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On September 13, 1942, Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote a letter to Ernst Wolf. In it is a wonderful reminder that though we suffer in this world, Jesus understands because he suffered as well.

I find it a tremendously liberating thought that Christ is not all dulled to the suffering and sin in the world, as we are, but rather that he experienced and bore it all unceasingly.

(Dietrich Bonhoeffer Works: Volume 16: Conspiracy and Imprisonment: 1940-1945, 359)

 

 

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Bishop George K. A. Bell‘s letter to Gerhard Leibholz contains some statements from Dietrich Bonhoeffer. It was dated June 20, 1942. The letter helps us understand both the secret life and the on-going ministry of Bonhoeffer…

My dear Leibholz,

Very many thanks for your letter and its welcome back. To my great surprise I saw Dietrich at the end of my stay. He had come over specially as a courier with a 48 hours visa in order to see me. We talked very much on very on very important matters. I told him your news, of which he was very glad. He was very well. He said that Hitler’s health was unfortunately very good; the uncle of whom he spoke in his letter was the war, not Hitler, His Seminary had been closed twice, and he had been forbidden by the Gestapo to preach or speak. He is at work now on a book (Ethics) and in connection with the Brethren’s Council and at night on political work.

(Dietrich Bonhoeffer Works: Volume 16: Conspiracy and Imprisonment: 1940-1945, 326-327)

 

On June 19, 1942, English Bishop  George K. A. Bell wrote the “Memorandum of Conversations”. It is a long and fascinating document where Bell describes the visit of two German pastors to the Bishop of Chichester in Stockholm in May of 1942. The two German pastors were Dietrich Bonhoeffer and Johannes Otto Leopold Schonfeld. The Bishop was Bell himself! This document includes even the typos!

Bell’s final section was called “Means of Communication”.

Arrangements have been made by which any rejection in important British quarters which the Bishop of Chichester (Bell) be able to obtain could be communicated through a neutral channel. The British Minister in Stockholm was fully informed at the time of the tenor of the conversations.

On his advice the Bishop warned the two German pastors (Bonhoeffer and Schonfeld) not only that the American and Russian and other Allied Governments would necessarily be concerned, but that the Foreign Office might take the view that the situation was too uncertain to justify any expression of opinion on its part. On the other hand, if it were thought desirable to obtain further elucidation, a confidential meeting could be arranged at Stockholm between a German representative and a representative of the Foreign Office or other suitable person.

(Dietrich Bonhoeffer Works: Volume 16: Conspiracy and Imprisonment: 1940-1945, 324)

On June 19, 1942, English Bishop  George K. A. Bell wrote the “Memorandum of Conversations”. It is a long and fascinating document where Bell describes the visit of two German pastors to the Bishop of Chichester in Stockholm in May of 1942. The two German pastors were Dietrich Bonhoeffer and Johannes Otto Leopold Schonfeld. The Bishop was Bell himself! This document includes even the typos!

Bell’s fifth section was “Enquirers of the Opposition of the Allied Governments”.

The above being the policy and plan of the of the opposition, the question arises as to what encouragement can be given to its leaders with a view to setting the whole process in motion and the facing of all the dangers involved…

…Could the Allies announce now publicly to the world in the clearest terms that once Hitler and the whole regime were overthrown, they would be prepared to negotiate with a new German Government which renounced aggression…?

Of course, we would never know?

(Dietrich Bonhoeffer Works: Volume 16: Conspiracy and Imprisonment: 1940-1945, 323)

On June 19, 1942, English Bishop  George K. A. Bell wrote the “Memorandum of Conversations”. It is a fascinating document where Bell describes the visit of two German pastors to the Bishop of Chichester in Stockholm in May of 1942. The two German pastors were Dietrich Bonhoeffer and Johannes Otto Leopold Schonfeld. The Bishop was Bell himself! This document includes even the typos!

The fourth section is called: “Action of the Opposition”.

