In 1933, the National Socialists seized power, with Hitler becoming Chancellor. From the beginning, Dietrich Bonhoeffer spoke out against the political developments in the church and state. On January 31, 1933, he held a radio address in which he criticized the leader principle (Führerprinzip). Three months later, in the lecture "The Church and the Jewish Question" ("Die Kirche vor der Judenfrage"), he stated that the church has the duty to ask the state whether it is acting lawfully and to consider the option not only "to bandage the wounds of victims beneath the wheels of injustice, but to jam a spoke into the wheel itself."

He became a member of the Emergency Covenant of Pastors (Pfarrernotbund) and later a member of the Confessing Church, which opposed the coordination of the Lutheran Church with the National Socialists.

In October 1933, Dietrich Bonhoeffer arrived at a foreign parish post in London. There he made further ecumenical contacts and informed Bishop Bell in Chichester of the situation in Germany.

In April 1935, Bonhoeffer returned to Germany and built for the Confessing Church an illegal theological seminary in the town of Finkelwalde. There Lutheran pastors were trained, all of whom positioned themselves against the official state Church. This was for Bonhoeffer, "the most fulfilling experience so far professionally and humanely." From his work there emerged his most famous essay, "Life Together" (Gemeinsames Leben). In 1937, the theological seminary was officially banned, with the work going underground in the so-called "collective vicars" (Sammelvikariaten) until 1940.

After his return from New York and many years spent in the church resistance, Bonhoeffer joined the political resistance, specifically the circle around Admiral Canaris and Hans von Dohnanyi, Bonhoeffer's brother-in-law. He became an employee for Germany's Military Intelligence Office, where he officially took advantage of his foreign contacts. He would use his trips abroad to make contact with German resistance contacts outside of German occupied areas, such as the British government. He was also involved in a secret campaign that successfully brought 14 Berlin Jews to safety in Switzerland, which among other things made the Gestapo suspicious.

In April 1943, Bonhoeffer and von Dohnanyi were arrested by the Gestapo in Berlin.

Picture: Gütersloher Verlagshaus