cover image Moroni and the Swastika: Mormons in Nazi Germany

Moroni and the Swastika: Mormons in Nazi Germany

David Conley Nelson. Univ. of Oklahoma, $29.95 (432p) ISBN 978-0-8061-4668-3

How does a religion%E2%80%94particularly a fledgling minority%E2%80%94preserve itself under a repressive government? In the case of Mormonism in Nazi Germany, it did so not by keeping a low profile, but by enthusiastically and publicly embracing many of the ruling party's policies, especially its eagerness to clean up "ethical decay." In this well-researched and engrossing book, Conley shows how Mormons sought to ingratiate themselves with the Nazi regime. For example, Mormon missionaries helped to train the 1936 German basketball team for Hitler's Olympics, and provided free genealogical research to German citizens who suddenly needed to prove their non-Jewish ancestry. There is no evidence that the LDS Church reached out to help Jews, refusing to provide documentation for Jewish converts to Mormonism who wished to emigrate to America before the war. If there is a flaw in this study, it is the author's reluctance to let the considerable evidence speak for itself; too many direct quotations have italicized emphases to drive home points that are made damningly clear in the source material, and the author's criticism of the LDS Church's obsequiousness sometimes comes across as editorializing. Still, a compelling and thought-provoking read. (Feb.)