|Radio Theatre: Bonhoeffer: The Cost of Freedom|
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Years ago, one man raised questions about the role of faith and freedom in a godless society, and paid for the answers with his life. His name was Dietrich Bonhoeffer and Bonhoeffer: The Cost of Freedom is his story.
When Hitler first began his rise to power, Bonhoeffer quickly discerned that the Nazis' announced intention to bring about moral and spiritual renewal was a sham, even though most of his colleagues embraced the news with enthusiasm. Wrestling with moral absolutes in the wake of the Third Reich's growing tyranny, Bonhoeffer desired to remain loyal to his homeland while refusing to take part in its evil. After all, he was a good German, meaning giving allegiance to the state at all costs. But the conflict in his soul was too high a price to pay.
Increasingly, Bonhoeffer watched in disgust as a now lukewarm church — who felt it was their doctrinal duty to support the state — looked the other way while the Nazis persecuted the Jews and infiltrated the church. Before long, he found himself part of the Confessing Church, a group of renegade Christians who openly opposed the "nazification" of the German church. Attempts to silence him only made him more outspoken. Bonhoeffer came to believe Germany's only hope for a future was Hitler's removal, by whatever means necessary. As an outsider to both the government and the state-controlled church, Bonhoeffer was recruited to join the conspiracy to overthrow Der Fuehrer. His brother-in-law Hans von Dohnanyi enlisted him to work in the military intelligence unit as an international courier.
Working beneath the Nazis' very noses, no less, he was able to travel abroad and use his ecumenical connections to gain support in the West for Hitler's overthrow. His international responsibilities also proved quite useful when he needed to shepherd Jews out of Germany to safety. Although he had no direct role in the assassination attempt on Hitler in July 1944, Bonhoeffer's connection to the conspirators was discovered by the Gestapo. The pastor was arrested and later hung for treason at the command of Hitler himself — a mere month before World War II ended.
His martyr's death leaves lingering questions. Can one person afford to speak out against evil without reprisal? And will evil ultimately triumph if good men do nothing? 3 CDs. 180 Minutes.