Church for Others

Twenty-eight years ago this year (April 9, 1945) Dietrich Bonhoeffer was hung to death at the youthful age of 39. An eye-witness account by the camp doctor in the Flossenburg concentration camp in Bavaria tells of those final moments. After a brief prayer, stripped to the skin but composed, Bonhoeffer mounted the steps to the gallows, and in a matter of seconds he was dead. The doctor’s word: “In the almost 50 years that I worked as a doctor, I have hardly ever seen a man so entirely submissive to the will of God.”

For 12 years, the years of the great holocaust’s dark night, Bonhoeffer had been a marked man.

He was cut off the air in Berlin in 1933 for his frank opposition to the “leadership” principle.

He was a catalyst in the organizing of the Pastors’ Emergency League.

He was a leader in the ConfessingChurch in Germany, the body most critical of Hitler and the Third Reich.

He served as the director of an illegal seminary.

His seminary was dissolved by the Gestapo.

He was forbidden to speak or preach by the Gestapo.

He was forbidden to publish.

He carried on an assignment as an intelligence agent in Hitler’s own military counterespionage operation.

He was engaged by night in political resistance activity.

He was a go-between on behalf of the resistance movement and contacts outside Germany.

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