Bonhoeffer, Dietrich.

Back to all people

- Medals

Bonhoeffer, Dietrich, born on 04-02-1906, in Breslau,  His family were not religious but had a strong musical and artistic heritage. From an early age, Bonhoeffer displayed great musical talent, and the pursuit of music was important throughout his life. His family were quite taken aback when, at the age of 14, he announced he wanted to train and become a Lutheran pastor, theologian and martyr.
In 1927, he graduated from the University of Berlin. He gained a doctorate in theology for his influential thesis, Sanctorum Communio (Communion of Saints.)  After graduating, he spent time in Spain and America; these gave him a wider outlook on life and helped him move from academic study to a more practical interpretation of the Gospels. He was moved by the concept of the Church’s involvement in social justice and protection of those who were oppressed. His wide travels also encouraged a greater interest in ecumenism
In 1931, he returned to Berlin and was ordained as a priest, aged 25. The early 1930s were a period of great upheaval in Germany, with the instability of Weimar Germany and the mass unemployment of the Great Depression leading to the election of Adolf Hitler in 1933.
While the election of Hitler was widely welcomed by the German population, including significant parts of the Church, Bonhoeffer was a firm opponent of Hitler’s philosophy. Two days after Hitler’s election as Chancellor in Jan 1933, Bonhoeffer made a radio broadcast criticizing Hitler, and in particular the danger of an idolatrous cult of the Fuhrer. His radio broadcast was cut off mid-air.
He became a participant in the German resistance movement against Nazism and a founding member of the Confessing Church. Bonhoeffer was further harassed by the Nazi authorities as he was forbidden to speak in public and was required to regularly report his activities to the police in 1940. In 1941, he was forbidden to print or to publish. In the meantime, Bonhoeffer, an avowed pacifist and pastor, joined the Abwehr , a German military intelligence organization, which was also the center of the anti-Adolf Hitler (did you know) resistance. Bonhoeffer advocated Hitler’s assassination and knew about various 1943 plots against Hitler through Dohnanyi, who was actively involved in the planning.

Death and burial ground of Bonhoeffer, Dietrich.

His involvement in plans by members of the Abwehr, Hans Oster  and Wilhelm Canaris to assassinate Adolf Hitler (see Hitler parents  resulted in his arrest in April 1943   and his subsequent execution by hanging in April 1945, in concentration camp Flossenbürg, 23 days before the Nazis’ surrender. His view of Christianity’s role in the secular world has become very influential. Bonhoeffer is buried at the age of 39, on the Dorotheenstädtischer und Friedrichswerder Friedhof in Berlin. His brother Klaus Hans Martin Bonhoeffer   In 1940, he began to systematically contact various resistance groups, among them the church groups through his brother Dietrich and the military groups through his brothers-in-law Justus Delbrück , Hans von Dohnányi  , and Rüdiger Schleicher , in particular, the group led by Admiral Canaris  . He was arrested for his part in the July 20th assassination attempt on Hitler on 01-10-1944 and was sentenced to death on 02-02-1945. The sentence was carried out in the night of April 22 to 23, 1945, age 44, by a death squad from the Reichssicherheitshauptamt at the fairgrounds near the Lehrter Prison.

Share on :