Monday, September 12, 2011

Bonhoeffer- House

A few weeks ago, Lisa and I had the opportunity to visit the Bonhoeffer-House here in Berlin. This is actually Dietrich Bonhoeffer's parent's retirement house in Berlin, but Dietrich spent a good amount of time writing here and was arrested by the Gestapo here in 1943.

Bonhoeffer was part of the Confessing Church in Germany, which opposed Nazism in Germany and was in direct contrast to the national churches' allegiance to Hitler.

Both Lisa and I had known about Bonhoeffer and I had read his book Life Together, about community, while at Word Made Flesh. We were delighted that, upon making an appointment, we could view the house. We were able to spend 1.5 hours with a volunteer guide as he told us about the history of the house and about Bonhoeffer.

Much of the furniture in the house are reproductions due to renovations and lending the collections to other museums/memorial centers/libraries. However, the bookshelves, writing desk, and piano in his study are original. His manuscript After Ten Years was hidden in these rafters and was not found until after the war.

A historical timeline of the Bonhoeffer-House located in the front lobby:

We truly enjoyed paying respect to such a celebrated theologian, one who wrestled with nonviolence, but came to another conclusion in the midst of the evil of Hitler. We made a small donation at the end and also purchased a few pamphlets.

A nearby old train station, still in use, that Lisa and I imagined that Bonhoeffer would take frequently as he made his way to various Christian fellowships.

Also, Lisa and I happened upon a luxury condo building in west Germany that used to be The Imperial War Court. This is where Bonhoeffer was indicted and from where he was sent to prison. He was arrested and indicted because of a power struggle between the Abwehr (military intelligence) and the SS; his participation in the failed plot against Hitler was not found out until early April 1945.

A picture in the house shows the Flossenbürg concentration camp where Bonhoeffer was taken, tried, and executed in less than 24 hours. He was hanged less than 23 days before the Nazi's surrendered.

Lisa and I hope to visit more memorials for Dietrich Bonhoeffer and read more of his writing. For more information about Dietrich Bonhoeffer's life, here is the Wikipedia entry:

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Berlin Life

I have settled in more to life in Berlin. I love being here. Lisa and I seem to be out-and-about a lot of the time as we enjoy the remaining days of summer.

Some things we've been enjoying recently include:
1) Bicycles: Berlin has been great (or better than my experience in the US) about creating bike lanes, bike paths, bike parking, and bike rentals for its residents. The mayor of Berlin, also, in his welcome letter to new residents encourages people to bike and take public transit. Bike Rental Program through Deutsche Bahn, the transit rail company here in Berlin:

At the Prater Biergarten....along with plenty of space to park bicycles. We come to the Biergarten for Rostbratwurst and of course, Bier.

2) Green Space:
There seems to be a concerted effort to create green space in the midst of city life here in Berlin. It is actually difficult for us to walk more than a few blocks without finding a park...either a playground, park, or sports field. I especially like that there are ping pong tables throughout the city and trampolines and chess tables can be found intermittently.

During our weekly small group, we have often sat by riversides while reading together:

At a park near my school...

There are ping pong tables everywhere around the city and Lisa and I have already purchased paddles and played some games.

Trampolines built into the pavement in a park...

Overlooking the Park:

3) Culture:
Saturdays Lisa and I have visited several museums including the DDR Museum, the Pergamon Museum, and Dietrich Bonhoeffer's house (actually his parents' retirement house but where Bonhoeffer would visit frequently and wrote his incomplete Ethics...more on that visit in a later post).

Pictures from the Pergamon Museum holding The Ishtar Gate, the Pergamon Altar, among other antiquities from Babylon, Greece, Rome, and other ancient civilizations.

4) Church...with a strong sense of history
Lisa and I have recently attended a Lutheran church in the neighborhood. The pastor preaches Jesus, there is liturgy and an observance of the liturgical calendar, and a connection with other believers, past and present; it feels comforting to sing hymns that were written in the 16th, 17th, and 18th century and that Christians have been singing for hundreds of years.

5) We never know what we'll come across walking or biking around the city...