Closing a Seminary, 1937

Sometimes Religious Freedom can just be removed by a bureaucrat.

Finkenwalde Seminary

It may be noticed that the underground seminary established by Deitrich Bonhoeffer trained ministers for the Confessing Church while flying a Nazi flag in front of its school. Everything taught there opposed the Nazis but the Nazis were allowed this victory over them before they closed the school permanently and arrested its faculty and students. The flag out front had little to do with the resistance within.

Bonhoeffer himself was arrested and hung by the Nazis at age 39.

The letter below is from the SS and German Police instructing the Gestapo to close the school.

From the Reichsführer SS and Chief of the German Police to the Office of the Secret State Police (Gestapo)

Berlin, August 29, 1937

The persistent actions of the bodies of the so-called Confessing Church in training and examining young theologians in their own organizations, in defiance of the institutions set up by the state, constitutes a deliberate violation of the Fifth Decree for the Implementation of the Law for the Protection of the German Evangelical Church of December 2, 1935 (Legal Code of the German Evangelical p 315 Church; page 130 [Reich Legal Gazette I, page 1370]) and is inclined to undermine both the authority and the welfare of the state.

By agreement with the Reich and Prussian minister of science, training, and public education and with the Reich and Prussian minister of church affairs, I hereby direct:
In accordance with § 1 of the decree of the Reich president for the Protection of the People and State of February 28, 1933 (Reich Legal Gazette I, page 83), the substitute seminaries, study communities, and offices of instruction, students, and examination established by the so-called Confessing Church are to be dissolved, and all theological courses and retreats conducted by them forbidden.

Violations of this decree are to be prosecuted according to § 4 of the aforementioned law. In equivocal cases, my decision is to be secured.

With authorization: Heydrich
Authorized: [signature] Chancellery Employee

Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Theological Education at Finkenwalde: 1935–1937, ed. Victoria J. Barnett and Barbara Wojhoski, trans. Douglas W. Stott, vol. 14, Dietrich Bonhoeffer Works (Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press, 2013), 314–315.

"Of making many books there is no end . . ." Ecclesiastes 12:12

Van Til and Jaspers

In the first place we would note the excited interest in matters educational. The number of books on education is legion. Man throws all his hopes on the education of the next generation. He is conscious of the fact that the present generation is in a hopeless condition. “A generation which has no confidence in itself occupies itself with education, as though here again something could come into being from nothing.”

Cornelius Van Til and Eric H. Sigward, Unpublished Manuscripts of Cornelius Van Til, Electronic ed. (Labels Army Company: New York, 1997). In quotations: Karl Jaspers, Karl Jaspers, Die geistige Situation der Zeit (The Intellectual Situation of Our Time) (Berlin: W. de Gruyter, 1932), p. 94 (trans. D. E. J.)

“Of making many books there is no end . . .” Ecclesiastes 12:12

Van Til and Jaspers

In the first place we would note the excited interest in matters educational. The number of books on education is legion. Man throws all his hopes on the education of the next generation. He is conscious of the fact that the present generation is in a hopeless condition. “A generation which has no confidence in itself occupies itself with education, as though here again something could come into being from nothing.”

Cornelius Van Til and Eric H. Sigward, Unpublished Manuscripts of Cornelius Van Til, Electronic ed. (Labels Army Company: New York, 1997). In quotations: Karl Jaspers, Karl Jaspers, Die geistige Situation der Zeit (The Intellectual Situation of Our Time) (Berlin: W. de Gruyter, 1932), p. 94 (trans. D. E. J.)