Theologian, activist and martyr – Dietrich Bonhoeffer

09 Jun


A German theologian and pastor, Dietrich Bonhoeffer was originally an anti-war pacifist. He believed in Jesus and his teachings on the sermon of the mount. From the beginning though, Bonhoeffer opposed the authoritarian Nazi regime and Hitler himself. He had made two trips abroad to America to go to school and to teach, but on the second trip in the midst of the Nazi terror — he determined that he had taken an easy path out of the occupation, and needed to return.

He taught at an underground seminary that began in Finkenwalde, which supplied pastors to the Confessing Church, which he was a founding member of, which the Nazis attempted to suppress.

Toward the very end of the third reich, Bonhoeffer directly sought regime change with some of his religious associates and family members. He was a double agent of sorts, along with his lawyer brother-in-law, Hans von Dohnányi. Eventually the Gestapo suspected some of Bonhoeffer and his brother-in-law’s double agent activities, and tapped their phones.

As part of the resistance, Bonhoeffer and Dohnányi were arrested in April 1943. Bonhoeffer was held in a military prison for 18 months awaiting trial, where he was able to confer letters later published. Bonhoeffer’s young fiance, Ruth von Kleist Retzow visited him and smuggled out letters. Bonhoeffer was friendly with other prisoners as well as guards. He had an opportunity to escape, but declined as he feared retribution against his brother Klaus and brother-in-law Hans von Dohnány, both also imprisoned for their activities against the third reich.

In February of 1945, he was moved to Buchenvald, and then Flossenburg concentration camps. Bonhoeffer was condemned to death by a judge and was to be executed by hanging at dawn on 9 April 1945, just three weeks before the Allies defeated Germany in May 1945.

From wikipedia: Bonhoeffer was stripped of his clothing and led naked into the execution yard where he was hanged, along with fellow conspirators Admiral Wilhelm Canaris, Canaris’s deputy General Hans Oster, military jurist General Karl Sack, General Friedrich von Rabenau,[47] businessman Theodor Strünck, and German resistance fighter Ludwig Gehre. Bonhoeffer’s brother, Klaus Bonhoeffer, and his brother-in-law, Rüdiger Schleicher, were executed in Berlin on the night of 22–23 April as Soviet troops were already fighting in the capital. His brother-in-law Hans von Dohnányi had been executed in Sachsenhausen concentration camp on 8 or 9 April.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer was 39 when he was executed along with other resistance members by direct order of Hitler, right before the end of World War II. He was never able to marry his fiance Ruth.

Recommended: Bonhoeffer on Amazon prime


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: