Below is a good read from the Deafening Silence blog about how Dietrich Bonhoeffer was not a character in the recent movie, Valkyrie…

Valkyrie’s Forgotten Man: Dietrich Bonhoeffer

The new film Valkyrie claims to tell the story of the ‘July 20’ plot to assassinate Adolf Hitler.  Prior to its release I spent some time watching trailers for the film on YouTube.  Among the promotional clips was a featurette describing the conspirators in the plot.

One name was missing: Dietrich Bonhoeffer.

This piece aims to tell his role in the Valkyrie story.

Dietrich Bohhoeffer was born into an intellectual, aristocratic German family in 1906.  His father was a noted professor of neurology and psychiatry; his mother also held a college degree.  Never especially devout, the Bonhoeffer family was shocked when Dietrich decided to study theology.  He enrolled in Tubingen University and soon proved to be a prodigy, earning his doctorate at the age of 21.

Too young to be ordained,in 1930  Bonhoeffer was awarded a teaching fellowship at Union Theological Seminary in New York City.  During his stay, an African American classmate, Frank Fisher, introduced him to the Abyssinian Baptist Church.  Bonhoeffer began attending services and teaching Sunday school there, drawn to the fervent Evangelical preaching:

“…here one can truly speak and hear about sin and grace and the love of God…the black Christ is preached with rapturous passion and vision.”

That passion and vision influenced Bonhoeffer’s own writing and preaching.  Phrases coined by Adam Clayton Powell, pastor of the Abyssinian Baptist Church, can be found in his work.  Bonhoeffer also collected recordings of Black Gospel music, which would remain a lifelong inspiration for him.

Perhaps most important, he witnessed the brutality of American segregation and racism.

Bonhoeffer set sail for Germany in 1931, armed with youth and faith and an array of new ideas.

Hitler’s rise to power had just begun.

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