The opposition is aware of impending revolt inside the Nazi party, of Himmler and his followers against Hitler. But while a successful coup by Himmler might be of service to the opposition, the complete elimination of Hitler and Himmler and the whole regime is indispensable. The plan of the opposition is the achievement of a purge as nearly simultaneous as possible on the Home front and in the occupied countries, after which a new Government would be set up. In the securing of a new Government, the opposition realizes the need of an effective police control throughout Germany and the occupied and invaded territories, and it appeared that the Allied Armies as assistants in the maintenance of order would be both necessary and welcome, all the more if it were possible to associate with the Allied Armies of a neutral power in the maintenance of order.

(Dietrich Bonhoeffer Works: Volume 16: Conspiracy and Imprisonment: 1940-1945, 323

 

On June 19, 1942, English Bishop  George K. A. Bell wrote the “Memorandum of Conversations”. It is a fascinating document where Bell describes the visit of two German pastors to the Bishop of Chichester in Stockholm in May of 1942. The two German pastors were Dietrich Bonhoeffer and Johannes Otto Leopold Schonfeld. The Bishop was Bell himself! This document includes even the typos!

I want to spend some more time on the section that Bell describes the “Organization of the Opposition”.

The following names were given as those of men who were deeply involved in the opposition movement:

Generaloberst Beck–Chief of General Staff before the Czecho-Slovak crisis in 1938. Aged 60

Generaloberst von Hammerstein–Chief of General Staff before Beck

Goerdeler–Ex-Preiss Commissar. Lord Mayor of Leipzig. Civil Front Leader.

Leuschner–Former President of the United Trade Unions.

Kaiser–Catholic Trade Union leader.

All of the above are said to be strong Christian characters, and the most important of all are Beck and Goerdeler.

(Dietrich Bonhoeffer Works: Volume 16: Conspiracy and Imprisonment: 1940-1945, 322)

On June 19, 1942, English Bishop  George K. A. Bell wrote the “Memorandum of Conversations”. It is a fascinating document where Bell describes the visit of two German pastors to the Bishop of Chichester in Stockholm in May of 1942. The two German pastors were Dietrich Bonhoeffer and Johannes Otto Leopold Schonfeld. The Bishop was Bell himself! This document includes even the typos!

There is a section of the document where Bell describes the “Organization of the Opposition”. I will split this section up. I was fascinated how vast and wide the opposition to Hitler was.

The opposition is based on members of the State Administration, the state police, former Trade Union chiefs, and high officers in the Army. It has an organization in every Ministry, military officers in all the big towns, Generals in command or holding high office in key places very near the Generals. It has key men in the broadcasting centres, the big factories, and in the main centres of water and gas supply services.

It is impossible to tell the numbers of the opposition.

The point is key position everywhere are held by members of the opposition, and that key positions in Germany itself are of chief importance.

(Dietrich Bonhoeffer Works: Volume 16: Conspiracy and Imprisonment: 1940-1945, 321-322)

On June 19, 1942, English Bishop  George K. A. Bell wrote the “Memorandum of Conversations”. It is a fascinating document where Bell describes the visit of two German pastors to the Bishop of Chichester in Stockholm in May of 1942. The two German pastors were Dietrich Bonhoeffer and Johannes Otto Leopold Schonfeld. The Bishop was Bell himself! This document includes even the typos!

Here is the third part of that document where Bell describes the “Character of the Opposition”. This is a good read!

The opposition has been developing for some time, and had some existence before the war. The war give it its chance, which it is waiting to seize. The opposition crystallized in the Autumn of 1941, and might have seized the opportunity in December 1941, with the refusal of many officers to go on fighting in Russia. But no lead was given. Hitler’s last speech, openly claiming to be above all laws, showed the German people more and more clearly the complete anarchy of the regime. The opposition has full confidence in the strength of the German Army, and is ready to go on with the war to the bitter end if the Allies were to refuse to treat with a new Government controlling a non-Hitlerite Germany, after the overthrow of the whole Hitler regime: but it believes that to continue the war on the present or on a greater scale in such circumstances would be to condemn millions more to destruction, especially in the occupied countries.

