The Mormons in Nazi Germany: History and Memory
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This dissertation studies a small American religious group that survived unscathed during the Third Reich. Some fifteen thousand members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the Mormons, lived under National Socialism. Unlike persecuted Jews and Jehovah's Witnesses, and other small American-based sects that suffered severe restrictions, the Mormons worshiped freely under Hitler's regime. They survived by stressing congruence between church doctrine and Nazi dogma. Mormons emphasized their interest in genealogical research and sports, sent their husbands into the Wehrmacht and their sons into the Hitler Youth, and prayed for a Nazi victory in wartime. Mormon leaders purged all Jewish references from hymnals, lesson plans and liturgical practices, and shunned their few Jewish converts. They resurrected a doctrinal edict that required deference to civil authority, which the Mormons had not always obeyed. Some Mormons imagined fanciful connections with Nazism, to the point that a few believed Hitler admired their church, copied its welfare program, and organized the Nazi party along Mormon lines. This dissertation builds upon Christine Elizabeth King's theory of a common Weltanschauung between Mormons and Nazis, and Steven Carter's description of the Mormons' "accommodation" with National Socialism. Instead of a passive approach, however, the Mormons pursued aggressive and shameless "ingratiation" with the Nazi state. This work also examines memory. Mormons later tried to forget their pandering to the Nazis, especially when large numbers of Germans immigrated to Utah in the post-war period. When the story of a martyred Mormon resister, Helmuth Hubener, emerged in the 1970s, church officials interfered with the research of scholars at Brigham Young University. They feared that Hubener's example would incite Mormon youth to rebel against dictators abroad, hurt the church's relations with communist East Germany, and would offend recent German Mormon immigrants in Utah. A few Mormons shunned and harassed Hubener's surviving coconspirators. In recent years, Hubener?excommunicated for rebellion against the Nazis but later restored to full church membership?has been rehabilitated as a recognized hero of Mormonism. A new collective memory has been forged, one of wartime courage and suffering, while the inconvenient past is being conveniently discarded.
Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
Nelson, David Conley 1953- (2012). The Mormons in Nazi Germany: History and Memory. Doctoral dissertation, Texas A&M University. Available electronically from