Dietrich Bonhoeffer was born on February 4th 1906
in Breslau, Germany.
He took a degree in theology in Berlin in 1927. He was a pastor in the German Protestant parishes of Barcelona and London.
In 1931 he began teaching at the faculty of theology of Berlin and was ordained pastor. At that time, he began his activity in the infant ecumenical movement. He was elected youth secretary of the World Union in the same year for the collaboration between the churches and in 1933 joined the Universal Christian council "Life and Work" (from which the ecumenical Council of the Churches would later be born). He taught in Berlin from 1931 to 1933. With "The church and the Jewish Question", published in April 1933, he was the first to tackle the relationship between the Church and the Nazi dictatorship, vigorously claiming that the Church had the duty to oppose political injustice.
Bonhoeffer refused the position of pastor in Berlin, in sympathy with those who were being excluded from the ministry for racial reasons, and decided to move to a German-speaking congregation in London. In May 1934, the so-called "Confessing Church" was founded by a minority within the German Evangelical Church that adopted the Declaration of Barmen in opposition to Nazism. In April 1935 he returned to Germany to lead an underground seminary for the training of pastors of the Confessing Church, which was under the increasing pressure of the Gestapo, culminating in August 1937 with the Himmler Decree, which declared the illegality of training pastor candidates for the Confessing Church. In the two years that followed, Bonhoeffer continued his teaching activity secretly; in January 1938 the Gestapo exiled him from Berlin and in September 1940 he was banned from speaking in public.
In 1939 he approached a group of resistance and conspiracy against Hitler.
In 1943 Bonhoeffer was confined in the military prison of Tegel, the plot against Hitler having been discovered.
He was hung together with the other conspirators on the concentration camp of Flossebürg on April 9th 1945. His letters and the notes he wrote while in prison and that he sent to his friend E. Bethge, were published by this latter in 1951, together with the letters to his parents and a number of poems, entitled Letters and Papers from Prison.
During his life, Bonhoeffer had published Sanctorum Communio in 1930, Act and Being in 1931, The Cost of Discipleship in 1937, Life Together in 1938. Appearing later were his works that, according to the author, were to be his greatest contribution: Ethics (1949); Temptation (1953); Il Mondo Maggiorenne (1955-66).