Dietrich Bonhoeffer


Living from 1906-1945, Dietrich Bonhoeffer was a German theologian that ended up losing his life because of his attempts to end Hitler and his Nazi regime. Bonhoeffer opposed Hitler and his motives behind his "Faith Movement." He disagreed that religion could ever be determined by race. Bonhoeffer was a leader among German Christians in opposition to Nazi power, eventually losing his right to teach at a university, speak in public, and publish his opinions. He was even involved in a plot to kill Adolf Hitler. Bonhoeffer's boldness affected both him and his loved ones. They were imprisoned for having helped Jews escape Germany. While in prison because of his anti-Nazi preachings and efforts, he conversed with his fiancée, Maria von Wedemeyer, through letter writing. These writings have been compiled into a book, Letters and Papers from Prison. Bonhoeffer was hung on April 9, 1945, with the rest of his conspirators.

Silence in the face of evil is itself evil: God will not hold us guiltless. Not to speak is to speak. Not to act is to act.

Courageous Act

Bonhoeffer felt that the church should speak out against the government if it started to abuse its power. His speech, "The Church and the Jewish Question," gave guidance to fellow German pastors in resistance to Nazi power after the law was passed prohibiting Jews from civil service. Bonhoeffer became part of the anti-Nazi Confessing Church and led a secret seminary at Finkenwalde where he prepared young pastors for the anti-Nazi Church. The seminary was closed by the Nazis in October of 1937. After the night of Kristallnacht, Bonhoeffer was brought to America by American theologians who wanted his safety, but only after a month, he returned to Germany, writing to American theologian Reinold Niebuhr, "I will have no right to participate in the reconstruction of Christian life in Germany after the war if I do not share the trials of this time with my people." This shows his devotion to make a difference in the state of Germany. In addition to this, Bonhoeffer was recruited by German admiral Wilhelm Canaris, leader of the Nazi intelligence service, to help overthrow Hitler. Bonhoeffer was later arrested, and then hung, giving up his life trying to fight for the improvement of the helpless.


There is no Hitler and Nazi regime rising to power now, but this information has inspired me to not be afraid to respond to people when they treat others, or even me, in a negative way. This information has inspired me to go beyond myself and stick up for others as Bonhoeffer did, even though he wasn't a Jew. This information reminds me that part of discipleship is caring for the orphaned and widowed, basically those that can't care for themselves. Bonhoeffer has inspired me to be the person that makes a difference. Bonhoeffer showed me that in life, all it takes is one person to start a movement that will impact others, even if you have to go out of your way.

Works Cited

"Dietrich Bonhoeffer." Encyclopedia of World Biography, Gale, 1998. Student Resources in Context, Accessed 3 Feb. 2017.

"Dietrich Bonhoeffer." UXL Biographies, UXL, 2011. Student Resources in Context, Accessed 6 Feb. 2017.

"Dietrich Bonhoeffer." DISCovering Biography, Gale, 2003. Student Resources in Context, Accessed 6 Feb. 2017.

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