As I was browsing through a Scholastic flier last month, I came across this book. It’s a biography about Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a German pastor-turned-conspirator during World War II. At a time when many just went with the tide, Bonhoeffer had the courage to say the dictator was wrong. In addition, he tried to rally others to take a stand, and eventually was willing to be part of a plot to kill Hitler. Bonhoeffer did what he could to help save the lives of Jewish people and others who were being targeted. Why did he get involved, when he could have had a quiet, comfortable life in safety? This excerpt from the book gives the answer:
Dietrich had seen the effects of “separate but equal” in the United States, and even though he was just a junior lecturer at Berlin University, he knew he had to speak out. The rest of the country might have fallen under Hitler’s spell, but Bonhoeffer thought that the clergy, men who had taken solemn vows to love and care for their fellow man, would take a stand against such blatant injustice. This, after all, was why he had become a minister, as he’d told his brothers back when he was thirteen – not to retreat from the issues of the day but to affect them…
The church, he said, has an obligation to “assist the victims” of government wrongdoing – “even if they do not belong to the Christian community.” He didn’t say so, but everyone knew he was talking about the Jews. At that, some of the ministers in the meeting got up and walked out.
But Bonhoeffer had more to say. It was not enough to simply “bandage the victims under the wheel” of the government, he said. The church had a duty to jam a stick in the wheel itself. He was calling on his fellow pastors to stop Hitler in his tracks.
This was an excellent summary of the life of Dietrich Bonhoeffer. It is also a good book to introduce kids to the resistance movement during World War II, as it is not terribly graphic. I would highly recommend this book to anyone ages 10 and up.