s quotation—appeared in newspapers worldwide, including the New York Times and the Los Angeles Times.42

Buttressed by the controversy over Mormon censorship of the previous version, Anderson’s play received critical acclaim. Reviews written by wire service reporters appeared in major American daily newspapers. One ran in the Times of London.43 Although the playwright was a BYU graduate, a veteran of the university’s theater program, and presumably a faithful Mormon, he was under no obligation to adhere to the LDS Church’s mandate to dim the light of Hübener’s historical memory. While glorifying Hübener’s bravery, his script nevertheless adhered to the pattern of protecting the pro-Nazi branch president. Arthur Zander, under the pseudonym of Ernst Schmal, played a minor part in Anderson’s fictional account. He appeared in only one significant scene, in which a character representing Heinrich Worbs returned, delusional, from a concentration camp and interrupted a meeting. Instead, the role of the congregation’s “super Nazi” fell to Zander’s real-life first counselor, Franz Jacobi. Likewise, the playwright protected Jacobi by assigning his character a pseudonym. In one scene that does not correspond to the historical record, but which does conform to Mormon mythology in Germany during the Nazi period, the first counselor tries to convince Hübener that Adolf Hitler has read the Book of Mormon and is a righteous person.44

It is doubtful that Anderson, the playwright, knew Zander’s name and the circumstances of his immigration to the United States. That information remained secure until one of Helmuth Hübener’s co-conspirators, Karl-Heinz Schnibbe, decided to publish his own account. With the assistance of Tobler and Keele, Schnibbe produced a tightly written, 126-page narrative in 1984. The Price described Schnibbe’s role in assisting Helmuth Hübener, his interrogation by the Gestapo, trial and imprisonment, subsequent wartime military service, and years as a prisoner of war in the Soviet Union.45 Although the book broke new ground, the publishers still sought a degree of Mormon Church approval. Alan Keele recounted an incident that happened toward the end of the publication cycle.

Bookcraft was careful to test the opinions of the Church leaders. I learned that by accident when I was reading the proofs in a conference room all by myself. When I finished I noticed another folder on the otherwise empty table top and assumed it was more proofs. Opening it I found that [the publisher] had left his personal folder there, presumably by mistake. The first note in it which I couldn't help seeing was a note to the effect that Bookcraft had been assured by their contact among the Twelve that there were no more objections to the publication of the book.46


By this point, the mid-1980s, the LDS Church probably realized that it could not stop enterprising members, including Hübener’s fellow heroes, from telling the story. The Associated Press article that quoted Monson in an unfavorable light, and which revealed the extent of the church’s censorship attempts, embarrassed the Mormon leadership. Tobler and Keele, confident that the church hierarchy’s concerns had eased, assisted Schnibbe with writing his story. However, the publisher consulted the Mormon leadership because it knew that one word of public admonishment from a church leader in an article or General Conference speech would adversely affect sales of the book.

That kind of caution proved providential several years later, when the LDS hierarchy put the Sunstone Symposium in its crosshairs. For years, the Sunstone Foundation had hosted an annual interdisciplinary conference for Mormon academics and intellectuals. The Mormon leadership found some of the papers presented to be offensive. In 1989, Dallin Oaks, the BYU president who forbade the continued presentation of Huebener and curtailed Tobler and Keele’s research, wrote an article in the LDS monthly magazine that cautioned Mormons against listening to “alternate voices” of opinion.47 By this time, Oaks had left the Utah Supreme Court and had been called to fill a vacancy on the Council of the Twelve. Less than two years later, the Twelve released a “Statement on Symposia,” which in conjunction with Oaks’ admonition had a chilling effect on Sunstone.48 Neither statement mentioned the organization, but attendance by spectators and participation by “faithful scholars,” i.e., BYU faculty members, dropped precipitously.49 If the Mormon Church could not control the actions of those who wrote and performed, it still profoundly influenced those who attended or purchased books. With regard to Helmuth Hübener, it had been Sunstone magazine that broke Oaks’ proscription in 1980.

It became even more difficult for the Mormon Church to dim the light of commemoration in 1985, when the Federal Republic of Germany honored Karl-Heinz Schnibbe and Rudi Wobbe at the dedication of the Helmuth Hübener Haus in Hamburg. Schnibbe and Wobbe returned to the basement of the old city hall, where the Gestapo had interrogated and tortured them, along with Helmuth. This time, pictures and other memorabilia honoring the small resistance group adorned the walls of the “hall of mirrors,” where prisoners had once stood awaiting their appointment to be interrogated under torture. They also visited the prisons where they had been confined. On a very special Sunday morning, Wobbe gave the Sunday school and priesthood lessons at a Mormon congregation in Hamburg, the one that served a neighborhood where he had lived and spread Helmuth’s anti-Nazi tracts. His lesson concerned the Twelfth Article of Faith. Wobbe explained it a bit differently, citing the Mormon Doctrine and Covenants, Section 134, verses two and five:

We believe that no government can exist in peace, except such laws are framed and held inviolate as will secure to each individual the free will and exercise of conscience. . . .We believe that all men are bound to sustain and uphold the respective governments in which they reside . . . however, holding sacred the freedom of conscience.50


A series of events in late 1988 and 1989 profoundly affected the commemoration of Helmuth Hübener’s heroism. In October 1988, meetings between Thomas S. Monson, then the Second Counselor in the First Presidency, and German Democratic Republic State Council Chairman Erich Honecker, sealed an accord that had been negotiated during the previous months. They agreed on a reciprocal exchange of Mormon missionaries. Young Mormon elders from the West would be allowed to proselytize in East Germany. Young citizens of the GDR would be allowed to serve Mormon missions in the “free world.” The official LDS Church monthly magazine, the Ensign, featured a two-page article and a large photo of Monson and Honecker shaking hands.51 Although the two Germanys reunited before this reciprocal exchange of missionaries could be fully implemented, the agreement was a remarkable treaty between a western church and a Communist Bloc country.

Arthur Zander died on June 2, 1989 in a Salt Lake City hospital. In his last years, according to Rudi Wobbe, he maintained his intractability, refusing to admit any degree of culpability and “even tell[ing] his children lies about the past.” Wobbe continued:

I don’t want to judge him too harshly, as he probably repented in the meantime but he doesn’t want to admit it. If he were a big enough man he would say, ‘I made a mistake; I sure picked the wrong way to go, and I’m sorry about it,’ and that would be the end of it. But no, the stubbornness!52


On November 10, 1989, the Berlin Wall fell, leading to the full political unification of Germany. By 1991, the Soviet Union had ceased to exist. With Arthur Zander dead and many of the Wasatch Front’s old Nazis dying or losing their influence because of declining health, every justification the Mormon Church leadership had for dimming Hübener’s historical memory had disappeared. The Mormons would soon open missions behind the former Iron Curtain. Military dictators had given way to constitutional governments in Argentina and Chile. The world was a quieter place, and LDS leaders could no longer fear that idealistic young Mormon youth would rebel, using Hübener as an inspiration.

For those who would commemorate Helmuth in this more tranquil atmosphere, however, old habits die hard. When Mormon author, Neal Chandler, wrote a third commemorative play, published in Sunstone Magazine in December 1990, the protagonist, Karl Immer, appeared as a conflation of Arthur Zander and the district president, Otto Berndt. Immer, like Berndt, is not a Nazi Party member but had suffered Gestapo interrogation. In Appeal to a Lower Court, Immer was an aged man in the 1980s who convened a “church court” to consider his guilt for excommunicating Helmuth Hübener—whom the actors refer to by a pseudonym. As the court examines its evidence, it witnesses several flashbacks to the early 1940s, including one scene in which the branch president’s wife urges him to excommunicate Hübener for the safety of their family. His colleagues in the branch’s governing council urge Helmuth’s excommunication for the good of the congregation. The play ends before the mythical 1980s court reaches a verdict on the branch president’s guilt, but there is no doubt that he will be acquitted.53

Forty-eight years after the real Arthur Zander excommunicated Helmuth Hübener, and fourteen years after Thomas Rogers’ first play, playwright Chandler was still presenting Zander in a sympathetic light. There was no need to protect a man who had died the year before. No evidence indicates that the LDS Church directly influenced Chandler, an independent author and playwright. Instead, his sympathy for Zander seemed to stem from an established precedent. Mormon authors are often reluctant to criticize the actions of someone who has served as an ecclesiastical leader in their church, no matter how he did his job. In the performance of their duties, those leaders supposedly receive divine guidance. Criticizing their actions is tantamount to criticizing God.

In 1992, the LDS Church made its amends to playwright Thomas Rogers for holding his tongue and not criticizing its censorship sixteen years earlier. Brigham Young University staged Huebener—not in the small, bandbox Margetts Arena—but instead in the larger Pardoe Theater, the main performing arts arena on campus. Rogers celebrated the rehabilitation of his script by appearing on stage in the role of Helmuth Hübener’s grandfather. The characters retained the same stage names they had used in 1976, including pseudonyms for the two Nazis, Arthur Zander and Franz Jacobi. The Salt Lake Tribune headlined its review, “BYU’s Huebener Plays it Safe with Tough Play,” reflecting the reviewer’s skepticism. Said Nancy Melich, “Director [Ivan] Crosland has taken a safe, and not always interesting, approach in making sure that the LDS branch president, Zoellner, is presented sympathetically.”54 By 1992, the truth about Hübener’s relationship with his branch president was known in the Mormon Culture Region, provoking criticism from those who saw a continued soft peddling of Zander’s role.

Rudi Wobbe, who died in 1992, never lived to see the publication of his book, Before the Blood Tribunal. Death spared him from learning that his faith-promoting Mormon publisher, Covenant Communications, was still engaging in the shenanigans of memory. According to the Salt Lake Tribune’s reviewer, Paul Swenson:

Wobbe, who died of cancer a week after signing the contract for his book, might turn over in his grave if he knew that mention of [Hübener’s] excommunication has disappeared from the manuscript. Co-author Jerry Borrowman (who said he learned of the omission from this reviewer) explained it was inadvertently dropped during editing.55


Ten years after the publication of Before the Blood Tribunal, Borrowman and Covenant Communications released a second edition of the same text, renamed Three Against Hitler. It was a verbatim reprint.56 The first omission may have been an inadvertent editing mistake; the second proved that it was not. By 1992, both Arthur Zander and his wife Charlotte were dead. There was nothing to protect except the pride of the Mormon Church, which was not well served by Covenant Communication’s refusal to acknowledge that Arthur Zander had excommunicated Helmuth Hübener.

In 1995, the combination of principled authors, Alan Keele and Blair Holmes, and a reputable publishing house, the University of Illinois Press, finally resulted in a scholarly monograph on Helmuth Hübener. When Truth Was Treason appeared two decades after BYU censored its researchers and playwrights. By this time, Keele had broken his research partnership with Tobler and recruited another BYU historian, Blair Holmes, as his coauthor.57 Their book told the story from the viewpoint of Karl-Heinz Schnibbe, with whom Keele and Tobler had collaborated in producing a shorter, popular book, The Price, eleven years earlier. When Truth Was Treason contained a trove of primary documents mined from the Hamburg municipal and Gestapo archives. It also enlightened the reader with extensive footnotes that expounded on the narrative.

