Sunday, 11 January 2009

Digitalising Bonhoeffer's papers

Madeline Chambers has written an interesting piece for Faith World about an appeal for funds to digitalise the Paper's of Dietrich Bonheoffer, a prominent member of the Confessing Church in Nazi Germany.

The Berlin state library says it needs 40,000 euros to save the documents which it counts as one of its most prized collections. It wants to put about 6,200 pages of his work on the Internet to make them more widely available.

The papers include the farewell letter Bonhoeffer wrote to his parents before his execution in a concentration camp in 1945, just days before the end of World War Two, for opposing Hitler. He was 39.

Bonhoeffer's legacy is fascinating. His life story speaks deeply to people around the world even today. Here was a Christian not only committed to and interested in theology but also fully engaged in a personal very costly way with the society of his time and place. The struggle with issues of pacifism and how far one can go ethically to combat evil are still live ones for our own time.

There's also a translation interest. For more than a decade a group of translator and scholars have been working on a new English translation of his complete works and much of this has now been published.

Meanwhile I must also remember to mention this project to my colleagues at the WCC library where the archives also house a few letters from Bonhoeffer.