TO THE ENGLISH EDITION
GEFFREY B. KELLY
IN AN IRONICAL WAY we are indebted to the Gestapo1 for this remarkable book. It was because they had shut down the preachers' seminary at Finkenwalde that Dietrich Bonhoeffer was finally persuaded to compose his thoughts on the nature and sustaining structures of Christian community, based on the “life together” that he and his seminarians had sustained both at the seminary and in the Brothers' House at Finkenwalde. Prior to this, except for a brief explanation of the practice of daily meditation, Bonhoeffer had been reluctant to publicize this experiment, feeling that the time was not ripe. With the closing of the seminary at Finkenwalde and the dispersal of the seminarians, however, Bonhoeffer felt compelled not only to record for posterity the daily regimen and its rationale, but also to voice his conviction that the worldwide church itself needed to promote a sense of community like this if it was to have new life breathed into it.
With a new sense of urgency, therefore, Bonhoeffer, along with his close friend Eberhard Bethge, went to Gottingen in late September 1938, to the empty home belonging to his twin sister, Sabine, and her husband, Gerhard Leibholz. Though a popular professor of law at Göttingen University and a baptized Christian, Leibholz had been dismissed from his professorship because of his Jewish origins. On September 9,
1. The Geheime Staatspolizei or secret police in Nazi Germany.