Elder Busche has always been special to me because he was called as a general authority during my early “formative” years of activity and as I recall, he was the first general authority from outside the United States. He gave a talk at a singles conference in Vegas that I attended and became one of my favorites.

I think I might have known his story at one time, but I can’t remember anything anymore, so I’ve really enjoyed reading this book. I browse the non-fiction racks once in awhile and choose whatever looks interesting. Sometimes cookbooks, sometimes biographies, sometimes medical books…..anything’s possible.

He’s led a pretty fascinating life—a member of Hitler youth and then as part of the German army during WWII (at the age of 14, he was given a gun and sent to war). He suffered greatly as the war ended. He reports that he began smoking during the war—a very real struggle when he joined the church.

I found his explanation of how Hitler appealed to the German people and why he was so powerful to be one of the best I’ve ever read. Probably this is because I’m not well read on that subject, but I find his honesty refreshing and illuminating. He writes “In the beginning, the German people felt tragically misunderstood. The society I was part of had the conviction that, sooner or later, our enemies would find out what we really stood for. Then, we were convinced, they would gladly stop fighting against us.”

And he goes on “When people say now that Germans knew what was happening, it is because they simply were not there and cannot understand how a disctatorship functions. . .With the defeat came the reports about the concentration camps. The horror stories of criminal acts done by our own people were first met with disbelief. Finally, a feeling of indescribably shame came as reports were openly documented over and over again. With it came the awareness of betrayal–that the best of our feelings and desires had been trampled on and misused. We had been bad.”

He writes movingly of his feelings against the Nazis and what they did and makes this point “History is written by those who win the war. The truth is much more subtle, much more complicated, and generally unwanted.”

That’s in the first chapter. The story of his conversion to the gospel resonates with the same honesty that he addressed his experience with Nazism. I’m not through with the book yet because I’m reading it slowly. There are so many nuggets to ponder.

He was made an emeritus general authority in 2000—he is now 81 years old. I don’t know where he is or what he’s doing with his life. I wonder if any of the general authorities today ever smoked or struggled in other substantial ways before they joined the church. I’m glad he shared with us because it gives me hope.