Scrapbookpages Blog

March 4, 2011

Glenn Beck’s comment about Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Filed under: Germany, TV shows — Tags: , — furtherglory @ 9:24 am

Yesterday, I was watching Glenn Beck on his TV show, when he held up two books that he wants everyone to read.  One book was about Winston Churchill and the other was a new biography of German Pastor Dietrich Bonhoeffer, entitled Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy by New York Times writer Eric Metaxas.

In talking about Bonhoeffer yesterday, Beck said that “Bonhoeffer died before Hitler was killed.”  No, that’s not what happened.  Bonhoeffer was hanged at the Flossenbuerg concentration camp on April 9, 1945 because he was a traitor to his country. Like the other traitors who were involved in the July 20th plot to kill Hitler, Bonhoeffer was allegedly hanged with piano wire, not rope.  Hitler was not killed; he survived the attempt to kill him on July 20, 1944 and committed suicide in his bunker just days before World War II ended.

Before he was sent to Flossenbuerg, Bonhoeffer spent some time in the Buchenwald concentration camp.  At this camp, a sign painted on the wall of the gate house, read “My country, right or wrong” in German.  That sign has since been removed.

I don’t know why the “right or wrong” slogan at Buchenwald was removed, but maybe it was in deference to traitors like Bonhoeffer who did not believe in supporting his country, right or wrong.  The “Jedem das Seine” sign on the iron gate at Buchenwald is still there.  This is usually translated into English as “To Each his Own,” or “Everyone gets what he deserves.”

Beck did an interview with Metaxas in December, 2010. In this interview, Metaxas revealed that Bonhoeffer’s whole family was involved in the plot to kill Hitler. (One of Dietrich’s brothers and two of his brothers-in-law were executed by the Nazis; other family members were imprisoned but survived.)

Metaxas also said that Bonhoeffer’s “best friend” was a Jew who had converted to Christianity and wanted to become a Christian pastor. This was basically the reason that a group of Protestant ministers broke away from the German Protestant Church and started their own church called “the Confessing Church.”  (The Confessing Church allowed converted Jews to become Pastors.)

The Nazis wanted to unite the German churches under the German state; Metaxas pointed out that Germany was a “Christian nation.”  Hitler did not want Jews involved in the Christian Church in Germany.

The Nazis were Fascists and Fascism means a totalitarian state in which the government has total control over everything in the country.  The basic principle in a totalitarian state, whether it is Fascist or Communist, is that everything must be done for the good of the country, not for the good of the individual.  Bonhoeffer wanted the Christian Church in Germany to change for the good of his Jewish friend.

Hitler was a nationalist, not a racist.  He wanted to unite the German people under the concept of “ein Folk, ein Reich, ein Fuehrer.”  Hitler wanted the Jews to have their own church and their own country, and he didn’t want the Jews and the Germans to become racially mixed.  The Bonhoeffer family didn’t agree with these principles. Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s whole family was against the Nazi principles; his twin sister, Sabine, was married to a Jew.

Bonhoeffer won in the end.  Germany is now a racially mixed, diverse country and converted Jews are welcomed in German churches.

Read my comments about the biography of Bonhoeffer here.

Update, Mar. 5, 2011:

The story of Dietrich Bonhoeffer being hung with piano wire might be one of those “Nazi myths and legends.”  Stories of prisoners being hung with piano wire were told to General Eisenhower by the survivors of the Ohrdruf sub-camp of Buchenwald when he visited the camp on April 12, 1945.

Gallows at the Ohrdruf sub-camp of Buchenwald

The photo above shows General Dwight D. Eisenhower viewing the gallows at Ohrdruf. Note that there is a short piece of something hanging from the gallows; I can’t tell if it is rope or wire. According to the survivors, prisoners were executed at Ohrdruf by being hung with piano wire, instead of rope.  An identical gallows was found at the Buchenwald main camp, but there were no claims that piano wire was used at the main camp.

Standing to the left of the general, and partially hidden by a pole, is Captain Alois Liethen, a German-American, who was General Eisenhower’s interpreter. The two men on Eisenhower’s right are survivors who are explaining the atrocities committed in the camp. The man on the far left, wearing a jacket and a scarf, is one of the survivors who served as a guide for General Eisenhower and his entourage. General Patton wrote in his memoirs that this guide was “killed by some of the inmates”  the very next day because the guide “was not a prisoner at all, but one of the executioners.”


  1. Dude, I have to wonder where you got your information. A large number of generals were in on the assassination attempt of Hitler. Who was the traitor to Germany, the man who led them into a war that killed 20 million or the men who tried to stop that man? And did you read the book Beck suggested or do you already know everything about everything?

