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This was fun…

Dorospirit - this pretty much sums me up!

I sometimes talk about Dietrich Bonhoeffer in my services, church meetings etc. He was an inspirational person!

But then I thought sometimes it’s a bit boring to just talk about someone’s biography. So instead, I created a quiz.

These are my questions (and I had fun making up some of the answers!!):

Bonhoeffer Quiz:

  1. Bonhoeffer’s father was
    a) a Lutheran minister
    b) a butcher and an atheist
    c) a psychiatrist and a Christian
  2. Because he was too young to be ordained after he finished his studies in theology (he had 2 PhDs and was a University Lecturer before the age of 25!), Bonhoeffer spent some time studying in:
    a) the USA
    b) the UK
    c) Switzerland
  3. While he was in the States, Bonhoeffer attended and was deeply inspired by
    a) a Presbyterian Church in Texas
    b) a Methodist Church in Florida
    c) an African-American Baptist Church in Harlem
  4. Bonhoeffer was

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The Night of the Long Knives

The four million brown shirted Nazi storm troopers, the SA (Sturmabteilung), included many members who actually believed in the ‘socialism’ of National Socialism and also wanted to become a true revolutionary army in place of the regular German Army.

But to the regular Army High Command and its conservative supporters, this potential storm trooper army represented a threat to centuries old German military traditions and the privileges of rank. Adolf Hitler had been promising the generals for years he would restore their former military glory and break the “shackles” of the Treaty of Versailles which limited the Army to 100,000 men and prevented modernization.

For Adolf Hitler, the behavior of the SA was a problem that now threatened his own political survival and the entire future of the Nazi movement.

The anti-capitalist, anti-tradition sentiments often expressed by SA leaders and echoed by the restless masses of storm troopers also caused great concern to big industry leaders who had helped put Hitler in power. Hitler had promised them he would put down the trade union movement and Marxists, which he had done. However, now his own storm troopers with their talk of a ‘second revolution’ were sounding more and more like Marxists themselves. (The first revolution having been the Nazi seizure of power in early 1933.)

SA Leader Ernst RoehmThe SA was headed by Ernst Röhm, a battle scarred, aggressive, highly ambitious street brawler who had been with Hitler from the very beginning. Röhm and the SA had been very instrumental in Hitler’s rise to power by violently seizing control of the streets and squashing Hitler’s political opponents.

However, by early 1934, a year after Hitler came to power, the SA’s usefulness as a violent, threatening, revolutionary force had effectively come to an end. Hitler now needed the support of the regular Army generals and the big industry leaders to rebuild Germany after the Great Depression, re-arm the military and ultimately accomplish his long range goal of seizing more living space for the German people.

The average German also feared and disliked the SA brownshirts with their arrogant, gangster-like behavior, such as extorting money from local shop owners, driving around in fancy news cars showing off, often getting drunk, beating up and even murdering innocent civilians.

At the end of February, 1934, Hitler held a meeting attended by SA and regular Army leaders including Röhm and German Defense Minister General Werner von Blomberg. At this meeting Hitler informed Röhm the SA would not be a military force in Germany but would be limited to certain political functions. In Hitler’s presence, Röhm gave in and even signed an agreement with Blomberg.

However, Röhm soon let it be know he had no intention of keeping to the agreement. In April he even boldly held a press conference and proclaimed, “The SA is the National Socialist Revolution!!”

Within the SA at this time was a highly disciplined organization known as the SS (Shutzstaffel) which had been formed in 1925 as Hitler’s personal body guard. SS chief Heinrich Himmler along with his second-in-command, Reinhard Heydrich, and Hermann Göring, began plotting against Röhm to prod Hitler into action against his old comrade, hoping to gain from Röhm’s downfall.

On June 4, Hitler and Röhm had a five hour private meeting lasting until midnight. A few days later Röhm announced he was taking a ‘personal illness’ vacation and the whole SA would go on leave for the month of July. He also convened a conference of top SA leaders for June 30 at a resort town near Munich which Hitler promised to attend to sort things out.

