Not long after her engagement to Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Maria von Wedemeyer's fiance was arrested. Unknown to Maria, or to his family, Bonhoeffer was hanged at Flossenburg concentration camp shortly before World War II ended.
In the months following the war, no one knew where Dietrich was. Germany was in chaos and communication was difficult, at best. As we learn from Elizabeth Raum - in her book, Dietrich Bonhoeffer: Called by God - Bonhoeffer's twin (who was living in England after the war) was the first to learn of her brother's fate:
It was Sabine, Dietrich's sister, who was the first to learn of her brother's death. On May 31, 1945, Julius Rieger, a German pastor living in England, delivered the news. Sabine had no way to get word to the family in Germany.
Maria - who was half Dietrich's age - kept looking for her fiance in the chaos of post-war Germany:
Maria von Wedemeyer, who traveled to the western part of Germany in search of Dietrich, didn't learn the news [of his execution] until June.
Bonhoeffer's parents learned what had happened from the radio:
Eberhard Bethge [Dietrich's close friend] and Dietrich's parents did not receive word until July 27, 1945, when British radio broadcast a memorial service for Dietrich which was held in London. (Dietrich Bonhoeffer: Called by God, by Elizabeth Raum, page 151.)
With her intended husband dead, Maria traveled to America in 1948. Studying mathematics at Bryn Mawr, she kept many of her love letters to/from Dietrich. She agreed that some of them could be published after her death:
...As a mathematician, she became involved in the early development of computers and worked for both Remington Rand and Honeywell corporations. Maria married twice and had two sons, both of whom were born in the United States. Throughout her life Maria kept her letters from Dietrich private. Shortly before her death on November 16, 1977, she entrusted the letters to her sister, Ruth-Alice von Bismarck, and gave permission for their publication. (Dietrich Bonhoeffer: Called by God, by Elizabeth Raum, pp 159-60.)
Those letters were published, in book form, as Love Letters from Cell 92: The Correspondence between Dietrich Bonhoeffer and Maria von Wedemeyer, 1943-45.
Public domain image.
Quoted passages from Dietrich Bonhoeffer: Called by God, by Elizabeth Raum, as noted above.
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