Memorial and Place of Encounter Bonhoeffer-House
|Lic. Dietrich Bonhoeffer
Dietrich Bonhoeffer – Berlin Pastor and professor of theology – resisted National Socialism at a time when tyranny and racism ruled Germany, victimizing religious, ethnic, and social minorities. Bonhoeffer applied his Christian faith and his theological reflections to his everyday actions. This brought him in conflict with the Nazi regime, and he paid for his convictions with his life. Bonhoeffer’s thoughts about the church continue to challenge us today; they also encourage us and move us to remain active.
|Prof. Dr. Karl Bonhoeffer
The BONHOEFFER–HOUSE was built in 1935 as the retirement home of Professor Dr. med. Karl Bonhoeffer and his wife Paula, Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s parents. Whenever Dietrich Bonhoeffer was in Berlin, he lived here. In his study, parts of his book Ethics had their origin; as did his analysis of the resistance, After Ten Years, the manuscript of which survived the war hidden in the house. On April 5, 1943, Dietrich Bonhoeffer was arrested by the Gestapo in this building.
Here also occurred conspiratorial discussions of the resistance movement against the National Socialists, with decisive participation of family members. Finally, the sons Klaus (a lawyer) and Dietrich, and the two sons-in-law Hans von Dohnanyi (a lawyer) and Rüdiger Schleicher (also a lawyer) were murdered by the Nazis in April, 1945.
In the former medical practice of Karl Bonhoeffer there is a permanent exhibition on life and work and Dietrich Bonhoeffer. A first impression of our exhibition can be found in our online presentation (link is external).
Bonhoeffer’s study on the upper floor was restored to the approximate condition in which he left it in April 1943. It now contains the original bookshelves, his desktop and the clavichord.
The house was built in 1935 as a retirement home for Prof. Karl Bonhoeffer (1868-1948) and his wife Paula (1874–1951). Previously, the family lived in Wangenheimstr. 14 in Berlin-Grunewald. Karl and Paula Bonhoeffer, their 90-year-old grandmother Julie Bonhoeffer (granny flat) and their unmarried son Dietrich (mansard room) moved into the new house.
The plan was to be close to the family of the eldest daughter Ursula (1902-1983) and her husband Prof. Dr. Rüdiger Schleicher (1895, shot dead on April 23, 1945 / lawyer, pioneer of aviation law). Both houses were built by the architect Jörg Schleicher, brother of Rüdiger. Dietrich’s older brother Klaus B. moved with his family to Eichkamp in 1936, a district close to Grunewald, where Hans v. Dohnanyi and Dietrich‘s sister Christine Bonhoeffer (married in1925) already lived.
The house was the place for family celebrations with the 18 grandchildren as well as the place of the resistance movement against the National Socialists with the decisive participation of family members.
In Dietrich‘s attic room, the chapter on ethics and the analysis of resistance „After ten years“ were written.
Thinking about this house, Bonhoeffer wrote: „What a house can mean has been forgotten by most people, but it has become particularly clear to the rest of us in our time. It is a kingdom in the middle of the world, a castle in the storm of time, a refuge, yes, a sanctuary“, and he describes his own relationship to this house in the baptismal letter to his grandnephew: He is „endeavored to prove himself everywhere in the spirit – as he understands it – which he sees embodied in the house of his parents, your great-grandparents.“
After Karl Bonhoeffer’s death in late 1948 and the death of his wife in 1951, the Evangelical Church in Berlin-Brandenburg acquired the house with Swedish help as the seat of the student pastor – at that time Eberhard Bethge – and the student community at the Charlottenburg Universities (TU). The house next door was sold privately by Ursula Schleicher a few years later.
Today, the house is open to all visitors – individuals and groups up to max. 25 people.