On June 17, Vice Chancellor Franz von Papen, who had helped Hitler become Chancellor, stunned everyone by making a speech criticizing the rowdy, anti-intellectual behavior of the SA and denouncing Nazi excesses such as strict press censorship. Papen also focused on the possibility of a ‘second revolution’ by Röhm and the SA and urged Hitler to put a stop to it. “Have we experienced an anti-Marxist revolution in order to put through a Marxist program?” Papen asked.

His speech drastically increased the tension between German Army leaders and SA leaders and further jeopardized Hitler’s position. But for the moment Hitler hesitated to move against his old comrade Röhm.

A few days later, June 21, Hitler went to see German President Paul von Hindenburg at his country estate. Hindenburg was in failing health and now confined to a wheelchair. Hitler met with the Old Gentleman and Defense Minister Blomberg and was stiffly informed the SA problem must be solved or the president would simply declare martial law and let the German Army run the country, effectively ending the Nazi regime.

Meanwhile, Himmler and Heydrich spread false rumors that Röhm and the SA were planning a violent takeover of power (putsch).

On June 25, the German Army was placed on alert, leaves canceled and the troops confined to the barracks. An agreement had been secretly worked out between Himmler and Army generals ensuring cooperation between the SS and the Army during the coming action against the SA. The Army would provide weapons and any necessary support, but would remain in the barracks and let the SS handle things.

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Now Playing | Hitler Seethes Over Germany’s Slapdown

As a vanquished foe, Germany is punished severely by the Allies at the Treaty of Versailles and undergoes a radical political shift which only intensifies Hitler’s anger and his resolve to make Germany powerful again.

I am currently reading William L Shirer’s classic book, The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich (1960 ed.). Shirer makes it clear that Adolf Hitler wanted the churches in Germany to submit to his authority…

So far as the Protestants were concerned, Hitler was insistent that if the Nazi “German Christians” could not bring the evangelical churches into line under Reich Bishop Mueller then the government itself would have to take over the direction of the churches. He had a certain contempt for the Protestants (328-329).

Photo: Starting to read this worn-out book

Bundesarchiv Bild 146-1969-054-16, Reinhard Heydrich.jpgIt is an episode of the “Nazi Hunters” on the Military Channel. Heydrich was in Hitler’s inner circle and he was the mastermind behind the diabolical “Final Solution” which was the deportation and extermination of all Jews in German-occupied territories.

The Aryan Clause was just one of many challenges Dietrich Bonhoeffer and the church would face.

On April 7 (1933), the Aryan Clauses were issued, forbidding anyone of Jewish origins or anyone married to a Jew from holding any office in the state. The prohibition extended to the Church, and was only the beginning of a long series of encroachments designed to usurp of the Church.  

(William Kuhns, In Pursuit of Dietrich Bonhoeffer48).

Overcoming Darkness

Holy Week helps us to remember, recommit and guard against the darkness of today’s apathy.

By Henry Green

The complicity of the church in the Nazi policy to annihilate the Jewish race cannot be denied.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer said: “The church confesses her timidity, her evasiveness, her dangerous concessions. The church has been untrue to her office of guardianship and to her office of comfort, and thus she has denied to the outcasts and to the despised the compassion she owes them. To put it another way, the church has failed to speak the right word, in the right way, at the right time. She has just stood by while violence was being committed under the very name of Jesus Christ. Therefore, she is guilty of the deaths of the weakest and most defenseless brothers and sisters of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

Adolf Hitler

The isolationism of a global community unresponsive to the abject poverty and destruction throughout Europe in the wake of World War I, the desire to annihilate the soul of the German people and the arrogance of a pride that led to National Socialism paved the way for a Second World War. This isolationist policy of neglect in the west and the nihilism of Communism in Russia to the east set the stage for a reactionary form of nihilism in Germany: The rise of Adolf Hitler and the Nazi Third Reich.

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