“Silence in the face of evil is itself evil:
God will not hold us innocent.
Not to speak is to speak. Not to act is to act.”
Who was Diedrich Bonhofer?
Bonhofer was a German theologian in the years before WWII. Like my quote from Niemoller, Bonhofer was far from a lover of the Jews, or even a universally “good” guy, so to speak. However he was an avowed pacifist as befitted a man of the clothe, who eventually made contact with the German Resistance and the members of the Abwehr who had committed to assassinate Hitler.
He was captured, tried, and hung just over a month before Hitler himself committed suicide in the Bunker.
However, Bonhofer had actually come to the United States in 1939, to work here in NY at the Union Theological Seminary.
He felt guilty about being here when Germany was going through the upheavals that he was witnessing and he wrote to a friend:
“I have come to the conclusion that I made a mistake in coming to America. I must live through this difficult period in our national history with the people of Germany. I will have no right to participate in the reconstruction of Christian life in Germany after the war if I do not share the trials of this time with my people… Christians in Germany will have to face the terrible alternative of either willing the defeat of their nation in order that Christian civilization may survive or willing the victory of their nation and thereby destroying civilization. I know which of these alternatives I must choose but I cannot make that choice from security.” (My emphasis)