In 2002, two Brigham Young University graduates, Rick McFarland and Matt Whitaker, combined to produce an eighty-minute documentary, Truth & Conviction, which told the story of Helmuth Hübener. Alan Keele, Douglas Tobler, and several other BYU faculty members narrated, but the strength of the video was the appearance of Nobel Prize winning author Günter Grass, who used Hübener’s imagery in several of his literary and dramatic works. The original Hübener researcher, Ulrich Sander, appeared on screen to explain how he uncovered the story and wrote newspaper articles that attracted Grass’ attention. Karl-Heinz Schnibbe, in his seventies, also narrated. The producers filmed part of the documentary on location in Hamburg. They recorded video images of Helmuth’s old office at the Bieber-Haus, where his shop steward called the Gestapo, and old city hall where the conspirators underwent interrogation and torture. They skillfully recreated images of Hübener’s pamphlets, and included an original Markerola radio receiver and Remington typewriter like the one the young Mormon used to create his seditious pamphlets. The producers did not hide Zander’s Nazi Party affiliation and some of his more egregious acts, such as compelling members to listen to Hitler’s speeches. They did advance the theory that Zander excommunicated Hübener to protect the rest of the congregation from Gestapo reprisal. The producers left one character out of the script. Gerhard Düwer, a non-Mormon conspirator, apparently had no useful role in this faith-promoting production.

Because Covenant Communications, a publisher on Mormon subjects, would distribute the documentary, the producers took precautions to assure that powerful LDS interests were not offended, and that the product would sell to faithful buyers who would not want their church to be criticized. They invited Arthur Zander’s children to view the documentary before they released it. One final visitor put the Mormon hierarchy’s stamp of approval on the work. The producers invited Boyd K. Packer, acting president of the Quorum of the Twelve, to screen the video. Packer sanctioned the documentary and suggested its title, which the producers were happy to accept.

Hübener commemoration took an unfortunate downturn in 2003, when Richard Lloyd Dewey wrote Hübener vs. Hitler, a book that targeted faithful Mormon audiences and contained numerous factual errors. Dewey had previously written a series of sympathetic portrayals of Mormon gunslinger Orrin Porter Rockwell, known in the Old West era as “the Destroying Angel of Mormondom.”58 In doing so, Dewey glorified a man who once spent eight months in jail on suspicion of shooting the ex-governor of Missouri, and on another occasion bragged that he “never killed anybody who didn’t need killing.”59 In telling the Hübener story, Dewey followed the same pattern. He wrote an inspiring narrative that never challenged the judgment of LDS church leaders, but also did not let small factual inaccuracies interfere with the plot. Its first edition contained so many mistakes that Dewey hired When Truth Was Treason co-author Blair Holmes to proofread a second edition in 2004, which has presumably sold well in the Mormon Culture Region.

Hübener vs. Hitler, published in Provo, Utah, by a previously unknown enterprise called the Academic Research Foundation, mimicked a scholarly monograph.60 Its dust jacket billed it as “Volume 1 in the Faith in Conflict Series.” There have been no subsequent volumes. Its endnote section could have been several pages shorter if the author had been familiar with shortened, subsequent citation notation. Dewey was careful not to besmirch the character of Hübener’s Nazi branch president or any other Mormon who held Party membership. It dealt with Hübener’s excommunication as an unfortunate necessity that was reversed after the war. It described Arthur Zander’s American life as “active in the Church, having raised a family also active, even stalwart, in the faith.”61

The entry of a profit-focused, ersatz historian into the effort to commemorate Helmuth Hübener could have been expected as the Mormon Church permitted its faithful members to brighten the young hero’s historical memory. Unfortunately, as Dewey attempted to make money from Helmuth’s sacrifice, another regrettable aspect of the American market economy surfaced. The entrepreneur began to buy out the competition. Midway through the first decade of the twenty-first century, Dewey purchased the rights to the only scholarly monograph on Hübener, When Truth Was Treason, from the University of Illinois Press. Then he bought all unsold copies of Holmes and Keele’s work.62 When one performs an on-line query for that book, search engines now reveal the book’s publishers as both the University of Illinois Press and the scholarly sounding Academic Research Foundation. This paradoxical development occurred in the same university town, Provo, Utah, where Mormon leaders once banned their scholars from publishing research on Helmuth Hübener.

Since the LDS Church no longer considered the Hübener story to be verboten, it was not surprising that faithful storytellers would attempt to profit from it. Michael O. Tunnell, in Brothers in Valor, filled that requirement with a fast-moving children’s narrative in 2001. Latter-day Saint readers did not need to read the author’s biographical sketch, which revealed that he lived in Orem, Utah, and was the father of four and grandfather of six, in order to suspect that he shared their faith. He also demonstrated fluency in Mormon parlance, including the details of LDS church youth organizations. Like his coreligionists, however, he struggled to find an acceptable accommodation between respect for church leaders and Arthur Zander’s overt Nazism. Tunnell told his young readers about Zander’s deplorable treatment of Emma Hasse, whom the branch president threatened with a concentration camp sentence for taking an air-dropped enemy propaganda leaflet to church. But in his relationship with Hübener, Zander came across as a kind, fatherly figure, who gently admonishes Helmuth and his friends:

‘You’re good boys,’ he said, looking straight at Helmuth. ‘Listen to me. Read German books. Listen to German music. Play German games.’ ‘But our church is American,’ Helmuth said. ‘It’s God’s church, not America’s,’ [Zander replied.] ‘Our church leaders want us to be good citizens wherever we live. That means doing what our Führer asks, and he’s asked us to be German through and through.’63


Perhaps in consideration of LDS parents who would read from the storybook at bedtime, the author did not mention Zander’s excommunication of Hübener in the narrative. Instead, Tunnell reserved those details for the afterword, where he was careful to state that church leaders revoked Zander’s action after the war.

At the turn of the twenty-first century, Hübener’s story began to attract the attention of secular children’s authors. Hübener appeared as one of seventeen young subjects in Robin K. Berson’s Young Heroes of World History, published in 1999, which equated Helmuth’s courage with that of Chai Ling, a young woman who led the Tianamen Square revolt in China.64 One non-Mormon children’s author also wrote a Hübener book, and in doing so she pushed the young man’s religious beliefs into the background. When Susan Campbell Bartoletti published The Boy Who Dared in 2008, she told his story through flashbacks while Helmuth awaited the executioner in Plötzensee Prison.65 Using a fiction writer’s license, she placed a younger Helmuth at the scene of historical events that led to the rise of Hitler, such as street riots between Nazis and communists. She also concentrated on the young man’s relationship with his mother. Given the way that religious interests have manipulated the focus of Helmuth’s commemorative light in the past, the novelist’s secular approach was refreshing. Expectedly, one leery reviewer noted that, “The character is Mormon. But LDS parents may find the book not faith promoting.”66

Beacons of Memory: Hübener in the Context of Other Resisters

Overt resistance to the regime of Adolf Hitler was a rare occurrence in Nazi Germany. The risks were too great and the price when caught was too high. In his search for valor among his countrymen, historian Detlev Peukert broadened the definition of a resister to include “nonconformist everyday behavior,” such as listening to foreign broadcasts or telling anti-Hitler jokes in trusted circles of friends. Withdrawal of enthusiasm in the workplace or voluntary changing of jobs also played a role in the limited range of protest available to the ordinary citizen of Nazi Germany.67 Likewise, for young people, the most popular paths of resistance took them away from direct confrontation with the Nazis. Refusing to join the Hitler Youth or not participating devotedly probably constituted the most widespread avenue of protest. Others pursued escapist activities such as the Edelweiss Pirate patrols that hiked in the countryside in the spirit of the turn-of-the-century Wandervogel movement. Occasionally, the Edelweiss Pirates would confront and fight with a Hitler Youth group when they crossed paths in the wilderness, but this was an uncommon occurrence. Nonconformist young people, especially upper-middle class city residents, also gathered in the “swing movement,” which held covert dances and other social gatherings to the accompaniment of American and English music.68

For young people like Helmuth Hübener, constrained by both Nazi state and Mormon religious regimes, the closest parallel can be found in Munich’s White Rose group. A group of University of Munich students, some of whom were devoutly religious, formed to encourage resistance to Adolf Hitler. They engaged in graffiti campaigns and distributed leaflets. Although siblings Hans and Sophie Scholl produced only six leaflets, in comparison with Hübener’s twenty-nine, their printed publications received wider distribution. They mailed them to bartenders and university lecturers. One tract fell into the possession of the Allies, who later dropped millions of copies from aircraft over German cities. When caught, six members of the group, including the Scholl siblings, appeared before the same red-robed jurists of the People’s Court in Berlin. Five were guillotined, some within hours of their sentencing. Like Hübener, Sophie Scholl argued defiantly with the judges at her trial.69

In comparison to the White Rose group and the July 20, 1944, plot to assassinate Hitler by Claus von Stauffenberg and his associates, Helmuth Hübener’s heroism is relatively unknown. Most of this can be attributed to deliberate attempts by individual Mormons and the LDS ecclesiastical leadership to control the focus and intensity of Helmuth’s commemorative light. Jakob Schmidt, the building custodian who reported Sophie Scholl to the Gestapo, did not enjoy the protective constituency that shielded Arthur Zander and his fellow émigré Nazis in Utah. Nor were the coreligionists of any other resister group attempting to conduct private diplomacy with a communist state several decades after their defiant bravery.

After the fall of European communism and the passing of many German- American Mormon immigrants, the LDS Church lost its reason to suppress Hübener’s memory. But faithful Mormon authors may still consider Arthur Zander and Mormon accommodation of the Nazis to be a sensitive issue. Criticizing church leaders is still considered verboten in the Mormon Culture Region, even those who wore a swastika lapel pin. Like the producers of the documentary and the publishers of the popular biographies, they take comfort in seeking a church official’s blessing of their work. That was still happening at the dawn of the twenty-first century, even though the LDS leadership had removed its hand from Helmuth Hübener’s commemorative dimmer switch.

The solution may lie in entrusting Hübener’s story to non-Mormon authors. As Helmuth’s memory becomes secularized, perhaps his heroism can be untangled from the web of religious restrictions that has hindered his recognition during the decades since his martyrdom on Plötsenzee Prison’s guillotine. Then, Helmuth Hübener, Karl-Heinz Schnibbe, Rudi Wobbe, and even Max Reschke may be free to shine as memory beacons though the murky muck of Mormon accommodation with one of world history’s most repulsive regimes.

_______________

Notes:

1 Thomas Rogers, Huebener and Other Plays (Salt Lake City: Poor Richard’s Publications), v.
 
2 Ibid. 
 
3 Rogers, Huebener and Other Plays,” 50.
 
4 Ibid., v. 
 
5 Pearson, “Powerful New Drama,” 8 Oct. 1976; Dickson, “Utah’s Huebener,” 17 Oct. 1976.
 
6 Margaret Blair Young, “Doing Huebener,” Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought 21-4 (Winter 1998): 130.
 
7 Thomas F. Rogers, telephone interview with David C. Nelson, 23 May 2000, notes in my possession.
 
8 “Huebener’s Memory Haunts Memories in Remarkable Drama,” BYU Today, Nov. 1976. 
 
9 Young, “Doing Huebener,” 130.

10 Alan F. Keele, telephone interview, 23 May 2000; Alan F. Keele, email to David C. Nelson, 19 May 2012.

11 Keele, telephone interview, 23 May 2000; Keele to Nelson, 19 May 2012.

12 “Thomas S. Monson,” Church News: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, http://www.ldschurchnews.com/people/1/T ... onson.html
 
13 Bruce Van Orden, Building Zion: The Latter-day Saints in Europe (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1996), 201.
 
