Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy by Eric Metaxas-Some of my thoughts

Several months ago I finished reading Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy. The book is written by Eric Metaxas who also wrote a biography of William Wilberforce. I find myself quoting from Metaxas’ book on Dietrich Bonhoeffer extensively as I write on my blog. It is relevant for this day and speaks to the many current issues surfacing in the United States today
The book provides material that had not yet been used in other bios of Bonhoeffer, for instance there is a whole chapter devoted to Bonhoeffer’s romance and engagement to Marie Von Wedemeyer. There is new material on Bonhoeffer’s reaction to Union Theological Seminary in New York, and American liberal theology in general. The book provides a better understanding of Bonhoeffer’s willingness to become a part of the conspiracy to kill Hitler, a conspiracy, which, by the way, involved German military intelligence, over a thousand people and several years of commitment.

And this is one of the more poignant parts of the book. The devastation Hitler caused to the aristocratic families of Germany as he sought vengeance against those who attempted to kill him. Under the subtitle, “Bonhoeffer Leaves Berlin,” meaning he was headed to a concentration camp, Metaxas writes:

In the early afternoon of February 7, Bonhoeffer and a number of other prominent prisoners were taken from their cells and made to wait near two vans that would take them to the concentration camps at Buchenwald and Flossenburg. There were twenty men all principal figures in the conspiracy. A more stunning array of personages can hardly be imagined.

Among them was the former chancellor of Austria, Dr. Kurt Von Schuschnigg whose treatment by the Gestapo was one of the blackest marks in the history of the Third Reich. Here, too, was Dr. Hjalmar Schacht, former head of the Reichsbank, who had enabled Hitler’s rise to power and later fought in vain against the monster he’d helped create. Schacht had spoken against the treatment of the Jews early on and was part of the 1938 plot. Like so many others, he was arrested after the failed Stauffenberg plot. And here stood Admiral Canaris, General Oster, and Judge Sack. …

Metaxas goes on naming many more of those who were well known and respected in Germany and yet would suffer and die in the two concentration camps. And this is just one small part of a well researched book that not only gives attentiveness to historical details but also guides the reader to see the strength experienced in the life of a devout and faithful Christian. Bonhoeffer’s devotional life is included in the details.

I had intended to write a review, and still may. But sometimes the web provides helpful material and in this case a great deal of material.

Here is a video of the author speaking about his book. Beneath it I am putting a link to a speech he made in New York for C-SPAN. The video for C-SPAN is an hour long but very good. Metaxas is speaking at the Y before what seems to be a group of older Jewish people. During the Q&A time one person reveals that they are a Holocaust survivor and another that his uncle was in a concentration camp. Their questions and comments are very good.

‎[Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy] - C-SPAN Video Library

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