Conversion of Helma Hahn of Rothenburg
Elder Joseph Stobbe
Max Chambers who also taught Sister Hahn with Fred Ward
Gary McClennen helped teach Helma Hahn the fith discussion after Elders Stobbe, Ward and Chambers were transferred.
Bert Winterholler and Harold Sellers Prepared Sister Hahn for Baptism
Kimball Young, district leader, interviewed Helma Hahn for baptism.
General Authority Hartman Rector and his wife Connie included the story of Helma Hahn in volume one of their series of books about conversions stories titled "No More Strangers"
A Promise Kept In Rottenburg
Like the proverbial bumblebee, the young missionary did not know that it couldn't be done. Impressed by the picture of the famous old house in the ancient German city, he determined that he would be the means of converting someone who lived there. He carried this resolution throughout his mission. Elderly Helma Hahn lived alone in the house. The missionary's inspiration was vindicated when she proved receptive to the gospel. Looked down on by the other citizens, she thanks God for the gospel, for the missionaries who brought it to her, and for the LDS visitors from far and wide who are constantly calling on the "only Mormon in town."
The background for the conversion of Sister Hahn of Rottenburg (pronounced Ro-ten-bearg), Germany, goes back to the Language Training Mission (LTM) in Provo, Utah. The cover of the textbook used by the missionaries to study German, called Deutsch fur Missionare, features a picture of one of the most famous houses in the medieval city of Rottenburg. While studying in the LTM, an Elder Stobbe, knowing only that he was called to go to the Germany South Mission and not realizing that Rottenburg was not open to missionaries, became enchanted with the romance this picture represented. As he studied, he made a silent vow to himself that he would bring the gospel to someone in that house. He did not then know that only one person lives in this famous old house-Helma Hahn.
Near the end of his mission, Elder Stobbe was transferred to Ansbach, about twenty miles from Rottenburg. Knowing this was as close to Rottenburg as he would get, he went with his companion to Rottenburg to search out the house pictured on the textbook. It was easy to find, because it is one of the most photographed houses in Rottenburg, which in turn is the most photographed city in Germany.
The door on the ground floor was open, so the elders entered, walked up the steep, ladder-like stairs and knocked on the door of elderly Helma Hahn's living room. The two elders were each about six feet tall. The little house is more than five hundred years old, and the ceilings are quite low.
Sister Hahn relates her experience in these words: "I answered the knock at the door and was immediately shocked and frightened to find two giants standing before me. I would have closed the door but for their smiling, pleasant faces and honest look. They introduced themselves as missionaries of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. When I heard the name of Jesus Christ and Latter-day Saints I was impressed, and I thought to myself, 'They cannot be bad men.'
"I invited them to come in. They told me the story of the restoration of the gospel. After they had finished their discussion, they asked if they might hold a prayer with me. Because of this, I invited them to return.
"As they continued to teach me, my feelings of having been brought the truth increased rapidly. I knew it would be necessary for me to be baptized again because my earlier baptism as a child was invalid, but I was fearful. My legs are not good, and it is difficult for me to get around, so I wondered how the baptism could be performed. However, I was determined to do it-and with the Lord's help I did! I made my own baptismal dress especially for this event, and upon it I used the embroidery I had been keeping for my burial dress."
Most of Sister Hahn's neighbors are members of the same families who have lived in Rottenburg for centuries. They dislike and are suspicious of change-and have kept their little city very much as it was in the twelfth century. They turn their backs on Helma Hahn since she has become Rottenburg's sole Mormon, this being the attitude she predicted but hoped would not occur. She is consoled in the knowledge that she has done the right thing, and she loves the restored gospel with all her heart. She enjoys sitting at her table by the window and reading the Book of Mormon which is always open there. Now she receives many letters and more visitors than she ever had before in her life-new friends from all over the world, so many Latter-day Saint tourists come to Rottenburg and the news gets around that she is there alone.
What is most important, there are many, many things to learn and very little time to do it in, as the gospel reached her very late in her life. She is very grateful to the special missionary who knew in his heart that there was someone there in Rottenburg who was ready to hear the message-someone who wouldn't mind being "the only Mormon in town."
Information about the conversion of Sister Hahn was supplied by Orville Gunther, former President of the Germany South Mission. Photo shows Sister Hahn lowering a key to President Gunther and his wife, when they came to visit her.