Nazi Germany produced an unusual group of Christian martyrs - perhaps none so complex as the Lutheran theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer. Born into a large upper-middle-class, professional family that was not particularly devout or observant (his father was one of the leading psychiatrists in Germany), Dietrich early in life decided he wanted to be a Christian theologian. Yet his family background and connections insured that he wouldn't be one in the narrow mould of so many of his colleagues. Opportunities for travel gave him a broad horizon of possibilities, and he travelled to America, where he valued his experiences in Harlem and his friendships with African Americans. His great regret was that he missed an opportunity to travel to India to meet Gandhi. Bonhoeffer was one of the few German churchmen who spoke forthrightly against the persecution of Jews as Jews and not merely of Christians of Jewish descent. (Parhaps this was due to his beloved, 90-year-old grandmother Sophie, who defied the Nazi ban on shopping in Jewish stores, saying "I buy the things I need where I like".)His family connections drew him into a dangerous double game, and his "employment" as a member of the Counterintelligence Office of the High Command of the Armed Forces enabled him to continue work as a pastor and seminary director. It allowed him to travel abroad, where he worked for a negotiated peace. And it eventually drew him into the plot to kill Hitler - an ethical stand which many German Christians of his generation couldn't understand or forgive. He was executed on the 9th of April 1945, three weeks before Hitler committed suicide, at the age of 39. The life of Dietrich Bonhoeffer has been told at great length and in detail by his younger colleague, Eberhard Bethge. This book is a concise retelling of the story for a new generation of readers.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer by Elizabeth Raum was published by Bloomsbury Publishing PLC in October 2003. The ISBN for Dietrich Bonhoeffer is 9780826415547.