Erfurt Branch

Roger P.Minert, “ErfurtBranch,” in Under the Gun: West German and Austrian Latter-day Saints in World War II (Provo, UT: Religious Studies Center, Brigham Young University; Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 2011), 478–481.

Erfurt Bran​ch, Weimar District

Formerly a district capital in the Prussian province of Saxony, the city of Erfurt was the largest (165,615 inhabitants) and most important city in the region in 1939. Although no records regarding the population of the Erfurt Branch in that year have survived, the branch directory lists leaders for every organization but the Primary. It would appear that the branch had at least seventy-five members.

Karl Müller was the branch president, and his only counselor was Karl Krummrich. Willi Brachmann directed the Sunday School, Alexander Ludwig the YMMIA, and Ella Possner the YWMIA. Erna Brachmann was the Relief Society president, and Louis Trefflich was responsible for both the Stern magazine and genealogical instruction in the branch.

Meetings of the Erfurt Branch were held in rented rooms in a Hinterhaus at Johannesstrasse 136. The first meeting on Sunday was Sunday School at 10:00 a.m., and later a genealogy class began at 6:00 p.m. and sacrament meeting at 7:30 p.m. Mutual met on Tuesdays at 8:00 p.m., and both the priesthood and Relief Society meetings took place on Thursdays at 8:00 p.m.

The daughter of the branch president, Margot Krummrich (born 1935), described the meeting rooms:

There was a large room on the main floor. On the [rostrum] stood the pump organ and the piano. The pulpit was also in the front. There were some pictures of Christ in the main room. There were also classrooms. During the war, we might have had four to ten people in the meetings. It was actually a large branch, but most of the members could not attend. [1]

Just before the war began, Margot was hospitalized with diphtheria. At the point when she was almost paralyzed, a most remarkable thing occurred: her father wanted to give her a priesthood blessing but was not allowed to be in her room. He then stood outside the room and pronounced the blessing. She was healed by the next day.

Fig. 1. The Johannesstrasse in Erfurt as it looks today. (R. Freitag)

The history of the Erfurt Branch offers only one statement regarding the life of the Latter-day Saints in that city during World War II. Brigitte Loch explained, “During the war the members held meetings in various homes and taught and edified each other.” [2]

Margot Krummrich had looked forward to being baptized in November 1944, but wartime conditions delayed the event until January 13, 1945. The baptism took place in a small pool in the local hospital. “It was cold,” she recalled, but she was fortunate that her father, who was apparently home on leave, could perform the ceremony.

The American army entered the region in April 1945. According to Margot, there was no fighting when they arrived. Shortly thereafter, the GIs left the region, and the Soviet occupation forces took over. She recalled that the Americans had conducted themselves fairly well among the locals, but the same could not be said of the Soviets later on: “They did not treat the women with any respect.”

“My father was gone from home for about a year and a half, but he returned in May 1945,” recalled Margot. The family had been evacuated to the town of Möbisburg (just five miles south of Erfurt) for a few months, but with Karl’s return, they went home to their apartment at Johannesstrasse 131, just down the street from the branch rooms. The family’s return was timely, because the branch was nearly evicted from the building. Margot explained the odd circumstances:

A family from the Cottbus Branch came to town and needed a place to stay. My father decided that they could live in one of the classrooms. But they wanted all the branch rooms, which we of course could not give them. The family then said that they would take our apartment if we moved somewhere else. We had a beautiful and large apartment. We then lived together for a while but that did not work, so we left our apartment and moved into the Church meeting rooms. [The guest family] said that if we didn’t give them our apartment, they would tell the housing authority that the branch rooms were not being used and other people could move in. My father was quick to decide that we would move into the branch rooms. [3]

Thus the church meeting place was preserved, and the members of the branch began again to worship together. Their numbers increased as soldiers returned and evacuated members found their way back to the city that had since lost many of its residential buildings to air raids.

