The Plot to Kill Hitler: Dietrich Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Spy, Unlikely Hero

The Plot to Kill Hitler: Dietrich Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Spy, Unlikely Hero
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Release Date
September 13, 2016
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It was April 5, 1943, and the Gestapo would arrive any minute. Dietrich Bonhoeffer had been expecting this day for a long time. He had put his papers in order—and left a few notes specifically for Hitler’s men to see. Two SS agents climbed the stairs and told the boyish-looking Bonhoeffer to come with them. He calmly said good-bye to his parents, put his Bible under his arm, and left. Upstairs there was proof, in his own handwriting, that this quiet young minister was part of a conspiracy to kill Adolf Hitler.

This compelling, brilliantly researched account includes the remarkable discovery that Bonhoeffer was one of the first people to provide evidence to the Allies that Jews were being deported to death camps. It takes readers from his privileged early childhood to the studies and travel that would introduce him to peace activists around the world—eventually putting this gentle, scholarly pacifist on a deadly course to assassinate one of the most ruthless dictators in history. The Plot to Kill Hitler provides fascinating insights into what makes someone stand up for what’s right when no one else is standing with you. It is a question that every generation must answer again and again.

With black-and-white photographs, fascinating sidebars, and thoroughly researched details, this book should be essential reading.

Editor review

1 review
He who accepts evil...cooperates with it
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There is no end to stories that could be told about the bravery of ordinary people during World War II. It it, however, somewhat of a surprise that Bonhoeffer's story has not been told for young readers.

Growing up in a prosperous, educated German household in the early part of the 20th century, Dietrich had seven brothers and sisters who all excelled at whatever activities they were passionate about. Dietrich was the quiet child who was frequently alone. Family life was idyllic until World War I, when one brother, Walter, was killed, and the other brothers had to serve as well. After the war, Dietrich pursued religious studies, even though his family had that he would do something with his musical talents. He managed to travel quite a bit and found that he enjoyed working most with the underprivileged. He also was ecumenical in his views, something not necessarily shared by his Lutheran compatriots at the time. As Hitler came to power, Dietrich felt that the clergy really needed to step in to make sure that people weren't hurt. Ultimately, this ended with Dietrich becoming involved in a plot to kill Hitler with his brother, two of his brothers in law, and some others.
Good Points
Written by Patricia McCormick, a master of research, The Plot to Kill Hitler is interesting because it not only covers that historical event, but the philosophy and theology that lead to a mild-mannered pastor being involved in it. Long an inspiration for social activists, Bonhoeffer's message that to not combat evil is also evil is a timely one, and his story is one that deserves to be heard by a new generation.

The narrative of this is fast paced, and is a study in the contrasts that were so prevalent in German society at this period in history. The photographs that are included are often heartbreaking-- the picture of Bonhoeffer with his siblings and mother, her face barely visible because she is looking down lovingly at her children; a shadowed picture on Bonhoeffer's desk and piano, painfully tidied; a class picture with Bonhoeffer as a teacher surrounded by children in high spirits. Before WWII, Germany was considered one of the best places to study many topics, and this is something of which the students who are familiar with the Holocaust might not be aware.

This is an excellent addition to a number of new books about different facets of the Holocaust that include We Will Not Be Silent: The White Rose Student Resistance Movement That Defied Adolf Hitler by Russell Freedman, The Boys Who Challenged Hitler: Knud Pedersen and the Churchill Club by Phillip Hoose, and Hitler's Last Days: The Death of the Nazi Regime and the World's Most Notorious Dictator by Bill O'Reilly.
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