Tutu foundation honours anti-Nazi hero, Dietrich Bonhoeffer
Dietrich Bonhoeffer was a German theologian and anti-Nazi dissident whose writings on Christianity in the secular world retain their relevance today. He was executed in a Nazi concentration camp in 1945.
Speaking on religion and human rights at Emory University, Atlanta, in 1994, Archbishop Tutu said: “Hitler purported to be a Christian and saw no contradiction between his Christianity and perpetrating one of history’s most dastardly campaigns. What is even more disturbing is that he was supported in this massive crime against humanity by a significant group called German Christians. Mercifully there were those like Dietrich Bonhoeffer and others who opposed this madness, often at great cost to themselves as members of the confessing church.
“Christianity has often been perversely used in other instances to justify the iniquity of racism. In the USA, the rabid haters of blacks, the Ku Klux Klan, have not baulked at using a flaming cross as their much-feared symbol. One would have to travel far to find a more despicable example of blasphemy. Apartheid in South Africa was perpetrated not by pagans, but by those who regarded themselves as devout Christians,” Tutu said.
Welcoming delegates on Wednesday, the foundation’s chief executive, Piyushi Kotecha, described Bonhoeffer as an early European proponent of ubuntu. She compared the timelessness of his message of healing unity in the Nazi era to that of Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu’s witness of reconciliatory justice during apartheid.
“Given the violent intolerance around them, they might have remained silent,” she said.