Henry Burkhardt and LDS Realpolitik in Communist East Germany | BYU Studies

Henry Burkhardt and LDS Realpolitik in Communist East Germany

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Henry Burkhardt and LDS Realpolitik in Communist East Germany
Author Raymond Kuehne
Salt Lake City, Utah: University of Utah Press, 2011

Henry Burkhardt and LDS Realpolitik in Communist East Germany

Reviewer James H. Backman

The biography of Henry Burkhardt is an inspiring story tied to a group of Church members caught up in the politics of Germany after World War II. Like a young David asked to face a Goliath of repressive national power that caused a fledgling people to fear the political force around them, Burkhardt led faithful Latter-day Saints for four decades in a manner reminiscent of early pioneers like Brigham Young, Heber C. Kimball, and Wilford Woodruff. Like each of these early faithful servants, Burkhardt became a leader at a young age, when as a missionary he was called in 1952 at the age of twenty-two to be a counselor in a mission presidency. His area was what we know as East Germany, which had been carved out in postwar Germany and occupied by Soviet armies. He was still serving as a temple president in that land—officially known as the German Democratic Republic (GDR)—in 1989 when the Berlin Wall fell and the Communist regime disintegrated and in 1990 when Germany unified once again.

The primary beneficiaries of this book are all readers interested in discovering modern-day stories that inspire them to live the gospel in their daily lives even under duress. This book adds a human face to perhaps one of the most difficult eras that any community of Latter-day Saints has faced in the last half century. Their experiences will inspire future generations in the same way that biblical, religious, and pioneer stories of determination, sacrifice, and faith in the face of hardship have stirred souls the world over.

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