Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Wrocław, Dolnośląskie, Poland
Death 9 Apr 1945 (aged 39)
Flossenburg, Landkreis Neustadt an der Waldnaab, Bavaria (Bayern), Germany
Cenotaph Berlin-Mitte, Mitte, Berlin, Germany
Memorial ID 6616844 · View Source
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Theologian, World War II Resistance Figure. Born with a twin sister in Breslau, Germany; he studied Theology at Tubingen University. In 1928, he served as vicar in the German parish in Barcelona, Spain; and in 1930, he was awarded a Sloane Fellowship which allowed him to attend Union Theological Seminary in New York City, New York, He completed his theological examinations there, and in 1931 he took a position as lecturer in Theology at the University of Berlin. That November he was ordained at St. Matthias Lutheran Church in Berlin. In 1933, alarmed with the political situation, he wrote an essay, “In The Church and the Jewish Question” (1933), in which he pledged to fight political injustice, and question Nazi policy. That fall, he accepted the pastorate of the German Evangelical Church in London, England. He and other opponents of Nazi interference in Church affairs formed the “Confessing Church”, advocating open resistance against Nazism. He returned to Germany in 1934 to teach at Finkenwalde, a Confessing Church seminary. Students, however, from taking its clerical posts by the establishment church. In August 1937, the German government declared the training and examination of Confessing ministry illegal. Finkenwalde was closed in September and 27 of Bonhoeffer's students were arrested. He wrote two volumes after the closing of the seminary; “The Cost of Discipleship” and “Life Together”. In June 1939, at the invitation of Union Theological Seminary in New York, he returned to the United States. He was encouraged to remain there by friends, but decided he had to face the coming trials with his own people. He returned to Germany only a month later. Under scrutiny of the Gestapo, he was banned from Berlin. Nazi authorities forbade him to speak in public and required him to regularly report his activities to the police. He was forbidden to print or to publish. Ironically, he managed to secure a position with Abwehr, the Nazi German intelligence-gathering agency, claiming his world-wide ecumenical contacts would be of use to Germany. The ploy succeeded, the position protected him from conscription to active service. From his Abwehr protection, he served as a courier for the German resistance, liaising with the Allies through his ecumenical contacts abroad in hope of gaining their support. He also became involved in operations to help German Jews escape to Switzerland. On April 5, 1943, he was arrested and taken to Tegel Prison in Berlin. He remained there for almost 18 months. Sympathetic guards helped smuggle his letters out of prison, and these uncensored letters were posthumously published in the book, “Letters and Papers from Prison”. Plans were made for his escape, but ultimately he decided against the attempt, fearing Nazi retribution on his family, two of whom were in prison with him. In October 1944, Bonhoeffer was moved to the Gestapo prison in Berlin. He was charged with conspiring to rescue Jews, using official travel for other interests, and abusing his intelligence position. In February 1945, he was taken to Buchenwald, and was then transferred to the Flossenbürg concentration camp, where he was hanged. The German Evangelical Church in London at which he served between 1933 and 1935, was destroyed by bombing in 1944. A new church was built in 1958 and named Dietrich-Bonhoeffer-Kirche in his honor.

Bio by: Iola



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  • Maintained by: Find a Grave
  • Originally Created by: David Conway
  • Added: 18 Jul 2002
  • Find a Grave Memorial 6616844
  • Find a Grave, database and images ( : accessed ), memorial page for Dietrich Bonhoeffer (4 Feb 1906–9 Apr 1945), Find a Grave Memorial no. 6616844, citing Dorotheenstädtisch-Friedrichwerderscher Friedhof I, Berlin-Mitte, Mitte, Berlin, Germany ; Maintained by Find A Grave .