Keepapitchinin, the Mormon History blog » Guest Post: “Died in the Service of Their Fatherland”: Latter-day Saints in Germany, World War I – 1914
 


Guest Post: “Died in the Service of Their Fatherland”: Latter-day Saints in Germany, World War I – 1914

By: Amy Tanner Thiriot - January 25, 2013

A glance at Der Stern, the publication of the Swiss-German Mission, suggests that the start of the First World War came as a complete surprise to mission president Hyrum W. Valentine and the missionaries serving in Germany, Switzerland, and Austria-Hungary.

Der Stern missed several issues when Wilhelm Kessler, the paper’s editor, returned to Germany to enlist in the service.

When the paper resumed publication on October 15, it printed a long list of American missionaries departing Europe for America, either honorably released or with mission calls transferred to the United States. The paper also noted the names of six missionaries who had “responded to the defense of their country at the call of their Kaiser”: Wilhelm Kessler, Eduard Hofmann, Otto Ernst, Joachim Jabs, Otto Demke, and Alfred Müller.

It did not take long for Der Stern to report the first-known casualties among German servicemen: the next issue held a black-bordered box noting the deaths of Franz Waldhaufen of Königsberg and Joseph Holl of Nürnberg.

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November 1, 1914

John 13:15 [sic]

[Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. John 15:13]

Revelation 2:10

[Fear none of those things which thou shalt suffer:?... be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life.]

In Memoriam

From the official list of casualties it follows, that our dear Brother Franz Waldhaufen from the Königsberg Branch died a hero’s death for his Fatherland on the battlefield on September 12, 1914.

From Nürnberg is sent to us the sad news that Brother Joseph Holl has encountered the hero’s death for his Fatherland. He was hit in the head by a bullet on October 8 on the Western Front, and died without regaining consciousness.

And from December 1, 1914:

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John 15:13

[Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.]

Revelation 2:10

[Fear none of those things which thou shalt suffer:?... be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life.]

In Memoriam

From the field of honor the following members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints encountered a hero’s death for their Fatherland.

Hans Max Walter Völker

Member of the Stettin Branch, born on January 25, 1894 in Mescherin, Randow, Pommern, baptized on April 6, 1914.

Richard Hermann Alfred Liewald

Member of the Görlitz Branch, born on March 21, 1891 at Kunzendorf in Schlesien, baptized on December 9, 1910.

Both brothers fell on the Western Front, Brother Völker on November 2, Brother Liewald on September 8, 1914.

We express our heartfelt sympathy to the sorrowing relatives. May our Father in Heaven succor them in their sorrow and may they find comfort in the knowledge that he who, like the dear departed ones, has kept the faith unto the end and has been true until death is not lost, but has gained eternal life, and has only been called home to a higher sphere and to a better world, to look forward to an eventual reunion with those he loves.

(Amy acknowledges the collaboration of a certain unindicted co-conspirator in the translation of the final paragraph.)



3 Comments »

  1. Nice reminder that the command to “love your enemies” is not just a rhetorical exercise. Thank you, Amy.

    Comment by kevinf — January 25, 2013 @ 9:57 am

  2. I’d have commented earlier but I was off getting my ears pierced.

    These are made more poignant because of what we know now, that the war which had begun with such high hopes in mid-summer 1914 would continue for four more terrible years, with losses of life that were unimaginable in the relatively innocent days of the fall of 1914.

    Thanks, Amy, for your work in finding and translating them.

    Comment by Mark B. — January 25, 2013 @ 11:07 am

  3. Yes, Kevin; what a complex situation! Missionaries who had been working alongside each other, preaching the gospel of peace, found themselves on opposite sides of a great international struggle.

    Well, I can’t imagine that the identity of our “co-conspirator,” as Ardis noted, is a surprise to any long-term reader of Keepa. I translated this a couple of nights ago and had been working long and hard that day and ran into the final beautiful, carefully-crafted sentiment with clause piled upon clause, all dependent upon one another, and my brain literally turned off.*

    I made a brave attempt, and then sent out an SOS to our local grammar cop, Mark B., and he kindly unraveled the linguistic tangles and sent a better translation. It all reminds me, once again, what a helpful and enjoyable community Ardis has built here at Keepa.

    And, finally, this was probably written by Max Zimmer who was editor of Der Stern at the time and was acting Swiss mission president during the Second World War.

    *”Literally” meaning “figuratively” here.

    Comment by Amy T — January 25, 2013 @ 12:57 pm

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