Freiberg Germany Temple
The Freiberg Germany Temple (formerly the Freiberg GDR Temple) is a temple
Temple (LDS Church)
In The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints , a temple is a building dedicated to be a House of the Lord, and they are considered by Church members to be the most sacred structures on earth. Upon completion, temples are usually open to the public for a short period of time...

 of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, located in Freiberg, Saxony
Freiberg, Saxony
Freiberg is a city in the Free State of Saxony, Germany, administrative center of the Mittelsachsen district.-History:The city was founded in 1186, and has been a center of the mining industry in the Ore Mountains for centuries...

, Germany
Germany , officially the Federal Republic of Germany , is a federal parliamentary republic in Europe. The country consists of 16 states while the capital and largest city is Berlin. Germany covers an area of 357,021 km2 and has a largely temperate seasonal climate...

. The Church announced the temple in October 1982, ground was broken for construction on April 23, 1983, and the temple was dedicated from June 29 to June 30, 1985.


Built in what was then the German Democratic Republic
German Democratic Republic
The German Democratic Republic , informally called East Germany by West Germany and other countries, was a socialist state established in 1949 in the Soviet zone of occupied Germany, including East Berlin of the Allied-occupied capital city...

, the Freiberg Germany Temple was the first LDS temple in a then communist state
Communist state
A communist state is a state with a form of government characterized by single-party rule or dominant-party rule of a communist party and a professed allegiance to a Leninist or Marxist-Leninist communist ideology as the guiding principle of the state...

. After the Bern Switzerland Temple
Bern Switzerland Temple
The Bern Switzerland Temple is a temple of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints . Though the building is located in Münchenbuchsee, its postal address is assigned to the neighboring municipality of Zollikofen...

 was dedicated in 1955, Latter-day Saints throughout Europe visited it for the Endowment
Endowment (Mormonism)
In Mormonism, the endowment is an ordinance designed to prepare participants to become kings, queens, priests, and priestesses in the afterlife. As part of the ceremony, participants take part in a scripted reenactment of the Biblical creation and fall of Adam and Eve...

 and other temple rites. After 1957, East German governmental restrictions on foreign travel prevented the country's Latter-day Saints—about 5,000 in 1970—from easily obtaining visa
Visa (document)
A visa is a document showing that a person is authorized to enter the territory for which it was issued, subject to permission of an immigration official at the time of actual entry. The authorization may be a document, but more commonly it is a stamp endorsed in the applicant's passport...

s to travel to the temple. Church members repeatedly applied for visas, were rejected, then applied again. An attempt in the early 1970s by Henry Burkhardt, the de jure head of the church in East Germany, to present the government with a list of 300 church members interested in visiting the temple almost led to his arrest.

The LDS Church appointed Burkhardt as President
Mission president
Mission president is a priesthood leadership position in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints . A mission president presides over a mission and the missionaries serving in the mission...

 of the Germany Dresden
Dresden is the capital city of the Free State of Saxony in Germany. It is situated in a valley on the River Elbe, near the Czech border. The Dresden conurbation is part of the Saxon Triangle metropolitan area....

Mission (LDS Church)
A mission of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is a geographical administrative area to which church missionaries are assigned. Almost all areas of the world are within the boundaries of an LDS Church mission, whether or not Mormon missionaries live or proselytize in the area...

 in 1969 to comply with a new law requiring churches to be led by East Germans. In the 1970s his role gave Burkhardt access to visas to travel to General Conference
General Conference (LDS Church)
General Conference is a semiannual world conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints held in April and October, where members gather in a series of two-hour sessions to listen to instruction from Church leaders...

 meetings in Salt Lake City, Utah
Salt Lake City, Utah
Salt Lake City is the capital and the most populous city of the U.S. state of Utah. The name of the city is often shortened to Salt Lake or SLC. With a population of 186,440 as of the 2010 Census, the city lies in the Salt Lake City metropolitan area, which has a total population of 1,124,197...

. Obtaining the visas required him to meet often with East German government officials, whom church leaders encouraged Burkhardt to build relationships with despite his reluctance. In 1973 and/or 1978, H. Burke Peterson
H. Burke Peterson
Harold Burke Peterson has been a general authority of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints since 1972....

 of the Presiding Bishopric
Presiding Bishop (LDS Church)
The Presiding Bishop of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is a priesthood calling with church-wide authority. The Presiding Bishop is the highest leadership position within the church's Aaronic priesthood.-Presiding Bishopric:...

 suggested to Burkhardt that the church build an endowment house
Endowment House
The Endowment House was an early building used by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to administer temple ordinances in Salt Lake City, Utah Territory. From the construction of the Council House in 1852, Salt Lake City's first public building, until the construction of the Endowment...

 in East Germany as an alternative to a temple.


