Remembering Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Published March 1, 2006

Dietrich Bonhoeffer was arrested and executed by the Nazi regime for his resistance to Adolf Hitler.

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, visited Germany and Poland early last month to attend an ecumenical theological conference and to take part in the celebrations marking the centenary of the birth of Dietrich Bonhoeffer.

Mr. Bonhoeffer was a German Lutheran theologian executed for his opposition to the Nazi regime of Adolf Hitler.

In the first part of his visit, Archbishop Williams visited the Evangelical Church in Germany, leading a Church of England delegation attending a meeting of a Meissen Commission conference on Theology as Wisdom for Life.

The archbishop also traveled to Mr. Bonhoeffer’s birthplace, Breslau, (now Wroclaw) in Poland. Archbishop Williams gave an opening address at the Bonhoeffer Centennial Congress, met ecumenical representatives and took part in a special service, laying a wreath at the Bonhoeffer Memorial.

He also delivered a sermon at the Bonhoeffer Memorial service in the Church of St Matthaus in Berlin.

Mr. Bonhoeffer was executed on April 9, 1945, in the closing days of the Second World War in Europe, at the hands of one of Hitler’s special commandos in the Flossenbuerg concentration camp. The camp in Bavaria was liberated by the United States Cavalry on April 23, 1945. He was linked to the chief conspirators in the failed 1944 bomb plot to assassinate Hitler.

Mr. Bonhoeffer is now said to be one of the world’s most-cited Protestant theologians, with churches and parish centres named after him, and numerous books and movies recounting the story of his life.

With files from Episcopal News Service and Ecumenical News International


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