Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Christian Resistance and Ethics in Nazi Germany What is the Significance of Bonhoeffer?
Dietrich Bonhoeffer is a well known individual because of his behaviour during Nazi Germany (1933-1945), but what are the reasons for his fame? Was he really that unique? this paper aims to determine who has celebrated Bonhoeffer, and for what reasons. This is done through examining the two main aspects of his life: his resistance and ethical theology. Using sources such as Bonhoeffer’s publications and secondary studies of his life, death and writings, and analysing how they been received by academics and the public since the Nazi Germany, explains why he has been internationally celebrated. Further discussions about the relationship between Nazism and Christianity, analysis of the main churches’ and sects’ resistance behaviours and motivations from the main churches and sects, and analysis of Hitler’s attitude towards them, help to contextualise Bonhoeffer’s resistance and identify how he was unique. Investigation of Bonhoeffer’s resistance behaviours motivations and beliefs leads us to examine his ethical theology, which was the foundation for his resistance, and reveals what he thought about the Christians’ and churches’ behaviour during Nazi Germany. Lastly, a critique of Bonhoeffer’s reception, particularly the role of Eberhard Bethge in endorsing Bonhoeffer’s legacy, explains why Bonhoeffer has been embraced. We know more about Bonhoeffer than any other Christian resister of Nazism due to the quantity and quality of his work, the depth of his ethical theology, and Bethge’s role in disseminating Bonhoeffer to the world. This paper reveals that Bonhoeffer’s response to Nazism differed from other Christians. The impact his ethical theology had on his resistance, and how his resistance reciprocally shaped his ethical theology, have meant Bonhoeffer has been widely praised. He practiced what he preached, and it is this which has interested many people since his death.
SubjectsField of Research::21 - History and Archaeology::2103 - Historical Studies::210307 - European History (excl. British, Classical Greek and Roman)
- Arts: Reports