di­et­rich Bon­ho­ef­fer

Some peo­ple made their stand in the only way they knew – through re­li­gion

All About History - - WORLD WAR II -

When the­olo­gian Di­et­rich Bon­ho­ef­fer re­turned to Ger­many af­ter study­ing in the US, he was dis­ap­pointed – Adolf Hitler had be­come chan­cel­lor and was spread­ing anti-semitic sen­ti­ments. He had to do some­thing. With some fel­low cler­gy­men and the­olo­gians, Bon­ho­ef­fer founded the Con­fess­ing Church in 1934, its al­le­giance first to God, not the state.

Bon­ho­ef­fer didn’t stop there. In an un­der­ground sem­i­nary, Finken­walde, he taught other pas­tors his ways un­til it was un­cov­ered and shut down.

It was time for a change of strat­egy – Bon­ho­ef­fer signed up to the se­cret ser­vice but while he trav­elled the coun­try re­port­ing on church con­fer­ences, he was help­ing Jews es­cape the Nazis.

In 1943, he was fi­nally caught. One af­ter­noon in April, a black Mercedes pulled up. Bon­ho­ef­fer was bun­dled into it and sent to prison where he spent two years. He was later trans­ferred to Buchen­wald con­cen­tra­tion camp and then Flossen­bürg. On the morn­ing of 9 April 1945 he was es­corted from his bed and had his verdict read to him. He knelt on the floor and prayed to God. Be­fore he climbed the gal­lows he prayed once more and then the noose was placed around his neck. He died within sec­onds, but his the­ol­ogy and rep­u­ta­tion lived on.

“look­ing on is not Chris­tian be­hav­iour. Chris­tians are called to com­pas­sion and to ac­tion”

life: 1906-45 Fate: hanged

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