Liegnitz Branch, Breslau District
Roger P. Minert, In Harm’s Way: East German Latter-day Saints in World War II (Provo, UT: Religious Studies Center, Brigham Young University, 2009), 142-4.
The city of Liegnitz, Silesia (now Legnica, Poland), was about one hour by train directly west of the provincial capital of Breslau and seventy miles east of the modern German-Polish border. The majority of the populace of that area of Silesia was Catholic.
Recalling his days as a member of the Liegnitz Branch, Werner Rosemann (born 1920) stated, “It was a small branch, but they were very good people.”
|Other Adult Males|
It was a tradition among LDS branches in Germany that activities in small branches were supported and attended by members of larger branches nearby. This was the case in Liegnitz, as is evident from the mission history that shows the following entry: “Sunday, 28 August 1938: The young people of the Breslau Branch went to Liegnitz to attend a special ‘Youth Day’ meeting there.” At the time, there were no more than five male youth and no more than three female youth; thus any youth activity in Liegnitz, the second smallest branch in the district, would have been blessed to include visitors from other branches.
The Rosemann family lived at Feldstrasse 23, just around the corner from the meeting rooms of the branch at Schützenstrasse 32. As was so often the case with LDS branches in Germany, the Liegnitz Branch rented rooms in a building (Hinterhaus) in the interior of the block. Members had to pass through the main building on the street and across the courtyard to the building behind it, where a sign indicated the presence of the Liegnitz Branch: Kirche Jesu Christi der Heiligen der Letzten Tage. The rooms upstairs were not very large, but, according to Werner, “They were always very clean. We had a pump organ, but I do not recall any specific decorations.”
According to Karl Rudolph Hallmann (born 1921), “One large room was on the second floor and another room was on the third floor. We held our Sunday meetings on the second floor and district meetings on the third floor. . . . We had thirty to forty chairs in the room.” Regarding the membership of the branch, Karl explained that “we had mostly newly baptized members or sisters whose husbands were serving in the military. The attendance fluctuated due to the conditions of the war or illness among the members. We had a wonderful spirit in the branch, although we had our complications and problems.”
Just before the war began, Werner Rosemann completed an apprenticeship as a gardener in Parchwitz. He rode his bicycle to that town, about twelve miles from Liegnitz. “Everybody I dealt with knew about my association with the Church. There was never any problem with that. Even in school or in the military, I could—and did—talk freely about my religion.”
When the war began on September 1, 1939, Karl Hallmann was serving with the Reichsarbeitsdienst stationed somewhere between Breslau and Berlin. “I fulfilled my service there without having any problems,” he later explained. In those days, the boys of the Reichsarbeitsdienst did not know that a draft notice would likely be waiting for them when they were released and returned home. Nevertheless, war must not have been very attractive because (according to Karl) “the young people were not very fond of the idea of becoming soldiers someday.”
Rather than wait to be drafted, Karl volunteered. Hoping that the war would be over soon, he calculated that by going into the army immediately following his year in the Reichsarbeitsdienst, he could minimize the interruption the military service would cause in his occupation training.
Just before Germany launched its monumental assault against the Soviet Union in June 1941, Werner Rosemann was drafted. He spent the rest of the war on the Eastern Front, in the northern sector near Finland and the besieged city of Leningrad. “I was trained as a marksman, but I am certain that I never shot a man. Things were pretty quiet on that end of the front, and my own life was never seriously endangered.”
Karl Hallmann learned that membership in the Church could be a hindrance to one’s military career. As he explained:
I was sent to Finland. I got a very good evaluation and was therefore promoted to be an officer. As soon as they found out which church I belonged to, they contacted Berlin to find out everything about me. Later, my commander received a letter saying that I could not be promoted because I belonged to a church whose headquarters were in the United States, because Germany was at war with the United States. Another reason they mentioned was that in our Church, Jews could become members, and this did not agree with the standpoint of the government.
Later, Karl was sent to his hometown of Liegnitz for additional training. Fortunately, he was never in a combat situation and thus was never wounded. However, he stated that “danger was always just around the corner during the war.”
Karl Hallmann somehow avoided becoming a POW. He was fortunate to ride back to Germany on a train and even sat in a passenger car. He later admitted, “I was very lucky; the rest of the people [on the train] had to lie on the floor. Other soldiers had to walk home with bleeding feet.”
During his time in military service, Karl did not have any contact with other Latter-day Saint soldiers. “There were not many who were soldiers and everybody was serving in a different area. There was no possibility of attending a sacrament meeting or going to church—it was just not common.” Regarding the spiritual survival of Church members he knew during the war, he made the following statement: “If one had a testimony of the gospel, it was not difficult to keep it; but if one had no testimony or only a weak one, it soon became a problem and one had to leave the Church.”
In the confusion of 1945, when the German army was in full retreat before the Soviet invasion, Werner Rosemann also somehow avoided being taken prisoner. He ended up walking all the way to Bavaria, a state in the far south of Germany, where he found employment as a gardener again. He had attempted to return to Liegnitz, but this was not possible because the territory had become Poland.
By the summer of 1946, Werner Rosemann’s parents along with all other members of the Liegnitz Branch who had not previously fled the city were compelled by the new Polish government to leave. When they left, they were required to abandon almost everything they owned and to start a new and impoverished life in Germany. The Liegnitz Branch disappeared from the face of the earth.
The following members of the Liegnitz Branch did not survive World War II:
Richard Erich Artur Jung b. Liegnitz, Schlesien, Preussen 21 Jun 1891; son of Johann Karl August Jung and Auguste Louise Helbig Geisler; bp. 9 Apr 1928; ord. deacon; ord. priest; m. Liegnitz 3 Feb 1921, Elly Gertrud Liesbeth Korge; 1 child; d. Kandalakscha, Russia 24 Apr 1946 (IGI)
Emma Pauline Schneider b. Löwen, Schlesien, Preussen 27 Mar 1878; bp. 25 Feb 1928; m.—Urbas; d. Liegnitz, Schlesien, Preussen 11 Jan 1941 (Sonntagsgruss, No. 23, 8 Jun 1941, p. 92; IGI)
 Werner Rosemann, interview by the author, Bountiful, Utah, June 21, 2007.
 Presiding Bishopric, “Financial, Statistical, and Historical Reports of Wards, Stakes, and Missions, 1884–1955,” CR 4 12, 257.
 East German Mission Quarterly Reports, 1938, no. 36, East German Mission History.
 Karl Rudolph Hallmann, telephone interview with Jennifer Heckmann, January 29, 2008.