14 Rogers, telephone interview, 23 May 2000; Keele, telephone interview, 23 May 2000.
 
15 Wobbe, interview with Heiss, transcript, 69. 
 
16 Wobbe and Borrowman, Before the Blood Tribunal, 156.
 
17 Nancy Melich, “New Play Treats Life of Helmuth Huebener, a German Youth Who Gave His Life for the Truth,” Salt Lake Tribune, 5 Feb. 1984. 
 
18 Douglas F. Tobler, telephone interview with David C. Nelson, 17 Jul. 2001.
 
19 Keele to Nelson, 19 May 2012.
 
20 Rogers, telephone interview, 23 May 2000; Keele, telephone interview, 23 May 2000; Tobler, telephone interview, 17 Jul. 2001. 
 
21 Van Orden, Building Zion, 200-201.
 
22 Douglas F. Tobler, “Before the Wall Fell: Mormons in the German Democratic Republic,” Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought 25-4 (Winter 1992): 19.
 
23 In 1985, Benson became president of the LDS Church upon the death of Spencer W. Kimball. Mellowed by age and political reality, his pulpit pronouncements eschewed confrontational politics. His nineteen-year tenure as prophet, seer, and revelator is remembered by many for his repeated pleas for the faithful to read the Book of Mormon.
 
24 For an examination of Benson’s conflicts with other members of the Mormon hierarchy over the intensity of his anti-communist pronouncements, see D. Michael Quinn, “Ezra Taft Benson and Mormon Political Conflicts,” Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought 26-2 (Summer 1992): 1-87.
 
25 Gregory A. Prince, “The Red Peril, the Candy Maker, and the Apostle: David O. McKay’s Confrontation with Communism,” Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought 37-2 (Summer 1994): 37-94.
 
26 Tobler, “Before the Wall Fell,” 20.
 
27 Official Report of the First Germany, Austria, Holland, Italy, Switzerland, France, Belgium, and Spain Area General Conference of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Munich: Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 24-26 Aug. 1973), 111. 
 
28 Van Orden, Building Zion, 201.
 
29 Keele, telephone interview, 23 May 2000; Tobler, telephone interview, 17 Jul. 2001. 
 
30 Young, “Doing Huebener,” 130.
 
31 Rogers, telephone interview, 23 May 2000
 
32 Keele, telephone interview, 23 May 2000; Tobler, telephone interview, 17 Jul. 2001. 
 
33 Warner, “Antagonist or Protagonist,” 3.
 
34 Keele, telephone interview, 23 May 2000; Keele to Nelson, 19 May 2012.
 
35 Ibid.
 
36 Alan F. Keele and Douglas F. Tobler, “The Führer’s New Clothes: Helmuth Hübener and the Mormons in the Third Reich,” Sunstone 25 (Nov.-Dec. 1980): 20-29. 
 
37 David F. Boone and Richard O. Cowan, “The Freiberg Germany Temple: A  Latter-day Miracle,” in Regional Studies in Latter-day Saint Church History: Europe, ed. Donald Q. Cannon and Brent L. Top (Provo, Utah: Religious Studies Center, Brigham Young University, 2003), 147–67.
 
38 Melich, “New Play,” 5 Feb. 1984; Joseph Walker, “World Premieres: Two Salt Lake Theaters Debut Plays by Utah Playwrights,” Deseret News, 5 Feb. 1984.
 
39 Nancy Melich, “A Story Worth Telling and a Satisfying Play,” Salt Lake Tribune, 13 Feb. 1984.
 
40 Warner, “Antagonist or Protagonist,” Mar. 1984.
 
41 David White, “Play About Mormon Youth’s War on Hitler Stirs Conflict in the Church,” New York Times, 15 Feb. 1984; “Huebener Group Lauded in Hamburg,” Sunstone 10-2 (Mar. 1985): 49.
 
42 Warner, “Antagonist or Protagonist,” Mar. 1984.
 
43 Ibid.
 
44 David A. Anderson, “Huebener Against the Reich,” play, 1984, copy in my possession.
 
45 Karl-Heinz Schnibbe, Alan F. Keele, and Douglas F. Tobler, The Price (Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1984).
 
46 Keele to Nelson, 19 May 2012.
 
47 Dallin Oaks, “Alternate Voices,” Ensign (May 1989): 27, http://library.lds. org/nxt/gateway.dll/Magazines/Ensign/1989.htm/ensign%20may%201989.htm/alternate %20voices%20.htm.
 
48 “Statement on Symposia,” Deseret News Church News Section, 31 Aug. 1991, http://www. ldschurchnews.com/articles/21384/Church-News-Statement.html.
 
49 Elbert Eugene Peck, “The Origin and Evolution of the Sunstone Species,” Sunstone 115 (Dec. 1999): 13. 
 
50 “Huebener Group Lauded,” Sunstone, Mar. 1985; Steve Hale, “Prisoners of Conscience,” Utah Holiday Magazine 14-8 (May 1985): 52-61.
 
51 “German Democratic Republic to Welcome Missionary Work,” Ensign (Jan. 1989): 74-75. 
 
52 Wobbe, interview with Heiss, transcript, 69. Wobbe made these comments  about Zander in August 1988, ten months before Zander’s death.
 
53 Neal Chandler, “Appeal to a Lower Court,” Sunstone 14-6 (Dec. 1990): 27-50.
 
54 Nancy Melich, “BYU’s Huebener Plays it Safe with Tough Play,” Salt Lake Tribune, 8 Apr. 1992.
 
55 Paul Swenson, “Utah Under Cover: Area Books and Authors,” Salt Lake Tribune, 25 Oct. 1992. 
 
56 Ruddi Wobbe and Jerry Borrowman, Three Against Hitler: A Compelling Story of Three LDS Teens’ Fight for Freedom (Salt Lake City: Covenant Communications, 2002).
 
57 Keele to Nelson, 19 May 2012.
 
58 Richard Lloyd Dewey, Porter Rockwell: A Biography (New York: Paramount, 1986). Dewey has also written four volumes of The Porter Rockwell Chronicles, which he mercifully labels as “biographical novels.”
 
59 McLaws, “Attempted Assassination Lilburn W. Boggs,” 50-62; Ovando James Hollister, Life of Schuyler Colfax (New York: Funk & Wagnalls, 1886), 342.
 
60 Apparently, Dewey runs his publishing house from a facility in Provo that sells computer parts. When one searches directories or on-line databases, the Academic Research Foundation of Provo, Utah, appears among listings for “computer motherboards, computer power supplies, removable media devices, external drives, peripherals, optical drives, keyboards, and computer mice.” 
 
61 Dewey, Hübener vs. Hitler, 352.
 
62 Keele to Nelson, 19 May 2012.
 
63 Michael O. Tunnell, Brothers in Valor: A Story of Resistance (CreateSpace, 2011; New York: Holiday House, 2001), Kindle edition, chap. 1. 
 
64 Robin K. Berson, Young Heroes of World History (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1999).

65 Susan Campbell Bartoletti, The Boy Who Dared: A Novel Based on the True Story of a Hitler Youth (New York: Scholastic, 2008).

66 M. Heiss, “Online Review: The Boy Who Dared,” Amazon Prime, 24 Oct. 2011, http://www.amazon.com/review/R1PII53GM16V7I 
 
67 Peukert, Inside Nazi Germany, 118-119.
 
68 Ibid., 154-155, 166-167. 
 
69 The literature on the White Rose group is extensive. The first English-language  news appeared relatively early, in a March 29, 1943, article in the New York  Times, entitled “Nazis Execute 3 Munich Students For Writing Anti-Hitler Pamphlets.”  In 1952, one of the surviving White Rose conspirators, Inge Scholl, wrote Students  Against Tyranny. Wesleyan University Press published her book in English in 1970.  Since then, a number of books, movies, and dramatic presentations have commemorated  the group’s sacrifice. One of the more recent is Frank McDonough, Sophie Scholl: The  Real Story of the Woman Who Defied Hitler (Charleston, S.C., History Press, 2009).
 
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Re: The Mormons in Nazi Germany, by David Conley Nelson

Postby admin » Fri Jul 06, 2018 7:57 am

CHAPTER XII. CONCLUSION

The Mormons were on the wrong side of history in Nazi Germany. What began as a survival strategy morphed into an effort to exploit Nazism for the advantage of the LDS Church. Christine Elizabeth King was correct when she observed that the Mormons and the Nazis shared a Weltanschauung, a common worldview. That philosophy valued expediency over principle, as the Mormons demonstrated when they polished up the tarnished Twelfth Article of Faith—which the sect ignored in Imperial Germany—and presented it as a spiritual reason to sustain Adolf Hitler.

Other small American religious denominations chose a different path. Jehovah’s Witnesses courageously rebelled and paid dearly for their defiance. One-quarter of their pre-war membership perished under overt Nazi persecution, but the Witnesses’ record of courage has impressed all who hear their story. Christian Scientists and Seventh Day Adventists chose a non-confrontational, conformist path that caused them to forfeit cherished aspects of their liturgical worship but resulted in few lives lost and fewer sullied reputations. Christian Scientists suspended formal congregational meetings and hid their faith healing literature. Seventh Day Adventists lost Saturday worship exemptions for their military and civil service workers. Saturday services had been a unique hallmark of their faith. After a series of other compromises, all that distinguished the Adventists from other Christians in Nazi German was the denomination’s unique health code.

Both Adventists and Scientists saluted the Nazi flag, sent their fathers and sons into the military, and otherwise conformed as well as Protestant and Catholic Germans during the Third Reich. They courted no special favor with the Nazis but instead became skilled chameleons, blending into Hitler’s world. They will never be remembered for their courage. Likewise, they will never be accused of collaboration.

The Mormons chose to follow a completely different course. They exploited points of congruency with the Nazis, such as a common penchant for genealogical research, and then boasted about their newfound freedom to access previously forbidden Protestant and Catholic archives. The Mormon-owned newspaper in Salt Lake City told its readers, bluntly, that researching one’s family tree had become easier since the Nazis decreed Jewish bloodlines to be unacceptable. Likewise, in the midst of a worldwide effort to boycott the 1936 “Hitler Olympics,” the same church-owned newspaper ran a picture of Hitler-saluting basketball players and bragged that the missionaries were coaching the German basketball team to enable a “Nordic victory.”

The Christian Scientists and Seventh Day Adventists found no such opportunities to boast of common worldviews with Hitlerism. The Adventists, who subscribed to dietary restrictions as strict as the Mormons’ code, never bragged that Hitler was also a teetotaler or imagined the Führer was a secret member of their church. Nor did they conjure up fantasies about the Nazis copying the Sunday one-pot meal from an Adventist rite of fasting. If any Christian Scientist leader rendered the Hitler salute, he probably did it to conform and avoid negative attention. Certainly, no article ever appeared in the Christian Science Monitor that stressed the points of commonality between Christian Science and Nazism. No Monitor journalist ever wrote such a piece for the Völkischer Beobachter. There is no record of any other American-based religious sect that dispatched its highest-ranking woman to ride around in a black Nazi Party limousine with Adolf Hitler and the Party women’s leader.

