Under a Leafless Tree: The Story of Helga Meyer, a Mormon Girl from East Prussia


by Helga Meyer and Lark Evans Galli

Helga's story is featured in the forthcoming Saints, Vol. 3, Boldy, Nobly, and Independent, 1893-1955

Now available in paperback and ebook.

"A wonderfully crafted and engaging narrative!" — Jill Mulvay Derr
"Helga Meyer's story is simply amazing."Association for Mormon Letters
"This is a remarkable book."The Exponent II

Available in ebook for Kindle, Nook, Kobo, and Apple.
Also available through Amazon.
Download a free sample preview.

Book Description:

Imagine if the world you grew up in ceased to exist. In her own words, Helga Meyer tells of the disintegration of her hometown in Tilsit, East Prussia. From an idyllic childhood to persecutions for her curious, new faith, to the challenge of saluting Nazi troops while quietly befriending Jews, and suffering wounds in one of many, daily bombing raids, Helga reveals intimate details about coming of age in a world that is quickly falling apart.

Too soon, Helga’s teenaged friends, brothers and cousin are facing death in the bitter fields of France and Russia. Amidst fellow refugees, Helga finds her natural optimism challenged by increasing and very personal heartbreak. Alone in a foreign land, Helga struggles to find refuge and braver still, a chance at romance. Led by a prophetic dream, she devises a means of escape in order to begin a new life in America.

Revealing previously unknown details of women’s experiences during World War II and the lives of early Latter-day Saints in East Prussia and East Germany, this engaging account promises to be a valuable addition to the growing collection of World War II memoirs. A richly layered story, weaving together both personal and historically significant events, Under a Leafless Tree is an unforgettable, true story that stays with the reader.

Comprehensive Table of Contents:


Preface, xi

PART I: Childhood, 1
1. A Dreaming Family, 3
2. The Curly Hair, 6
3. The Poor Piano, 10
4. Kind und Kegel, 12
5. At the New House, 13
6. Not about the Family, 16
7. Misadventures and Celebrations, 19
8. The Family Shrank, 24
9. Don’t Stay Too Long, 27
10. Meerwischer School, 30
11. Baptism and Persecution, 32
12. We Played in the Dirt! 34
13. Übermemel, 36
14. Wandering and Visiting, 38
15. Down to Me, 40

PART II: The War, 43
16. When Hitler Came, 45
17. Hamburg, 49
18. Every Age Has Its Beauty, 52
19. Over the Glass, 55
20. A Sheet of Sadness, 57
21. Grund’s, 61
22. The Coldest Hour, 63
23. Into Your Bones, 65
24. Ernst Braun, 68
25. My Real Treasures, 70
26. He Was So Happy, 72
27. He Would Have Been Good, 78
28. I Should Go Home, 82
29. Beautiful to Have the Omen, 85
30. Crying for Myself, 88
31. The War Is Over for Me, 90
32. To Sing in My Bed, 94
33. To Comfort Me, 98
34. Wise and Good-hearted, 100
35. A Kind of Peace, 102
36. My Hiding Place, 104
37. A Little Bit of Bread, 106
38. A Good Connection, 108
39. Like a Fable, 111
40. Tante Lusche’s Daughter, 114

PART III: Marriage and Family, 117
41. You Didn’t Turn Around, 119
42. Cammin, 122
43. Not a Nice Sight, 124
44. All on Her Own, 127
45. Maybe I Can Find Him, 131
46. Fish Dishes, 134
47. Show Me Today, 137
48. You Didn’t Turn Around, 141
49. Don’t Cry, 143

PART IV: America, 147

50. Going This Way, 149
51. A Lake of Water, 153
52. I Saw My Dream, 156
53. We Had Really Come, 158
54. Going This Way, 164
55. To Cry My Heart Out, 167
56. After Words, 171

Epilogue, 173
Appendix, 175

Praise for Under a Leafless Tree:

"A wonderfully crafted and engaging narrative! Helga Meyer captivated us with her story. A remarkable life, punctuated with marvelous photographs." — Jill Mulvay Derr, co-editor of The First Fifty Years of Relief Society: Key Documents in LDS Women’s History
"Helga Meyer's story is simply amazing, from her unlikely childhood on the other side of the Danzig corridor to her death-defying escape on a U-Bahn train ride from East to West Berlin. It was hard to put down. . . . All members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints should read this book. It’s simply marvelous." — Daniel Evensen, Association for Mormon Letters

"Though I have never heard Helga's voice, whenever I read, I felt like I could hear it- simply telling me about her, her life and her inspiringly positive perspective. I felt lighter in reading the book, and with a newfound gratitude for family, and freedom. This is a remarkable book.The Exponent II

About the Authors:

Helga Meyer was born in 1920 in East Prussia to a close-knit family of recent Mormon converts. World events would take the lives of her siblings, grandparents, many friends, and relatives. Helga passed away in Utah at the age of 98.

Lark Evans Galli received a master’s degree in English with an emphasis in folklore from Brigham Young University in 1986. She and her husband, Craig, live in Salt Lake City, Utah. They have four daughters and eight grandchildren.

More Information:

208 pages
ISBN: 978-1-58958-673-4
Press Sheet

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