(February 4, 1906 - 13 April 9, 1945) German Lutheran pastor, theologian and participant in the German resistance movement against Nazism.
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1 Jan 1906 | Breslau
1 Jan 1923 | Tubingen
1 Jan 1930 | New York
1 Jan 1933 | Berlin
Hitler is installed as Chancellor. Two days later, Bonhoeffer delivers a radio address on leadership attacking Hitler. He is cut off the air. In November, Bonhoeffer is ordained at St. Matthias Church, Berlin.
Rise of Hitler and the Third Reich
1 Jan 1933 | Berlin
Bonhoeffer leaves for England
1 Jan 1934 | Barmen, Germany
The Confessing Church is organized at Barmen, Germany, and the Barmen Declaration is adopted, insisting that Christ, not the Fuhrer, is the head of the church. Bonhoeffer leaves for England to head a church for Germans.
On August 2, German President Paul von Hindenburg dies. Hitler proclaimed as both Chancellor and President.
Bonhoeffer returns to Germany
1 Jan 1935 | Finkenwalde
Bonhoeffer returns from England to direct the seminary for the Confessing Church in Finkenwalde, Germany. By December, Himmler declares all examinations for the Confessing Church invalid, all training there invalid and all participants liable to arrest.
In September, the Nuremberg Laws are passed, canceling citizenship for German Jews.
Bonhoeffer removed from Berlin University
1 Jan 1936 | Berlin
In July, the Confessing Church leader and WWI hero Martin Niemöller is arrested. In August, Bonhoeffer’s authorization to teach at Berlin University is withdrawn.
The August Olympic Games in Berlin begin. Hitler is quoted as saying of 4-time gold medal champion Jesse Owens “The Americans should be ashamed of themselves, letting Negroes win their medals for them.” He refuses to shake Owen’s hand.
Bonhoeffer publishes 'The Cost of Discipleship'
1 Sep 1937 | Finkenwalde?
In September the seminary at Finkenwalde is closed by the Gestapo. By November, 27 pastors and former Finkenwalde students are arrested. Also in November, Bonhoeffer publishes The Cost of Discipleship.
Pope Pius XI issues “With Burning Anxiety,” protesting Hitler’s infractions of their earlier agreement, the Concordat of 1933.
Contacting the German Resistance
1 Sep 1938 | Germany
In February Bonhoeffer makes his initial contact with members of the German Resistance. In September he writes Life Together. Bonhoeffer’s sister Sabine, her Jewish husband Gerhard Leibholz and two daughters escape to England by way of Switzerland.
On March 12 Austria is annexed by Germany. In April all German pastors are ordered to take an oath of allegiance to Hitler in recognition of his 50th birthday. On November 9 a nation-wide, organized riot called Kristallnacht takes place, bringing the destruction of nearly 300 synagogues across Germany, the looting of 7,500 Jewish-owned shops, and the arrest of 30,000 Jewish men.
A fateful return to Germany
1 Jan 1939 | USA & Germany
In June Bonhoeffer returns to the United States for second time. He realizes almost immediately that this was a mistake and he returns to Germany on the last scheduled steamer to cross the Atlantic.
On January 1 all Jewish-owned businesses are liquidated by order of Hermann Göring. In March German troops invade Czechoslovakia. On September 1 Germany invades Poland. Great Britain and France declare war on Germany.
Bonhoeffer is forbidden to speak in public
9 Apr 1940 | Germany
Bonhoeffer is forbidden to speak in public and is required to report regularly to the police. He spends September and October working on Ethics.
On April 9 German troops invade Denmark and Norway. In May German troops invade Holland, Belgium, Luxembourg and France. By August the Battle of Britain begins; German Luftwaffe bombs London.
1 Oct 1941 | Enter a place
Bonhoeffer is forbidden to print or to publish. He makes two trips to Switzerland on behalf of the Resistance.
In April German troops invade Yugoslavia and Greece. In June they invade the Soviet Union. By September a decree requires all German Jews to wear a yellow star stitched to their clothing. In October the first deportations of Jews from Berlin begin and the first gas chambers are installed at Auschwitz, Poland. On December 7 Japan attacks Pearl Harbor and the United States joins the war effort.
Continued work with the Resistance
1 May 1942 | Norway and Sweden