Christian Scientists received unfavorable attention from the Nazis because some members of the sect’s Boston hierarchy were Freemasons. The Nazis found no member of the Mormon leadership objectionable, for several reasons. The Mormon Prophet, Seer, and Revelator, and his European Mission President, each willingly addressed adoring crowds of church members before large swastika banners in Frankfurt and Berlin. Then the church-owned Deseret News unashamedly published pictures of both events, replete with the Nazi symbolism. No member of the Christian Science ruling council enjoyed the prestige of the Mormons’ J. Reuben Clark, who negotiated as an equal with the Reichsbank chairman, nor could the Boston-based sect produce such a high-level leader who was so openly anti-Semitic. No record has emerged to show that either Christian Scientists or Seventh Day Adventists refused desperate pleas for help from imperiled converts from Judaism.

History did not require that the Mormons make the defiant sacrifices suffered by the rebellious Jehovah’s Witnesses, who refused to salute the Nazi flag or serve in the military. The Witnesses subscribed to a rigid, inflexible doctrine that did not permit such deference to civil authority; thus, strict obedience to their religious tenets was costly. Mormons, Seventh Day Adventists, and Christian Scientists adhered to religious beliefs that did not prohibit dual allegiances to church and state. However, the Seventh Day Adventists and Christian Scientists always chose the path of least resistance. Their goal was survival, which was in concert with most German mainline Christians who lived under the brutal Nazi regime. The Mormons chose to stray from the safe path of accommodation, and instead took the fork in the road labeled “ingratiation.” The Mormons walked a special path in Nazi Germany.

Likewise, the Latter-day Saints have cultivated a special collective memory of their experience in Nazi Germany. In fact, the Mormons are currently on their third incarnation of memory. At first, the Mormons tried to forget and move on. Large numbers of German Mormons immigrated to the United States after the Second World War, leaving the memories of bombed out cities and Hitler-saluting congregants behind. These immigrants were a homogenous group spiritually but a mixed one politically. While most had merely tried to survive the war, some had been more enthusiastic about Hitler’s regime. When monthly German-language services took place in Temple Square’s Assembly Hall in Salt Lake City, the congregation included apolitical members as well as former SA and the SS men. Those Mormons who stayed in the old country enjoyed the German Economic Miracle in the west, and strove to find accommodation with the communist government in the east. All tried to put the past behind them.

The first incarnation of Mormon memory lasted for three decades, from the end of the Second World War until the mid-1970s, when Brigham Young University researchers dug up controversial evidence from the past. When a historian, a German linguist, and a playwright collaborated to illuminate Helmuth Hübener’s memory beacon, the story intrigued most of the Mormon Culture Region. Two parties were not pleased. The first antagonists were émigré Germans who thought the story of Hübener’s resistance cast a negative light on the German-American community, especially German Mormons who had enthusiastically backed the Nazis. Members of the Mormon hierarchy who feared Hübener as an example of rebellion against authority were especially alarmed at the story’s message at a time when sensitive negotiations with the government of East Germany were underway. The second period of Mormon memory began with Thomas Rogers’ stage play Huebener in 1976, a dramatic account of the teenager from Hamburg who listened to forbidden foreign radio broadcasts, produced anti-Hitler tracts on his congregation’s typewriter, and eventually suffered execution on the guillotine for high treason. Then BYU’s president, acting on higher authority from Salt Lake City, put a “hold” on further memorialization efforts by employees of the LDS Church’s flagship university. The controversy attracted public attention in 1984 when an independent playwright who attempted to stage Huebener was refused permission, and then responded by writing his own script for a performance by a Salt Lake City theatrical troupe. During this period, deliberate suppression of memory by LDS officials met with a backlash by independent-minded Mormons who wished to shed light on Hüebener. Douglas Tobler and Alan Keele, the two BYU scholars who uncovered the story, reluctantly postponed publication of a scholarly article until 1980, and the Hübener monograph that was in the works did not see publication until 1995.

The third period of Mormon memory regarding the Third Reich began after the fall of European communism and persists to the present day. After 3,700 East German Mormons became citizens of the Federal Republic of Germany, the LDS leadership’s apprehensions about retribution from GDR officials disappeared. Thomas Rogers, the playwright, presented Huebener at BYU in 1992. That began a period in which Helmuth Hübener became a saleable product for commercial ventures by secular and faith-promoting authors. Books and DVDs appeared in the Mormon Culture Region during the last decade of the twentieth century and the first decade of the twenty-first, but their authors were careful not to offend either the LDS Church or its congregants. Although there was no longer an official ban on telling the heroic lad’s story, unflattering details about the Mormon Church’s conduct during the Nazi period did not appear in several accounts. The first-person narrative by co-conspirator Rudy Wobbe hit the bookstores after Rudy’s death in 1989. The editor neglected to include Hübener’s excommunication from the Mormon Church in either the original 1989 edition or in the republished version ten years later. When two videographers trained at BYU issued a DVD, they invited the family of the branch president, a Nazi Party member who excommunicated Hübener, to attend a screening prior to the work’s release. When one of the original researchers, Alan Keele, assisted the other Mormon collaborator, Karl-Heinz Schnibbe, with a book of his own, the publisher surreptitiously circulated a copy to church officials for their approval without telling either Keele or Schnibbe.

Recently, the story of Mormon soldiers during the Second World War, both Allied and Axis combatants, has become a popular subject in Utah and its environs. That has provided another opportunity to revise the collective memory of the church’s behavior during the Hitler years. New memory beacons have emerged to shine their light on a subject that is no longer dominated by Helmuth Hübener. Opposing Mormon warriors are cast in subtly different ways. Both are portrayed as brave, but aggressive tales of battlefield courage are reserved for the accounts of American LDS soldiers. Mormons in the Wehrmacht seldom pull a trigger in these narratives, but instead are miraculously saved from death in combat by the faith they place in the divine forces that guide their lives. With new historical actors on the scene, the reality of the Mormons’ attempts to court favor with the Nazi government during the pre-war Hitler years seems as distant as ever.

Being on the wrong side of history does not necessarily mean that one will lose the battle of memory.
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Re: The Mormons in Nazi Germany, by David Conley Nelson

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REFERENCES

Archives Consulted


Berlin Document Center
Brigham Young University Library, Special Collections
British Library
Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Historical Department
Hamburg Staatsarchiv
Herbert Hoover Presidential Library
Eibenstock (Germany) Amtsgericht Handelsregister
Library of Congress
United States Holocaust Memorial Museum
University of Utah Library, Special Collections
Utah State Historical Society
Utah State University Library, Special Collections

Periodicles Cited

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Ensign
Huffington Post
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Salt Lake Herald
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Conference Papers

Boone, David F. "The European Evacuation of LDS Missionaries at the Beginning of World War II" in Regional Studies in Latter-day Saint History. Presented at the Mormon History Association, 35th Annual Meeting. Aalborg, Denmark, June 29, 2000.

Correspondence

Clark, J. Reuben to Herbert Hoover, 14 May 1942, Herbert Hoover Presidential Library, West Branch, Iowa.

Keele, Alan F. to David C. Nelson, 19 May 2012, in my possession.

Kobs, Gerald H. B. to David C. Nelson, 3 Jul. 2006, in my possession.

Krüger, Arnd. Professor, Georg-August-Universität, Göttingen to David C. Nelson, April 30, 2000, in my possession.

McKay, Thomas E. Correspondence File, 1939-1946. Archives, Historical Department, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Salt Lake City, Utah. Note: Used by permission of Church Archives. Access restricted to correspondence in English.

Paldiel, Mordecai. Director, Department of the Righteous, Yad Vaschem to David C. Nelson, April 24, 2000, in my possession.

Reschke, Horst A. to Ismar Schorsch, Chancellor, The Jewish Theological Seminary of America, 11 Jan. 1993, copy in my possession.

Schubert, Marko to David C. Nelson, 7 May 2007, in my possession.

Interviews

Hersman, Ingrid. Interview with David C. Nelson, Kearns, Utah, 1 Feb. 2006.

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Klopfer, W. Herbert. Interview with David C. Nelson, Salt Lake City, Utah, 19 Sep. 2006, notes in my possession.

Kobs, Jared H. B. Interview with David C. Nelson, Sandy, Utah, 20 Jul. 2006, notes in my possession.

Merrill,Vinton M. Telephone interview with David C. Nelson, 24 Jul. 2001, notes in my possession.

Reschke, Horst. Interview with David C. Nelson, Riverton, Utah, 2 Feb. 2006, notes in my possession.

Rogers, Thomas F. Telephone interviews with David C. Nelson, 23 May 2000 and 19 May 2012, notes in my possession.

Tobler, Douglas F. Telephone inteview with David C. Nelson, July 17, 2001. Notes in my possession.

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______ and Marc Alain Bohn. "A Long-Awaited Visit: President Heber J. Grant in Switzerland and Germany, 1937." BYU Studies 42: 3-4 (2003): 4-20.

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McCue, Robert J. “Did the Word of Wisdom Become a Commandment in 1851?” Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought 14 (Autumn 1981): 66-77.

McLaws, Monte B. “The Attempted Assassination of Missouri’s Ex-Governor, Lilburn W. Boggs.” Missouri Historical Review 60-1 (Oct. 1965) 50-62.

Meinig, D. W. "The Mormon Culture Region: Strategies and Patterns in the Geography of the American West, 1847-1964." Annals of the Association of American Geographers 55-2 (June 1965): 191-220.

Mitsen, Hannah L. “The King-Havenner Bill of 1940: Dashed Hopes for a Jewish Immigration Haven in Alaska,” Alaska History 14 (Spring-Fall 1999), 23-32.

Peifer, Douglas C. “Commoration of Mutiny, Rebellion, and Resistance in Postwar Germany: Public Memory, History, and the Formation of ‘Memory Beacons.” The Journal of Military History 65-4 (Oct. 2001): 1015n10.

Prince, Gregory A. “The Red Peril, the Candy Maker, and the Apostle: David O. McKay’s Confrontation with Communism,” Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought 37-2 (Summer 1994): 37-94.

Quinn, D. Michael. “A Marketplace of Ideas, A House of Faith, and a Prison of Conformity,” Sunstone 64 (March 1988): 6-7.

_____, “Ezra Taft Benson and Mormon Political Conflicts,” Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought 26-2 (Summer 1992): 1-87.

_____. “LDS Church Authority and New Plural Marriages, 1890-1904.” Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought 18-1 (Spring 1985): 9-105.

Sawdey, Evan. “History of Beer in Utah.” Slug Magazine 234 (Jun. 2008), 10-12.

Stachura, P. D. “The National Socialist Machtergreifung and the German Youth Movement: Co-ordination and Reorganization, 1933-34,” Journal of European Studies 5 (1975): 255-272.

Tobler, Douglas F. "Before the Wall Fell: Mormons in the German Democratic Republic, 1945-89." Journal of Mormon History 25-4 (Winter 1992).

_____. "Education, Moral Values, and Democracy: Lessons from the German Experience." BYU Studies 28-3 (1988): 47-63.

_____. "The Jews, the Mormons, and the Holocaust." Journal of Mormon History 18-1 (Spring 1992): 59-92.

Wenn, S. “The Commodore Hotel Revisited: An Analysis of the 1935 AAU Convention,” Proceedings—Sixth Canadian Symposium on the History of Sport and Physical Education. London, Ontario: University of Western Ontario, 1988.

