At a time when the mainstream church of his country seemed to turn a blind eye to Hitler, Dietrich Bonhoeffer (a Lutheran pastor) took a different path. Although a pacifist, Bonhoeffer decided to actively resist Hitler and the perverse effects the Third Reich had on the laws, and lives, of so many people.
The Nuremberg Laws, for example, discriminated against Jewish people. Before the Holocaust began, Hitler intimated his intentions when he commented on those laws in September, 1935: “The third [law] is an attempt to regulate by law [the Jewish] problem, which, should this attempt fail, must then be handed over by law to the National-Socialist Party for a final solution.”
Joining the Abwehr (the German military intelligence organization led by Hitler-hating Admiral Wilhelm Canaris), Bonhoeffer (and others like him) got access to vital war information. What better way for people working against the Third Reich to pass key information to anti-Nazi contacts? But the price of such efforts, if one were suspected as a spy (and caught), was life in a concentration camp (or worse).
As the war continued, and Nazi atrocities worsened, Bonhoeffer joined others to plot against Hitler. But Operation Valkyrie failed to kill the German ruler (on July 20, 1944), and his revenge against those immediately responsible was swift, and fatal. Claus von Stauffenberg, who’d left a briefcase bomb in Hitler’s planning room at Wolf’s Lair, was executed the day after the bomb exploded.
Bonhoeffer was executed at Flossenburg concentration camp in April of 1945, days before it was liberated by advancing Allied troops. It is said that Hitler personally gave the order for his execution.
In this story behind the movie, meet Dietrich Bonhoeffer and Claus von Stauffenberg. See the effects of the bomb blast on Wolf’s Lair, and examine how it appears today. Virtually visit the concentration camp at Flossenburg, and learn what happened to camp prisoners just before Flossenburg was liberated.
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