Former German Soldier Offers Perspective

Former German Soldier Offers Perspective

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Jill Atwood ReportingThere is one Utah Veteran who survived some of the worst combat in history. But he doesn't like to talk about it because at the time, in the eyes of Amerians, he was the enemy.

Germany invades Poland in 1939, the start of World War II, and Adolf Hitler's quest to conquer Europe. Just 16 at the time, a young German soldier by the name of Heinz was being groomed for war. A few years later, he too would enter Poland as part of the 13th Panzer Division.

He would eventually end up fighting in Russia on the eastern front. Now almost 81-years old Heinz calls Utah his home, but memories of his fatherland hang proudly everywhere.

He was wounded twice, the second time sent back to Germany to recover. In the meantime his entire unit was destroyed, man by man, in Stalingrad.

Today, because of a recent stroke, Heinz can't talk very well, but his son grew up hearing his stories. He says his dad owes his life to two LDS missionaries who came to his house before the war.

Wolfgang, Heinz's Son: "As they left they gave him their blessing and then he told me once honestly is that why he felt he survived was that he didn't kill anyone, and this blessing from the missionaries."

Still, Veteran's Day comes and goes for this war veteran, after all he was on the other side. He's certainly proud of his service, but remains humbled by the events that came to light after the war--the Jewish Holocaust.

Heinz: "Imagine you go to war and you full of this pride and this patriotism. And then when you come back you find out that your country had done something so heinous and so terrible and such a great crime against humanity. I think that would be hard for anyone to get past and get over."

Many Veteran’s Days later Heinz says he is able to live in the present, thanks in part to his family and faith in the LDS Church, a faith which he says led him safely from the horrors of war to a new life in a new world.

Heinz, eventually came to the US in 1965 and brought his family over a year later. He became a US citizen just a few years ago.

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