Biography Of Dietrich Bonhoeffer -

Biography Of Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Biography Of Dietrich Bonhoeffer


Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Dietrich Bonhoeffer (Feb. 4 1906 until April 9, 1945) was a Protestant Lutheran Pastor, and theologian as well as actively involved in the German protest against Hitler’s policies. Hitler as well as Nazism.

Because of his opposition towards his opposition to the Nazi government, Bonhoeffer was arrested and executed in the Flossian concentration camp in the final month of the war. Bonhoeffer is a significant symbol of resistance to Hitler and his views regarding Christianity become increasingly influential.


Short Bio of Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Bonhoeffer was born in Breslau, Germany, in 1906. His family was not religious but they did have a significant musical and artistic background. At an early age, Bonhoeffer was a great musician. talent and his musical pursuit was important aspect all through his lifetime. His family was taken by surprise when at 14, he revealed his desire to study to become a priest.

In 1927, he was a graduate of his school, the University of Berlin. He earned a doctorate in theology and was a major influencer for his research paper, Sanctorum Communio(Communion of Saints.) After graduation from theology, he traveled to Spain and America and gained an expanded view of life, which helped him transition from academic research towards a more practical understanding of the Gospels. He was inspired by the notion of the church’s participation in social justice and the protection of oppressed people. His extensive travels also prompted an increased interest in the concept of ecumenism (outreach to other congregations).

Was in 1931 when he re-entered Berlin to be ordained priest at the age of 25. The 1930s saw massive turmoil in Germany due to the turmoil in Weimar Germany and the mass unemployment of the Great Depression leading to the election of Adolf Hitler in 1933.

Although it was true that the victory of Hitler is generally applauded by the German populace, which included large sections of the Catholic Christian Church Bonhoeffer had a strong anti-Hitler stance. Just two days after Hitler’s appointment as Chancellor in January 1933, Bonhoeffer broadcast radio broadcasts that criticized Hitler and, in particular, the risk of an idolatrous religion of Hitler as the Fuhrer. The Radio broadcast cut in mid-air.

In April 1933, Bonhoeffer spoke out in protest against discrimination against Jews and believed that the Church was obligated to take action against this type of policy. Bonhoeffer tried to organize an organization within the Protestant Church to rebuke Nazi ideology from entering the church. This led to the formation of a separate church called The Confessing Church which Bonhoeffer was a part of along with Martin Niemoller. It was the Confessing Church that sought to stand against the Nazi-backed, German-Christian movement.

In reality, it was hard to come up with bold ideas to fight the Nazification of the church and society. Bonhoeffer was disappointed by the weakening of the church and its opposition during the fall of 1933, he accepted an appointment for two years to the German-speaking Protestant church in London.

Following two decades in London, the Bonhoeffer family returned to Berlin. He felt the desire to return home to his country to share in the struggles of his country despite the grim prospects. After his return, a leader from the Confessing Church was arrested and another fled to Switzerland Bonhoeffer was denied his authority to teach and suspended in 1936 after being branded an anti-pacifist and an enemy to the state.

As the Nazi government’s control over the country increased and the country was re-established in 1937 it was announced that the Confessing Church Seminary in Berlin was shut to the public by Himmler. In the following 2 years that followed, Bonhoeffer was a frequent visitor across Eastern Germany, conducting seminaries in private, and addressing sympathetic students.

In the period of his time, Bonhoeffer wrote extensively about issues of theological importance. It included ‘ The Cost of Discipleship The Cost of Discipleship’, a study of the Sermon on the Mount. It also advocated for more discipline in the spiritual realm and practice to attain the ‘costly grace’.

“Cheap grace” refers to the grace we give to ourselves. Cheap grace is preaching of forgiveness, without the need for confession, repentance, baptism with no church discipline, or communion without confession. …. The term “cheap grace” means grace with no discipline, grace without a cross, or grace that is not Jesus Christ, living and Christ-like.”


Biography Of Dietrich Bonhoeffer


Biography Of Dietrich Bonhoeffer


Dietrich Bonhoeffer ( The Cost of Discipleship)

Befuddled by the fear of having to sign an oath in front of Hitler or being detained Bonhoeffer fled Germany to go to his home in the United States in June 1939. Less than two years after his departure, he returned to Germany as he felt guilty for seeking refuge and not being brave enough to live out the beliefs he preached.

“I am at my conclusion that I was mistaken when I came to America. … Christians in Germany must face the terrifying choice of accepting the defeat of their country to ensure that Christian civilization will survive, or wishing the triumph of their nation, thereby ruining the civilization. I am aware of the one I will choose, however, I am unable to choose that option without security.”