It also believes that a fight  to the finish would be suicidal for Europe. Hence its desire first to destroy Hitler and his regime, and then to reach a peace settlement in which all the nations of Europe shall be economically interdependent, shall be protected against aggression by the possession of an adequate European military force, and shall be in some way federated. The opposition, while having some hesitations with regard to Soviet Russia, has the hope (as a result of impressions made by some of the high Russian officers on some of the German officers) of the possibility of reaching an understanding.

(Dietrich Bonhoeffer Works: Volume 16: Conspiracy and Imprisonment: 1940-1945, 320-321)

On June 19, 1942, English Bishop  George K. A. Bell wrote the “Memorandum of Conversations”. It is a fascinating document where Bell describes the visit of two German pastors to the Bishop of Chichester in Stockholm in May of 1942. The two German pastors were Dietrich Bonhoeffer and Johannes Otto Leopold Schonfeld. The Bishop was Bell himself! This document includes even the typos!

Here is the second part of that document where Bell describes the “purpose” of Bonhoeffer and Schonfeld’s visit to him…

A. To give information as to the strong, organized movement inside Germany, which is making plans for the destruction of the whole Hitler regime (including Himmler, Goering, Goebbels, and the central leaders of the Gestapo, the S.S., and the S.A.), and for the setting up of a new Government in Germany of

1. Representatives of certain strong anti-Nazi forces in the Army and central State Administration.

2. Former Trade Union leaders.

3. Representatives of the Protestant and Catholic Churches; pledged to the following policy:

a) Renunciation of aggression.

b) Immediate repeal of Nuremberg Laws, and co-operation in international settlement of Jewish problem.

c) Withdrawal by stages of the German forces from occupied and invaded countries.

d) Withdrawal of support to Japan, and assistance of Allies in order to end the war in the Far East.

e) Co-operation with the Allies in the rebuilding of areas destroyed and damaged by the war.

B. To ask whether the Allies, on the assumption that whole Hitler regime had been destroyed, would be willing to negotiate with such an new German Government for a peace settlement, which would provide for:

1. The setting up of a system of law and social justice inside Germany, combined with a large degree of devolution in the different main provinces.

2. The establishment of economic interdependence between the different nations of Europe, both as just in itself, and as the strongest possible guarantee against militarism.

3. The establishment of a representative Federation of Free Nations or States, including a Free Polish and a Free Czech Nation.

4. The establishment of a European Army for the control of Europe, of which the German Army could form a part, under central authority.

(Dietrich Bonhoeffer Works: Volume 16: Conspiracy and Imprisonment: 1940-1945, 320)

On June 19, 1942, English Bishop  George K. A. Bell wrote the “Memorandum of Conversations”. It is a fascinating document where Bell describes the visit of two German pastors to the Bishop of Chichester in Stockholm in May of 1942. The two German pastors were Dietrich Bonhoeffer and Johannes Otto Leopold Schonfeld. The Bishop was Bell himself! This document includes even the typos!

I am going to spend a few days on this great piece of information.

Two German pastors came from Berlin to see the Bishop of Chichester in Stockholm at the end of May, 1942. They arrived independently, one of them only staying for 48 hours, The Bishop saw them both individually and together of hour separate days. They are men very well known to the Bishop, and have collaborated with him for many years in connection with the oecumenical movement, the World Council of Churches, and in different stages of the German Church Struggle. One lives in Switzerland, but prays constant visits to Germany. The other lives in Berlin, and is one of the leaders of the Confessional Church; he has been forbidden by the Gestapo to preach or speak.

The second pastor was Dietrich Bonhoeffer!

(Dietrich Bonhoeffer Works: Volume 16: Conspiracy and Imprisonment: 1940-1945, 319-320).

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