German theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer (1906–1945) was born to an affluent family on this day in Breslau (now Wroclaw, Poland) and raised in Berlin. He graduated summa cum laude and earned a doctorate degree in theology at age 21.
"We hardly realize how much more we receive than we give; life can be rich only with such realization," he said.
An ordained Lutheran minister, he dedicated his life to service and justice and dreamed of unifying all Christian Churches. He was one of the first to denounce Hitler and Nazi ideals and stood firm against the regime in his writings, sermons, and radio speeches.
"There is no way to peace along the way to safety. For peace must be dared. It is the great venture," he said.
Along with a few other, Bonhoeffer formed the Confessing Church to fight the injustice. He tried to stay true to his faith through commitment and discipline. Inspired by the Sermon on the Mount, he wrote his best-known book, The Cost of Discipleship, a powerful call to personal sacrifice.
He wrote, "Costly grace is the gospel which must be sought again and again, the gift which must be asked for, the door at which a man must knock."
Arrested in 1943 for helping Jews escape from Germany and "complicity" in the attempted assasination of Hilter, he was executed within days of Allied troops liberating his prison.
"This is the end, and, for me, the beginning of life," he said.
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