Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Today in History

Today in (Theological) History: Dietrich Bonhoeffer is Murdered by Nazis

Bonhoeffer statue alongside other martyrs at Westminster Abbey.

When Christ calls a man, he bids him come and die.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Discipleship.

April 9th, 1945: Dietrich Bonhoeffer is Murdered by the Nazis

Dietrich Bonhoeffer was a German Lutheran pastor and theologian who resisted the Nazi regime. Although he was offered the opportunity to accept a position teaching in the United States, he suffered mental anguish at leaving Germany’s struggle behind and decided to return despite the potential threat to his life. The Nazis banned him from publishing and from teaching in Berlin. He spoke against Nazism and was deeply involved in the Confessing Church–the church that opposed Nazification of the church.

Bonhoeffer is remembered in part for his resistance to the Nazi regime, and in part for his stunningly insightful theological writings.

He became involved in a conspiracy to overthrow Hitler and was arrested by the Gestapo, but not for a specific conspiracy. When the conspiracy was finally discovered more fully, his execution was directly ordered from the highest levels of Nazi leadership.

On April 9th, 1945, guards at Flossenbürg concentration camp came to gather him for execution. He reportedly turned to another prisoner and said “This is the end… for me, the beginning of life.” He was killed by hanging from piano wire. His remains were either burned or buried in a mass grave by Allied soldiers when Flossenbürg was liberated.

Bonhoeffer’s theological legacy is difficult to overstate. His Lutheran theology is remarkable in how clearly he draws distinctions. He gained worldwide fame for his Letters and Papers from Prison, which outlines a religionless Christianity in which he pushed back against faith lives lived without action. His theology has been deeply influential on myself, as well. To read more, check out my posts on Dietrich Bonhoeffer (scroll down for more).

About J.W. Wartick

J.W. Wartick is a Lutheran, feminist, Christ-follower. A Science Fiction snob, Bonhoeffer fan, Paleontology fanboy and RPG nerd.

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