Â British Journalist Malcolm Muggeridge explained how Hitler's universal healthcare plan eventually led to the Holocaust:Â
"We have been accorded, for those that have eyes to see, an object lesson in what the quest for 'quality of life' without reference to 'sanctity of life' can involve...The origins of the Holocaust lay, not in Nazi terrorism...but in pre-Nazi Weimar Germany's acceptance of euthanasia and mercy-killing as humane and estimable."
Dietrich Bonhoeffer rebuked German Christians who stood silent while Hitler intimidated church leaders to accept the socialist, anti-life agenda of the National Socialist Workers Party (NAZI).Â
The New York Times reported Oct. 10, 1933:Â
"Nazi Plan to Kill Incurables to End Pain; German Religious Groups Oppose Move...The Ministry of Justice...explaining the Nazi aims regarding the German penal code, today announced its intentions to authorize physicians to end the sufferings of the incurable patient...in the interest of true humanity.
The Catholic newspaper Germania hastened to observe: 'The Catholic faith binds the conscience of its followers not to accept this method.'...In Lutheran circles, too, life is regarded as something that God alone can take...
Euthanasia...has become a widely discussed word in the Reich...No life still valuable to the State will be wantonly destroyed."
Bonhoeffer warned Germans not to slip into the cult of FÃ¼hrer (leader) worship, as he could turn out to be a VerfÃ¼hrer (mis-leader, seducer).
Jimmy Carter, in his book Sources of Strength, 1997, wrote:Â
"Rev. Niebuhr urged Dietrich Bonhoeffer to remain in America for his own safety. Bonhoeffer refused. He felt he had to be among the other Christians persecuted in Germany.Â
So he returned home, and...in resistance to Hitler...preached publicly against Nazism, racism, and anti-Semitism...Bonhoeffer was finally arrested and imprisoned.Â
Born FEBRUARY 4, 1906, he died April 9, 1945, just a few days before the allied armies liberated Germany. He was executed on orders of Heinrich Himmler. He died a disciple and a martyr."Â
Jimmy Carter concluded:Â
"The same Holy Spirit...that gave Bonhoeffer the strength to stand up against Nazi tyranny is available to us today."Â
As a young man, Bonhoeffer was deeply affected by the Abyssinian Baptist Church in Harlem, New York, where he taught Sunday School and formed a life-long love for African-American spirituals.Â
Bonhoeffer challenged believers:
â€œTo endure the cross is not tragedy; it is the suffering which is the fruit of an exclusive allegiance to Jesus Christâ€?
In his most widely read book, The Cost of Discipleship, Bonhoeffer wrote:
"Cheap grace is the mortal enemy of our church. Our struggle today is for costly grace."
On February 16, 2002, Dr. James Dobson told the National Religious Broadcasters:Â
"Those of you who feel that the church has no responsibility in the cultural area...
What if it were 1943 and you were in Nazi Germany and you knew what Hitler was doing to the Jews...Would you say, 'We're not political-that's somebody else's problem'?"Â
"I thank God Dietrich Bonhoeffer did not give that answer, and he was arrested by the Nazis and hanged in 1945, naked and alone because he said, 'This is not right.'"
For a year and a half, Bonhoeffer was imprisoned at Tegel military prison awaiting trial. There he continued his work in religious outreach among his fellow prisoners and guards. Sympathetic guards helped smuggle his letters out of prison to Eberhard Bethge and others, and these uncensored letters were posthumously published in Letters and Papers from Prison. A guard named Corporal Knobloch even offered to help him escape from the prison and "disappear" with him, and plans were made for that end. But Bonhoeffer declined it fearing Nazi retribution on his family, especially his brother Klaus and brother-in-law Hans von Dohnanyi who were also imprisoned.
