Bigotry against Bonhoeffer in Jerusalem

By Wise, Stephen A. | Journal of Ecumenical Studies, Spring 2009 | Go to article overview

Bigotry against Bonhoeffer in Jerusalem


Wise, Stephen A., Journal of Ecumenical Studies


Yad Vashem is the Holocaust Museum in Jerusalem established in Israel as a "Martyrs' and Heroes' Commemoration." The Museum denied such recognition to Dietrich Bonhoeffer, the German pastor who fought the Nazis' persecution of Jews steadily from Hitler's ascendance to power in 1933 until Hitler had him hanged on April 9, 1945.

Starting in 1998, three petitioners submitted overwhelming evidence in support of the recognition of Bonhoeffer as one of the Righteous at Yad Vashem, the first two of whom authored this article. They were Rabbi Balfour Brickner, one of the leading reform rabbis in the world; Attorney Stephen A. Wise, whose father wrote the first anti-Hitler book, Swastika: The Nazi Terror, (1) published thirteen weeks after Hitler came to power, and whose grandfather, Rabbi Stephen S. Wise, was president of the World Jewish Congress; and Professor Konrad Bieber, of Yale and other universities, who had been hidden by a French farmer's wife and successfully petitioned Yad Vashem to recognize her.

The 1953 Israeli law that created Yad Vashem set up a special department to "commemorate ... the high-minded Gentiles who jeopardized their lives to save Jews," generally called "The Righteous Gentiles" (emphasis added). The director of that department is Dr. Mordecai Paldiel. In a speech on November 19, 1998, at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, Paldiel described the Righteous program as follows: "It is awarded to rescuers who knowingly and in full conscience were prepared to risk their lives in the attempt to help one or several Jews to survive ... irrespective of whether the rescue operation succeeded or failed... Assisting Jews to flee from an endangered place to another less dangerous place ... such as Switzerland... without exacting monetary reward for this may qualify for the Righteous title" (emphasis added).

The law's footnote states that the name "Yad Vashem" comes from Is. 56:5b: "I will give them an everlasting name that shall not be cut off" (N.R.S.V.). Especially noteworthy is the next verse in Isaiah, ignored by Paldiel, which says: "And the foreigners who join themselves to the LORD, to minister to him, ... to be his servants, all who keep the sabbath, and do not profane it, and hold fast my covenant" (Is. 56:6).

Dietrich Bonhoeffer was just such a "foreigner." Two days after Hitler came to power on January 30, 1933, Bonhoeffer was speaking on the radio and differentiated between a leader (Fuhrer) and a misleader (Verfuhrer). He explained: "This is the leader who makes an idol of himself and his office and thus mocks God"--for which he was cut off the air. (2) Over the years he opposed the Nazis' persecution of the Jews in the many ways detailed below, and on July 20, 1944, he was involved in a plot that failed to kill Hitler. After a long imprisonment, he and three relatives, along with others, were executed on Hitler's direct orders, only three weeks before the end of the war in Europe.

After the war, Bonhoeffer's cursory conviction was judicially set aside, and a German postage stamp was issued honoring him. There now are Bonhoeffer Societies in many countries. His books and articles on many subjects are widely studied--particularly Ethics, (3) Letters and Papers from Prison, (4) Love Letters from Cell 92, (5) and The Cost of Discipleship. (6) There are dozens of books and articles about him, the most extensive and authoritative of which was written by his former student and lifetime biographer, Dr. Eberhard Bethge: Dietrich Bonhoeffer, A Biography (7) (1048 pages, based on over 3,000 documents filed in Berlin at the State Library, carefully cited in 2,438 footnotes). Bethge was awarded the Union Theological Seminary's highest honor, the Union Medal, in 1984.

The four-volume Encyclopedia of the Holocaust, first published in Jerusalem, (8) notes in its introductory page that "Bonhoeffer ... became involved in efforts to assist Jews to escape from Germany, including a successful scheme in 1942 to smuggle a party of fifteen Jews to Switzerland, which led to his arrest"--generally known as "Operation 7. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Bigotry against Bonhoeffer in Jerusalem
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.