Dieter F. Uchtdorf was born in Czechoslovakia on November 6, 1940, in the middle of the horror of World War II. While Elder Uchtdorf was very young, his father was taken and forced to join the German army. His mother, Hildegard, afraid for her family’s safety, moved the family to Zwickau, Germany. When the war ended, Elder Uchtdorf’s father returned, but the family was still in danger, because his father had been vocal about his opposition to Nazism and Communism. They were able to move to Frankfurt, West Germany, and into safety. Elder Uchtdorf said of his childhood, “We were refugees with an uncertain future. . . . I played in bombed-out houses and grew up with the ever-present consequences of a lost war and the awareness that my own country had inflicted terrible pain on many nations during the horrific World War II.” (lds.org)However these hard times brought the Uchtdorf family a great gift, the gospel of Christ. Elder Uchtdorf related how his family joined The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormon Church), “After World War II,” he said, “my grandmother was standing in line for food when an elderly single sister with no family of her own invited her to sacrament meeting. . . . My grandmother and my parents accepted the invitation. They went to church, felt the Spirit, were uplifted by the kindness of the members, and were edified by the hymns of the Restoration. … How grateful I am for a spiritually sensitive grandmother, teachable parents, and a wise, white-haired, elderly single sister who had the sweet boldness to reach out and follow the Savior’s example by inviting us to ‘come and see’ (see John 1:39)” (lds.org). Elder Dieter Uchtdorf lives by the saying “you could be upset about it, but you are not obligated to be.” His son explained that he always knew that his father put his trust in the Lord.
At fourteen, Elder Uchtdorf dreamed of becoming a pilot. He pursued this dream as a career and has become one of the most recognized and honored commercial pilots. During the same time he was gaining recognition and status as a pilot, Elder Uchtdorf also received calls within the Mormon Church that required great strength and responsibility. He was first called as the president of the Frankfurt Germany Stake, then as president of the Mannheim Germany Stake. In 1994 he was called as a General Authority in the Quorum of the Seventy.
Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf was ordained a member of the Twelve Apostles in October 2004, and is the first apostle to be called in more than fifty years who was not born in the United States.