Tuesday, 9 April 2013

Remember Bonhoeffer

Today April 4th, is the day in 1945 when Dietrich Bonhoeffer was executed by the Nazis. Here is an account of his final hours (taken from Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy by Eric Mataxas)
So less than twenty-four hours before he left this world, Bonhoeffer performed the offices of a pastor. In the bright Schönberg schoolroom that was their cell, he held a small service. He prayed and read the verses for that day: Isaiah 53:5 (“With his stripes we are healed”) and 1 Peter 1:3 (“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! By his great mercy we have been born anew to a living hope through the resurrection of  Jesus Christ from the dead” RSV). He then explained these verses to everyone. 
Best recalled that Bonhoeffer “spoke to us in a manner which reached the hearts of all, finding just the right words to express the spirit of our imprisonment and the thoughts and resolutions which it had brought.” The other prisoners in the schoolhouse hoped that they might be able to get Bonhoeffer to hold a service for them as well. But there would not be any time for this. 
Best described what happened: He had hardly finished his last prayer when the door opened and two evil-looking men in civilian clothes came in and said: “Prisoner Bonhoeffer. Get ready to come with us.” Those words “Come with us”—for all prisoners they had come to  mean one thing only—the scaffold. We bade him good-bye—he drew me aside—“This is the end,” he said. “For me the beginning of life.” 
Bonhoeffer also asked Best to remember him to Bishop Bell. Six years later, in a letter to the Bonhoeffer family, Best recalled what he had written about Bonhoeffer in his book, where he had said that he “was a good and saintly man.” But in the letter he went further: “In fact my feeling was far stronger than these words imply. He was, without exception, the finest and most lovable man I have ever met.”

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