89: David C Nelson’s “Moroni and the Swastika: Mormons in Nazi Germany”

Heather interviews David C. Nelson about his forthcoming book – Moroni and the Swastika: Mormons in Nazi Germany.


David C. Nelson’s Website
The Facebook Page
The Book’s Launch Party: Salt Lake City, Feb 20th @ 7 PM, Weller Book Works (Trolley Square)
Where to Buy: University of Oklahoma Press, Barnes & Noble, Amazon


  1. Chuck Borough

    Buddhists have used the swastika for a very long time. It was Hitler’s Third Reich that gave the symbol a bad name. If Moroni had any association with that symbol, it was long before and had nothing whatever to do with Hitler.

    Reply Jan 31, 2015 @ 18:21:55
    • Sara V

      It is more than just an association with the symbol; it is the praising a regime for their ideologies and exemplary model.

      As early as 1932-33, Germany’s Hitler began its extermination campaign against Jews. The same year, the LDS Church First Presidency expressed admiration for the regime. LDS Missionaries can be seen in pictures in the early 1930s doing the Hitler salute. You can find these articles and pictures from the early 1930s in the Deseret News archives.

      For a long time, the LDS Church, as did the Roman Catholic Church, remained quiet and looked the other way when Hitler’s war machine ruled with terror and death. Hitler’s Third Reich and the Church had a few things in common, including the belief of racial purity, whiteness and delightsomeness. That played well with certain LDS doctrines. Many Germans today remember the utter silence by the LDS Church during this time.

      Reply Feb 02, 2015 @ 07:19:20
    • Heather C.

      I agree, Chuck, that the Nazis besmirched the swastika. But, I don’t think it’s redeemable, unfortunately. This more recent connotation is the one that sticks.

      Reply Feb 11, 2015 @ 00:14:57
  2. David Conley Nelson

    The 45th Infantry Division, a component of the Oklahoma Army National Guard, also used a swastika patch in the 1920s, in honor of the state’s Native American population. When the National Socialists rose to power in Germany, that unit discontinued using that symbolism.

    Reply Feb 01, 2015 @ 08:57:47
  3. Abby

    I find this whole area of history fascinating. Thank you for all your research and knowledge, Dave!

    Reply Feb 03, 2015 @ 11:18:07
  4. Dave Wilson

    What a great podcast. I can’t wait for the book to come out. Excellent story and presentation from both Dave and Heather.

    Reply Feb 04, 2015 @ 12:25:40
  5. Utahhiker801

    My grandfather was a missionary in Germany just before the war broke out. Before he passed away, I was able to have him tell me several stories about his mission as we looked through his mission photo album. I appreciated your conversation and the larger picture that it provided from that time. I’m very interested in your book.

    Reply Feb 05, 2015 @ 17:13:36
  6. ozpoof

    So the Mormons slipped under the radar because being a good Nazi doesn’t conflict with Nazism.

    I couldn’t agree more,

    Reply Feb 09, 2015 @ 05:03:52
  7. Bryant

    Great cast! Heather, I love your style. This is a fascinating story which once again shows that the church has always been perpetually way behind the moral curve, with no apparent direction on powerfully important issues that affect more than just the moridor.

    One comment you made that rankles me somewhat is the expression something to the effect that the leaders were “men of their time”, which is so often used (in my mind), to give a sort of pass to men who, in light of their “special” relationship to the god of the universe, should be able to discern or have heard from their god something of a correct course of action. Not that I think you are giving the leaders a pass, just that I’m tired of hearing explanations from so many using this rationale.

    I, for one, am sick and tired of hearing that Joseph, or Brigham or Ezra Taft, or any one of many leaders were men of their time. Hell, isn’t that what being god’s prophet is supposed to be, the man who knows the mind and will of god on any subject? When we look back with a more modern, clearer sensibility and see the lack of insight and action on significant issues, being a man of the time just doesn’t cut it. This is one of my main complaints with the church today. When in my lifetime (and I’m just a few months before my 60th birthday (snigger)) have any of the leaders actually made a lucid comment on anything on this planet that seems to be god telling us to “knock it off”. When have they stood up on any “real” moral issue and made a statement?

    How the church missed the rise of the pure evil of Nazi-ism is just another example of failed discussion with god.

    Love the story, and I plan on ordering the book.

    Reply Feb 09, 2015 @ 16:07:28
    • Heather C.

      I see where you’re coming from Bryant, and I totally agree. It’s not an acceptable excuse for men who claim a special relationship to the divine. But, I was using that expression from my point of view – meaning that they really DON’T have a special connection to the divine. No matter what they claim, they really were nothing more than products of their time. (Same explanation goes for it’s use in tomorrow’s episode.)

      Reply Feb 11, 2015 @ 00:17:03
  8. Bob Larson

    Mormons have a complex organizational structure, as did the National Socialists. One similarity.

    Reply Aug 22, 2016 @ 17:00:53

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