In 1978, the East German government unexpectedly suggested building an LDS temple within the country. Doing so would reduce visa requests, and was part of a new government policy to cooperate with churches in hopes of obtaining hard currency
Hard currency
Hard currency , in economics, refers to a globally traded currency that is expected to serve as a reliable and stable store of value...

 through construction. The church emphasized temples' unantastbar ("sanctity") nature to the government, but initially planned for a chapel and an endowment house in one building, so that the latter could be used with the chapel if desecrated. The church intended to locate the building in Karl-Marx-Stadt, a longtime center of Communist ideology, as its LDS congregation needed a new chapel. In 1980 the local government rejected a new chapel within the city despite the national government's support, and instead assigned the building to Freiberg, about 20 miles away.

Although disappointed at first, Burkhardt and church leaders in Utah came to see the Freiberg location as superior. By April 1981, city officials' welcoming of the project ahead of the forthcoming 800th anniversary of Freiberg's founding in 1986 encouraged the church to plan for a separate chapel and temple. The government also permitted the church to in 1982 acquire a 1 acres (4,046.9 m²) hillside site instead of the normal long-term lease. The church announced the forthcoming Freiberg Temple in October 1982, and Thomas S. Monson
Thomas S. Monson
Thomas Spencer Monson is an American religious leader and author, and the 16th and current President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints . As president, Monson is considered by adherents of the religion to be a "prophet, seer, and revelator" of God's will on earth...

 of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles presided over the groundbreaking
Groundbreaking, also known as cutting, sod-cutting, turning the first sod or a sod-turning ceremony, is a traditional ceremony in many cultures that celebrates the first day of construction for a building or other project. Such ceremonies are often attended by dignitaries such as politicians and...

 on 23 April 1983. The plans did not include an angel Moroni and no request to the government for one was made, although it would likely have permitted a statue if asked.


The government aided in speeding up paperwork and construction for the temple, in part to help commemorate the anniversary of Freiberg's founding; by contrast, although the Frankfurt Temple
Frankfurt Germany Temple
The Frankfurt Germany Temple is the 43rd constructed and 41st operating temple of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Located in the city of Friedrichsdorf, Germany, it was built with the same general architecture as the six-spire design used in the Boise, Chicago, and Dallas temples,...

 was announced 1½ years before Freiberg, it was not finished until two years after Freiberg. The church also received approval to tap the new Trans-Siberian Pipeline, which passed near the temple, to heat the buildings with natural gas instead of brown coal, which would have required a large, dirty coal plant on the site. The construction used triple glazing and other advanced methods unusual for East Germany, and despite restrictions on imported materials, architects were able to obtain three high-quality Czech crystal
Bohemian glass
Bohemian glass, or Bohemia crystal, is a decorative glass produced in regions of Bohemia and Silesia, now in the current state of the Czech Republic, since the 13th century. Oldest archaeology excavations of glass-making sites date to around 1250 and are located in the Lusatian Mountains of...

 chandeliers for the Celestial and sealing rooms
Celestial room
In temples of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, an Ordinance room is a room where the ceremony known as the Endowment is administered, as well as other rituals called Sealings...

 at the Leipzig Trade Fair
Leipzig Trade Fair
The Leipzig Trade Fair was a major fair for trade across Central Europe for nearly a millennium. After the Second World War, its location happened to lie within the borders of East Germany, whereupon it became one of the most important trade fairs of Comecon and was traditionally a meeting place...

. Because the church was unsure of how long the temple's sacredness would remain intact, however, the bulk of the temple's materials were of "average" or "mediocre" quality, and steps were not taken to ease future expansion. Unlike the contemporaneous Stockholm, Sweden, and Frankfurt temples, for example, the Freiberg temple did not include an air conditioning system despite its availability in East Germany, causing hundreds to faint during temple rites.


The temple was open to the public for tours June 3-15, 1985. Those who attended the tours of the 7840 square feet (728.4 m²) temple were able to see the exterior and its German-influenced design with gothic style arches, as well as the interior with its one ordinance room and two sealing rooms. About 90,000 people waited up to seven hours to tour the temple during the open house, despite 21 Stasi
The Ministry for State Security The Ministry for State Security The Ministry for State Security (German: Ministerium für Staatssicherheit (MfS), commonly known as the Stasi (abbreviation , literally State Security), was the official state security service of East Germany. The MfS was headquartered...

 agents monitoring and photographing all visitors. The temple was dedicated in seven sessions on June 29-30, 1985, by Gordon B. Hinckley
Gordon B. Hinckley
Gordon Bitner Hinckley was an American religious leader and author who served as the 15th President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints from March 12, 1995 until his death...

 of the First Presidency
First Presidency (LDS Church)
The First Presidency is the presiding or governing body of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints . It is composed of the President of the Church and his counselors. The First Presidency currently consists of President Thomas S. Monson and his two counselors, Henry B...

