Bonhoeffer: Martyr of Faith - A MARTYR'S DEATH

It is unknown whether any pictures exist of the gallows on which Dietrich Bonhoeffer was executed at Flossenburg. This image depicts the gallows (likely similar) at Ohrdruf [Thuringia], another WWII-era,  Germany-based concentration camp. General Eisenhower inspected the place, where he was shown the gallows, on the 12th of April, 1945 (about two weeks before Hitler killed himself).

The U.S. National Archives provides this description:  “An Austrian-Jewish survivor, who had been deported from Holland, points out the gallows in Ohrdruf to General Dwight D. Eisenhower and a party of high ranking U.S. officers, including General Omar N. Bradley, Lt. Gen. George S. Patton, and Major General Troy H. Middleton, during an official tour of the newly liberated concentration camp.” The photo was taken by William Newhouse. Credit:  United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, courtesy of National Archives and Records Administration, College Park.

Before he walked out of his concentration camp barracks for the last time, Dietrich Bonhoeffer whispered to a fellow prisoner: "This is the end. For me, the beginning of life."

He was right. Unknown to Bonhoeffer, Nazi officials had discovered the diary of Admiral Canaris. Hitler himself ordered the annihilation of Canaris and his entire resistance group - a group that included Dietrich Bonhoeffer.

In spite of his firsthand experience with evil, Bonhoeffer went to the gallows with confidence, strengthened by the faith that kept him calm. In spite of the prospect of death at the hands of evil men, he clung to the beliefs he articulated in his books. Beliefs like:

  • Only God is the final arbiter of good and evil
  • What we despise in others is never absent from ourselves
  • Face death daily and learn the true miracle of life

As he stripped naked on April 9, 1945, Bonhoeffer knew his life on earth was over. He also knew that two other high-profile resisters would die that day: Admiral Canaris and his chief of staff, Hans Oster. What Bonhoeffer did not know was that the Nazis had also targeted three members of his immediate family. His brother Klaus and two brothers-in-law (including Hans) were executed days later in different camps.

All had fallen within the net of Hitler's rage over his attempted assassination.

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Author: Carole D. Bos, J.D. 5190stories and lessons created

Original Release: Feb 01, 2007

Updated Last Revision: Jul 09, 2019

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"A MARTYR'S DEATH" AwesomeStories.com. Feb 01, 2007. Jan 21, 2020.
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