Bonhoeffer and Dohnanyi


The end was coming in different forms. On April 5, Hitler was shown more Zossen files; enraged anew, he ordered the liquidation of the Canaris group, and in the chaos of impending defeat the Nazis indulged in a final spasm of murder. Tietze, told to transfer Dohnanyi back to Sachsenhausen, arranged for Christine to see her husband one last time, and then sedated Hans heavily. The next day, when his “trial” took place, Hans was still drugged and only intermittently conscious, thus spared the offense of having to participate in this travesty of justice with its foreordained verdict and sentence. On April 9 he was carried on a stretcher to the place of his execution and hanged. Buchenwald was where Dietrich and other Gestapo prisoners had been taken. On April 3, as the guards heard the rumble of nearby American cannons, some of them took away a group of prisoners and drove them south to the concentration camp at Flossenbürg, where the Gestapo and SS had orders to obey and work to do no matter how close the enemy, how close their own defeat. Survivors of the macabre journey remembered Bonhoeffer’s calm, reassuring presence throughout.

more from Elisabeth Sifton and Fritz Stern at the NYRB here.