Dietrich Bonheoffer was raised in the academic circles of the University of
Berlin where his father was a professor of psychiatry and neurology. He studied
theology at the universities of Tübingen and Berlin from 1923 to 1927, and
served for a year as assistant pastor for a German-speaking congregation in
Barcelona. With this document he then applied for one year of graduate study at
Union Theological Seminary that began in September, 1930. He returned to Germany
the following year.
With the rise to power of the Nazis in 1933, Bonhoeffer was a vocal
opponent of the regime, speaking out in particular against its policies of
anti-Semitism. His stance became politicized in 1938 after he became involved
through his brother-in-law, Hans von Dohnanyi, in a plot to overthrow Hitler.
Although he returned to New York in 1939, he stayed for only two weeks, writing
to Union's Seminary's Reinhold Niebuhr: "I will have no right to participate in
the reconstruction of Christian life in Germany after the war if I do not share
the trials of this time with my people." Following the failure of the July 20,
1944 attempt to assassinate Hitler, Bonheoffer was arrested and executed on
April 9, 1945. His Letters and Papers from Prison, published in 1951,
contain some of his most profound writing.