Young, Margaret Blair. "Doing Huebener." Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought 2- 4 (Winter 1988): 127-132.

Magazine Articles

"Huebener's Message Haunts Memories in Remarkable Drama." BYU Today, Nov. 1976.

Klopfer, W. Herbert. "Enemy Soldier in the Pulpit." The Ensign, June 1990, 59-60.

Scharffs, Gilbert W. "The Branch That Wouldn't Die." Ensign, April 1971, 30-33.

Welker, Elizabeth H. "The German Girl of Today." Improvement Era, May 1937.

Multimedia

McFarland, Rick, and Matt Whitaker. Truth & Conviction: The Helmuth Hübener Story (DVD). Salt Lake City: Covenant Communications, 2002.

Oral History Interviews

"Berndt, Otto and Frieda M. Oral History." James Moyle Oral History Program. Interviewed by Douglas F. Tobler, Salt Lake City, Utah, Oct. 1-15, 1974. Archives, Historical Department, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Salt Lake City, Utah. Read with the permission of the church archives.

"Brigham, Stanford M. Oral History." James Moyle Oral History Program. Interviewed by Douglas F. Tobler and Alan F. Keele, Provo, Utah, 1974. Archives, Historical Department, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Salt Lake City, Utah.

"Blake, George R. Oral History." Missionary Oral History Project. Interviewed by Michael Van Wagenen. Provo, Utah, Jan. 8, 1992. Charles Redd Center for Western Studies, Brigham Young University, Provo, Utah.

"Clayson, Eli Oral History." Interviewed by Douglas F. Tobler, Dec. 9, 1985, Provo, Utah. Archives, Historical Department, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Salt Lake City Utah.

“Gaeth, Arthur Oral History.” James Moyle Oral History Program. Interviewed by Douglas F. Tobler, Apr. 19, 1980, Denver, Colorado. Archives, Historical Department, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Salt Lake City Utah.

“Gillispie, J. Robert Oral History." Interviewed by Douglas F. Tobler, Dec. 9, 1985, Provo, Utah. Archives, Historical Department, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Salt Lake City, Utah.

“Heiss, Frank Oral History.” James Moyle Oral History Program. Interviewed by Matthew K. Heiss, 9 Apr. 1987. Archives, Historical Department, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Salt Lake City, Utah.

"Kunkel, Gerhardt Oral History." James Moyle Oral History Program. Interviewed by Douglas F. Tobler and Alan F. Keele. Salt Lake City, Utah, 1974. Archives, Historical Department, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Salt Lake City, Utah.

"Lindsey, Ralph Mark Oral History." James Moyle Oral History Program. Interviewed by Matthew K. Heiss. Oakmont, California, 1991. Archives, Historical Department, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Salt Lake City, Utah.

"Murdock, Franklin J. Oral History." James Moyle Oral History Program. Interviewed by Richard L. Jensen, Salt Lake City, Utah, March 21-27, 1973. Archives, Historical Department, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Salt Lake City, Utah.

“Petty, Donald M. Oral History.” Interviewed by Douglas F. Tobler, 6 Aug. 1985 Archives, Historical Department, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Salt Lake City, Utah.

"Ryser, Sterling Oral History." Interviewed by Douglas F. Tobler, 1975. Archives, Historical Department, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Salt Lake City, Utah.

"Sommerfeld, Marie Oral History." Interviewed by Douglas F. Tobler. Salt Lake City, Utah, 1974. Archives, Historical Department, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Salt Lake City, Utah.

"Welker, Roy Ansen Oral History." Interviewed by Richard L. Jensen, Star, Idaho, 2-3 Feb 1993. Archives, Historical Department, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Salt Lake City, Utah.

"Wobbe, Rudolph Gustav Oral History." (first interview) James Moyle Oral History Program. Interviewed by Douglas F. Tobler and Alan F. Keele, Salt Lake City, 1974. Archives, Historical Department, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Salt Lake City, Utah.

"Wobbe, Rudolph Gustav Oral History." (second interview) James Moyle Oral History Program. Interviewed by Matthew K. Heiss, Salt Lake City, 1988. Archives, Historical Department, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Salt Lake City, Utah.

Personal Papers and Diaries

Brimhall, Dean R. Papers. Marriott Library Special Collections, University of Utah, Salt Lake City, Utah.

Brodie, Fawn McKay Papers. Marriott Library Special Collections, University of Utah, Salt Lake City, Utah.

Clarkana Papers of J. Reuben Clark, L. Tom Perrry Special Collections, Harold B. Lee Library, Brigham Young University, Provo, Utah.

McKay, Thomas E. Papers, L. Tom Perry Special Collections, Harold B. Lee Library, Brigham Young University, Provo, Utah.

Rees, Ida May Davis. "Diary of Ida May Davis Rees, 1937-39" Archives, Historical Department, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Salt Lake City, Utah.

Risenmay, George H. Diary. Archives, Historical Department, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Salt Lake City, Utah.

Welker, Roy Anson Papers. Church Library-Archives, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter- Day Saints, Salt Lake City, Utah.

Published Primary Sources

Conference Reports. Salt Lake City: Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1917, 8 Apr. 1917.

“Official Report of the First Germany, Austria, Holland, Italy, Switzerland, France, Belgium, and Spain Area General Conference of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.” Munich, 1974.

"Report of the Semiannual General Conference of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter- Day Saints, October, 1937." Salt Lake City, Utah.

Reference Works and Online Data Bases

Allan Kent Powell, Utah History Encyclopedia. Accessed online: http://www.media.utah.edu/UHE/

Axis History Factbook. Accessed online: http://www.axishistory.com/

Chatecism of the Catholic Church. United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. Accessed online: http://www.usccb.org/beliefs-and-teachi ... webelieve/ catechism/catechism-of-the-catholic-church/epub/index.cfm.

Deseret News Almanac, 1999-2000. Salt Lake City: Deseret, 1999.

Directory of Newspapers and Periodicals. Philadelphia: W. Ayer & Son, Inc., 1936.

Expulsion of Germans After World War II. Swathmore, Penn.: Swathmore College. Accessed online: http://www.sccs.swarthmore.edu/users/08/ajb/ tmve/wiki100k/docs/Expulsion_of_Germans_after_World_War_II.html.

Holocaust Education and Archive Research Team. Accessed online: www.holocaustresearch project.org.

Holocaust Encyclopedia. United States Holocause Memorial Museum. Accessed online: www.ushmm.org.

Jewish News Archive. Jewish Telegraph Agency. Accessed online: http://archive.jta.org.

Jewish Virtual Library. Accessed online: http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org.

Ludlow, Daniel H., ed. Encyclopedia of Mormonism. 5 vols. New York: Macmillan, 1992.

Medline Plus, U. S. National Library of Medicine, Natinoal Institute of Health. Accessed online: http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus.

Names in Stone Cemetery Maps. Orem, Utah: Gateway Mapping Company. Accessed online: http://www.namesinstone.com.

Polk's Salt Lake City Directory. Southfield, Mich.: R. L. Polk & Company, 1952-1975 editions.

Social Security Death Index. Social Security Administration. Accessed online: http://search.ancestry.com/search/db.aspx?dbid=3693.

Standard Rate & Data Service, Newspaper Section. Chicago: B & B Service Corporation, 1936.

Tullis, F. Lamond and Elizabeth Hernandez, "Mormons in Mexico: Leadership, Nationalism, and the Case of the Third Convention," 1987. http://www.orsonprattbrown.com/MexicanM ... ntion.html.

United States Bureau of the Census. Decennial censuses of the United States. Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office.

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Theses and Dissertations

Alder, Douglas D. "The German-Speaking Immigration to Utah 1850-1950." Master’s thesis, University of Utah, 1959.

Anderson, Jeffery L. "Mormons and Germany, 1914-1933: A History of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints and Its Relationship with the German Governments from World War I to the Rise of Hitler." Master’s thesis, Brigham Young University, 1991.

Baugh, Alexander L. “A Call to Arms: The 1938 Mormon Defense of Northern Missouri.” Ph.D. disserttion, Brigham Young University, 1996.

Boone, David F. “The Worldwide Evacuation of Latter-day Saint Missionaries at the Outbreak of World War II.” Master’s thesis, Brigham Young University, 1981.

Carter, Steven E. "The Mormons in the Third Reich, 1933-1946." Ph. D. dissertation, University of Arkansas, 2003.

Hall, Bruce W. "Gemeindegeschichte Als Vergleichende Geschichte: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints in East Germany 1945-1989." Master’s thesis, Brigham Young University, 1998.

Mitchelle, Michael. "The Mormons in Wilhelmine Germany, 1870-1914. Making a Place for an Unwanted American Religion in a Changing German Society." Master’s thesis, Brigham Young University, 1974.

Strong, Leon M. “A History of the Young Men’s Mutual Improvement Association: 1875-1938,” Master’s thesis, Brigham Young University, 1939.

Unpublished Primary Documents

"Helmuth Hübener Membership Record with Excommunication Notation." In Hamburg District Record of Members. Archives, Historical Department, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Salt Lake City, Utah.

Presiding Bishopric Financial, Statistical, and Historical Reports of Wards, Stakes, and Missions, 1884-1955. Provided by LDS Church Archives staff.

Unpublished Works

Anderson, David A. "Huebener Against the Reich." Unpublished stage play. 1984. Copy in my possession.

Corbett, Don Cecil. "Disaster Welfare in Germany." Church Library-Archives, Historical Department, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Salt Lake City, Utah, 1966.

_____. "Records from the Ruins." Church Library-Archives, Historical Department, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Salt Lake City, Utah, 1966.

_____. "Visit of Elder Ezra Taft Benson to Berlin, Germany, 1946." Church Library- Archives, Historical Department, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Salt Lake City, Utah, 1966.

Kelly, Ralph S. and Connie Kelly Swan. Philemon Merrill Kelly: A Collection of Memories. Unpublished biography. Church Library-Archives, Historical Department, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Salt Lake City, Utah.

Kindt, Gabriele B. "Statistical Study: Emigration of German Members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, 1945-62." Undergraduate paper, Brigham Young University, 1977. Church Library-Archives, Historical Department, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Salt Lake City, Utah.

Klopfer, W. Herbert. “Childhood in the Big German City of Berlin: The Ravages of World War II. My Father’s Life and Church Leadership” (unpublished memoir, n.d., ca. 1980), Archives, Historical Department, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Salt Lake City, Utah.

Kobs, Jared H. B. “WW II 1939-1945—Unforgettable Days at ‘The Gates of Hell’” Uunpublished manuscript, n.d., ca. 2000. Copy in my possession.

Langheinrich, Paul. “Report of Procurement of Church Records, Films, and Photocopies.” Unpublished report, n.d., ca 1960. Archives, Historical Department, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Salt Lake City, Utah.

Reschke, Horst A. “There but for the Grace of God.” Lecture, University of Utah, n.d., ca. 1998.

Schmidt, Arnold. An Account of the Mormon Home in Wolfsgruen, 1945-47. Church Library-Archives, Historical Department, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Salt Lake City, Utah.

Supplemental Sources Consulted

Babbel, Rhoda, daughter of Roy and Elizabeth Welker. Telephone interview with David C. Nelson, May 25, 2000, notes in my possession.

