In my last post, I talked about getting some documents from my father. Another one that I got was a Nazi published pamphlet called “Im Lande der Mormonen” or “In the land of the Mormons” It is written by Alfred C. Rees, the East German Mission President before the war (1). What makes my copy unique is it has a note hand written by Rees to an Elder Roy Heindorf, thanking him for helping write the article.
The translation of his hand written note is
To Elder Roy Heindorf
With pleasurable memories of your intelligent humble cooperation which helped make this article possible
A. C. Rees
The rest of the page is translated (2) as follows
“Of the strange folk community of Mormons, Europe has long had a very disoriented perception. Who knew the Mormon State of Utah is one of the healthiest and most modern state in the US even today? In the following, Mr Alfred C. Rees, the representative of the Mormon church in Germany, paints for our readers a portrait of Mormonism today, a church which views the New Germany with sympathy and friendship”
In a Sunstone article entitled “The Fuhrer’s New Clothes: Helmuth Hübener and the Mormons in the Third Reich” (3), some background on the pamphlet is given:
“In their eagerness to coexist with the [Nazi] government, American officials of the German Church resorted to public relation efforts . . . Probably the clearest example of this tendency is an article by West German Mission President Alfred C. Rees entitled ‘In the Land of the Mormons.’ The article appeared in a special issue of the Nazi Party organ Der Volkische Beobachter dated April 14 1937. In the Editor’s Preface to the article, President Rees is called ‘the representative of the Church in Germany,’ who ‘paints for our readers a portrait of Mormonism today, a church which views the New Germany with sympathy and friendship.’ Whether President Rees originally wrote the article in German or not, the language of the piece abounds in such loaded terms as Volk and Rasse (race), and a picture of Brigham Young bears the caption, ‘Fuhrer der historischen Mormonenpioniere.’ But the significance of these linguistic gaffes is magnified by hindsight. More disturbing is the way President Rees blatantly parallels Mormonism with Nazism. As Rees warms to his topic, Mormonism begins to sound like a fulfillment of Nazi teachings, providing ‘the practical realization of the German ideal: “the common good takes precedence over the individual good.”‘ Rees concluded by assuring his readers that ‘Mormons are people who put this healthy doctrine into action.’ Reading articles such as this, it would have been easy for a German Saint to mistakenly conclude that the seal of official Church approval had been placed on the Nazi regime.”
Steve Carter, in the International Journal of Mormon Studies (4) makes similar observations about the article
Rees, in his article entitled, “In the Land of the Mormons,” favorably compared Mormonism and Nazism and emphasized doctrinal similarities. He also suggested that common experience gave Mormonism a unique understanding of the “new Germany,” especially its grievances resulting from World War I. Rees asserted “to a student of Mormonism, recent developments in Germany present a most impressive study.” He mentioned J. Reuben Clark, no doubt, reminding the Nazis of Clark’s efforts to relieve the financial situation in Germany as president of the Foreign Bondholders’ Association. Rees concluded that Mormons exhibited the “application of the German ideal: Community welfare before personal welfare,” an allusion to Point 24 of the Nazi Party program of putting “common interests before self-interest
And here is the photo of the “Fuhrer”, Brigham Young.
I have read before about the church and its some would say “too close relationship” with the Nazis, but to hold this Nazi propaganda pamphlet in my hand, and see it signed by A. C. Rees made it seem all too real. What do you think about the church’s relationship with the pre-WW2 Nazi party?
(1) for an interesting history of the two mission Presidents being called to the same German mission , see Gospel Tangents here
(2) Thanks to google translate and a friend who went on his mission to Germany.
(3) Alan F. Keele and Douglas F. Tobler, Sunstone, v. 5, no. 6, pp. 20-29
(4) The Rise of the Nazi Dictatorship and its Relationship with the Mormon Church in Germany, 1933–1939 – Steve Carter March 3, 2015, IJMS