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Nelson Book On Church In Germany

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Sunstone is advertising a book written by a Nelson about the Church in Germany during the late 30's and 40's, I find the title a bit offensive so won't use it. Am wondering if this is a serious historical work or merely an anti Mormon rant. Have read about a few awkward things that happened during that period and am wondering about the legitimacy of this work.

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One would have to read the book in order to determine whether David Nelson (PhD in history, Texas A&M) has been fair and balanced.  Mike Quinn praises the book.

 

I would not be surprised to discover that many LDS were good Germans, loyal and patriotic to their country, willing to serve in the Wehrmacht.  Did that make them Nazis?  Of course, there were the Mormon teen-age dissidents, Rudi Wobbe, Karl Schnibbe, and Helmuth Hübener, the latter was beheaded by the Gestapo for actively opposing the Third Reich (his Nazi branch president excommunicated him, while his two friends were imprisoned).  All of them belonging to the glorious club presided over by Pastor Martin Niemöller.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1cto6mRGInk .

 

Church President Heber J. Grant, no doubt worried about persecution Mormons might receive, urged members in Germany in 1937 to get along and not cause problems. Another disturbing example — as late as 1939 — of Mormon enabling of Nazism were remarks in a Nazi media organ written by West German LDS mission president, Alfred C. Rees. Rees enthusiastically compared Nazism with Mormonism.  See Keele and Tobler, Sunstone, November/December 1980.

 

One would also want to explore the degree to which Mormons in East Germany cooperated or colluded with the Stasi.  Did that make them Communists?

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By reading Ham Clam's link of the book review by an LDS man, it looks like the book is not really anti, but the truth, and as bad as the truth can be it's still the truth.  I love the brave young man and his friends who spread the pamphlets around to the Jews to warn them. 

 

I had no idea about all of this until recently.  We should all just keep learning from it and hope for a more peaceful and loving generation to come and never hide the truth, so as to stop it from ever happening again. 

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Thanks for that, Ham Clam.  Nice review by Andrew H.

 

I responded in the Comments, saying:

 

I have met Schnibbe and Wobbe, and I think that we should honor young Hubener and others who were so heroic (the “outliers” you mention).

However, historical perspective should teach us that the early Christian Church was similarly quiescent in the face of the harsh realities of the Roman Empire, including support of the slave system. Despite the horror and shame associated with doing so, it proved to be the wisest course in the long view. Indeed, Roman officials who interrogated those early Christians commented that, not only did they not oppose the Empire, but they even prayed for it.

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Hopefully this doesn't turn into a public Mormon-Jewish relations disaster, but it will be something hard in increasing dialogue.

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Just to be clear, lots of British and American citizens were pro- Hitler in the 1930's, and many states passed laws supporting eugenics (the basis for Hilter's goal to preserve pure German heritage) in the 20's.    It can be really difficult from our vantage point to accept that many of our ancestors and fellow believers thought that Hitler and faith were not mutually exclusive.   But in our day, we follow people who turn out to be almost as monsterous in things like ponzi schemes.  

 

Whether or not a person of faith, people are often gullible (or at least ill-informed and/or overly trusting).

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And we don't want to talk about the boat loads of Jews that fled Germany and elsewhere, that were not allowed to enter any port in the West. It should not just be Germany shouting mea culpa.

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And we don't want to talk about the boat loads of Jews that fled Germany and elsewhere, that were not allowed to enter any port in the West. It should not just be Germany shouting mea culpa.

 

Seriously.

 

The US turned them away and eventually they were forced back to where they came from.  Meanwhile, we readily accepted boats of German children and took care of them.

 

America was pretty anti-semetic in the 1940s.  We obviously would not have been o.k. with killing them but we didn't want anything to do with them either (and were o.k. with other people killing them to an extent for sure since we knew about the death camps long before we took any action against Germany.).

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Seriously.

 

The US turned them away and eventually they were forced back to where they came from.  Meanwhile, we readily accepted boats of German children and took care of them.

 

America was pretty anti-semetic in the 1940s.  We obviously would not have been o.k. with killing them but we didn't want anything to do with them either (and were o.k. with other people killing them to an extent for sure since we knew about the death camps long before we took any action against Germany.).

Well actually we sanitized the Nazi scientists with operation Paperclip, which is how we got Werner Von Braun. But you are right, FDR actively suppressed news reports of the holacaust because he was afraid that Americans would start thinking that we were fighting for the Jews and it would hurt the war effort.

