The Life of Dietrich Bonhoeffer


Dietrich Bonhoeffer is born

February 4, 1906

Born in Breslau, Germany. Along with his twin sister Sabine, they are the sixth and seventh children.

Family moves from Breslau to Berlin


Family moves to a villa in Grunewald


Many prominent figures of the day also lived in this neighborhood

Attends Grunewald Gymnasium

1919 - 1923

Begins studying Protestant theology


In Tübingen

Visits Rome


Bonhoeffer is inspired by the communal and global aspects of Catholicism

Arrives in Barcelona, Spain

February, 1928

Bonhoeffer became a vicar in Barcelona, where he had his first encounter with ecumenical Christianity

Returns to Berlin

February, 1929

He becomes adjunct assistant to Wilhem Lütgert at the University of Berlin.

Finishes Postdoctoral studies

July 30, 1930

Arrives at Union Theological Seminary in New York City

September, 1930

Here he befriends Frank Fisher and Jean Lasserre, who have a major impact on his philosophy, theology, and changing worldview

Meets Karl Barth in Bonn


Bonhoeffer is ordained

November 15, 1931

He is ordained at St. Matthew's Church in Berlin

Hitler becomes Chancellor of Germany

January 30, 1933

Bonhoeffer Arrested

April 4, 1933

Bonhoeffer Arrested

April 4, 1933

"The Church and the Jewish Question" is released

June, 1933

"the Church and the Jewish Question" was Bonhoeffer's first attempt to address the church's decisions under Nazi rule.

Aryan Paragraph implemented

September, 1933

The Aryan Paragraph was implemented in the Church of the Old Prussian Union, excluding membership for certain minorities, including Jews.

Bonhoeffer is a pastor in London

October 1933 - 1935

Starts and Runs Seminary in Finkenwalde

April 1935 - 1937

Finkenwalde was and underground seminary that was shut down by the Gestapo in 1937.

"Life Together" is published


The German title is "Gemeinsames Leben"

Bonhoeffer leaves Germany for New York

June 2, 1939

Bonhoeffer was encouraged to leave by all of his friends, but he returned to Germany after just a week in the U.S. due to conflicting emotions of guilt about his departure from Germany. He felt it necessary that he should undergo the suffering with his people.

World War II

September 1, 1939 - September 2, 1945

Begins with Germany's invasion of Poland.

"Psalms: The Prayerbook of the Bible" is published


Jewish Deportations in Berlin


Meets Maria von Wedemeyer

June, 1942

Bonhoeffer had met her before, but this was the time he first began to develop romantic feelings for her. Their romance was difficult due to him being twice her age, but they were eventually engaged.

Bonhoeffer Arrested

April 4, 1943

July 20 Plot Fails

July 20, 1944

von Stauffenberg's planned assassination of Adolf Hitler fails, causing problems for all who were involved in the plot, including Bonhoeffer.

Hope for Bonhoeffer's Release Undone

September 22, 1944

The Gestapo uncovers secret files of the resistance in Zossen, implicating Bonhoeffer in the July 20 Plot and undoing his hope for release.

Transferred to Flossenbürg Concentration Camp

April 1945

Sentenced to Death in Mock Trial

April 8, 1945

Bonhoeffer executed by Hanging

April 9, 1945

He was executed along with others who were implicated in the resistance, just a month before the Nazis surrendered.

Eberhard Bethge publishes Bonhoeffer's Poems

April 9, 1946

The poems were published on the first anniversary of his death.

Bethge publishes "Resistance and Submission"


This is later redistributed in English as "Letters and Papers from Prison

Bethge's Biography of Bonhoeffer published


This is still considered the standard biography of Bonhoeffer.

International Bonhoeffer Society Established