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Bonhoeffer Abridged: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy by Eric Metaxas is a deeply thought-provoking look into the life of Dietrich Bonhoeffer. But it’s also more than that, because it tells the story of how Bonhoeffer’s entire family was effected by the tumultuous years between World War I and World War II. His father, Karl Bonhoeffer, was a famous psychiatrist and outspoken opponent of Freud. Dietrich’s twin sister, Sabine, married a man of Jewish decent and fled Germany to escape persecution. The Bonhoeffers were elite intellectuals, but neither money nor power was able to protect them from Hitler.
The heart of this book is how so many Germans risked and sometimes forfeited their lives to speak up against evil. Before I read Bonhoeffer Abridged, I did not know about the German Confessional Church which broke away from the National Church and objected to the Nazi regime. Bonhoeffer was a leader in this movement. As a spiritual thinker he was very ecumenical in nature. Bonhoeffer believed that Christians could benefit from spiritual practices from many denominations, including the Catholic church. I feel like he could preach at my United Methodist Church tomorrow, and fit right in.
As Hitler consolidated his power, the Bonhoeffer family was privy to information about SS atrocities that was still hidden from the rest of the world because there were so many Bonhoeffer relatives in high places. Dietrich was a committed pacifist, but as time wore on he joined the anti-Hitler resistance movement.
Tragically, Dietrich was killed at Flossenburg concentration camp, which my grandfather helped liberate two weeks later as part of the 741st Tank Battalion. So for me, this book had personal significance because I knew my grandpa was coming to help, but would not get there in time to save Dietrch’s life.
If you are at all interested in World War I or World War II history, you will love Bonhoeffer Abridged: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy. I received a free copy from BookLook in exchange for my honest opinion and review.