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As long as it is in the context with what the U.S. and allies were doing and other Christian churches, then bring it on. These types of matters always need the proper context.

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Sunstone is advertising a book written by a Nelson about the Church in Germany during the late 30's and 40's, I find the title a bit offensive so won't use it. Am wondering if this is a serious historical work or merely an anti Mormon rant. Have read about a few awkward things that happened during that period and am wondering about the legitimacy of this work.

 

The book is a legitimate scholarly work, not an anti-Mormon tract. But I suspect the author is looking to give the Church a black eye. The title is provocative and his Twitter handle even more so (@Moroni_Swastika).

 

An earlier paper of his, "Private Diplomacy During the Interwar Years: A Confluence of Mormonism, Nazism, and Investor Advocacy," made the rounds on DAMU message boards several years ago with its unsparing portrayal of First Presidency counselor J. Reuben Clark's anti-Semitism (extracting the most scandalous bits from D. Michael Quinn's 2002 biography of Clark, Elder Statesman).

 

Although the piece generally succeeds at maintaining a semblance of scholarly detachment, Nelson occasionally lapses into ridicule when alluding to Clark's leadership position in the Church:

  • "This man of many contradictions, whose ecclesiastical position ostensibly gifted him with the skill of prophecy, proceeded to work miracles in the temporal world of international finance" (p. 2)

     

  • "[Clark's appointment to the First Presidency—"the denomination's ruling troika"] proved fortuitous not only for Clark . . . but also for America's foreign bondholders and Germany's Mormons, whose cause would soon be championed by a prophet of God" (p. 4)

     

  • "Clark served as President of the FBPC from 1933 to 1938, and thereafter remained an active member of its Board of Directors and a frequent negotiator. . . . As his correspondence files show, he remained an active participant in reviving and resuscitating morbid [sic] foreign obligations until his death in 1961. As was the case for the latter half of his presidency, he did so without pay. That is the least that could have been expected from a prophet of God" (p. 14)

Nelson repeatedly references Clark's anti-Semitism and speculates that he "may have employed [it] to the benefit of his secular and religious clients when he dealt with Third Reich officials" (p. 3), even though there is no evidence that he ever did so (see p. 12).

 

And, although he is supposedly writing about Clark's activities as president of the Foreign Bondholders Protective Council, Nelson can't resist commenting on what he considers the LDS Church's "symbiotic relationship" and "confluence of world views" with the Nazi regime:

  • "While Mormon youth traded their khaki scout shirts and colorful neckerchiefs for comparable Hitler Youth regalia, Jehovah's Witnesses wore purple triangles in concentration camps. While Christian Scientists struggled for their sect’s existence, a fight they would eventually lose, the shock troops of Mormonism, young American missionaries, still crossed the Atlantic unchallenged to proselytize in Hitler’s Germany. While Seventh Day Adventists progressively mutated into an entity virtually unrecognizable by the American parent church, Mormons maintained their spiritual tenets while blending into Hitler’s temporal world with chameleon-like skill" (pp. 9–10).

     

  • "Mormons learned their lesson during the struggle over polygamy, and by the time Hitler came to power, they 'rendered unto Caesar' by blindly obeying the Führer" (p. 10).

     

  • "Senior Mormon officials in Germany did everything possible to avoid offending the Reich. They purged church hymns of references to Israel, Zion, and other lyrics that could suggest sympathy with Judaism. As pressure on Germany’s Jews increased, Mormons practically abandoned their Jewish converts" (p. 11).

Anyway, you get the picture. I expect the book offers more of the same.

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......................................................................................    

Anyway, you get the picture. I expect the book offers more of the same.

Herr Hitler had a lot of followers and admirers in the USA generally, until he declared war on us.

 

Nowadays, one would think that J. Reuben Clark was out of sync with the rest of America, but not so.  Quite aside from the fact that anti-Semitism was normal in America, and young Jewish kids were beaten each day as "Christ-killers" as they walked to their American schools.  It is easy to adopt a holier-than-thou attitude at this late date.

 

Another Clark who said some nice things about Hitler and Germany during that pre-war period was Dale Clark.  He served a German mission in 31-33, and rec'd his BA in political science at the UofU in 1937.  However, with the outbreak of WW II he became a 2nd Lt in the USMC, and ended up being assigned to Europe due to his expertise in politics and German.  At the end of the war, he headed a group whose job it was to form a democratic German gov't and political parties.  Despite some difficulties with Secretary Morgenthau, he and his men succeeded remarkably well.  However, no one among the Germans in Bavaria would trust him until he had had an audience with the Pope.  After that it was smooth sailing.  Even today, U.S. military textbooks describe his sensitive method for post-war occupation and renovation of governments.  Yeh, it was a Mormon what don it.

