“This is the end, but for me the beginning of life”

Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a German theologian and opponent of Nazism, was assassinated more than 75 years ago.

On April 9, 1945, the Lutheran pastor and theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer was hanged in Flossenburg, just a few days before the liberation of the POW camp in which he was held. The last recorded words of the brave 39-year-old opponent of Nazism were: “This is the end, but for me the beginning of life.”

Dietrich Bonhoeffer (German Dietrich Bonhoeffer) was born on February 4, 1906 in a Protestant family of a neurologist Karl Bonhoeffer. He studied theology at the universities of Tübingen and Berlin, was a student of the liberal theologians Adolf von Harnack, Reinhold Seeberg; The theologian Karl Barth had a significant influence on his views.

In 1928-1929. – assistant pastor in the German evangelical community in Barcelona, ​​in 1930-1931. Trained at the United Theological Seminary of New York.

Then he became a pastor at the Berlin Zionskirche and a lecturer in systematic theology at the University of Berlin. Two days after Adolf Hitler became Chancellor of Germany, Dietrich Bonhoeffer went on the radio to denounce Nazi policies. Bonhoeffer’s performance was hastily interrupted before he could finish.

Dietrich protested Nazi racial politics and, along with Pastor Martin Niemöller, helped to form the Confessing Church, which opposed state attempts to subjugate the Lutheran Church through the creation of the pro-Nazi “Evangelical Church of the German Nation”.

From late 1933 Bonhoeffer lived in London, then returned to Germany in 1935 to organize a seminary for the Confessing Church.

After 2 years, Bonhoeffer’s constant speeches against Nazi policies led the German government to close the seminary and Dietrich himself lost his freedom to lecture and publish.

In 1939, Bonhoeffer visited New York, where he was offered to stay and quietly engage in teaching activities, however, despite the outbreak of World War II, he rejected this offer: “I have to go through this difficult period of our national history with Christians in Germany. I will not have the right to participate in the revival of Christian life after the war if I do not share with my people the trials of this time.”

In 1941, Bonhoeffer became a member of the anti-Nazi Resistance, while working in the Abwehr helped several Jews escape from Germany. At the same time, he continued to engage in theological research and worked on the book “Ethics”, in which he argued that a Christian has the right to participate in political resistance to the dictatorship.

Dietrich was arrested by the Gestapo in April 1943. He was accused of undermining the armed forces and placed in prison, in February 1945 – in the Buchenwald concentration camp, in April of the same year the pastor was transferred to the Flossenbürg camp.

While in prison, he acted as a counselor and pastor for prisoners of all denominations. In prisons and camps, Bonhoeffer maintained his presence of mind and courage, not only reflecting on theological issues, but also writing poetry. On April 8, he was able to hold the last divine service in his life.

On April 9, 1945, Dietrich Bonhoeffer was executed by hanging in the Flossenbürg concentration camp (Bavaria). The last recorded words of the 39-year-old theologian were: “This is the end, but for me the beginning of life.”

The doctor of the Flossenbürg concentration camp recalled: “Through the half-open door of the barrack building … I saw Pastor Bonhoeffer, kneeling in secret prayer before the Lord God. The selfless and penetrating nature of the prayer of this very sympathetic man greatly shocked me. And at the place of the execution itself, saying a short prayer, he courageously climbed the stairs to the gallows … In all my almost 50 years of medical activity, I have not seen a person dying in greater devotion to God … ”

After the end of World War II, a six-volume collected works of Bonhoeffer were published.

His theological views had a great influence on the development of Christian theology in the 20th century.

He believed that true Christianity requires overcoming the gap between the divine, transcendent, and the earthly, human. The figure of Christ as a god-man, in his opinion, embodies the unity of these two worlds.

He criticized liberal theology, which “gave the world the right to show Christ a place in it …”

Archpriest Alexander Men wrote about Bonhoeffer: “When Bonhoeffer was in prison, … he wrote letters to his relatives, and they compiled a whole book that made a huge impression on the Western world and on theologians in particular.”

He said: “For the first time I got into a company of people who are completely far from my faith” – there were communists, there were people in general who were alien to him.

And he wrote: “I was looking for a new language, new words, to tell them about the main thing – about the gospel, about the eternal. I then realized that our old church language is suitable only for us, for narrow use, but for the world it is insufficient, the world has entered into a different cultural lane.”

Bonhoeffer believed that the world has come of age, and therefore it can do without the sacred. I think he was delusional. Because you can’t call our world like that, which is going crazy with political myths – after all, he wrote this during the rampant Nazism, shortly after Stalinism – there is nothing ripe in our world.

But still, Bonhoeffer was right – the cultural background has changed in the world, the language must be looked for another … ”Currently, Dietrich Bonhoeffer is a symbol of Lutheran martyrdom in the 20th century.”

His statue, among the images of ten Christian martyrs of this time, is placed on the west facade of Westminster Abbey in London.

According to The Christian Post

IN THE LIGHT, Read more: https://www.inlight.news/2019/04/Bonhoeffer.html

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