Two years after the war, branch president Willi Brachmann wrote a letter to former missionary Walter E. Scoville, who was attempting to determine the status of LDS families in branches in which he had served just before the war. The following is an excerpt from that letter:

Well, the war is now over and it really took its toll. Even though we were never in favor of war, we too must pay the price. I lost my only son (Horst) in the last days of the war. He was 17½. Six young men of the Erfurt Branch were killed in battle. Alex Ludwig is still a POW of the French in Africa. Brother Wittmer spent 1½ years in prison. He had been sentenced to five years for helping American POWs to escape. I was assigned to be the president of the Weimar district and I served as such until just before the end of the war. All [sic]of our members made it through the war fairly well. After the war, we all began anew to the do the work of the Lord. [4]

Brother Krummrich’s letter was very optimistic. As a point of fact, the Erfurt Branch alone had lost six men in combat situations, and another eight members died at home.

In Memoriam

The following members of the Erfurt Branch did not survive World War II:

Horst Brachmann b. Erfurt, Erfurt, Sachsen, 10 May 1927; son of Willi August Walter Brachmann and Erna Amalie Scharf; bp. 22 June 1935; conf. 23 June 1935; k. in battle 25 Mar 1945 (FHL microfilm 25728; 1930 census; FamilySearch)

Karl Eichler b. Erfurt, Erfurt, Sachsen, 15 Jul 1907; son of Wilhelm Wärtzburg and Elly Eichler; bp. 26 Jun 1920; conf. 26 Jun 1920; lance corporal; d. wounds at H. V. Pl. Sanko 432 at Friedland, Korfantow, Poland, 8 Feb 1945 (FHL microfilm 68808, no. 61; FHL microfilm 25760; 1935 census; www.volksbund.de; IGI)

Emma Therese Pauline Käferhaus b. Allstedt, Weimar, Sachsen-Coburg-Gotha 8 Oct 1874; dau. of Herrmann Käferhaus and Lütowine Reime; bp. 1 May 1924; conf. 1 May 1924; m. 24 Apr 1909, —— Markhardt; d. old age 4 Dec 1941 (FHL microfilm 68808, no. 198; FHL microfilm 245226; 1930 and 1935 censuses)

Johannes Friedrich Koch b. Erfurt, Erfurt, Sachsen, 28 Apr 1916; son of Wilhelm Louis Koch and Anna Therese Hopfe; bp. 29 May 1925; conf. 29 May 1925; ord. deacon 7 Apr 1935; m. 19 Oct 1939, Ruth Tiehle; lance corporal; d. wounds in field hospital 161 at Babino 2 Jun 1942; bur. Sologubowka, St. Petersburg, Russia (FHL microfilm 68808, no. 129; FHL microfilm 271380; 1930 and 1935 censuses; www.volksbund.de; IGI)

Hulda Emilie Louise Krummrich b. Alach, Erfurt, Sachsen, 11 Mar 1869; dau. of Johann Friedrich Wilhelm Krummrich and Emilie Luise Eva Engelhardt; bp. 1 May 1924; conf. 1 May 1924; m. Hugo Weigand; 1 child; m. Alach 20 Aug 1893, Heinrich Friedrich Julius Gräfe; six children; d. old age Erfurt, Erfurt, Sachsen, 12 Mar 1945 (FHL microfilm 68808, no. 87; FHL microfilm 25776; 1930 and 1935 censuses; IGI; AF)

Therese Auguste Ortlepp b. Waltershausen, Gotha, Sachsen-Coburg-Gotha, 19 Apr 1862; dau. of Heinrich Wilhelm Ortlepp and Friederike Kutt or Cott; bp. 28 May 1927; conf. 28 May 1927; m. —— Franz; d. old age 24 Nov 1942 (FHL microfilm 68808, no. 72; FHL microfilm 25769; 1935 census; IGI)

