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Mormons as Citizens of a Communist State
A Documentary History of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in East Germany, 1945–1990
Foreword by Ronald Smelser
From 1945 to 1990, communist East Germany existed as an officially atheistic state. Mormons as Citizens of a Communist State is the first objective study of the history and experiences of the thousands of members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints living in the country during that time. They faced discrimination and difficulties, but by the time of a 1988 meeting between church president Thomas S. Monson and East German chairman Erich Honecker that permitted the entry of Western missionaries, the church had nonetheless succeeded in achieving full legal status, organizing stakes and ordaining patriarchs, dedicating the only temple ever built in a communist state, and constructing numerous meeting houses throughout the nation.
Author Raymond M. Kuehne provides evidence and descriptions of those milestones for the East German LDS church from previously unpublished documents, and also offers in-depth descriptions of the church’s youth and missionary programs and of the experiences of its members in educational and professional pursuits. Kuehne also incorporates into his work the personal interpretations of East German Saints’ of the Church’s traditional teachings regarding their responsibility to honor and support the government under which they lived.
Kuehne objectively presents a montage of government and church records, personal interviews, and pertinent background information. In doing so, he requires that readers evaluate the evidence in order to reach their own conclusions regarding the success of the church in dealing with a persistent and dominant political ideology that for many years tried to destroy their religious institution, and if the church’s many successes and accomplishments in such an environment necessitated a compromise of its governing principles.
Raymond M. Kuehne was born in New York City of German immigrant parents and has studied as a Fulbright Fellow at the University of Marburg and as a National Woodrow Wilson Fellow at the University of Virginia. He served in the North German Mission and the Freiberg Temple Mission. Mormons as Citizens of a Communist State was originally published in German in February of 2008.
Table of Contents:
List of Figures
List of Tables
Foreword by Ronald Smelser
1. Germany before 1945
2. Soviet Military Administration 1945–1949
3. The Church-State Relationship in the GDR
4. The Legal Status of the LDS Church
5. Life prior to the Berlin Wall 1949–1961
6. Living with the Wall 1961–1989
7. How Mormons Defined Citizenship
8. Missionary Opportunities
9. Church Youth Programs
10. Education and Employment
11. The Old Meeting Houses
12. Importing Church Literature
13. Financial Administration
14. Improved Relations in the 1970s and 1980s
15. The Origins of the Freiberg Temple
16. New Meeting Houses in the 1980s
17. The Honecker-Monson Meeting 1988
18. Missionaries Enter the GDR 1989
19. The Wende—End of the GDR 1990
20. President Henry Burkhardt
Appendix A: Travels of the Mission Leaders 1945
Appendix B: Two Refugee Centers 1945–1946
Appendix C: Recovery of Genealogical Records 1946
Appendix D: Conferences 1946–1948
Appendix E: Mission Choir Tour 1949
Appendix F: Youth Pioneer Trek 1962
Appendix G: The Rededication of the Land 1975
Appendix H: Origin of the Freiberg Temple 1983
Appendix I: Freiberg Temple Open House and Dedication 1985
Appendix J: Freiberg Temple Dedicatory Prayer
Appendix K: Membership Statistics 1939–1961
Praise and Reviews:
“Kuehne has written the book for an impartial, curious reader who wishes to form his own opinion about what took place with the members of this little religious organization in the GDR. This approach distinguishes itself favorably from so many other accounts and biographies of the history of churches and religious organizations in the GDR. This exciting book should not only be read, it should be studied.”
—Joachim Heise, Institute for Comparative State-Church Research, Berlin
"For those who have knowledge of and interest in the history of East Germany, as well as those interested in the worldwide growth of the Church, this book is invaluable....Rather than interpret or answer his own questions, Kuehne leaves that task to the reader, further underscoring the strength of the book."
"Kudos to the University of Utah Press for publishing this excellent treasure trove of essential information about one of the most remarkable chapters not only of Mormon history but of world history!"
—The Journal of Mormon History