The Inspirational Life Story of Dietrich Bonhoeffer; Peace Activist, Preacher, and World War II Hero
By Patrick Bunker
Most everyone knows something about the horrific events of World War II. In particular, Nazi Germany's role in the war was one of magnified terror with Adolf Hitler at the epicenter. We are familiar with his hatred of the Jewish people and his need for control and power. We are also aware of his manipulative prowess, enabled by his charismatic disposition and Germany's need—and want—for a great leader.
There was a man, however, who saw through Hitler's facade almost immediately, warning the people of Germany that this man should not be trusted, even if he was charming and well-spoken. Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a brilliant theologian, pastor, writer, and peace activist, is perhaps most well-known for challenging the Nazi movement, and particularly, Hitler himself.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer was born in 1906. He was the youngest son of Dr. Karl Bonhoeffer, a noted neurologist and professor at the University of Berlin. His mother, Paula, was the daughter of a preacher. These two very opposite worlds collided to provide young Dietrich Bonhoeffer with a life of love, understanding, intellect, and democratic teachings. His parents, in fact, insisted that their children study fine arts and great literature above all else. Dietrich showed great skill with music and the piano in particular, so much so that his family thought music was clearly his path. However, even with Dietrich's upbringing in an artistic, liberal, and minimally religious household, he announced in his early teen years that he wished to be a minister and theologian. Religion, for Dietrich, was the path that he chose all on his own. His heart and passion rested with his strong faith.