After his return back to Germany, Bonhoeffer was denied the right to make public appearances or publish any piece of writing. However, he was able to get a job with the Abwehr which was the German intelligence service in the military. Before his trip to America US, Bonhoeffer had already had contacts with a few military officers who were against Hitler. It was in the Abwehr that the most fierce opposition to Hitler took place. Bonhoeffer had been aware of numerous plots to assassinate Hitler. It was in the darkest moments during the Second World War that he began to doubt his pacifism because he realized the necessity for a violent protest against an oppressive regime like Hitler. Bonhoeffer pondered what to do to address the evil character and the brutality of Hitler’s Nazi regime.

“The fantastic illusion of evil has messed with our moral concepts. The fact that evil can be disguised as light and the need for historical justice, charity, or social justice can be confusing to those who have been raised in our traditional moral concepts however those who are Christian one who has based their beliefs on the Bible it only highlights the evil insanity.” Letters and Papers from Prison (1967 – 1997)

Then Visser’s Hooft, the General Secretary of the World Council of Churches, was asked by Bonhoeffer “What do you pray for in these days?” Bonhoeffer answered: ” If you want to know the truth, I pray for the defeat of my nation.”

In the shadow of Abwehr, Bonhoeffer served as an agent for the tiny German opposition movement. He was in contact with the people associated with the British government, even though the sentiments from those of the German resistance were not heard since the Allies followed a strategy of demanding an unconditional surrender.’

Within the Abwehr the Abwehr, efforts were put in place to assist German Jews to escape to neutral Switzerland. It was the involvement of Bonhoeffer in this endeavor that led to his detention in April 1943. When the Gestapo tried to assume the duties of the Abwehr and uncovered Bonhoeffer’s involvement with escape plans. For a whole year and a quarter, Bonhoeffer was imprisoned at Tegel Military prison. He continued to write like ‘ Ethics’. With the help of guards who were sympathetic the writings of Bonhoeffer were smuggled out. In his prison letters Bonhoeffer wrote about what he learned from his prison sentence:

“There remains an experience that is of unrivaled worth. We’ve learned to view the most important world events from beneath, from the point of view of the marginalized or the people who are deemed suspects, those who are neglected — or, more precisely looking from the viewpoint of the people who are suffering. Watching and waiting is not Christian behavior. Christians need to be called upon to be compassionate as well as to act.” (Letters From Prison p.16)

After the bomb plot failed on July 20 1944 Bonhoeffer was transferred to the Gestapo’s prison with high security, before being moved to Buchenwald concentration camp, then Flossenburg Concentration camp.

Despite the squalor of the prison camp Bonhoeffer remained a spiritualist which was apparent to their fellow prisoners. Bonhoeffer continued to serve the prisoners. Payne Best, a fellow inmate, and officer in the British Army wrote this observation about Bonhoeffer.

“Bonhoeffer was different, perfectly normal and calm, and seemed relaxed… the soul of his truly shined in the gloomy desperation in our jail. He was among the very few people I’ve ever met with which God truly was and close to him.”

On April 8, 1945, Bonhoeffer received a preliminary court martial, before being sentenced to be hanged. As with many conspirators, he was hanged by wires, to prolong his death. He was executed alongside fellow conspirators like Admiral Wilhelm Canaris and Hans Oster.

Just before his execution, the prisoner asked another inmate to relay an address to bishop George Bell of Chichester ‘ This is the end of my life – for me, the beginning of the journey to.’

A camp physician who was present at Bonhoeffer’s execution Bonhoeffer later wrote:

“I was able to see Professor Bonhoeffer … sitting on the floor, praying with fervent devotion to God. I was incredibly moved by the way this sweet man prayed, so faithful and confident that God took note of his prayer. When he was executed He prayed again the prayer for a few minutes before he walked the few steps to the gallows. He was calm and stoic. His death occurred after a couple of minutes. In the nearly fifty years I have worked as a physician I’ve rarely seen a person be so dependent on God’s will. God.”


Theology of Bonhoeffer

“In following Jesus’ followers, they are freed from the burden of their laws and placed under the gentle burden to Jesus Christ. … Jesus’ instruction never aims to end life, but to protect, strengthen, and strengthen the body.”

Discipleship (1937)

Because it is fragmentary, his theology is susceptible to multiple interpretations. But the main concepts of his theology are:

Social action has the responsibility to carry out the principles in the Gospels amid the chaos.
Bonhoeffer also attached greater importance to the centrality that was Jesus Christ, and the obligation of Christians to emulate his example and his teachings. Particularly, he wanted to instill the necessity to strive for spiritual perfection as well as forgiveness for the sins of others.
Bonhoeffer’s principled opposition to Hitler’s dictatorship was an inspiration for other leaders like Martin Luther King and Archbishop Desmond Tutu. Bonhoeffer also shared many of the same ideals as Mahatma Gandhi. (In 1935, he declined an opportunity to study at Gandhi’s Ashram)


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