BCC notes the passing of an authentic Mormon hero. Brother Karl-Heinz Schnibbe died on May 9, 2010, at the age of 86, in Salt Lake City.
Schnibbe was the last surviving member of a group of LDS teenagers who lived in Hamburg, Germany during World War II and who actively resisted the Nazi regime. He, Rudi Wobbe, and Helmut Huebener were in the same priests quorum and were eventually arrested by the Gestapo for distributing flyers denouncing the Third Reich.
Schnibbe (In the group photo, he’s the tall one on the right, Huebener is in the middle and Wobbe is on the left) was born on January 5, 1924. When he was 12 years old he joined the Hitler Youth and enjoyed the campouts and parades. Over time he grew tired of the constant pressure and began to skip meetings. He was eventually expelled from the Hitler Youth for punching his leader in the face.
The three boys began to listen clandestinely to BBC German language broadcasts and decided to use the information from those broadcasts to counteract Nazi propaganda. They transcribed the news using the church’s typewriter (Huebener was the ward clerk) and distributed their flyers by posting them on telephone poles and putting them in mailboxes. The three boys had agreed that if any one of them was caught he would take all responsibility and deflect blame from the others. Huebener was arrested first, and after several days of beatings and torture, he gave up the names of Wobbe and Schnibbe. To Huebener’s everlasting credit, he realized that Schnibbe was a few months older than the other two and would likely be tried as an adult, so he told his interrogators that Schnibbe was only marginally involved. Huebener was sentenced to death by the Nazi Volksgericht and Schnibbe was sentenced to five years in a labor camp.
As the war was ending, the Soviet army captured the labor camp where Schnibbe was imprisoned and relocated him to a labor camp in Siberia. Four years later the Red Cross managed to get him released. He weighed ninety-eight pounds.
On October 27, 1942, 17 year-old Helmut Huebener was executed by guillotine in the prison at Berlin-Ploetzensee. In 2006, exactly 64 years later, Karl-Heinz Schnibbe visited the room where the execution took place and placed a wreath in honor of his friend. In BYU Studies, Richard Cracroft reviewed The Price, a book about Huebener, Wobbe, and Schnibbe. This is how he concludes his review:
The Price…. gives Mormons some new heroes and brings us into the fray in unaccustomed but very respectable ways, ways of which we may be very proud. Helmuth Huebener, who died in the nightmare, And Karl-Heinz Schnibbe, who endured it, have created a significant memorial before which each of us should lay a wreath of honor.
You can find more resources about Huebener, Wobbe and Schnibbe at these links:
https://dialoguejournal.com/wp-content/uploads/sbi/articles/Dialogue_V41N01_77.pdf (Please note the fantastic picture of BCCer Margaret Blair Young.)