The Twelfth Article of Faith and parts of the 134th Section of the Doctrine and Covenants function as Mormonism's equivalent of the biblical admonition to "render unto Caesar," a charge to cooperate with civil government, no matter how onerous doing so may be. Resurrecting this often-violated doctrinal edict, ecclesiastical leaders at the time developed a strategy that protected Mormons within Nazi Germany. Furthermore, as Nelson shows, many Mormon officials strove to fit into the Third Reich by exploiting commonalities with the Nazi state. German Mormons emphasized a mutual interest in genealogy and a passion for sports. They sent husbands into the Wehrmacht and sons into the Hitler Youth, and they prayed for a German victory when the war began. They also purged Jewish references from hymnals, lesson plans, and liturgical practices. One American mission president even wrote an article for the official Nazi Party newspaper, extolling parallels between Utah Mormon and German Nazi society. Nelson documents this collaboration, as well as subsequent efforts to suppress it by fashioning a new collective memory of ordinary German Mormons' courage and travails during the war.
Recovering this inconvenient past, Moroni and the Swastika restores a complex and difficult chapter to the history of Nazi Germany and the Mormon Church in the twentieth century--and offers new insight into the construction of historical truth.
- ISBN-13: 9780806146683
- ISBN-10: 0806146680
- Publisher: University of Oklahoma Press
- Publish Date: February 2015
- Page Count: 432
- Dimensions: 9.1 x 6.1 x 1.3 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds
Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
- Review Date: 2015-02-16
- Reviewer: Staff
How does a religion—particularly a fledgling minority—preserve itself under a repressive government? In the case of Mormonism in Nazi Germany, it did so not by keeping a low profile, but by enthusiastically and publicly embracing many of the ruling party's policies, especially its eagerness to clean up "ethical decay." In this well-researched and engrossing book, Conley shows how Mormons sought to ingratiate themselves with the Nazi regime. For example, Mormon missionaries helped to train the 1936 German basketball team for Hitler's Olympics, and provided free genealogical research to German citizens who suddenly needed to prove their non-Jewish ancestry. There is no evidence that the LDS Church reached out to help Jews, refusing to provide documentation for Jewish converts to Mormonism who wished to emigrate to America before the war. If there is a flaw in this study, it is the author's reluctance to let the considerable evidence speak for itself; too many direct quotations have italicized emphases to drive home points that are made damningly clear in the source material, and the author's criticism of the LDS Church's obsequiousness sometimes comes across as editorializing. Still, a compelling and thought-provoking read. (Feb.)