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“Fulfillment of Prophecy” … in the Third Reich

By: Ardis E. Parshall - September 18, 2012

In 1934, Oliver H. Budge, president of the German-Austrian mission, produced a series of articles for Church publications regarding “some interesting sidelights on [a] new German activity.” I probably won’t put up all ten articles as daily posts, but will soon make them all available in the Keepa archives with links added to this post.

What think ye?

The Hearts of the Children

I.

One of the greatest wholesale fulfillment of prophecy that I have ever witnessed is being carried on right in front of our eyes here in the present day “Reborn Germany.” Those ringing words of Malachi in the last two verses of the Old Testament have had a great influence in the “Third Reich.”

Genealogy and anthropology are one of the most far-reaching of the recent developments in this country. They are not hobbies nor matters of choice, but realities. Public officials of every class are required to present a certificate (pedigree chart) of their ancestors in order to retain their positions. Commissions have been instituted by the government for the purpose of preserving all old documents. Archives are being built up, societies are being organized and the newspaper sand periodicals are full of such material.

The genealogical fever has transplanted itself not only into the hearts of the specialists in this line, but also into the very being of the laymen.

Our members who were before active now have the opportunity to visit special classes provided by the city schools and colleges where they live. In Berlin, our Berlin Genealogical society has made special arrangements with the Technical Academy whereby it can send fifteen or twenty of its members there for instruction. Those who were already engaged in the work are working harder. Those who didn’t know what genealogy was, are now learning.

The fact that every official has to have his pedigree charts causes the government to make it more easy for those persons to obtain them.

Our members have taken advantage of this opportunity and have received much valuable information in regards to the same. Entrance into the various parishes has been made easy. Writing to pastors has been successful because they have been obliged to answer letters written for genealogical information. Thus one whole nation and a world power has turned with one mind toward its fathers.



25 Comments »

  1. Who knew genealogy had such a dark side?

    Comment by Capozaino — September 18, 2012 @ 8:27 am

  2. Well, that’s what I’d call a glaring lack of judgment.

    Comment by Amy T — September 18, 2012 @ 9:06 am

  3. Unfortunately, Budge was not alone. Before the war, several Church leaders with german connections, including the president of the Brazilian Mission (which was German-speaking prior to WWII), bent over backwards to say positive things about the Nazi programme.

    Comment by Kent Larsen — September 18, 2012 @ 9:06 am

  4. It’s our knowledge of what is coming, to what use that genealogy will be put, that prevents us from seeing events as Pres. Budge saw them in 1934. There are other articles (not part of this genealogy-focused series) from the same era that praise Hitler for his temperance wrt alcohol, for encouraging large families, for encouraging physical development through exercise and clean living … all of which quite naturally won LDS praise.

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — September 18, 2012 @ 9:49 am

  5. Or one could choose to look at this as an example of how God can bring about some good, even if only in a small way, under the darkest shadow.

    Comment by Vader — September 18, 2012 @ 10:31 am

  6. If one wanted to be charitable, he could say that Pres. Budge was making lemonade with the lemons dealt by the Hitler regime.

    But he seems to ignore completely the cost–borne by those who couldn’t prove their “pure” German ancestry.

    Comment by Mark B. — September 18, 2012 @ 10:43 am

  7. Seems to me to be an instance of seeing divine handiwork in everything. Observations of intimately immanent, divine guidance don’t often age well. At least that has been my experience.

    Also, this document makes me very uncomfortable given the ongoing practice of proxy baptism for the Holocaust’s dead performed by some probably well-meaning, but definitely insensitive church members.

    Comment by oudenos — September 18, 2012 @ 11:18 am

  8. Just to put things in context (and because I looked it up), the Nazi regime had already taken away the right of Jews to work in the year before this article was written. [And, of course, there would be no reason for Germans to provide their genealogy without these laws]. Budge clearly knew that the genealogy requirements targeted Jews.

    Comment by Kent Larsen — September 18, 2012 @ 11:28 am

  9. To be fair, it would be nice for you to also print the anti-Nazi statements of Church leaders as there were some. Remember, there were Mormon politicians that tried to make laws to save the Jews, and the bills were rejected.

