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Peace not Brexit
20 Mar, 2019

Remembering Pastor Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a member of the German resistance

For London4Europe member, Diana Mills, Bonhoeffer is one of the great voices for peace and ecumenism, a voice relevant and very much needed now in our troubled time. So Diana wrote to her MP, Zac Goldsmith (Richmond Park, Conservative), reminding him of the essential purpose of the EU: peace in Europe. This is her letter: 

I have just spent the day remembering Dietrich Bonhoeffer at the church he was pastor of for two years in the thirties, in Forest Hill. It was the anniversary of his birth on 4 February 1906.

Knowing his powerful story of courage, bravery and sacrifice against the Nazi horror, it seemed to me more imperative than ever that we have more discussion before we plunge into the unknown that Brexit promises.

The one thing I have not heard mentioned during these last two years is why we ever became part of Europe in the first place.

I was born just before the start of the Second World War so my early years, perhaps all my thinking, has been moulded by such a beginning.

I do know that Churchill wanted us IN “to keep peace in Europe” and a united Europe has done that.

In all the endless squabbling and rhetoric I have not heard one mention of keeping the Peace.

Please will you be kind enough to bring that thought to the table, if you have a chance? I understand that you voted Leave. But we, your constituents, voted overwhelmingly (70%) to remain in the EU. My reason for voting that way was for my grandchildren’s future. We live in dangerous times and we are safer together with our friends. 

 

Dietrich Bonhoeffer: quotations

Diana offers us some sayings of Dietrich Bonhoeffer:

The first calls on us to ask whether we are giving our children and grandchildren more security, justice, freedom and opportunity or taking it away from them?

“The ultimate test of a moral society is the kind of world that it leaves to its children.”  

He enjoins us not to see ourselves – or our country – as utterly exceptional and so to undervalue co-operating with others:

“It is very easy to overestimate the importance of our own achievements in comparison with what we owe others.”

Bonhoeffer was aware of the dangers of selfishness – and nationalism is a form of selfishness:

“Not until one person desires to keep his own bread for himself does hunger ensue.”

He offers a clear call to action, especially if you have made a mistake:

“If you board the wrong train, it is no use running along the corridor in the other direction.” 

Finally, he sets us a paradox:

“… only through discipline may a man learn to be free”

 

Dietrich Bonhoeffer - biography

Diana told us a bit more about Dietrich Bonhoeffer:

Dietrich Bonhoeffer died on 9th April 1945 at the hands of the hangman in a Gestapo prison, having been arrested two years earlier.

Born on 4th February 1906, the son of a professor of Psychiatry. He grew up in academic surroundings and became a lecturer at Berlin University in 1930.

In 1933 he denounced Hitler and his ideas on the radio. Two years later, after a period spent in England, he was forbidden to teach and banned from Berlin by the Nazis.

He was on a lecture tour in the USA when war broke out and, against advice, returned to Germany to work with the Confessing Church and political opponents to Hitler.

 

Notes

You can read more about Bonhoeffer’s biography on Wikipedia or on the website of the International Bonhoeffer Society.

You can find more of his quotes on brainyquote and goodreads.

We have published previous articles on the EU as a Union for Peace, its origins and purpose and the waste that is war.

The European Movement published an article on what Churchill would have thought of Brexit.

 

 

 

The London4Europe blogs page is edited by Nick Hopkinson, Vice-Chair. Articles on this page reflect the views of the author and not necessarily of London4Europe