Roger P. Minert, “Acknowledgments,” 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), ix–x.
It should be evident that a work of this expanse could not emanate from the hand of one person in less than five years. Such is the case, and I am quite pleased to confess it. First and foremost, I express my gratitude to the hundreds of eyewitnesses who agreed to share their stories. Although recalling wartime events can be a difficult and painful task, eyewitnesses now have the opportunity to see family members, friends, fellow Latter-day Saints—and themselves— memorialized in this volume. None would call themselves heroes, but what they did was very often heroic. It is gratifying to note that less than 5 percent of the surviving eyewitnesses declined to participate in our study; I did not debate their decisions.
I am grateful to the many members of the Church who provided names of friends they thought might qualify as eyewitnesses. Their vigilance led to interviews with persons who otherwise would not have been identified. Other friends directed our attention to published stories and other media that turned out to be of importance to the work.
The staff and missionaries of the Church History Library in Salt Lake City have been most cordial in assisting us in our search for pertinent literature and other items in their collection. I am especially grateful to Bill Slaughter and Matthew Heiss, who opened many doors for us through their enthusiastic support of the research.
The division of Religious Education of Brigham Young University has proffered support in many ways since this project began in earnest in 2005. The principal support has come in the form of funds to pay the wages of student research assistants. Those funds were granted through the Religious Studies Center and the Department of Church History and Doctrine. The David M. Kennedy Center for International Studies at Brigham Young University likewise awarded grants to partially fund my travel in Europe for the purpose of conducting interviews, examining historical venues, and presenting programs on this topic to Church members and friends. Latter-day Saints in Germany and Austria have also come to my aid by identifying eyewitnesses and helping to establish interview times and venues. Several were so kind as to take me into their homes for a night or two as I traversed the two countries. Significant contributions from private individuals allowed me to retain the services of several of the student research assistants mentioned below; in this regard, I offer my particular thanks to the Seattle, Washington, FORE (Friends of Religious Education), represented by D. Richard Dance.
Patty Smith in the Faculty Support Office of Religious Education has been most supportive of this project by allowing her student employees to transcribe more than one hundred eyewitness interviews conducted in English. My colleagues in Religious Education have offered excellent suggestions and critical readings of portions of the text.
Readers and reviewers have been solicited from the ranks of my friends, associates, and eyewitnesses. They have served with distinction in locating text in need of clarification or revision. I express my appreciation to my brother Brian Minert and his wife, Debbie, and to my friends Marion and Guenter Wolfert, Justus Ernst, Ilse Young, Heinz Rahde, Werner Thaller, Mary Petty, and Heimy Taylor.
Thanks also to the staff of the Religious Studies Center, including Devan Jensen and his student editorial staff: Jessica S. Arnold, Jacob F. Frandsen, Amanda Kae Fronk, Matt Larsen, Jonathon R. Owen, and Rosalind E. Ricks.
One of the greatest pleasures of my academic career has been my association with student research assistants. I have engaged sixteen such students in the process of writing this book. What a gratifying experience it is to see them take ownership of significant aspects of the book and to carry out their stewardships with enthusiasm and dedication. The more they were involved with the research, the more they understood that this work begged to be carried to completion—that this book had to be presented to the Church and the world as a monument to the people about whom it is written. I have expressed my gratitude to them collectively and personally, and list them here as well:
Archivist: Mary Wade, Ashley Jones, Sarah Gibby Peris
Interviews in German: Michael Corley, Jennifer Heckmann, Judith Sartowski
Interviews in English: Michael Corley, Jennifer Heckmann, Russell Michael, Judith Sartowski
Interview translation (German to English): Judith Sartowski
Archival research: Colter Kennedy, Kathryn Penfield Price
Memorial Book compilation (English sources): Judith Sartowski, Nicole Gibb Taylor
Memorial Book compilation (German sources): Emily Cox, Julianna Baumann Edlinger, Judith Sartowski
Correspondence: Zach Alleman, Jennifer Heckmann, Mary Wade
Interview text editing: Judith Sartowski, Mary Wade
Book editing: Russell Michael, Mary Wade
Eyewitness contacts: Zach Alleman, Erin Collins, Ashley Jones, Russell Michael, Judith Sartowski
Timeline: Zach Alleman
Webmaster and computer support: Casidy Andersen, Trevor Brown
I am very grateful to my personal mentor and professor Douglas F. Tobler (BYU emeritus), who first employed me in 1975–76 to study the Church in Germany prior to 1945. It was under his tutelage that I first began to consider the fate of the Latter-day Saints whom I readily recognized to be in harm’s way. When I finally found the opportunity to make the formal study a reality, he immediately expressed his enthusiastic support. Conversations with him on this topic have been most rewarding.
Finally, to my dear wife, Jeanne, I express the thanks of a dependent husband who must constantly use his wife as a sounding board for new ideas and impressions. She heard many of these stories before they were written and has examined the entire text with a careful eye at least twice. She has travelled with me to remote locations and heard my renditions of sad but amazing events and people. She shares my conviction that our readers will be changed when introduced to these stories.
Roger P. Minert