Wartime memory often pondered

Am I my brother's keeper?

I am in my 80s now, and have more time than ever to reflect on life and often bring back "the memories of my past." One episode comes to my mind. The year was 1942, and I lived in the Oslo, Norway, branch of the Church. Hitler had occupied us since April 9, 1940, and we had suffered badly ever since.

After a short time, Mormon German soldiers would appear at our meetings in full uniforms, and we were very uneasy how to receive them, and I was just as baffled as the rest of the members.

One Sunday, morning, a young man about 17 years of age, a German soldier, sat down near to me and as my eyes met his, my reaction was automatic and I moved away from him. The next Sunday, the same thing happened, but as I moved away, he moved closer to me with almost begging eyes. Throughout the week I had been thinking of this problem and even prayed about it. I had for a long time been doing what all the good Norwegians did, and that was to avoid all contact with the enemy; we knew by experience that any demonstrations against them could be fatal and behaved accordingly.

I looked into my own soul and as a Christian with the knowledge of the gospel, I didn't move away this time, but after the meeting was over, I became his friend and in my not-so-perfect German, conversed with him.

His name was Kurt, from somewhere in Germany, and he had a strong testimony, and that was all we talked about, "the Church."

Kurt told me that he soon would be sent to "the front" and because of that "would receive a perfect meal" at a German restaurant, previously one of the best in Oslo.

When he invited me to go with him, he understood why I couldn't be seen with him outside "the Church" because I would be condemned by my people. I was tempted to go because I knew about that restaurant and its wonderful fragrance of food I hadn't tasted for years.

Shortly afterwards Kurt said goodbye and in doing so asked me for my address, wanting to correspond with me. I was receiving his letters over time and I would respond. I didn't know what front in Russia he was engaged in because all the information was blacked out, except for religious matter. The front in Russia I suspect was Leningrad, because it was a stalemate in the action there for a long time, but in his last letter he wrote: " Dear Paul, don't you think that the war will be over when I finished reading the Book of Mormon 'a hundred times'?" I replied, and never received any more letters. I understood that Kurt had been killed among myriads of his countrymen. I will never forget and look forward to seeing him in a better place.

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