Dietrich Bonhoeffer.


Upon his graduation, Bonhoeffer spent a considerable amount of time in America and Spain and this exposure gave him a wiser outlook on life in addition to also helping him move from academic study towards what was a more practical interpretation of the Gospel. As a young man, he was quite moved by the Church’s involvement in both social injustice and the protection of the oppressed people (Bonhoeffer, 2005).

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Bonhoeffer eventually returned to Berlin in 1931 where he was ordained as a priest while at the age of 25 years. The period around the early 1930s were marked by great upheaval across Germany as a result of relatively high levels of mass unemployment due to the effects emanating from the Great Depression and the general instability of Weimar German that led to Hitler’s election in 1933.

Although Hitler’s election was largely welcomed by parts of the church and the German population, Bonhoeffer emerged as one of the few firm opponents of Hitler’s philosophy. In January 1930, barely two days after Hitler’s successful election as the Germany’s chancellor, Bonhoeffer made a radio broadcast that essentially criticized Hitler and particularly so the rather idolatrous cult of the Fuhrer. This broadcast was however cut off mid air (Larsen & Larsen, 2002).

Bonhoeffer’s criticism of Hitler’s regime did not end with the radio broadcast and in April 1933, He publicly raised opposition to the Jewish persecution that was being conducted by Hitler and pointed out that the church had an inborn responsibility to ensure that it effectively acts against this kind of policy. Bonhoeffer sought to try and organize the German protestant church so as for it to firmly reject the Nazi ideology that was gradually infiltrating the church. This resulted in the creation of a breakaway church – the Confessions Church which Bonhoeffer himself helped to form together with Martin Niemoller.

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