    Comment by Jettboy — September 18, 2012 @ 11:34 am

  10. Chilling, in retrospect, to say the least. I’m sure that Pres. Budge saw in this an opportunity to use a common interest in genealogy as a potential missionary tool. Kristallnacht was still four years in the future.

    Comment by kevinf — September 18, 2012 @ 11:40 am

  11. do we know the exact date in 1934? The Night of the Long Knives was in 1934.

    The very fact that those who were of non- Ayran descent could not obtain posts as officials should have rung some alarm bells with Pres. Budge. Or maybe he could see the way things were going, so felt it necessary to stay in the Nazi good books.

    Comment by Anne (U.K.) — September 18, 2012 @ 12:01 pm

  12. Lest anyone be confused, those attempts that Jettboy refers to took place in the United States, where, especially, Senator Elbert Thomas was active in efforts to ease the restrictions in the immigration laws to permit more Jewish refugees to enter the U.S. Back then, as now, those who would restrict immigration were not on the side of the angels. [Feel free to edit that out, Ardis, if you think it's an impermissible threadjack.]

    Yes, kevinf, Kristallnacht was four years in the future, but laws barring Jews from the civil service had been adopted in 1933, as had laws barring them from professions such as law and medicine. Pres. Budge obviously knew the substance of those laws, since he speaks of the officials needing to prove their ancestry.

    The Night of the Long Knives refers to the arrest and killing, on June 30/July 1 of 1934, of many of the leaders of the S.A.–the Brown Shirts. Their leader, Ernst Röhm, was viewed as a rival by Goering, who was then head of the Gestapo, and Himmler, the head of the S.S. So Röhm and many of his subordinates were killed. It solidified Hitler’s position as sole ruler of Germany, and was a terrible precedent for extra-judicial killing. That of course led to the unspeakable atrocity of the Holocaust, but there wasn’t any particular uptick in anti-Jewish activity associated with the purge of the S.A.

    Comment by Mark B. — September 18, 2012 @ 12:30 pm

  13. This was published in late February, so well before the Night of the Long Knives.

    Jettboy, don’t misunderstand me. I am not condemning Pres. Budge or the Church or anyone/thing else (well, except Nazis) for not foreseeing the coming Holocaust. I merely wanted to showcase an interesting instance of how our interpretation of events can be dramatically different pre- and post-event. While I also had in mind how strange it is that good can be perverted to evil, Vader’s comment at #5 puts a different spin on that. Some of the later entries in Pres. Budge’s series make that even more evident, as he describes efforts to open and preserve genealogical records that might not have had much of a wartime priority without this perverse focus, and hence might not exist today absent this prewar genealogical drive.

    History is not inevitable (except, Mormons might say, in the broadest possible sense of “our team will eventually win”). We tend to think of history as inevitable because, well, it happened the way it happened. But to me, this document illustrates how we all tend to feel our way through our lives, with no clearer view of what is going to happen to us next year than Pres. Budge had. We do the best good we can with what we have at the moment.

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — September 18, 2012 @ 12:54 pm

  14. Just did a quick search on Senator Thomas, who defeated Sen Reed Smoot in 1932 to win his Senate seat, and found that he visited Germany in 1934, and came to different conclusions than Pres. Budge appears to be taking in his writings. We can’t know for sure, but Pres. Budge may well have been taking a positive approach so as not to bring unwelcome attention to the church and its missionaries.

    Comment by kevinf — September 18, 2012 @ 1:00 pm

  15. Looks like I just missed reading comment #13 by Ardis, while I posted mine. The earlier date in 1934 probably predates the visit by Senator Thomas. Rank speculation here, but perhaps Pres. Budge may have been sending a subtle message about what was happening in Germany without again attracting attention. At this point, we just don’t know, but the information is fascinating.

