LDS leader served behind Iron Curtain

The years of successive LDS Church service from Henry Burkhardt are impressive enough — more than three years as a full-time missionary, 17 as a counselor in a mission presidency, 14 as mission president and nearly seven more as temple president.

What makes it all the more remarkable is where Burkhardt served — in eastern Germany, practically all in the former Communist-ruled German Democratic Republic.

When it comes to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and the GDR, the lanky, 79-year-old Burkhardt could easily say, "Been there, done that" — or at least helped, witnessed or supervised it.

The third-generation Latter-day Saint from Chemnitz, Germany, was 3 years old when Adolf Hitler came to power and 8 when forced to become a member of the German Youth Movement. As it transformed into Hitler's Youth, Burkhardt got his first taste of unsavory political agendas.

A Mormon missionary beginning in 1950, he was called a year later as a district president and asked the following year by President David O. McKay to be a counselor in the mission presidency.

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