“By good forces wonderfully sheltered …”

Thus begins the final verse of a poem the theologian Dr. Dietrich Bonhoeffer sent to his fiancée from the Gestapo prison in Berlin. It would be his last letter. On 7 February 1945, the Gestapo transferred him and eleven other prisoners to Buchenwald. Bonhoeffer’s determined opposition to National Socialism had led him to involvement in resistance circles within military intelligence, ultimately associating him with the July 1944 attempt on Hitler’s life.

The cells in the basement prison of the Buchenwald SS were damp, cold and windowless. The inmates never had a breath of fresh air or any opportunity to write to their loved ones. No one knew what awaited them. Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s fellow prisoners later underscored how calmly he had endured his situation.

On the evening of 3 April 1945, the SS sent the basement prisoners southwards. A week later, Dietrich Bonhoeffer was murdered at the Flossenbürg concentration camp.

(Harry Stein)

Reference: Wolfgang Huber, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Auf dem Weg zur Freiheit, Munich 2019.