FlossenbÃ¼rg concentration camp, Arrestblock-Hof: Memorial to members of German resistance executed on 9 April 1945
After the failure of the 20 July Plot on Hitler's life in 1944 and the discovery in September 1944 of secret Abwehr documents relating to the conspiracy, Bonhoeffer's connection with the conspirators was discovered. He was transferred from the military prison in Berlin Tegel, where he had been held for 18 months, to the detention cellar of the house prison of the Reich Security Head Office, the Gestapo's high-security prison. In February 1945, he was secretly moved to Buchenwald concentration camp, and finally to FlossenbÃ¼rg concentration camp.
On 4 April 1945, the diaries of Admiral Wilhelm Canaris, head of the Abwehr, were discovered, and in a rage upon reading them, Hitler ordered that the Abwehr conspirators be destroyed. Bonhoeffer was led away just as he concluded his final Sunday service and asked an English prisoner Payne Best to remember him to Bishop George Bell of Chichester if he should ever reach his home: "This is the end â€” for me the beginning of life."
Bonhoeffer was condemned to death on 8 April 1945 by SS judge Otto Thorbeck at a drumhead court-martial without witnesses, records of proceedings or a defence in FlossenbÃ¼rg concentration camp. He was executed there by hanging at dawn on 9 April 1945, just two weeks before soldiers from the United States 90th and 97th Infantry Divisions liberated the camp, three weeks before the Soviet capture of Berlin and a month before the capitulation of Nazi Germany. Bonhoeffer was stripped of his clothing and led naked into the execution yard, where he was hanged, along with fellow conspirators Admiral Wilhelm Canaris, Canaris' deputy General Hans Oster, military jurist General Karl Sack, General Friedrich von Rabenau, businessman Theodor StrÃ¼nck, and German resistance fighter Ludwig Gehre. Bonhoeffer's brother, Klaus Bonhoeffer, and his brother-in-law RÃ¼diger Schleicher were executed in Berlin the night of 22â€“23 April as Soviet troops already fought in the capital. Another brother-in-law, Hans von Dohnanyi, had been executed in Sachsenhausen concentration camp some time early in April.
The camp doctor who witnessed the execution wrote: â€œI saw Pastor Bonhoeffer... kneeling on the floor praying fervently to God. I was most deeply moved by the way this lovable man prayed, so devout and so certain that God heard his prayer. At the place of execution, he again said a short prayer and then climbed the few steps to the gallows, brave and composed. His death ensued after a few seconds. In the almost fifty years that I worked as a doctor, I have hardly ever seen a man die so entirely submissive to the will of God.â€?
On 5 April 1943, Bonhoeffer and Dohnanyi were arrested not because of their conspiracy, but because of long-standing rivalry between SS and Abwehr for intelligence fiefdom. One of the informers of Abwehr, Wilhelm Schmidhuber, was arrested by the Gestapo for involvement in a private currency affair. In the subsequent investigations the Gestapo uncovered Dohnanyi's operation in which 14 Jews were sent to Switzerland ostensibly as Abwehr agents and large sums in foreign currency were paid to them as compensation for confiscated properties. The Gestapo, which had been looking for information to discredit Abwehr, sensed that they had a corruption case against Dohnanyi and searched his office at Abwehr where they discovered notes revealing Bonhoeffer's foreign contacts and other documents related to the anti-Hitler conspiracy. One of them was a note that discussed plans for a journey by Bonhoeffer to Rome, where he would explain to church leaders why the assassination attempts on Hitler in March 1943 had failed. Nevertheless, Bonhoeffer's involvement in assassination plots was not known by the Gestapo as Abwehr succeeded in explaining away the most damaging documents as official coded Military Intelligence materials. Dohnanyi and Bonhoeffer were, however, suspected of subverting Nazi policy toward Jews and misusing Abwehr for inappropriate purposes. Bonhoeffer was suspected of evading military call-up, using Abwehr to circumvent Gestapo injunction against public speaking and staying in Berlin, and using Abwehr to further Confessing Church works, amongst other charges.