Adam Johann Reichert b. Erfurt, Erfurt, Sachsen, 27 Nov 1872; son of August Reichert and Mathilde Kühn; bp. 22 Sep 1920; conf. 22 Sep 1920; d. old age 16 Oct 1940 (FHL microfilm 68808, no. 421; FHL microfilm 271400; 1930 census)

Alfred Edmund Schumann b. Zorbau, Querfurt, Sachsen, 13 Mar 1871; son of Herrmann Schumann and Thekla Munkelt; bp. 1 May 1924; conf. 1 May 1924; d. bilious complaints 7 Dec 1941 (FHL microfilm 68808, no. 426; FHL microfilm 245260; 1930 and 1935 censuses)

Heinz Karl Stoll b. Erfurt, Erfurt, Sachsen, 18 Sep 1919; son of Karl Ernst Stoll and Minna Schröter; bp. 14 Jun 1930; conf. 14 Jun 1930; ord. deacon 3 Nov 1935; ord. teacher 23 Apr 1939; d. larynx cancer 9 Feb 1940 (FHL microfilm 68808, no. 365; FHL microfilm 245276; 1930 and 1935 censuses)

Walter Helmuth Stoll b. Erfurt, Erfurt, Sachsen, 1 Nov 1922; son of Karl Ernst Stoll and Minna Schröter; bp. 4 Jul 1931; conf. 5 Jul 1931; k. in battle Eastern Front 30 Jul 1943 (FHL microfilm 68808, no. 261; FHL microfilm 245276; 1930 and 1935 censuses)

Elsa Martha Stüllein b. Klosterfeldsdorf, Thüringen, 20 Jul 1883; dau. of Georg Stüllein and Emilie Braun; bp. 7 Sep 1908; conf. 7 Sep 1908; m. 19 Jan 1911, A. Ludwig; d. uterine cancer 6 Sep 1941 (FHL microfilm 68808, no. 174; FHL microfilm 271389, 1930 census)

Louis Hermann Trefflich b. Großhettstedt, Schwarzburg-Rudolstadt, 10 Aug 1870; son of Emma Treffliche; bp. 20 Feb 1934; conf. 20 feb 1934; ord. deacon 9 Dec 1934; ord. teacher 3 Jan 1937; ord. priest 12 Dec 1937; ord. elder 13 Jul 1941; m. 23 Apr 1923, Friederike Christiane Sander; d. heart attack 7 Mar 1942 (FHL microfilm 68808, no. 431; FHL microfilm 245287; 1935 census)

Walter Paul Voigt b. Erfurt, Erfurt, Sachsen, 12 Nov 1920; son of Paul Karl Voigt and Frieda Verges; bp. 14 Jun 1930; conf. 14 Jun 1930; k. in battle 5 Jul 1944 (FHL microfilm 68808, no. 299; FHL microfilm 245291; 1930 and 1935 censuses)

Willi Carl Georg Voigt b. Erfurt, Erfurt, Sachsen, 28 Feb 1919; son of Paul Karl Voigt and Frieda Verges; bp. 2 Jan 1917; conf. 2 Jan 1917; m. 8 Jun 1942, Dorothea Schöne; k. in battle Eastern Front 28 Dec 1944 (FHL microfilm 68808, no. 297; FHL microfilm 245291; 1930 and 1935 censuses)

N​otes

[1] Margot Krummrich Gurney, telephone interview by the author in German, July 10, 2007; summarized in English by Judith Sartowski.

[2] 100 Jahre Gemeinde Erfurt (2007), 23.

[3] The name of the offending family is known, but there is no compelling reason to reveal that name here. Margot expressed no bitterness toward them. The incident simply serves as evidence that even Latter-day Saints can be selfish when under the stress of losing their homes. Margot stated that her family consisted of the parents and seven children at the time; it is not likely that the two branch rooms included a bath, so giving up their apartment to another family would have been a genuine sacrifice.

[4] Willi Brachmann to Walter E. Scoville, February 3, 1947, Walter E. Scoville, papers, CHL MS 18613.