A Letter from Russia
January 1997

“A Letter from Russia,” Ensign, Jan. 1997, 62–64

A Letter from Russia

When I was a little girl in Germany, my country became involved in the Second World War. My brother Ernst was taken out of school at age 16 and forced to join Hitler’s army. After two years, Ernst was permitted to come home, but he soon became lonely and dissatisfied because all his friends were still fighting in the army. He asked my parents for permission to rejoin the army, but they refused. He pleaded with them, and eventually they consented. The day he left was the last time they saw him alive.

A year after the war ended, a letter from Ernst came from a hospital in Russian territory. Ernst said he was not allowed to write, and so he was sending the letter through a friend. He indicated that he had caught a mild illness while being transported from a Russian prison camp but expected to arrive home in about two weeks.

Two weeks passed, but Ernst did not come home. My parents wrote to the address on the letter, but the letter came back marked undeliverable. They wrote to every hospital, to the mayor of the city, and to anyone they thought could help them. Despite their coordinated efforts with the Red Cross over the course of 30 years, my parents never were able to find out what had happened to their son.

When I grew up, I went to Canada and there joined The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. When it came time for me to go to the temple, I discovered that I could not have Ernst sealed to the rest of the family because I did not have proof of his death. I remembered the missionaries telling me to exercise faith in Heavenly Father and that he would help me through my difficulties. I knelt down and prayed mightily. I explained my problem and that I needed information about Ernst in order to have him sealed to the family. I asked Father in Heaven to send me proof of Ernst’s death.

About eight weeks later my brother Paul telephoned me. “Doris,” he said, “the strangest thing has happened.” Then he told me the following story.

A few weeks earlier a document had been sent from the Russian Red Cross to the German Red Cross. The German Red Cross translated the document and sent it to the house where my parents had lived in Dormagen, West Germany. Since my parents had died many years earlier, the letter was returned to the German Red Cross, who promptly sent it back to my parents’ home. The letter went back and forth two or three times until a postman who had known my family personally delivered it to my sister Hilda, who still lives in Germany. The letter told of Ernst’s death on 28 September 1946.

I have a very strong testimony that Heavenly Father hears and answers prayers. He knows how to help all his children, because, as he declared to Moses, “all things are numbered unto me, for they are mine and I know them” (Moses 1:35).

  • Doris Lyon serves as a visiting teacher in the Jaffray Branch, Cranbrook British Columbia Stake.

  • Vicki Blum teaches Relief Society in the High River Ward, Calgary Alberta South Stake.