    Comment by kevinf — September 18, 2012 @ 1:05 pm

  16. A few years ago I read the autobiography of F. Enzio Busche, a German general authority who was a young boy at the time the Nazis came to power. Although I’ve read a number of books about Germany during that time period, Elder Busche had some interesting insights about how the German people received the Nazis. From his perspective, the Nazi party used good things in a twisted way to gain power (he draws the parallel with Satan tempting us with things that seem ‘good’ but for bad ends): family unity, childbearing, genealogy, work, national pride. None of those are bad things in and of themselves, but when they are used as means to an end in the way the Nazis did, they become bad. I’m not sure if I’m explaining myself well, but Elder Busche’s book helped me understand the German people in a way that I had not before.

    Comment by FoxyJ — September 18, 2012 @ 1:11 pm

  17. This is interesting to me from the other side of things. My ancestors were German Jews, and smuggling Jewish genealogical information to both preserve it, and to keep it away from German authorities who were using them to seperate out those with any Jewish ancestors.

    I wonder if the church had a part in that. With the information I have found through the Jewish genealogical organization often comes from Salt Laje, but doesn’t say how it got there.

    Comment by Julia — September 18, 2012 @ 3:03 pm

  18. As I was reading this post and some of the comments I was reminded of something a history teacher once taught me. The course of history is not obvious to those who are living it. I remember reading about the experience of someone who spent some time in Austria (I don’t remember if it was on this blog or elsewhere). After getting to know some people they asked the older people about their memories of the German take over of Austria. Every single person they asked stated that they were opposed to it, yet this person noted that at the time 50% of the people in Austria were in favor pf it. It was only after the war that everyone “remembered” being opposed to it all along.

    Just think of this hypothetical situation (I don’t think that this will happen, but it is a possibility). How many people have cheered the recent changes in the Middle East with the Arab Spring? There have been many people, including Church leaders who have spoken positively of the changes happening there and have noted that the people seem to be looking for greater freedom. What if in a few years these recently democratized countries felt pressured by outside forces and decided to band together to form an alliance.

    After some internal wrangling the countries involved declare a new Caliphate. The European Union over reacts to the creation of a new Caliphate and through a series of unfortunate events we end up in the middle of World War III. Atrocities are committed all around and afterwards we look back and say “You know some people actually supported what was going on there.” and will bring out a statement by Elder So and So post it on a blog and everyone will gasp and wonder how they could have been so blind. And people will comment and say, “Oh well they were trying to see the good in a bad situation.” And others will say, “Well he only made that statement in July 2012 or January 2013, and it wasn’t until December 2012 when ________ did ________, which obviously was the start of the atrocities that happened in 2021. They must have seen what was happening in 2012. I wonder why they didn’t speak out about it and condemn it?”

    Perhaps we all should strive to have more charity towards those who are caught up in the ebb and flow of history as opposed to those of us who have the luxury of reading about it in a book with clearer vision. If we do this then perhaps those in the future will do the same to us.

    Sorry Ardis, I’ll get off my soap box now.

    Comment by quantumleap42 — September 20, 2012 @ 11:04 am

  19. Move over, quantumleap, and make room for me to share your soap box!

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — September 20, 2012 @ 11:09 am

  20. I hadn’t noticed any lack of charity towards Pres. Budge–but perhaps I’m not sufficiently sensitive to what I read here. On the other hand, several years’ experience reading comments from the regulars here gives me some idea of the tone beyond just the printed words.

    Surely it would be unfair to blame Pres. Budge with foreknowledge of the horrors that were to visited upon the Jews by the Nazis during the next 11 years. I don’t think anybody could have imagined them in 1934–I’m not even sure that the Nazis themselves could have–and when stories leaked out of occupied Europe about what was happening in the extermination camps, those stories were dismissed by many as outlandish propaganda–surely a civilized European people like the Germans would never sink to such barbarism.

    But Pres. Budge must have known that the laws in Germany in 1934 specifically barred Jews from the civil service and from the professions. No amount of economic revival or renewed national pride (or even advances of genealogical research!) can hide such unjust discrimination against an entire people. I should have hoped that something would have rung out loudly and clearly: That’s not right. But, sadly, he either didn’t hear that ringing, or he decided that the economic discrimination against the Jews was an acceptable price to pay for those other “good” things.

    And we can still be charitable towards him while concluding that that was just wrong.

