By Lisa Millett
Young Latter-day Saint teenagers in Germany risked their lives distributing anti-Nazi literature during World War II, according to a new documentary produced by Covenant Communications in Orem.
The documentary, “Truth & Conviction,” was written and directed by Rick McFarland and Matt Whitaker and sponsored by the college of humanities at BYU.
It tells the story of Helmuth Huebener, 16, and his two friends, Rudolph Wobbe, 15, and Karl-Heinz Schnibbe,17, who distributed anti-Nazi fliers opposing Hitler.
The documentary is now available on video and DVD at Seagull Book and Tape and will be broadcast Feb. 2 on KBYU at 9 p.m.
Huebener”s small LDS branch in Hamburg, Germany, was divided in its support of Hitler. The branch president, Arthur Zander, was a member of the Nazi party.
“There were good people, members of the church, who were members of the Nazi party,” Whitaker said. “Zander was a faithful member of the church, and he was a good branch president, but he supported Hitler. That was one of the intriguing things for me. There were a lot of complex issues going on.”
While in his youth, Huebener was a member of the Hitler Youth organization, which promised a “better life and better Germany,” but after a few years, Huebener realized the Nazis were lying.
In the summer of 1941, Huebener defied the Nazi regiment by listening to outside news reports from the BBC in London.
Taking action to let Germans know the truth about Hitler, Huebener typed fliers, using a church typewriter, that contradicted the German government”s decision about war and that called Hitler an “Anti-Christ” and seducer of the people.
Doing this cost Huebener his life.
After distributing fliers for six months, the three teenagers were caught by the Gestapo.
Wobbe and Schnibbe spent the rest of the war in prison. Huebener took full-responsibility for the group, his actions and the distribution of the fliers.
On the evening of Oct. 27, 1942, after spending eight months in prison, Huebener, was beheaded at the guillotine in Berlin.
“One of the very compelling parts of the story for me, even from the beginning, was when I learned that Huebener had been executed; beheaded with the guillotine,” Whitaker said. “He was seventeen. He wrote fliers about the government, and they cut off his head. I just couldn”t believe that.”
After the war, Wobbe and Schnibbe immigrated to Salt Lake City. Wobbe passed away ten years ago, but Schnibbe, 79, continues to live in Salt Lake City and share his experiences about the Helmuth Huebener group.
“When I was told that they wanted to do a documentary about the Helmuth Huebener group, I was first a little doubtful, because many people in the past had said that they wanted to do it, but never follow through,” Schnibbe said. “After seeing the documentary, I was elated. I think it”s wonderful and very tasteful.”