Mormonism in Germany
Many of the first German-speaking converts to the Mormon Church joined in England. German immigrants to England were converted during the lifetime of the Prophet Joseph Smith in London and later moved to Nauvoo, Illinois, where they established their own German-speaking Mormon congregation. Some even helped Joseph Smith learn German so that he could read Martin Luther’s translation of the Bible, which, Joseph later remarked, was the best translation he had read. According to the Church’s records, the first German to join was Jacob Zundel, who joined the Church in Kirtland, Ohio, in 1836. Alexander Nejbauer (also spelled Neibauer) joined soon after Zundel and later wrote down notes on a speech given by Joseph Smith, and that text remains one of the earliest written accounts of Joseph Smith’s First Vision and the first written down by someone other than Joseph Smith himself.
In 1840, Brigham Young, later second Prophet and President of the Mormon Church, who was then Mission President of the British Mission, sent James Howard to the German speaking lands. At that time there was of course no Germany, but rather 31 independent states ruled by various princes. He had no success and returned to England shortly thereafter. The next year, in 1841, Orson Hyde, one of the original Apostles, arrived in Germany on a missionary tour through Europe. Gifted with languages, he spent 9 months preaching in Germany and published a pamphlet about the Book of Mormon and modern prophets, “Ein Ruf Aus Der Wüste.” His preaching created quite a stir and received attention in the German newspapers, but few listened to the message. However, in 1843, one convert, Johann Greenig, organized a group of