Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Church History: Stories of German Saints in WWII

BYU's Religious Studies Center has posted online the book Under the Gun: West German and Ustrian Later-day Saints in World War II by Roger P. Minert.

We've heard stories here and there in general conference of what it was like for the Saints in Germany during after WWII.  But if you've ever wished you could get a bigger picture, this book is pretty gripping.

From the blurb:
They [the German Saints] did not have ready access to the many conveniences American Saints took for granted—including their local Church leaders, clean places to meet, cars, and temples. In fact, German Saints could only experience the temple by crossing the Atlantic Ocean and most of the North American continent. Germany was one of the war fronts where homes were destroyed and friends and families were killed. Unlike American soldiers returning to their homes, nearly half of the German Saints had no home to which to return. Hundreds of them served in the German military while thousands more stayed home and endeavored to keep their families and the Church alive. Their stories of joy and suffering are presented in this book against the background of the successes and collapse of the Third Reich.
 The book is organized by geographical districts with stories of individual Saints grouped within their branch boundaries. This makes a read of the Table of Contents seem a bit stodgy, but just click on one of the links and after a quick summary of demographics, numbers, and a map, you'll get down into the stories of the individuals as they tried to fulfill their leadership callings and live faithful lives in some pretty difficult circumstances. 

I, for one, am grateful for this book because it shows me how 1) faithfully living the gospel strengthened the Saints in an oppressive regime, and 2) how the Lord preserved his Saints.  It also reminds me of so many freedoms we enjoy that we so often take for granted.  (It might also give some much needed perspective on current events and concerns.)

Since July 4th falls on a Monday--next week, in fact--why not read through and share some of your favorite stories from this book with your family for Family Home Evening?