Documentary Profiles Survivor of Three LDS Teens Who Defied Nazi Germany

Documentary Profiles Survivor of Three LDS Teens Who Defied Nazi Germany

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Religion Specialist Carole Mikita reportingSixty years ago, three teenage boys in Germany made the decision to defy their government. That decision proved both courageous and tragic.

Their story is the subject of a new documentary, which will premiere on PBS in February.

In August of 1941, Adolf Hitler was in power and his Nazi machine had control over Germany.

In this atmosphere, three young men, ages 15, 16 and 17, all born and raised as Latter-day Saints in Hamburg, all, at one time, members of the Hitler Youth program, defied the Gestapo, or Nazi military police, and listened to the BBC radio broadcasts from London.

They learned what was really going on in their country and the world.

One of them, the 16-year-old, Helmuth Hubener, decided it was his Christian obligation to do something, so he wrote and printed leaflets to tell their community the truth.

His friend and colleague, Karl-Heinz Schnibbe, is the last surviving member of that trio.

"We were not so naive to bring Hitler down to his knees. Helmuth wanted the people to think ... think." Schnibbe says.

At the time, few in Germany dared to think for themselves. Fewer resisted.

"I was scared always, because I was the oldest, and I know if they catch us..."

They were caught. What happened next was unimaginable to these boys. Interrogation and torture in a Gestapo prison.

"Ask if I would do it again if we had to, yes," Schnibbe says.

Their arrests alarmed their church leaders and the rest of the congregation. To this day, there is disagreement in Germany about what they did. The filmakers encountered some of that when they traveled to Germany.

"People that were flat out in disagreement with what the boys did felt that they endangered the branch too much, felt that they should have obeyed the government rule, so there was opposition that we actually had in different forms," says Rick McFarland, the documentary producer.

McFarland came across this story while making another World War II documentary about Latter-day Saint servicemen. He found Karl-Heinz Schnibbe and had to tell his story.

For Schnibbe and his friend, Rudy Wobbe, the sentence was a work camp in Poland. But for Helmuth Hubener, death. Schnibbe says he owes his life to his friend.

"Helmuth's the hero, not me and Helmuth is my hero. Sooner or later, sooner, I will see him again and that will be a nice, nice pleasure," Schnibbe says.

Karl-Heinz Schnibbe has lived in Utah for many years, his friend, Rudy Wobbe, moved here also and died 10 years ago.

There is much more to this story. The PBS documentary "Truth & Conviction: The Helmuth Hubener Story" airs on KBYU on February 2, or it is on sale in bookstores now.

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