The Price
Chapter 2

Helmuth Huebener

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Where can all this militarism be taking us…? It can only mean one thing: war is inevitable.
Summary
In this chapter, the author begins by mentioning the influence he and Helmuth had on one another, and he describes an event he told Helmuth about, which may have influenced him, where Nazi SS and SA troopers were rounding up Jews (before Kristallnacht) and loading them onto a truck. "Even the old men and women and the little children were being pushed and kicked and spat upon and mocked by the troopers." This brought him to tears. Their family doctor, a Jew, suddenly disappeared, along with another Jewish doctor who was a family friend.

He describes the difficult work he endured as an apprentice to become a painter and interior decorator. Then, he describes a bit about Helmuth Huebener's life. For instance, he lived with his grandparents, in part because his mother "was remarried to a zealous Nazi named Hugo." We learn that Helmuth "was very widely read and loved to discuss things" with his friends and adults.

"Especially in political matters, where our Church members tended to be a bit naive, Helmuth enjoyed engaging adults in discussions, and picking their arguments apart if they were wrong… But his intention was never to embarrass people. He only wanted to make them more careful about what they said–to make them back up their opinions more rigorously with logic and evidence."

Helmuth recognized where they were being led as youth: "[T]hese Hitler Youth uniforms look just like the military ones. Obviously they're preparing us to be soldiers, too."

The author briefly introduces Rudi Wobbe, the third young man in their group of resistance fighters. "He was riding his bicycle one day when a Hitler Youth patrol tried to stop him because he didn't salute their flag. He just rammed into one of them, knocked him over, and pedaled away."

Next, there is some discussion about the creeping influence of Nazism into his branch (small local religious congregation). Some members joined the party, and tried to have everyone sing the national anthem accompanied by a Nazi salute, with the doors locked so no one could leave. This was opposed by others, and was never introduced. Later, someone has put up a sign outside the church that says "Jews Not Allowed to Enter."

The branch members knew they were being monitored by the government, so they tried to show some patriotism, like posting letters from members serving in the military on a bulletin board. Some Hitler Youth show up one Sunday, with the intent to cause a disturbance, but eventually leave. He guesses his might have been because they saw one of the members in uniform.

He follows this with a discussion about how these were good people who "became confused on the issues."

This chapter ends with Helmuth leaning over to the author during church, and inviting him to come over that night, after nine, "when my grandparents are in bed."
Analysis
That the German people "became confused on the issues" is obvious to us in hindsight. Yet, we should not underestimate the power of propaganda. In fact, immediately prior to World War II, Edward Bernays [1], the nephew of Sigmund Freud, was publishing books on propaganda, including Crystallizing Public Opinion, in 1923 [2], and Propaganda, in 1928.[3] As pointed out in the Wikipedia article about Bernays, "he described the masses as irrational and subject to herd instinct—and outlined how skilled practitioners could use crowd psychology and psychoanalysis to control them in desirable ways." These tactics were undoubtedly used by the Nazis.

That they could convince some Mormons to take up an opposition to Jews speaks to the power of propaganda, since their own scriptures speak highly of the Jews, including frequent reference to the fact that God loves all people, and he "denieth none that come unto him, black and white, bond and free, male and female; and he remembereth the heathen; and all are alike unto God, both Jew and Gentile." [4]

Obviously, not all Germans, nor German Mormons, supported the Nazi party, and not all supporters did so because they believed in what the Nazis stood for. The author points out some of the rationale that was used by people to support the regime, "albeit somewhat nervously":

"Well, we are fighting against Communism." This is the erroneous argument that one should support an evil government or leader simply because another alternative is worse. The "lesser of two evils" argument.

"We have to support the powers that be." This is the ridiculous idea that has been sown among Christians of all faiths that God wants people to support any government, regardless of their actions. The "Romans 13" argument. Among Mormons, this is a perversion of the Twelfth Article of Faith [5], disregarding other revelations, such as those in the Doctrine and Covenants which specify that God only endorses "that law of the land which is constitutional," [6] which Mormons understand as having specific reference to the United Stated Constitution.

"Our boys are out there on the battlefield." This is the silly argument that we must support a war simply because our government has sent our sons to die in it. The "skin in the game" argument. In our day, this is the one where people want to kill you for opposing a war because, they claim, you must want our soldiers to die.

References:

[1] Edward Bernays (Wikipedia) <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Edward_Bernays#Books, accessed 2021-02-08.>

[2] Crystallizing Public Opinion (openlibrary.org) <https://openlibrary.org/books/OL18726906M/Crystallizing_public_opinion., accessed 2021-02-08.>

[3]
Propaganda (openlibrary.org) <https://openlibrary.org/works/OL2781905W/Propaganda?edition=BernaysPropaganda, accessed 20201-02-08.>

[4]
2 Nephi 26:33 (lds.org) <https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/scriptures/bofm/2-ne/26.33?lang=eng&clang=eng#p33, accessed 2020-02-08.>

[5]
Articles of Faith (lds.org) <https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/scriptures/pgp/a-of-f/1?lang=eng, accessed 20201-02-08.>

[6]
D&C 98:5-6 (lds.org) <https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/scriptures/dc-testament/dc/98.5,6?lang=eng&clang=eng#p5,6, accessed 20210-02-08.>
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