“The majority of the people in all nations alike does not consist of heroes. “

dietrich_bonhoeffer-gross“It has often been said that those of the many who are not directly guilty for the crimes of the former regime in Germany must be punished for their passive attitude towards it. In a modern dictatorship, however, with its subterranean ubiquity and all-embracing instruments of oppression, a revolt means certain death to all who support it. To reproach in a modern tyranny a people as a whole for failing to revolt is as if one would reproach a prisoner for failing to escape from a heavily guarded prison. The majority of the people in all nations alike does not consist of heroes. What Dietrich Bonhoeffer* and others did cannot be expected from the many.” ~From the introduction (written by G. Leibholz) to The Cost of Discipleship by Dietrich Bonhoeffer

 

 

*Dietrich Bonhoeffer was a German Lutheran pastor and theologian who was executed for his role in the Resistance. Dietrich, his brother Klaus, and his brother-in-law Hans von Dohnányi joined the Abwehr conspiracy to assassinate Hitler. When the assassination attempt failed, Hitler rounded up any who were involved in the conspiracy and executed them. Through his ecumenical connections, Dietrich Bonhoeffer served as a spy to the Allies. Many biographies have been written about his life, but I highly recommend Dietrich Bonhoeffer: A Biography by Eberhard Bethge. Bethge was one of Bonhoeffer’s closest friends and made it his life-long goal to publish everything and anything that was written by Bonhoeffer. It’s very long (940 pages) and very dense in parts, but this is the biography. Bethge had a perspective on the War and on the life of his friend that other biographers simply didn’t have. I will write a complete review for the book when I have finished it, but I am only on page 372 so it will be a while.

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