    Comment by Mark B. — September 20, 2012 @ 11:25 am

  21. Strike that “hide” in the third line of the penultimate paragraph, and insert “justify”.

    Comment by Mark B. — September 20, 2012 @ 11:28 am

  22. Strangely enough, this conversation is reminding me of a game of Dutch Blitz.

    Comment by Amy T — September 20, 2012 @ 12:41 pm

  23. Quantumleap, what you point out in your # 20 is what I think we are all dealing with here: context. The timing of Pres. Budge’s letter raises many questions that unfortunately we can’t answer, and I tried to exercise some caution and give Pres. Budge the benefit of the doubt in all of this. We don’t know how much he knew, and we suspect that he may have known more than he let on. Was he concerned about his mail being intercepted and read? Again, speculation. We just don’t know what he knew, absent some other documentation. My first inclination is to assume the best, but leave room for disappointment. No question that growing up in the most racially diverse city in Utah in the 60′s, I should have been more sensitive to the priesthood and temple ban than I was. My motives were good, but I was unfortunately a product of the prevailing culture and my kind and loving parents incomplete understanding. I’ll echo Mark’s comment and be charitable, but still see that from our perspective (20/20 hindsight and all) he was knowingly or not putting lipstick on a filthy pig.

    Comment by kevinf — September 20, 2012 @ 3:18 pm

  24. None of us today really knows what things were like then and there. We don’t appreciate the extraordinary pressure Latter-day Saints felt to prove that they were loyal Germans and good citizens, and that the German branches of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints were not threats to the new order. Even the President of the Church himself visited Germany in 1937 and “urged the members to remain, get along, and not cause trouble” (from Wikipedia article on Helmuth Huebener). When those people in history did and said things in order to protect their families and their branches, well, I will not condemn them. May God bless them, and may we be charitable towards them.

    Comment by ji — September 21, 2012 @ 9:54 am

  25. All the appeals for charity are beginning to have the exact opposite effect on me–I’m inclined to go back and parse Pres. Budge’s statement more carefully to see whether he deserves a more charitable reading than he has been given here.

    Upon further review, he deserves less.

    First, as to what he knew: the laws barring Jews from the Civil Service and from the professions were not secrets. Nobody could say of those laws as they did of the concentration camps: “I had no idea what was going on in that camp in the woods just a few kilometers from my lovely Bavarian village, full of gemütlichkeit and lovely Mädchen in Dirndl.” Pres. Budge implies that he knew. What else could he have meant when he cited the law’s requirement that a person prove his “pedigree” in order to retain his position? Were the Nazis a bunch of Young Earth Creationists trying to bar those recently descended from apes from working for Deutsche Post?

    While he was describing the fulfillment of prophecy in “Reborn Germany” he spoke of the influence that the words of Malachi had on the Third Reich. Really? The Nazis weren’t persecuting the Jews–they were just turning the hearts of the children to their fathers? [Insert appropriate barnyard epithet here.]

    And, as long as he was describing the fulfillment of prophecy, why didn’t he go for the whole enchilada and cite I Nephi 19:13-14, and point out the glorious fulfillment of that prophecy too? Because if any nation hated the Jews, Nazi Germany did, and with gusto. How better to show that the Church in German was filled with loyal citizens.

    The 20th century Church seemed to put a premium on getting along–it’s a good thing that a majority of the Continental Congress weren’t 20th century Mormons, or we’d still be singing “God Save the Queen” and curtseying when she came near. But getting along–not stirring things up–does not require that we cite with approval the horrid things being done by the government. The problem with Pres. Budge is that he crossed that line.

    If we don’t make that (or at least some) judgment, then why bother studying the past?

    A good example of how to do that while at the same time being charitable toward those who lived in those difficult times was shown by Churchill upon the death, in November 1940, of Neville Chamberlain. One key excerpt:

    Whatever else history may or may not say about these terrible, tremendous years, we can be sure that Neville Chamberlain acted with perfect sincerity according to his lights and strove to the utmost of his capacity and authority, which were powerful, to save the world from the awful, devastating struggle in which we are now engaged. This alone will stand him in good stead as far as what is called the verdict of history is concerned.

    Read the whole thing–it’s simply amazing.

    Comment by Mark B. — September 21, 2012 @ 12:37 pm

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