Bonhoeffer: Agent of Grace

1999 • TV Movie • Completed

Drama, Historical, Period

Television movie about the Lutheran pastor Dietrich Bonhoeffer who fought Nazi tyranny during World War II and was eventually hanged in 1945.<P>Lutheran minister Dietrich Bonhoeffer is in the United States in the 1930s exploring the spiritual vitality of the African-American church. Eschewing the safety of America, he returns to his native Germany. An outspoken critic of Hitler and the Nazis from the start, he rebels against church leaders complicit in the rise of the Third Reich. During this outspoken period, a church meeting is broken up by the Gestapo, under the leadership of Nazi judge Manfred Roeder. Bonhoeffer is thereafter forbidden to preach in public or publish his writings, and he will be closely observed by the Gestapo.<P>Germany's racial laws affect Bonhoeffer's family. His twin sister is married to a Jew. Bonhoeffer advises them to leave the country, as he is convinced Hitler will make the threats against Jews a reality. His fears are soon confirmed. As the situation in Germany becomes more oppressive, Bonhoeffer is persuaded to join the resistance. He goes to work for Abwehr, a Germany military intelligence agency, and serves as a courier for the resistance within the agency. On a visit to an old friend, Bonhoeffer renews an acquaintance with her granddaughter, Maria von Wedemeyer, and they eventually become engaged.<P>After the resistance's first failed assassination attempt on Hitler, the Gestapo initiates a wave of arrests that sweeps up Bonhoeffer. They have no concrete evidence against him, but Judge Roeder continues his suspicion of the pastor. Bonhoeffer endures countless interrogations and humiliations without giving the resistance away, and his faith is strongly put to the test. During his imprisonment, Bonhoeffer's fiancee, Maria, provides contact with the outside. Bonhoeffer's position becomes increasingly untenable as the Gestapo accumulates documents incriminating him. Ravaged by doubt, Bonhoeffer writes a number of practical texts on Christian living. Maria makes a final, desperate attempt to free her fiance, but Bonhoeffer rejects the chance to escape.

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