This week in the War, 2–8 April 1945: Hitler settles scores with the Abwehr

20th century martyrs, Westminster Abbey, left to right: Mother Elizabeth of Russia, Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., Archbishop Oscar Romero, Pastor Dietrich Bonhoeffer [Author: T. Taylor, GNU Creative Commons Share Alike 2.5 Generic]

This week in the war, on 8 April (some say 9 April) 1945, Hans von Dohnanyi was hanged at Sachsenhausen concentration camp.

On the following day, 9 April 1945, Admiral Wilhelm Canaris, Major General Hans Oster, and Lutheran pastor, Dietrich Bonhoeffer were hanged at Flossenbürg concentration camp.

Hans von Dohnanyi, the son of a Hungarian composer and his pianist wife, had opposed the Nazis since the 1930s. During World War II, he served in the Abwehr, the German military intelligence service, and was involved in the unsuccessful plot to smuggle a bomb onto Hitler’s plane, which was returning from Smolensk.

Admiral Wilhelm Canaris headed the Abwehr, hated the Nazis, and secretly aided the Allied course throughout the war. He is thought to have provided behind-the-scenes support for the July bomb plot against Hitler.

Hans Oster belonged to the Abwehr and had conspired against Hitler even prior to the beginning of the war.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer was a pastor and theologian and was fiercely anti-Nazi. His writings were banned by the Nazis and he was eventually forbidden to speak. He was recruited into the Abwehr (by von Dohnanyi) and, as a member of the German resistance movement, he was party to various plots against the regime.

“No man in the whole world can change the truth. One can only look for the truth, find it and serve it. The truth is in all places.” — Dietrich Bonhoeffer.

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