, and Burkhardt became its first president
Temple President
Temple president is a priesthood leadership position in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. A temple president's primary responsibility is to supervise the affairs of an LDS temple in both an administrative and spiritual capacity....


The East German government

During its existence the German Democratic Republic spied on every LDS congregation's meetings, and Burkhardt had at least three Stasi agents monitoring him at all times. The Stasi and other East German government institutions viewed the church as connected to "the right wing of American conservatism...ruling circles within the American government...and the American secret service." Hinckley expressed the fear during the dedication that the temple might soon become a museum, and during its first few weeks of operation church members who had not visited a temple before received priority in appointments.

As East Germany sought in the 1980s to improve its image abroad, however, the Latter-day Saints' alleged ties to the United States government and other Western powers worked in the church's favor. The Stasi's close monitoring of East German members over the years gave the church credibility, as the government came to see Latter-day Saints as citizens of good character who, in keeping with the 12th Article of Faith, did not conspire against the nation. Accordingly, it agreed that no one without a recommend would enter the temple after the dedication, and fears of bugging proved groundless.


After the temple's dedication, the grounds—nicknamed "Temple Square
Temple Square
Temple Square is a ten acre complex located in the center of Salt Lake City, Utah, owned by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints . In recent years, the usage of the name has gradually changed to include several other church facilities immediately adjacent to Temple Square...

"—became a popular site for local non-LDS newlyweds' wedding photos
Wedding photography
Wedding photography is the photography of activities relating to weddings. It encompasses photographs of the couple before marriage as well as coverage of the wedding and reception...

. Latter-day Saints popularly attribute a hastened fall of the communist regime, and the Freiberg area's prosperity in relatively poor eastern Germany, to the temple's presence and influence on the country. After the reunification of Germany
German reunification
German reunification was the process in 1990 in which the German Democratic Republic joined the Federal Republic of Germany , and when Berlin reunited into a single city, as provided by its then Grundgesetz constitution Article 23. The start of this process is commonly referred by Germans as die...

 on October 3, 1990, the Freiberg and Frankfurt temples made it the second country, after Canada
Canada is a North American country consisting of ten provinces and three territories. Located in the northern part of the continent, it extends from the Atlantic Ocean in the east to the Pacific Ocean in the west, and northward into the Arctic Ocean...

, outside of the United States to have more than one.

The temple received badly needed air conditioning in 1994. Renovations began in 2001 which nearly doubled the square footage to 14125 square feet (1,312.3 m²) and added 12 oxen to support the baptismal font, a waiting room for those not able to enter the temple, a matron and brides room, as well as an office for the temple president. On December 20, 2001 an angel Moroni statue was placed on top of the temple. A second open house was held August 17-31, 2002. After renovations, Gordon B. Hinckley
Gordon B. Hinckley
Gordon Bitner Hinckley was an American religious leader and author who served as the 15th President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints from March 12, 1995 until his death...

 rededicated the temple on September 7, 2002. Although when dedicated the temple was originally open only to East German church members, it now also serves those in Poland
Poland , officially the Republic of Poland , is a country in Central Europe bordered by Germany to the west; the Czech Republic and Slovakia to the south; Ukraine, Belarus and Lithuania to the east; and the Baltic Sea and Kaliningrad Oblast, a Russian exclave, to the north...

, the Czech Republic
Czech Republic
The Czech Republic is a landlocked country in Central Europe. The country is bordered by Poland to the northeast, Slovakia to the east, Austria to the south, and Germany to the west and northwest....

, and Hungary
Hungary , officially the Republic of Hungary , is a landlocked country in Central Europe. It is situated in the Carpathian Basin and is bordered by Slovakia to the north, Ukraine and Romania to the east, Serbia and Croatia to the south, Slovenia to the southwest and Austria to the west. The...

, and, before the Kyiv Ukraine Temple's 2010 dedication, Russia
Russia or , officially known as both Russia and the Russian Federation , is a country in northern Eurasia. It is a federal semi-presidential republic, comprising 83 federal subjects...

 and Ukraine
Ukraine is a country in Eastern Europe. It has an area of 603,628 km², making it the second largest contiguous country on the European continent, after Russia...


See also

External links

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