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Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Theologian / Clergyman

Born: 4 February 1906
Died: 9 April 1945 (execution)
Birthplace: Breslau, Germany
Best known as: The theologian hanged for plotting against Hitler
Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a Christian pastor and theologian, was executed for contributing to a plot to assassinate Adolf Hitler and resisting Germany's Nazi regime in other ways. By age 30 he had pastored German-speaking Protestant congregations in Spain and England, taught theology at Berlin University, and been silenced as a professor for teaching Christian non-cooperation with the totalitarian government. He later managed to hire on as a German intelligence agent but was arrested in 1943 for using the office to rescue Jews, recruit foreign support for the resistance and keep pastors of the anti-Nazi, underground Confessing Church out of the military. Among thousands implicated in Claus von Stauffenberg's failed 1944 attempt on Hitler's life, he was hanged in a concentration camp in Flossenbuerg three weeks before Hitler died.
Extra credit: Besides practicing what he preached about resisting evil, Bonhoeffer also is known for his contributions to theology. He held many conservative doctrinal views of his day (for example, that Jews would eventually become Christian) but also had progressive edges (imagining, for example, a "religionless Christianity" in an increasingly secular world)... His books include Act and Being, The Cost of Discipleship, the unfinished Ethics, and a posthumous collection of his Letters and Papers from Prison... He had a twin sister, Sabine, and was the sixth of seven children.

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