Friday, April 19, 2013

Bonhoeffer Graphic Novel by Moritz Stetter

Moritz Stetter has created a remarkable graphic novel that takes as its centerpiece Dietrich Bonhoeffer's time in the Tegel prison.  It integrates most of Bonhoeffer's life but focuses mainly on his involvement in the conspiracy to assassinate Hitler.

Click on any image to enlarge!

It depicts with brevity and stark black and white drawings the historical events as well as Bonhoeffer's own actions and thoughts.

It incorporates his writings, speeches, and conversations, which include a radio address given during the burning of the Reichstag and the turbulent years of the rise of the National Socialists (above).

But there are also lovely depictions of conversations as well as the transformation of Christianity under National Socialism.  The aryan Christ is striking. (below).

The novel moves back and forth between past events but uses the arrest and imprisonment as the backbone of the novel.

Stetter is especially talented in demonstrating and inviting the reader to experience the anxiety and conflicts that attended Bonhoeffer's decisions to resist during the Kirchenkampf.

But no better pages, I think, are worth considering than those that involve Stetter's placing Bonhoeffer's prison poetry in juxtaposition with news of dead friends, relatives, pastors, seminarians:

He opens the book with Bonhoeffer's poem, "Who am I?"

And near the conclusion, other poetry fragments and memories set against an air raid that struck the Tegel prison:

All in all, I think this is a remarkable graphic novel that deserves translation into English and should be read widely since it so brilliantly puts Bonhoeffer's life and theology in a slim and striking form.

Stetter has also published a Luther graphic novel that promises to be similarly excellent.

Gregory Walter, Religion Department, St. Olaf College

Moritz Stetter, Bonhoeffer (Gutersloher Verlagshaus, 2010)

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