Bacque, James. Crimes and Mercies: The Fate of German Civilians under Allied Occupation, 1944-1950. Canadian ed. Toronto: Little, Brown and Co., 1997.

"Bartsch, Hans-Jurgen Ingo Oral History." James Moyle Oral History Program. Interviewed by Matthew K. Heiss, Berlin, Oct. 8, 1991. Archives, Historical Department, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Salt Lake City, Utah.

Bell, William S. "Miracle on the Vistula: The Founding of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints in Poland." Paper presented at the Student Religious Studies Symposium, Brigham Young University, Provo, Utah 2001.

Benson, Ezra T. "Letter from Elder Ezra Taft Benson." Improvement Era, May 1946, 287.

______. "Special Mission to Europe." Relief Society Magazine, May 1947, 293-94.

______. "Be True to the Faith." Improvement Era, December 1955, 949-50.

Benson, Lee, and Doug Robinson. Trials and Triumphs: Mormons in the Olympic Games. Salt Lake City: Deseret, 1992.
"Berndt, Dieter Hermann Erich Oral History." James Moyle Oral History Program. Interviewed by Matthew K. Heiss, Berlin, Oct. 7, 1991. Archives, Historical Department, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Salt Lake City, Utah.

Berndt, Otto Herman Willy. Autobiography. Church Library-Archives, Historical Department, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Salt Lake City, Utah.

Bickerstaff, George. "Guarded by Grace." This People, 1982 (Conference Edition).

Blake, George R. Autobiography. Provo, Utah, 1996. Church Library-Archives, Historical Department, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Salt Lake City, Utah.

Bleyl, Lorenzo Antinius. A Legacy to Our Posterity. Church Library-Archives, Historical Department, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Salt Lake City, Utah.

Bringhurst, Newell G. "Fawn Brodie and Her Quest for Independence." Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought 22-2 (Summer 1989): 79-95.

______, ed. Reconsidering No Man Knows My History: Fawn M. Brodie and Joseph Smith in Retrospect. Logan, UT: Utah State University Press, 1996.

Brooks, Juanita. History of the Jews in Utah and Idaho. Salt Lake City: Western Epics, 1973.

Buerger, David John. The Mysteries of Godliness: A History of Mormon Temple Worship. San Francisco, Salt Lake City, Utah: Smith Research Associates, Distributed by Signature Books, 1994.

Bushman, Richard L. "The Crisis in Europe and Hugh B. Brown's First Mission Presidency." Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought 21-2 (Summer 1988): 51- 60.

Cannon, Donald Q. "The King Follett Discourse: Joseph Smith's Greatest Sermon in Historical Perspective." BYU Studies 18-2 (1978): 179-192.

"German Democratic Republic to Welcome Missionary Work." Ensign, Jan. 1989, 74- 75.

Hale, Steve. "Prisoners of Conscience." Utah Holiday May 1985, 52.

Hall, Bruce W. "And the Last Shall Be First: The LDS Church in the German Democratic Republic." Presented at the Mormon History Association, 35th Annual Meeting. Aalborg, Denmark, Jun. 19, 2000.

_____. "Render until Caesar: State, Identity and Minority Churches in the German Democratic Republic, 1945-1989." Ph.D. dissertation, State University of New York at Buffalo, 2003.

Hansen, Klaus J. "Growing up in Hitler's Germany." Queen's Quarterly 103, no. 1 (1996): 73-85.

_____. "Under Kaiser and Führer: The Story of a Mormon Family." The Third Eye: The Canadian Journal of Mormon Studies 1-1 (1996): 14-30.

"Heller, Johannes Manfred Oral History." James Moyle Oral History Program. Interviewed by Matthew K. Heiss, Dresden, Germany, Oct. 13, 1991. Archives, Historical Department, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Salt Lake City, Utah.

Helmreich, Ernst Christian. The German Churches Under Hitler: Background, Struggle, and Epilogue. Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 1979.

"Henkel, Karl Friedrich Oral History." James Moyle Oral History Program. Interviewed by Matthew Heiss, Freiberg, Germany, Oct. 15, 1991. Archives, Historical Department, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Salt Lake City, Utah.

"Herold, Johannes Emil Oral History." James Moyle Oral History Program. Interviewed by Matthew K. Heiss, Freiberg, Germany, Oct. 15, 1991. Archives, Historical Department, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Salt Lake City, Utah.

Heston, Leonard L., Renate Heston, and Albert Speer. The Medical Casebook of Adolf Hitler: His Illnesses, Doctors, and Drugs. 1st Cooper Square Press edition. New York: Cooper Square Press, 2000.

Holmes, Judith. Olympiad 1936: Blaze of Glory for Hitler's Reich. New York: Ballantine, 1971.

"Huebener Group Lauded in Hamburg." Sunstone (March 1985): 48-49.

"Kelling, Hans-Wilhelm Ludvig Oral History." James Moyle Oral History Program. Interviewed by Douglas F. Tobler, Salt Lake City, 1974. Archives, Historical Department, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Salt Lake City, Utah.

King, Christine Elizabeth. "Strategies for Survival: Sectarian Experience in the Third Reich." In Of Gods and Men: New Religious Movements in the West.

Proceedings of the 1981 Conference of the British Sociological Association Sociology of Religion Study Group: Mercer University Press, 1981.

Klopfer, W. Herbert. “Escape to Freedom.” (unpublished memorandum, n.d.) Copy in my possession.

_____. “Fellowship With the Saints Through the Tune of a Hymn.” (unpublished memorandum, n.d.) Copy in my possession.

_____. “Reminiscenses.” (unpublished memorandum, n.d.) Archives, Historical Department, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Salt Lake City, Utah.

_____. “Supplement to My Father’s Experiencces in Esbjerg, Denmark.” (unpublished memorandum, n.d.) Copy in my possession.

Kuehne, Raymond M. "The Frieberg Temple--an Unexpected Legacy of a Communist State and a Faithful People." Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought 37-2 (Summer 2004): 95-131.

"Lehmann, Rudi Paul Willi Oral History." James Moyle Oral History Program. Interviewed by Matthew K. Heiss, Freiberg, Germany, Oct. 15, 1991. Archives, Historical Department, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Salt Lake City, Utah.

"Loeffler, Kurt Peter Max Oral History." James Moyle Oral History Program. Interviewed by Matthew K. Heiss, Berlin, Oct. 8, 1991. Archives, Historical Department, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Salt Lake City, Utah.

"Loscher, Johann Peter Oral History" (excerpts, pages 21-25). James Moyle Oral History Program. Interviewed by Douglas F. Tobler, Provo, Utah, Jan. 22, 1975. Archives, Historical Department, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Salt Lake City, Utah.

Loscher, John Peter. Autobiography. Salt Lake City: Privately Published, 1976.

Matheson, Peter. The Third Reich and the Christian Churches. Grand Rapids, Mich.: W.B. Eerdmans Pub. Co., 1981.

"Meyer, Joachim Oral History." James Moyle Oral History Program. Interviewed by Matthew K. Heiss, Salt Lake City, Feb. 27, 1989. Archives, Historical Department, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Salt Lake City, Utah.

Milton, Sybil. “Jehovah’s Witnesses as Forgotten Victims” in Hans Hesse, ed., Persecution and Resistance of Jehovah’s Witnesses During the Nazi Regime, 1933-1945, 145. Chicago: Courier, 2001.

Monson, Thomas S. Faith Rewarded: A Personal Account of Prophetic Promises to the East German Saints. Salt Lake City, Utah: Deseret, 1996.

Morgan, Dale L. Papers. Marriott Library Special Collections, University of Utah, Salt Lake City, Utah.

"Muller, Gerhard Rudolf Ernst Oral History." James Moyle Oral History Program. Interviewed by Matthew K. Heiss, Halle, Germany, June 16, 1993. Archives, Historical Department, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Salt Lake City, Utah.

Nelson, David C. "The Hübener Syndrome: How Mormons Remember Church History in Nazi Germany." Presented at the Mormon History Association, 35th Annual Meeting, Allborg, Denmark, 2000.

Nibley, Preston R. "The East German Mission." Relief Society Magazine, August 1956, 512-13.

"Panitsch, Michael and Mary Oral History." Interviewed by Douglas F. Tobler, Munich, Germany, March 30, 1974. Archives, Historical Department, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Salt Lake City, Utah

Penton, M. James. Jehovah's Witnesses and the Third Reich: Sectarian Politics under Persecution. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2004.

Rauschning, Hermann. Gespracht Mit Hitler. New York: Europa, 1940.

Oleschinski, Brigitt. "Plötzensee Memorial Center." Berlin: German Resistance Memorial Center, 1996.

Porter, Marlow Rich. Impressions of the German Mission 55 Years Ago: From the Journal of M. Rich Porter, Former President of Swiss-German Mission. Salt Lake City: Privately Published, 1960.

Purple Triangles. Watchtower Bible and Tract Society, Brooklyn, NY, 1991. VHS Tape.

Sander, Ulrich. Jugend Widerstand im Krieg: Die Helmuth-Hübener-Gruppe, 1941- 1942. Bonn: Paul-Krgenste in Verlag Nach Folger GmbH, 2002.

"Schiele, Walter Gerd Oral History." James Moyle Oral History Program. Interviewed by Matthew K. Heiss, Leipzig, Germany, Oct. 11, 1991. Archives, Historical Department, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Salt Lake City, Utah.

"Schult, Hans Gunter Erich Oral History." James Moyle Oral History Program. Interviewed by Matthew K. Heiss, Berlin, Oct. 7, 1991. Archives, Historical Department, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Salt Lake City, Utah.

"Schult, Johannes Erich Michael Oral History." James Moyle Oral History Program. Interviewed by Matthew K. Heiss, Berlin, June 12, 1993. Archives, Historical Department, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Salt Lake City, Utah.

Seeber, Helga. "Werden und Werken der Mormonen in Munchen." Undergraduate paper, Ludwig-Maximillian University, Feb. 1977. Church Library-Archives, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Salt Lake City, Utah.

Smith, D. Brent. "LDS Pioneers in Post-World War II Germany, Both East and West." Paper presented at the Mormon History Association, 31st Annual Meeting, Snowbird, UT, 1996.

"Speidel, Walter A. Oral History." James Moyle Oral History Program. Interviewed by Douglas F. Tobler, 1975. Archives, Hisorical Department, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Salt Lake City, Utah.

Speidel, Walter Hans. Interview with Jeff Anderson, Provo, Utah, Oct. 1985. Archives, Historical Department, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Salt Lake City, Utah.

Stark, Rodney, and Reid Larkin Neilson. The Rise of Mormonism. New York: Columbia University Press, 2005.

Stern, Norton B. "The Founding of the Jewish Community in Utah." Western States Jewish Historical Quarterly 8-1 (Oct. 1975): 65-69.

Warnke, Jürgen. "The Legal History of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints in Germany." Presented at the Mormon History Association, 35th Annual Meeting. Aalborg, Denmark June 27, 2000.

"Warnke, Klaus Jurgen Oral History." James Moyle Oral History Program. Interviewed by Matthew Heiss, Frankfurt, Sept. 8, 1991. Archives, Historical Department, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Salt Lake City, Utah.

Warner, Cecelia. "Helmuth Hubener: Antagonist or Protagonist?" Sunstone Review 3-5 (Mar. 1984): 3-4.

Watters, Leon L. The Pioneer Jews of Utah. New York: American Jewish Historical Society, 1952.