 

We need to understand the full context, the temper of the times, in order to bring appropriate perspective to such matters.

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Sunstone is advertising a book written by a Nelson about the Church in Germany during the late 30's and 40's, I find the title a bit offensive so won't use it. Am wondering if this is a serious historical work or merely an anti Mormon rant. Have read about a few awkward things that happened during that period and am wondering about the legitimacy of this work.

If German Mormons supported Hitler they should be ranted at...I have been to concentration camps; everybody knew what was going on. While stationed there for four years in the 70's, we had former party members who had to be given jobs to keep the trains running...etc, working for us.

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If German Mormons supported Hitler they should be ranted at...I have been to concentration camps; everybody knew what was going on. While stationed there for four years in the 70's, we had former party members who had to be given jobs to keep the trains running...etc, working for us.

 

Not entirely true. Even as late as 1944, many Hungarian Jews did not realise how bad a threat Hitler really was. Mind you, this was after five years of killing, and enough refugees for Poland and Ukraine had made it to Hungary.

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Not entirely true. Even as late as 1944, many Hungarian Jews did not realise how bad a threat Hitler really was. Mind you, this was after five years of killing, and enough refugees for Poland and Ukraine had made it to Hungary.

 

I think a lot of people just could not believe people could be as evil as Hitler and his regime turned out to be.  

 

Jews were certainly used to persecution.  Even really bad persecution.  But Hitler was an entirely new level of hate.  As I'm sure you are aware, a lot of older Jews believed that if they just kept their nose down (so to speak) and took the abuse that it would eventually get better.  They didn't believe that  Hitler would kill off his work force; they were sure the horrors they were hearing about were embellished rumor.  

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Not entirely true. Even as late as 1944, many Hungarian Jews did not realise how bad a threat Hitler really was. Mind you, this was after five years of killing, and enough refugees for Poland and Ukraine had made it to Hungary.

Let me be more focused, in the German State, most all knew. Those living near concentration camps benefited directly from slave labor from the camps, other cities what weekly and daily trains filled with Jews, political enmities and well as those with mental and physical deformities. In lands conquered by Germany, all twins born to none German parents were sent to the camps to be experimented on. The Germans were drafting German boys to defend the the "Fatherland". In all my life, I have never felt more evil accompanied with sobbing than when visiting the camps!

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Let me be more focused, in the German State, most all knew. Those living near concentration camps benefited directly from slave labor from the camps, other cities what weekly and daily trains filled with Jews, political enmities and well as those with mental and physical deformities. In lands conquered by Germany, all twins born to none German parents were sent to the camps to be experimented on. The Germans were drafting German boys to defend the the "Fatherland". In all my life, I have never felt more evil accompanied with sobbing than when visiting the camps!

After the war we tried to blame it all on the Nazis, but more and more evidence is coming out that the regular German army knew and participated and the general German populace knew a lot more than was let on. Even in the 1960's when I travelled to Germany and visited Dachau...it was very difficult to get directions to the camp from the local Germans.

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After the war we tried to blame it all on the Nazis, but more and more evidence is coming out that the regular German army knew and participated and the general German populace knew a lot more than was let on. Even in the 1960's when I travelled to Germany and visited Dachau...it was very difficult to get directions to the camp from the local Germans.

"The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing."  Edmund Burke

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Tacenda, "no one does evil more efficiently than someone who believes he is doing good."   Haven't A. Clue. 

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After the war we tried to blame it all on the Nazis, but more and more evidence is coming out that the regular German army knew and participated and the general German populace knew a lot more than was let on. Even in the 1960's when I travelled to Germany and visited Dachau...it was very difficult to get directions to the camp from the local Germans.

The "SS" ran the camps, but also used German soldiers...some rank and file. But the leadership wanted all "SS" whenever possible. When Dachau was liberated, Army films recorded the conditions in camp...it looks like it was snowing all the time...but not so, it was ashes from the furnaces. Some camps were more isolated, but every man woman and child knew what was going on in Dachau. Bergen-Belsen was more remote, but towns people could smell the death...the method primarily used there was starvation. Heck, Germany had anti-Semetic groups that funded violence against Jews all over Eroupe and Africa up until the 1990's. Just a few short years the Germans released the terrorists who killed the Iseralial Olympic team.

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