Buer Branch

Roger P. Minert, “Buer Branch,” 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), 333–334.

The smallest branch in the Ruhr District was the community of Buer, nestled between several large cities in the region. Only ten miles north of Essen, the Latter-day Saints in Buer would have faced no great obstacles in attending district conferences in Essen. Thirty-one residents of this town were recorded as members of the LDS branch.

Buer Branch [1]1939
Other Adult Males0
Adult Females11
Male Children15
Female Children0

The dominant character in the Buer Branch in 1939 was Johann Nowotczin. Little is known about him, but he filled several positions in branch leadership: branch president and clerk, Sunday School president and clerk, YMMIA superintendant and secretary, and Stern magazine agent. His wife, Johanna, served as the president and secretary of the Primary organization, which had fifteen male children at the time. Their daughter Agnes served in two roles—Sunday School secretary and Primary secretary. The only person in leadership who did not belong to the Nowitczin family was Adolf Kerstan, Brother Nowitczin’s first counselor. [2]

The branch meetings were held in rented rooms at Horsterstrasse in Buer. Nothing is known about the building. Sunday School began at 10:00 a.m. and sacrament meeting at 3:00 p.m. The Primary met on Tuesdays at 5:00 p.m., and Mutual met two hours later.

As of this writing, no eyewitnesses from the Buer Branch can be found, and no records from that branch exist in the Church History Library.

No members of the Buer Branch are known to have died during World War II.


[1] Presiding Bishopric, “Financial, Statistical, and Historical Reports of Wards, Stakes, and Missions, 1884–1955,” 257, CHL CR 4 12.

[2] West German Mission branch directory, 1939, CHL LR 10045 11.