    Comment by theendisneartheendisfaroff — April 23, 2016 @ 3:39 pm

  2. I looked up “racism” at Wikipedia and “furtherglory” is correct in stating the term wasn’t coined until the l930’s and when it was it wasn’t pejorative and meant the opposite of what it means today. The term “race hatred” is cited there as being coined by an Austrian economist and sociologist named Fredrick Hertz. Fredrick Hertz is the pseudonym Friedrich Otto Hertz who “fled” Austria for the UK “after he was attacked by the Nazi regime as a “Jew, Freemason and pacifist” for his publications on issues of race and nationality. Socio-economics as an academic discipline in the US was started by Amatai Etizoni the founder of Communitarianism. Like “Fredrick Hertz” the name “Amatai Etzioni” is the pseudonym of Warner Falk, an Israeli American with one of the most grandiose resumés I ever seen.

    Comment by who dares wings — July 31, 2013 @ 11:17 am

  3. […] you can read here.  I also wrote two previous posts about Dietrich Bonhoeffer, which you can read here and here.  Bonhoeffer was arrested because he was a traitor to his country, not because of his […]

    Pingback by Bill O’Reilly’s comments about Nazi Germany and religion | Scrapbookpages Blog — May 3, 2013 @ 10:23 am

  4. […] previously blogged about Dietrich Bonhoeffer here.  He was not a survivor of Buchenwald.  He was moved to another camp and hanged on April 9, 1945, […]

    Pingback by Two Catholic priests were crucified upside down at Buchenwald « Scrapbookpages Blog — April 18, 2012 @ 6:57 am

  5. Good God! How on earth can you possibly equate Obama with Hitler?!? LOL! Boy are YOU blind!!

    Many people in America oppose Obama, but as far as I know, there is no plan to assassinate him

    Comment by Aleta — August 13, 2011 @ 2:26 am

  6. My, my my, we are splitting hairs, aren’t we? How is an executed man not dead? Or is it that Beck did not call Bonhoeffer an executed traitor that has you in a lather? “My Country, right or wrong, my country” can be dangerous when people interpret or believe it to mean that they most go along with, honor, uphold unjust and/or immoral laws and actions. Citizens have the highest patriotic duty to speak out when their government enforces or enacts such laws, and even to defy those laws, as did Ghandi, Bonhoeffer and MLK Jr. That does not mean the government will not act, but we must still be willing to speak out and act out, to protest for the good of the country. What if the Germans who cheered Hitler had spoken out when he passed the first anti-Jewish laws? The first time Lebensunwertes Leben was acted upon? Bonhoeffer may have been a traitor to the Nazi regime, but he was a German patriot. He pushed back against the evil and corrupt National Socialist unjust, inhumane laws in accordance with the Laws of Heaven. Doing only what one is ordered by government without discernment, without a moral compass leads to millions dead and Europe in tatters. Hitler was a racist. Your claim that Hitler “wanted to unite the German people under the concept of “ein Folk, ein Reich, ein Fuehrer” is a solid definition of Hitler’s racism. How are Jewish persons born in Germany not Germans? How are they not citizens? Most German Jews were racially more pure than der Fuhrer, who was NOT German, and certainly NOT purely Aryan!!! How can you even BEGIN to justify Hitler’s calumny that Jews were working against the state? They were some of Germany’s most brilliant scientists, theologians, teachers! Furthermore, Christianity is not and never has been defined or limited by ANY race: “For you are neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female” (Galatians 3:28). Christians are called to be good, obedient, participatory citizens in so far as their duty as citizens of the state is in accord with their “citizenship” in the Kingdom of God.

    And, in case you missed it, Bonhoeffer the executed traitor is in good company: Jesus of Nazareth, Jew, Messiah, Christos, is likewise an executed traitor.

    Comment by Marie C — May 18, 2011 @ 5:07 am

    • Yes, I am in a lather because Glenn Beck said that Bonhoeffer “died” instead of saying that he was “executed as a traitor.” If Hitler was a “racist,” then the Jews were also “racist.” Hitler wanted a country for Germans and the Jews wanted a country for Jews. The Jews won World War II and they now have their own country, which is Israel. Germany is still occupied and it is now a country of immigrants, just like America.

      On March 24, 1933, front page headlines in The Daily Express of London read “Judea Declares War on Germany – Jews of All the World Unite – Boycott of German Goods – Mass Demonstrations.”

      This was the start of the war against Germany. Bonhoeffer was on the side of the Jews in the war against his country. If he didn’t like the laws in his country, he should have gone to another country. He could have stayed in America, or he could have gone to the Netherlands, the home country of his ancestors. He chose to become a traitor and participate in an assassination attempt.

