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Friedrich Bonhoeffer’s wife Julie (Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s Grandmother) was the direct link between a long history and Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s life. Born on 21 August 1842, she could talk about the days of Eduard Mörike and Justinus Kerner. But it was just as characteristic of her that, at the age of ninety-one, she marched past the S.A. (Nazi Storm Troppers) cordons promoting the boycott of Jewish businesses on 1 April 1933, to shop at the Jewish-owned “Kaufhaus des Westens” on Tauentzienstrasse in Berlin.  

~ Eberhard Bethge, Dietrich Bonhoeffer: A Biography (Revised Edition); Chapter 1: Childhood and Youth: 1906-1923, 10-11.

Grandfather Karl Alfred von Hase died on New Year’s Day 1914. The Bonhoeffers no longer lived in Breslau, but the progressive stages of his cancer were not hidden from the grandchildren. The reports that their grandfather had continued his work until it was not longer possible left a last impression on them.

~ Eberhard Bethge, Dietrich Bonhoeffer: A Biography (Revised Edition); Chapter 1: Childhood and Youth: 1906-1923, 8.

Karl August von Hase (Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s grandfather) was interested in the early dialectical theologian Christoph Blumhardt and visited him at Bad Boll.

(Christoph Blumhardt)

Following the invasion of France in the years 1870-1871, he became a division chaplain in Hannover and, in 1876, was made senior military chaplain in Königsberg.

~ Eberhard Bethge, Dietrich Bonhoeffer: A Biography (Revised Edition); Chapter 1: Childhood and Youth: 1906-1923, 7.

The great-grandfather (Karl August von Hase) was a very successful theological teacher and writer; his books went through many edition. Hutterus Redivivus, a textbook on the history of dogma, was still a respected examination aid during Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s time as a student. 

~ Eberhard Bethge, Dietrich Bonhoeffer: A Biography (Revised Edition); Chapter 1: Childhood and Youth: 1906-1923, 6.

His grandfather (Karl Alfred von Hase) was devoted to cultivating the memory of his famous father, Karl August von Hase, professor of church and dogmatic history in Jena. The figure of this great ancestor influenced Dietrich, although he did not follow the same theological direction. At the same time, the story of his life fascinated Dietrich. 

~ Eberhard Bethge, Dietrich Bonhoeffer: A Biography (Revised Edition); Chapter 1: Childhood and Youth: 1906-1923, 5.

The social life in the Bonhoeffer home left its mark in the lively style to which Clara von Hase (Dietrich’s grandmother on his mother’s side) accustomed Dietrich’s mother. The Thuringian branch of the family was amazed at the staff of servants that was necessary when Clara and her daughters came to visit. Her children learned to enhance parties with effortless performances.

~ Eberhard Bethge, Dietrich Bonhoeffer: A Biography (Revised Edition); Chapter 1: Childhood and Youth: 1906-1923, 4. 

His (Dietrich Bonhoeffer) head was round rather than long, but it did not look out of proportion on his broad shoulders. His short nose emphasized his prominent forehead and mouth. Bonhoeffer’s twin sister inherited his father’s dark hair and large brown eyes, and Dietrich the blond hair and blue eyes of his mother. His hair became thin early in life, and he wore rimless glasses because of his nearsightedness.

~ Eberhard Bethge, Dietrich Bonhoeffer: A Biography (Revised Edition); Portrait (1970), xvii.

 

 

He (Dietrich Bonhoeffer) brought good material for his clothes and wore suits appropriate to the country and climate in which he lived, although he did not dress to impress others. He liked to eat well and knew the specialties of many regions. He was annoyed when the mushrooms or berries he had collected himself were badly prepared.

~ Eberhard Bethge, Dietrich Bonhoeffer: A Biography (Revised Edition); Portrait (1970), xvii.

After his (DB) death the family entrusted me with his unpublished theological work in progress, the surviving parts of his library, and most of his papers. I eventually felt a sense of obligation to make his materials available, permitting a sounder interpretation of his life and work. This obligation arose at a point where the significance of his life and work transcended the private sphere and no longer belonged only to those close to him. 

~ Eberhard Bethge, Dietrich Bonhoeffer: A Biography (Revised Edition); Preface to the First English Edition (1970), xv.

I…saw him several times in Tegel prison, until our contact was finally broken off as a result of my own arrest in October 1944. The Gestapo explored my relation with the Schleicher family (Eberhard married Renate Schleicher, the daughter of Bonhoeffer’s sister, Ursula), but neglected to investigate my ties to Dietrich Bonhoeffer. Thus I survived. 

~ Eberhard Bethge, Dietrich Bonhoeffer: A Biography (Revised Edition); Preface to the First English Edition (1970), xv.

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