Germany has had a challenging history, and the stories of the church in Germany are filled with moments of prayer, inspiration, prophecy, and service. Following are three stories told by the Mormon prophet, Thomas S. Monson, about the church’s growth and work in Germany.
German Mormonism After the War
In the words of a well-known song, I wish you could “come fly with me” to eastern Germany, where I have visited many times. Not long ago, as I traveled along the autobahns, I reflected on a time almost 35 years before when I saw on the same autobahns just trucks carrying armed soldiers and policemen. Barking dogs everywhere strained on their leashes, and informers walked the streets. Back then, the flame of freedom had flickered and burned low. A wall of shame sprang up, and a curtain of iron came down. Hope was all but snuffed out. Life, precious life, continued on in faith, nothing wavering. Patient waiting was required. An abiding trust in God marked the life of each Latter-day Saint.
When I made my initial visit beyond the wall, it was a time of fear on the part of our members as they struggled in the performance of their duties. I found the dullness of despair on the faces of many passersby but a bright and beautiful expression of love emanating from our members. In Görlitz the building in which we met was shell-pocked from the war, but the interior reflected the tender care of our leaders in bringing brightness and cleanliness to an otherwise shabby and grimy structure. The Church had survived both a world war and the cold war which followed. The singing of the Saints brightened every soul. …
not receive temple blessings-neither endowment nor sealing. No official visitor had come from Church headquarters in a long time. The members were forbidden to leave the country. Yet they trusted in the Lord with all their hearts, and they leaned not to their own understanding. In all their ways they acknowledged Him, and He directed their paths. I stood at the pulpit, and with tear-filled eyes and a voice choked with emotion, I made a promise to the people: “If you will remain true and faithful to the commandments of God, every blessing any member of the Church enjoys in any other country will be yours.”
That night as I realized what I had promised, I dropped to my knees and prayed: “Heavenly Father, I’m on Thy errand; this is Thy Church. I have spoken words that came not from me, but from Thee and Thy Son. Wilt Thou, therefore, fulfill the promise in the lives of this noble people.” There coursed through my mind the words from the psalm, “Be still, and know that I am God.” The heavenly virtue of patience was required.
Little by little the promise was fulfilled. First, patriarchs were ordained, then lesson manuals produced. Wards were formed and stakes created. Chapels and stake centers were begun, completed, and dedicated. Then, miracle of miracles, a holy temple of God was permitted, designed, constructed, and dedicated. Finally, after an absence of 50 years, approval was granted for full-time missionaries to enter the nation and for local youth to serve elsewhere in the world. Then, like the wall of Jericho, the Berlin Wall crumbled, and freedom, with its attendant responsibilities, returned.
All of the parts of the precious promise of almost 35 years earlier were fulfilled, save one. Tiny Görlitz, where the promise had been given, still had no chapel of its own. Now, even that dream became a reality. The building was approved and completed. Dedication day dawned. Sister Monson and I, along with Elder and Sister Dieter Uchtdorf, held a meeting of dedication in Görlitz. The same songs were sung as were rendered all those years earlier. The members knew the significance of the occasion, marking the total fulfillment of the promise. They wept as they sang. The song of the righteous was indeed a prayer unto the Lord and had been answered with a blessing upon their heads. 13
At the conclusion of the meeting we were reluctant to leave. As we did so, seen were the waving hands of all, heard were the words, “Auf Wiedersehen, auf Wiedersehen; God be with you till we meet again.”
Thomas S. Monson, “Patience, a Heavenly Virtue,” Ensign, Sep 2002, 2-7
Feeding the Hungry After World War II
Fifty-two years ago, when World War II came to a close and Europe lay devastated, hunger stalked the streets, infectious diseases were everywhere to be found, and the people had given up hope. A call came for aid, and President George Albert Smith, then President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, went to see President Harry S Truman to get permission to send aid to the starving people throughout Europe. President Truman listened to President Smith and then said, “I like what you plan to do. How long will it take you to assemble the goods you would like to send and prepare them for shipment?”
I was in Zwickau, Germany, several years ago, and an elderly gentleman came up to me and said, “President Monson, I want you to tell President Ezra Taft Benson that the food he brought after the war-food sent by the Church-kept me from starving. It gave me hope for the future.” I was deeply touched as I listened to his expressions of gratitude.
Thomas S. Monson, “Our Brothers’ Keepers,” Ensign, Jun 1998, 33
A Temple in Germany
Today, on a gentle rise in the historic city of Freiberg, Germany, there stands a beautiful, dedicated temple of God. The temple provides the ultimate-even the eternal-blessings of a loving Heavenly Father to His faithful Saints.
Years ago, on a Sunday morning, April 27, 1975, I stood on an outcropping of rock situated between the cities of Dresden and Meissen, high above the Elbe River. I responded to the promptings of the Holy Spirit and offered a prayer of dedication on that land and its people. That prayer noted the faith of the members. It emphasized the tender feelings of many hearts filled with an overwhelming desire to obtain temple blessings. A plea for peace was expressed. Divine help was requested. I voiced the words, “Dear Father, let this be the beginning of a new day for the members of Thy Church in this land.”
Suddenly, from far below in the valley, a bell in a church steeple began to chime and the shrill crow of a rooster broke the morning silence, each heralding the commencement of a new day. Though my eyes were closed, I felt a warmth from the sun’s rays reaching my face, my hands, my arms. How could this be? An incessant rain had been falling all morning. At the conclusion of the prayer, I gazed heavenward. I noted a ray of sunshine which penetrated an opening in the heavy clouds, a ray which engulfed the spot where our small group stood. From that moment I knew divine help was at hand.
Full cooperation of government officials was forthcoming. President Spencer W. Kimball and his counselors provided enthusiastic approval. A temple was planned, a site selected, groundbreaking services held, and construction commenced. At the time of dedication, the attention of the international press was focused on this temple in its unusual setting. Words like “How?” and “Why?” were voiced frequently. This was particularly in evidence during the public open house, when 89,872 persons visited the temple. At times the waiting period stretched to three hours, occasionally in the rain. None wavered. All were shown God’s house.
Thomas S. Monson, “Those Who Love Jesus,” Ensign, Mar 1999, 2