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.