Wenzel, Maja Busche. "How Was the Mormon Church in Germany Affected by Hitler's Rule?" Undergraduate paper, Brigham Young University, Nov. 18, 1982. Church Library-Archives, Historical Department, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Salt Lake City, Utah.

"Winkler, Sigurd Kark Max Oral History." James Moyle Oral History Program. Interviewed by Matthew K. Heiss, Berlin, June 13, 1993. Archives, Historical Department, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Salt Lake City, Utah.

"Wunderlich, Jean Oral History." Interviewed by James B. Allen, Oram, Utah, 1972. Archives, Historical Department, The Church of Jesus-Christ of Latter-day Saints, Salt Lake City, Utah.
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Re: The Mormons in Nazi Germany, by David Conley Nelson

Postby admin » Fri Jul 06, 2018 10:00 am

APPENDIX A: RUNDERLASS: EXPULSION DECREE OF MORMON MISSIONARIES PRUSSIAN MINISTRY OF THE INTERIOR, APRIL 26, 1853

Es sind in verschiedenen Theilen der Monarchie sowie überhaupt in nördlichen Deutschland, Abgesandte der Sekte der Mormonen aus Amerika erschienen, und ihre Lehren und einzelne Schriften über dieselben zu verbreiten. Diese Bestrebungen verdienen—abgesehen von den Vorwünschen, welche gegen die Grundsätze jener Sekte über die Ehen und einigen andere solche Gegenstücke erhaben sind—deshalb die besonderen Aufmerksamkeit der Behörden, weil ihm Vernehmen nach, die Mormonen Ansiedlungen in Amerika noch nicht de zur Bildung eines Staats erforderliche Bevölkerungszahl haben und die Häupter der Sorte deshalb bemüht sind, Auswanderer aus Europa dahin zu ziehen, so darf also der Verdacht naheliegen, daß die hier auftretenden Abgesandten es sich zum Geschäft machen, diesseitige Untertanen zur Auswanderung zu verleiten.

Die königlich Regierung hat daher die Polizeibehörden mit Anweisung zu versehen daß sie auf das Erscheinen derartigen Falls ausweisen, oder, wenn hinreichende Gründe dazu sich finden ihre gerichtliche Verfugung wegen Übertretung des §114 des Strafgesetzbuchs veranlassen.

APPENDIX B: LETTER FROM GERMAN-AUSTRIAN MISSION PRESIDENT OLIVER BUDGE TO THE GESTAPO

BERLIN, SEPTEMBER 8, 1933

State Secret Service Police Office
Service Station Ad. II E Room 218
Prinz Albrechstr. 28.

Gentlemen:

In keeping with our conversation yesterday, and in compliance with your request, I make the following statement concerning the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints:

The name of our church is the “Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints,” often called “Mormons.” While the word “Mormon” is but a nickname, we recognize it when we hear it. The name is derived from a book by the same name, which was translated from golden plates on which was engraved a history of the American people. We claim it to be the authentic history of the American people. It goes as far back as 2247 B.C. It is particularly the history of the American Indian.

This Church was organized on the sixth day of April in the year 1830 at Fayette, State of New York, United States of America. It is called the “Church of Jesus Christ of Latterday Saints” because we claim that through Christ it was organized. The term “Latterday Saints” is to distinguish the followers of Christ in this day from those of the former days, or in the days of the Apostles.

Our Articles of Faith are:

I

We believe in God, the Eternal Father, and in His Son, Jesus Christ, and in the Holy Ghost.

II

We believe that men will be punished for their own sins, and not for Adam’s transgression.

III

We believe that through the Atonement of Christ, all mankind may be saved, by obedience to the laws and the ordinances of the Gospel.

IV

We believe that the first principles and ordinances of the Gospel are: first, Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ; second, Repentance; third, Baptism by immersion for the remission of sins; fourth, Laying on of hands for the gift of the Holy Ghost.

V

We believe that a man must be called of God, by prophesy, and by the laying on of hands, by those who in authority to preach the Gospel and administer the ordinances thereof.

VI

We believe in the same organization that existed in the primitive Church, viz., prophets, pastors, teachers, evangelists, etc.

VII

We believe in the gift of tongues, prophecy, revelation, visions, healing, interpretation of tongues, etc.

VIII

We believe the Bible to be the word of God as far as it is translated correctly; we also believe the Book of Mormon to be the word of God.

IX

We believe all that God has revealed, all that He does now reveal, and we believe that He will yet reveal many great and important things pertaining to the Kingdom of God.

X

We believe in the literal gathering of Israel and in the restoration of the Ten Tribes; that Zion will be built upon the American continent; that Christ will reign personally upon the earth; and, that the earth will be renewed and receive its paradisiacal glory.

XI

We claim the privilege of worshiping Almighty God according to the dictates of our own conscience, and allow all men the same privilege, let them worship how, where, or what they may.

XII

We believe in being subject to kings, presidents, rulers, and magistrates, in obeying, honoring, and sustaining the law.

XIII

We believe in being honest, true, chaste, benevolent, virtuous, and in doing good to all men; indeed, we may say that we follow the admonition of Paul—We believe all things, we hope all things, we have endured many things, and hope to be able to endure all things. If there is anything virtuous, lovely, or of good report or praiseworthy, we seek after these things. – Joseph Smith.

* * *

The German-Austrian mission of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints comprises the north-central and the south-east part of Germany, and all of Austria; therefore it is called the German-Austrian Mission.

Our teachings are that those desiring to become members of this Church must be converted, of their own free will and choice, to the Gospel of Jesus Christ as found in the Bible and taught by the Church. Before their baptism, or entrance into the Church, individuals must prove themselves worthy of membership; and certainly afterward they are expected, above all else, to be trustworthy, honest, virtuous, kind, and faithful.

If a member, or members, of the Church are known to be engaged in immoral practices, and do not immediately repent and live in keeping with the teachings of the Church in this respect, they are excommunicated. These members are also taught to be exemplary in their own homes. The man is to make peace with his wife, the wife is to make peace with her husband, and the parents are to make peace with their children. It is expected that love abide in their homes, and that they thank the Lord, morning and evening for every blessing received, and, at the same time, ask for His protection during the day.

It is expected that every eligible member of the Church marry and live the first great commandment—“Multiply and replenish the earth”—and that each of the contracting parties be true to himself and to each other—a single standard of morality. Their children and their children’s children are taught personal cleanliness and also to keep what we call the “Word of Wisdom,” abstaining from the use of tobacco, intoxicating liquors, and other harmful beverages.

They are also taught, especially, to be able to class themselves with the best citizens of the country and to support, in the fullest sense of the word, the ordinances and laws of the town, the state, and the country where they live. The authorities of our church have no advice to give regarding party politics, leaving the members free to identify themselves with whatever party they choose; but in any event, we teach that the present party in power, and laws governing the country, be supported by the members of the Church.

We have our own church and our own convictions concerning what it advocates, and we expect to carry our convictions through for the sake of our eternal salvation, so long as we do not come in conflict with the fixed laws of the government.

Our organizations are kept up by free will donations. Considerable amounts of money come in from America every year and are spent in Germany by missionaries of this Church, which money is spent for their traveling, board, and living expenses. Not a cent is received by these missionaries from the Mission, but they are supported either by themselves or by their parents in America.

Our work in this country is headed by an organization called the “Association of the German-Austrian Mission of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints,” consisting of German citizens. It is a registered corporate body like any other organization in Germany.

Now in conclusion as to your question concerning my attitude as president of the Mission, let me say that nearly forty years ago I spent three years here in Germany, at which time I learned the language in Berlin and had a spending opportunity throughout the country to become acquainted with the German people. Therefore, for nearly forty years, I have studied this people, and not only studied them, but have actually spent six years, all told, in the various cities of Germany, and up to the present time I have been a friend and supporter of the German people in their righteous endeavors. I have possibly seen this country at its best and again at its worst. And through all I can truthfully say that the German possess a personal pride that is seldom found in other countries. They are full of vitality and ambition and are workers of the first class. No matter whether they possess much or little, their personal appearance is kept up to the highest degree, closed pressed, shoes polished, hair combed, and all in all, those who desire to have a good life are wholesome to look upon.

Of all the many foreign countries it has been my privilege to visit, give me Germany with its activity and high notions of thrift an prosperity. I have spent many thousands of marks for railroad fare alone, and have visited many cities time and time again in this beautiful country. I can truthfully say that every courtesy has been accorded me by railroad officials, city officials, traffic officers, and citizens of the country generally. I most highly appreciate the privilege of spending some time among this great people, representing as I do, the church to which I belong and in a most worthy cause for the good and benefit of mankind, as well as for their oral and spiritual uplift.

Any detailed information regarding our faith or general attitude will be gladly furnished.

I thank you for the privilege of making the foregoing statement.

Respectfully yours,

Oliver H. Budge
President of the German-Austrian
Mission of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

APPENDIX C: “MORMONISM IN THE NEW GERMANY,” BY DALE CLARK DESERET NEWS CHURCH SECTION, DECEMBER 9, 1933

The rise of the Hitler government in Germany caused a great many to fear that religious activity and missionary work would meet with disastrous opposition. Since the National Socialist party has come to power a few sects have been prohibited or restricted, but activities in the “Mormon” church have been carried on about the same as before. As a matter of fact, a number of interesting parallels can be seen between the church and some of the ideas and policies of the National Socialists.

A friend of the church in Danzig tells of how a number of his Nazi friends were trying to high pressure him into getting on the band wagon under the Swastika. Their trump card to show the originality and political genius of the Hitler party was the brilliant method they have undertaken to put over the charity drive for this winter. To them it was phenomenal; to the friend, however, it was just another application of the effective method that has been in use in the “Mormon” church for decades. The Nazis have introduced “Fast Sunday.”

On the first Sunday in October two missionaries, having had nothing to eat for the day, rushed down to their regular eating place in high expectation of the usual juicy “Wiener Schnitzel” they expected to get. What they got was a little bowl of cold gruel with a little dumpling. This was German Fast day. On this day a meal consisting of one bowl portion is all that is to be eaten and the price of a meal is expected to be donated to the winter charity fund. It is a well-organized campaign. It is designed not only to alleviate the acute poverty, but it has the important purpose of developing that spirit of sacrifice that is being stressed in the new Germany and also of creating more of a feeling of unity and brotherhood through voluntary mutual help. Someone in each apartment is delegated to collect the money and turn it over to the authorities.

There is another noticeable trend in the “Mormon” direction. It is a very well known fact that Hitler observes a form of living which “Mormons” term the “Word of Wisdom.” He will not take alcohol, does not smoke, and is very strict about his diet, insisting on plain and wholesome foods, largely vegetarian.

As a specimen of physical endurance, Hitler can easily take his place along side the athletes that are usually taken as classic examples. His 14-year struggle which brought him to power in Germany put him to a terrible physical strain. Besides the great responsibility there has been trials and conflict, and campaigning so strongly that it has required his attention night and day, many times making it necessary for him to travel great distances by auto or plane, catching up on his sleep under way to fit him for the multitudes who would gather to hear him wherever he had time to stop.

A lady that was at several dinners that Dr. Joseph Goebbels, the conqueror of Berlin attended told me that the rich assortment of liquors on hand were never there for his benefit. It was always necessary to serve him non-alcoholic drinks.

