Church History Moment: President Monson Remembered Forgotten Saints in East Germany

Contributed By the Church News

  • 21 August 2017

The dedication of the Freiberg Germany Temple in June 1985. Left to right: Emil Fetzer, Elisa Wirthlin, Joseph B. Wirthlin, Mary Hales, Robert D. Hales, Frances Monson, and Thomas S. Monson.

Living under a restrictive communist government, members of the Church in East Germany had many difficult years, during which missionaries could not enter or leave the land to serve and it was very difficult to visit the temple. The Saints there were cut off from many blessings available to others.

But the Lord had not forgotten them, and neither had Elder Thomas S. Monson. On April 27, 1975, Elder Monson and some of the German leaders of the Church gathered under a rainy sky to dedicate East Germany, which had not been dedicated since its separation from the western half of the nation.

In President Monson’s biography, he describes that dedication:

“We bowed our heads,” President Monson said, “and supplicated our Heavenly Father in dedicating this land for the purposes of His work.” He prayed that “the program of the Church in its fullness” would be able to reach the people of the German Democratic Republic again, saying that he believed their faith had qualified them for those blessings.

“During the prayer,” he continued, “a rooster happened to crow in the distance, signaling the beginning of the day; church bells began to chime down in the valley, signaling it was a Sabbath day. During that time, I felt heat on my hands. I knew we were in a rainstorm, but as we concluded the prayer and looked heavenward, it had cleared.

“A shaft of sunshine was coming right down to that little outcropping. … The warmth which we felt on our hands and faces happened to be from that ray of sunshine from heaven.”

Seeing this, Elder Monson knew that “the hand of the Lord was with this work.”

“It was the dawning of a new day,” he said. The people of that troubled land would not be abandoned.

Ten years later, in 1985, the Freiberg Temple was dedicated in East Germany, and in 1988, foreign full-time missionaries were once again allowed in the country.

In his visits to East Germany and other places, President Monson has always gone to the rescue of those who seemed lost and forgotten.

President Boyd K. Packer spoke of how President Monson is “the one for whom the widow and the orphan are not just statements in a book.”

—From President Monson’s biography, To the Rescue, pages 1, 302–3.