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Bonhoeffer's Prayer Brings Prisoner Peace

The made for TV film, Bonhoeffer, Agent of Grace, depicts the life and death of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a leader in the Confessing Church of Germany during the 1940s. Bonhoeffer opposed Hitler's government and was arrested and sentenced to death by the Nazi regime.

As Bonhoeffer lies in his darkened prison cell, he hears through the cement wall the weeping of a prisoner in the adjacent cell. Speaking through the wall, Bonhoeffer identifies himself as a pastor, assures the man that he is not alone, and asks if he would like to pray. The muffled reply comes back, "I don't believe in God."

When a German guard looks in and learns that Bonhoeffer is trying to pray with his neighbor, he responds, "Kitchner? It won't do any good. He's going to be shot any day now."

Undaunted, Bonhoeffer leans against the stark cell wall and calls out to the prisoner, "If you can hear me, put your hands on the wall as if we were touching. Mine are here too." No hands appear.

As the guard looks on through a peep hole, Bonhoeffer prays, "Lord, it's dark in me; in you is day. I am alone, but you will stay. I am afraid; you never cease. I am at war; in you is peace." Slowly we see a pair of hands reach up and touch the wall opposite of where Bonhoeffer's hands are.

As dawn breaks, a single rifle shot shatters the morning calm. The same German guard, now more somber and less cynical, appears at Bonhoeffer's cell. "I thought you might like to know. The boy from the next cell—he was very calm. It surprised everyone. He was executed this morning."

Elapsed time: The scene lasts a little under three and a half minutes, from 44:29 to 47:50.

Content: The film is not rated but does contain mature themes.

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