These two colorful leaders of Germany, in their gigantic struggle for political supremacy, have needed capable bodies and clear brains and have trained like athletes. Their very popularity is making intemperance more unpopular. The fact that they are worshipped may be one big reason for a growing dislike for smoking and drinking in Germany today. Posters from youth organizations fighting the use of tobacco have actually appeared on the street. This same movement has even extended itself to the use of cosmetics and its effectiveness may be seen by the fact that a woman recently told me that the slump in the cosmetic business was the cause of her losing her job.

Many of these who felt the greatest anxiety about being able to carry on their religious activities are finding out at least one branch of their church work has received its greatest boon since Germany’s adoption of Hitlerism. It was always difficult for genealogical workers to get into the archives of the recognized churches to trace back family records. When the pastor learned of the intention, access to the records was often denied. Now, given the importance given to the racial question, and the almost necessity of proving that one’s grandmother was not a Jewess, the old record book have been dusted off and stand ready and waiting for use. In fact, some of the Saints instead of being refused by the pastors have now received letters of encouragement complimenting them for their patriotism.

All genealogical workers who are interested in tracing back family history in Germany should take advantage of the present unusual opportunity.

APPENDIX D: “NEW WAYS OF PROSELYTING AND THE REASON THEREFOR” DESERET NEWS, JANUARY 25, 1936

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Two Modern Methods: Sports, Radio

Figure D-1: “In Germany, Herr Hitler has sought the services of the Elders to teach basketball to the teams he hopes will achieve a Nordic victory at the Olympic games to be held this year in Berlin.” This six-column photograph ran in the church-owned broadsheet daily newspaper in Salt Lake City in the midst of an international campaign to boycott the 1936 Olympic Games in Berlin because of the Nazi Government’s discrimination against Germany’s Jewish citizens.


APPENDIX E: “THE GERMAN GIRL OF TODAY,” BY ELIZABETH H. WELKER MISSION MATRON, GERMAN-AUSTRIAN MISSION, 1934-37 IMPROVEMENT ERA, MAY 1937

The German girl of today has a most wholesome outlook upon life. First of all imbued with the ideal of her nation, “To build superior race,” she is doing all in her power to build a strong, vigorous body. She has no false ideas about “a slender, willowy form.” To be thin is neither beautiful nor healthy looking in the eyes of the German people; rather it is an indication or confession that she is not quite normal, and everyone shrinks from that.

She has no false notions about food. All luxuries are simply taboo. So, knowing food values, she wastes little money on foods that will not do all they should in building a perfect body. Right or wrong, she is taught that sugar should be used sparingly, if she uses it at all.

She knows that tobacco has no food value so asks, “Why use it?” And I dare say less tobacco is used by the girls of Germany than those of any other nation. Again, tobacco is a luxury and it is a confession of weakness to indulge in luxuries, and, above all things, she prides herself on her strength, and the use of tobacco is not conducive to building strength.

Not only does she know her food values, but she knows the value of food and how essential it is to help build a strong, healthy body. She carries food with her wherever she goes; she eats between classes at school. If she goes to town, she carries a sandwich, not a sweet and not an ice. When she is hungry, it is food she needs and she supplies it. Even at the opera she has her sandwiches of dark bread and ground meat. Right or wrong again, the German people teach her she should eat frequently. Have you noticed how many scientists are teaching the same thing today?

She has no false ideas about clothes, either. She knows when it is cold her body should be covered, and it is. Her underclothing has a definite purpose, and that purpose is not to be seen. Woolen sweaters are more essential in her wardrobe than is silk. Nor has she any false notions about “high insteps that demand high heels.” She knows her shoes and those she wears permit her to walk ten miles a day, or thirty miles if she chooses, which she frequently does, for she knows the value of walking to her body-building process.

The entire German nation is imbued with this health program. It goes strongly for “suntan,” and the deeper the shade, the more popular.

“Make-up” is a luxury, and almost wholly unused by girls here, for in addition to the luxury side, German people have an almost primitive dislike for it. Long hair is favored and the characteristic hair dress is the long braid over each shoulder.

I have read “when a German youth comes to court a German girl he finds her pedigree chart hung up in the front hall,” but long before he comes to call he has looked her over as a possible mother for his children, and unless she measures up to his ideal of at least a perfect body, he does not call. Motherhood is the ideal of this entire people. Every girl knows that the greatest thing she can do for her country is to give it good, healthy children.

(Note: The remainder of the article discusses the value of physical education, recreation, and family vacations in German society during the Nazi years, and how teenage girls volunteer to take care of children so that mothers can have recreational time. The article’s concluding paragraph is included below.)

Again I say that the German girl has a most wholesome outlook on life and is playing her part in the program of her country and in many ways she has shown that she will do her full part to develop a “superior race.”

APPENDIX F: “IM LANDE DER MORMONEN,” BY ALFRED C. REES PRESIDENT, EAST GERMAN MISSION, 1938-1939 VÖLKISCHER BEOBACHTER, APRIL 14, 1939

(Original in German)

How would you like to live in a city that is 4,300 feet above sea level; that nestles in a broad valley, surrounded entirely by rugged, picturesque mountains, whose tops are covered with eternal snow, a veritable fortress set up by Nature, apparently intended to defy invasion by water, land, or sky?

Such a place is Salt Lake City, capital of the state of Utah, scenic center of America, the renowned gathering place and radiating point of the Mormon Church; two day’s travel from New York, one day from the Pacific Coast.

As any one of us, who have visited that remarkable city, will testify, it is one of the most attractive, beautifully situated cities in the world; clean, modern, pulsating with life and glowing with hospitality; with a history of achievement that at once challenges out admiration.

And what a tragedy lies back of this outstanding accomplishment! Less than 100 years ago, all of that vast, limitless territory, encompassed by the Rocky Mountains, was the very symbol of desolation. Little was known of it. Only a few venturesome trappers entered that forbidding waste. The silence of centuries brooded over that region of violent excesses of heat and cold.

It was in this very valley of threatening starvation and death that a little band of people sought refuge in 1847, after they had been persecuted, pillaged, plundered and driven from their comfortable homes in the Eastern United States by mobs of priests and politicians.

Since there were no railroad connections until the late 60s, those who joined the early Mormon forces came by ox-teams and even handcarts. There are still men and women living in Utah who, as girls and boys, covered that entire distance on foot, sustained and strengthened in all their trials and tribulations by the knowledge that they were escaping the cruel persecutions that had been heaped on them on account of their religious beliefs; and by the hope that peace and security awaited them somewhere in the unknown West. This bitter, historic experience has produced out of the Mormons a determined, practical people, as a result of which, they perhaps, better than any other, can appreciate what the German people endured as they passed through their hardships.

Thus, the Mormon people know what persecution and suppression mean. And the German people, who have gone though the shadow of the valley since the World War; and who have been forced to rely upon their own strength and determination, and upon their undying belief in their own ability to restore their self-respect and their merited place among the mighty in the sisterhood of nations, reveal that same progressive character, which does not shun obstacles. For that reason, to a student of Mormonism, recent developments in Germany present a most impressive study.

From the very beginning, the Mormon people took care of their poor. They saw to it that the administration of relief was always in local hands, in order to limit abuses. They provided for an intimate personal acquaintanceship between those who gave and those who received. The result of this system of Mormon relief has brought about the total absence of want and suffering among their people in every community where the established principles and rules of the church are observed. It is upon this deep-rooted principle that the Mormon church is now carrying out its widely publicized and praised program of self help at a time when ten million Americans are jobless and idle, due to the departure from America’s traditional economic, industrial system.

In order to produce a sound body, Mormons have advocated and practiced, since 1830, what they call the “Word of Wisdom,” which calls for the total abstinence from the use of tobacco, alcohol, coffee, tea, and for the sparing use of meat. Statistics in the United States show that, as a result of close adherence to this formula, the Mormon people are freer from contagious and hereditary diseases than any other people in the United States; and, in fact, the world. That is why the Mormon people, perhaps, more than any other people in the world, pay high tribute to the German government for its bold declaration of war against the use of alcohol and tobacco by the youth of Germany.

Mormon people are proverbially practical believers, not only in the sanctity of the home, but also in large families. They are unalterably opposed to birth control, which they view as a contributing factor to the destruction of any race.

The industry of men and women throughout Germany is a reminder of the proverbial attitude of the Mormon people toward work. It was Brigham Young who announced that the loafer should not eat the bread of the worker. In fact, the coat of arms of Utah is the beehive, indicative of the industry and cooperative spirit of the people.

Perhaps the outstanding financial system of the world for the maintenance of a religious organization is to be found in Mormonism: It is the tithing system. A true, faithful Mormon pays to the church one-tenth of his income for the upkeep of the church and its institutions. This has placed the church on a sound financial basis, and has made possible its remarkable expansion, growth, and development and operation of its far-flung educational and social institutions, all conducted under church supervision; also in the erection and maintenance of commodious places of worship, which dot and beautify the entire length and breadth of the land, in which the church has a following. Here is the application of the German ideal: community welfare before personal welfare. Mormons are practical exponents of that wholesome doctrine.

Among the institutions of learning of which the Mormon church is especially proud, is the Brigham Young University, located in Provo, about a two hour’s drive from Salt Lake City. The institution was established under the direction of a distinguished German, Dr. Karl G. Maeser, who was born in Meissen, Saxony, joined the Mormon faith, came to Utah, and was charged by Brigham Young with responsibility for establishing that institution.

The Mormon church makes the unique claim of having been established by direct revelation from God, through the instrumentality of a young man by the name of Joseph Smith, who, though unlettered and untutored, laid down principles of conduct in the realm of religion; announced truths in the field of general science; and give to the world a philosophy of life that challenged the thinking of every unbiased mind.

Among the Mormons who have notable contributions to world thought is also J. Reuben Clark, Jr., a member of the First Presidency of the Mormon church. He is an acknowledged diplomat, was United States Ambassador to Mexico, and today is the head of the Foreign Bondholders Association, which represents not only the United States government, but all Americans who hold securities in foreign countries. Mr. Clark is a frequent visitor to Berlin.

Perhaps the persistent driving force and the unfailing courage of the Mormon people find explanation in their belief that man is immortal; that he lives beyond the grave, that he continues in his program of eternal progression, that divinity and complete mastery over all forces is his goal and destiny. In fact, their belief is crystalized thus: “As God now is, man can become.” Mormonism sees in God a personal, living being.

APPENDIX G: “President Grant in Frankfurt, Germany,” by Hyrum J. Smith Deseret News, August 7, 1937

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Figure G-1: The Mormon’s Prophet, Seer, and Revelator, Heber J. Grant, presides with his mission presidents at a banquet in Frankfurt. Every assembly hall in Germany at this time came equipped with a large Swastika flag. However, the church-owned newspaper in Salt Lake City had no reservation about publishing a picture of the church president appearing with Nazi symbolism.

APPENDIX H: “GERMANY HOLDS M.I.A. ‘ECHO OF JOY’ FESTIVAL” DESERET NEWS, JULY 18, 1936

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Figure H-1: European Mission President Joseph F. Merrill address a crowd of more than 700 at the annual festival of the Mutual Improvement Association, an LDS youth group in Berlin. Although the swastika flag was mandatory at all halls rented in Germany, the church-owned daily paper, once again, was not averse to depicting Nazi symbolism in the pictures it published.
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