Dietrich Bonhoeffer
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 Bonhoeffer was not raised in a particularly radical environment. He was born into an aristocratic family. His mother was daughter of the preacher at the court of Kaiser Wilhelm 2 and his father was a prominent neurologist and professor of phychiatry at the Univeristy of Berlin. All 8 childern were raised in a liberal, nominally religious environment and were encouraged to dabble in great literature and the fine arts. Bonhoeffer's skill at the piano led some in his family to believe he was headed for a carrer in music. When at age 14, he announced he intented to beecome a minister and theologian the family wasn't very happy. Bonhoeffer graduated from the University of Berlin in 1927 at age 21. He then spent some months in Spain as an assistant pastor to a German Congregation. Then it was back to Germany to write a disseration, which would grant him the right to a University appointment. He then spent a year in America before returning to the post of lecturer at the University of Berlin. During these years, Hitler rose in power becoming chancellor of Germany in January 1933, and president a year and a half later. Hitler's anti-Semitic rhetoric and actions intensified as did his opposition which influenced theologians.Over the past 50 years, many christians have been engaged in the porcess of reexamining the role of the Church in Germany during the Nazi era. What has become evident in this undertaking is the depth of the chasm between the ideals that Church had always set for itself and the way it responded to the brutalization of the German government under Adolf Hitler. Dietrich Bonhoeffer was one of the few church leaders who stood in courageous opposition to the fuehrer and his policies. Bonhoeffer was born in 1906. He was an outstanding student and at the age of 25 became a lecturer in systematic theology at the University of Berlin. When Hitler came to power in 1933, Bonhoeffer became a leading spokesman for the Confessing Church, the center of Protestant resistance to the Nazis. He organized and for a time led the underground seminary of the Confessing Chruch. His book Life Together describes the life of the Christian community in that seminary, and his book The Cost of Discipleship attacks what he calls "cheap grace", meaning grace used as an excuse for moral laxity. Bonhoeffer had been taught not to "resist the powers that be" but he came to believe that to do so was sometimes the right choice. In 1939 his brother-in-law introduced him to a group planning the overthrow of Hitler, and he made significant contributions to their work. At this time he was an employee of the Military Intelligence Department. Dietrich was a part of the planing of Hitlers death. He was arrested in April 1943 and imprisioned in Berlin. After the failure of the attempt on Hitler's life in April 1944, he was sent first to Buchenwald and then to Schoenberg Prison. His life was spared, beceause he had a relative who stood high in the government; but then this relative was himself implicated in the anti-Nazi plots. On Sunday April 8th 1945, he had just finished conducting a service of worship at Schoenberg, when 2 soldiers came in saying, "Prisoner Bonhoeffer, make ready and come with us." As he left he said to another prisoner, "This is then end- but for me, the beginning- of life" He was hanged the next day, less than a week before the Allies reaexternal image bonhoeffer-standing.jpgched the camp. external image movie_435.jpg