BOUNTIFUL— Walter Rohloff has had a lot of close calls in his life – and lived to tell about them. From serving in the German army to being buried in a coal mine, the Bountiful man has seen more than his share of adventure.
Rohloff decided to write about his life in a book called “Under the Wings of the Almighty” to give others a sense of hope through adversity.
“I did it because I was protected in the war I don’t know how many times,” he said. “The money I receive from it I give to humanitarian causes through the LDS church.”
What he believes was divine protection came in many forms. While a POW during World War II he was working in a coal mine. “We were putting in supports underground,” he recalled. “The slope made it difficult to get out and I didn’t make it out in time and got caught and buried under the coal. Everyone was afraid they might get caught so no one would care for me. I couldn’t move or close my mouth. It was so tight around me I couldn’t move my arms or legs. My fellow POW Franz Rambow came by and asked what was going on. He jumped into the chute and started digging to get me out. I was still alive with no difficulties and I was not injured.”
More than once, Rohloff was trapped in the mine and he was a POW for two years. “It was really not that hard for me,” he said of the camp. “The first days were hard but later I had a good relationship with the men I worked for.”
Another time just before he moved from Germany to the United States, Rohloff was serving as a branch president for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. “The evening before I was to drive to another town in Germany, I was having a meeting,” he said. “While we were sitting around the table there was a hard knock on the door. Some men were there asking for me. They said I would have to come with them to headquarters. I was frightened because my father had been taken to a concentration camp and we had not heard from him for a long time.”
His wife heard the commotion and asked what was going on. “She said she wanted to go with me,” he said. “I told her she better stay and I would go alone. She said ‘whether I have to go to Siberia I go with you.’ When we got to headquarters they took us to a large room and reported that they had me. The guy there looked over to me and said ‘I know that man; he is not an American spy. You can go.’”
Rohloff said he was relieved because the treatment for prisoners was not easy. Again, he felt that he was protected by a higher source in that moment. His father was eventually released but when he saw him he didn’t know who he was. “They all looked alike not like my father,” he said. “My father was always a little heavy – but not anymore. When he spoke I recognized his voice. He wouldn’t tell me what went on because he was afraid of going back.”
After about 30 years in Germany, Rohloff and his wife moved to Salt Lake City mostly to be closer to the church. “I worked at the U of U in the division that was developing the artificial heart,” he said. He had been a toolmaker by trade in Germany. “I made the mold for the heart (Jarvik-7).”
Rohloff and his wife adopted a boy and a girl and have lived in Bountiful for 50 years. He is suffering with health issues and is on hospice but still has a happy, grateful attitude.
“I’ve had an interesting life,” he said. “We are very blessed here.”
The book is available on Amazon.com and Kindle.