The Church’s Commemoration of Dietrich Bonhoeffer

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Within the church, tribute was initially primarily paid to the victims of the resistance, the commemoration of its own dead, murdered fellow clergy, being the priority. At first, this was done entirely during worship. Thanksgiving and repentance articulated by the living before God were often combined.

One such memorial service was held in Berlin-Dahlem on April 9, 1946, the first anniversary of Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s death. Family members and friends had selected a form of worship with sacred music, responses and prayers. Pastor Eberhard Bethge, Bonhoeffer’s student and friend, conducted the service.

Shortly before it began, he wrote in pencil on the program: “Is another word about the dead students and brethren necessary?” He was primarily referring to the vicars from Bonhoeffer’s seminary that had fallen in the war. He was questioning the permissibility of also taking this opportunity to name them as friends while the church’s own dead were being lamented. The corollary that a soldier’s death could be equated with a resistance fighter’s sacrifice would not have been a possibility for Bethge however.

Source / title

  • © Staatsbibliothek Berlin/Staatsbibliothek Preußischer Kulturbesitz, Handschriftenabt., Nachl. 299/Bethge, Ordner 14 (Zeitungsausschnitte)

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