Church History
“We Never Felt Alone”

“We Never Felt Alone”

After World War II, the mission reopened and, for a time, had significant success in Czechoslovakia. Among those who converted during this period were many young people, including 17-year-old Jiří Šnederfler and 19-year-old Olga Kozáková. Less than a year after Šnederfler and Kozáková were baptized, however, the Communist Party banned foreign missionaries from Czechoslovakia.

Contact with Church leaders outside the country was limited, and the government refused to recognize the Church. Members were unable to meet regularly, obtain printed materials, and perform ordinances publicly. In the face of government repression, members continued to practice their faith. Each year, members met on July 24 at the site near Karlštejn Castle where the country was dedicated in 1929. At one of these annual meetings, Šnederfler met Kozáková. A short time later, the two were married.

For the next several decades, Jiří and Olga Šnederfler continued to teach their children gospel principles, hold weekly devotionals, study the scriptures, and pray in their home. For many years, however, the risk of openly practicing their faith was such that they told no one they were Latter-day Saints, including their children until they were old enough to keep the secret. In this era, printed Church materials were difficult to obtain and dangerous to own. When they were acquired, members translated, typed, and hand delivered copies to one another. Together, members translated and distributed hymns, leadership handbooks, lesson manuals, scriptural commentaries, and even a complete translation of the Doctrine and Covenants. Despite the persecution Czech Saints faced, Jiří recalled: “We never felt alone. God is above. I always felt that we were part of the larger family of Church members in the whole world.”

In 1975, a district was created in Prague with Jiří Šnederfler as president. Although the Church still lacked official recognition, the Šnederfler family spent weekends traveling the country, visiting other Church members. Soon branches were organized in Prague, Brno, and Plzeň. Members in Czechoslovakia began to have more regular contact with one another and with Church leaders outside the country. With the encouragement of Church leaders in Europe and the United States, Šnederfler renewed efforts to obtain official recognition for the Church.