      Many people in America oppose Obama, but as far as I know, there is no plan to assassinate him. I can never condone the assassination of the leader of a country, especially when most of the citizens support the leader, and only a small minority don’t agree with the policies of a country. There were around half a million Jews in Germany and 62 million non-Jews. I don’t think Bonhoeffer was a patriot because he supported the half million instead of the majority.

      Comment by furtherglory — May 18, 2011 @ 7:11 am

      • Augustine says (De Civ. Dei iv, 4): “If justice be disregarded, what is a king but a mighty robber? since what is a robber but a little king?”

        Comment by Byron Mullet — April 1, 2012 @ 2:52 pm

  7. If Dietrich Bonhoeffer was involved in any plot to kill or overthrow Hitler, he was a German patriot. He was only a traitor to the Nazi cause.
    Would you support Germany (right or wrong) if Hitler was in power?
    If Hitler wasn’t a racist as you say, you must certainly have a very unorthodox definition of racism. He was about as racist as anyone that ever lived.

    Comment by Bryant — March 10, 2011 @ 6:55 pm

    • Hitler was a “racist” in today’s terms, but the words racism and racist were not in common use in the 1930s and 1940s. I don’t think these words even existed at that time, either in America or in Germany. Jews are not a race; at most, Jews are an ethnic group and even then, Jews are of at least two different ethnic groups. The Jews are not all related to each other by blood.

      Hitler’s reason for wanting the Jews out of Germany was not because of their Jewish ancestry. Nazi Germany was a totalitarian state where the basic principle was that everyone should work for the good of all the people, not for the good of the individual. That was one of the 25 points of the Nazi political party. Hitler wanted the Jews out of Germany because the Jews had a history of working for their own interests and not for the interests of the country. The people who were in the plot to kill Hitler were all of the aristocratic upper class and they were working for their own interests, not the interests of all the Germany people. Bonhoeffer’s main motivation was that he objected to Hitler’s policy toward the Jews, but the other people involved in the plot were not motivated by the desire to save the Jews. The other plotters wanted a regime change. The plot was not just to kill Hitler; the plot was for the aristocrats to take over the government of Germany.

      Comment by furtherglory — March 11, 2011 @ 7:46 am

      • Hitler’s reason for wanting Jews out of Germany WAS because of their Jewish ancestry. The entire premise of sending them to the concentration camps and eliminating the Jewish population of Europe was to create a master Aryan race. Hitler’s excuse to the common German people of wanting the Jews out of Germany “because the Jews had a history of working for their own interests and not for the interests of the country” were just propoganda used to illicit fear in the German people and get them to stand behind him no matter what. He used the country’s current economic and political state of crisis due to the first World War to his advantage to gain power for his own racist motives. Bonhoeffer and other people of the resistance were not working for their own interests; they were working in the interest of the German people and the people of Europe that were being murdered just because of their faith and lineage. That you believe otherwise is a sad point to how ignorant the world is becoming of how the Holocaust and World War II actually played out. Whether the terms racist and racism were used in the 1930s and 40s are irrelevant; they are used now and therefore we describe Hitler as such.

        Comment by Chelsea — April 16, 2011 @ 11:31 pm

        • Another point I forgot in the last post — if Hitler was only forcing Jews out of Germany that would be one thing, still unacceptable but a different story nonetheless. The persecution of Jews did not in fact start in Germany; it started in Poland. Many German Jews went through the first year or two of the war without having any problems.

          Comment by Chelsea — April 16, 2011 @ 11:34 pm

  8. I still have a big problem believing in “hanged with piano wire” story.
    How was it established? Were there any witnesses?
    I suspect that those “impressionable: witnesses have never held the piano “wires”, or better. strings in their hands, otherwise that would have a better idea what they are talking about. The thin strings, which are used for upper octaves, would just cut the throat just under the weight of body alone.
    The thick ones would create another serious problem.
    How would you make a noose with a thick steel inflexible wire, which also have copper windings. It would require inhuman strength of hands to make the noose. The professional piano tuners are using special wrenches and they normally charge $100/hour or more.
    Not to mention, that the piano strings several times more expensive than a simple rope. And how about their length? The longest piano strings were made for Steinway & Sons D series concert grand pianos: 9 feet even. This is an American-made piano. The rest of the string produced, are under 7 feet.
    This type of execution would be very impractical, next to impossible.

    Comment by Gasan — March 4, 2011 @ 4:04 pm

    • I have a problem believing the piano wire story myself, but this story has been told many times. I have added an update to my post, regarding the piano wire story. This could be one of the “Nazi myths and legends.”

      Comment by furtherglory — March 5, 2011 @ 6:21 am

RSS feed for comments on this post.

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.

%d bloggers like this: