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Barth Challenges Bonhoeffer to Return to Germany

In 1933, Karl Barth wrote his discouraged colleague Dietrich Bonhoeffer. Disgusted with the German Christian response to Hitler, Bonhoeffer had fled Germany to pastor a German-speaking parish in England:

What is all this about "going away," and "quietness of pastoral work," etc., at a moment when you are wanted in Germany? You, who know as well as I do that the opposition in Berlin and the opposition of the church in Germany as a whole stands inwardly on such weak feet!… Why aren't you always there where so much could depend on there being a couple of game people on the watch at every occasion, great or small, and trying to save what there is to be saved?…
I think that I can see from your letter that you, like all of us—yes, all of us!—are suffering under the quite common difficulty of taking "certain steps" in the present chaos. But should it not dawn on you that there is no reason for withdrawing from this chaos, that we are rather required in and with our uncertainty, even if we should stumble or go wrong 10 times or a hundred times, to do our bit?…
One simply cannot become weary now. Still less can one go to England! What in all the world would you want to do there?… You must now leave go of all these intellectual flourishes and special considerations, however interesting they may be, and think of only one thing, that you are a German, that the house of your church is on fire, that you know enough to be able to help and that you must return to your post by the next ship.

Bonhoeffer returned to Germany 16 months later, after Barth had been exiled to Switzerland.

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