It’s perhaps understandable why Squadron Leader Hugh Falconer, as a British prisoner of war, would initially have a low opinion of his German captors. Not only had their country plunged first Europe and then the whole world into war, but the conditions he faced during his incarceration were also atrocious. However, despite his mistreatment at the hands of the SS and Gestapo, Falconer was to qualify his early antipathy toward the population of his jailers’ country as a whole. “I was subsequently to meet and get to know many Germans of great dignity, integrity and courage, whose conduct and general behaviour were beyond praise.” (Falconer, 2018, p. 22)
One of the Germans Falconer met and got to know was Dietrich Bonhoeffer, who, “from the time war broke out, worked continuously and steadfastly to bring down the Nazi regime. [He] did this, not with the intermittent bravery of soldiers in action, but with the cold courage which faces death day by day, hour by hour, month by month and year by year.” (Falconer, 2018, p. 192)
As both a dissident pastor and member of the resistance in Nazi Germany, Bonhoeffer did indeed exhibit a form of dauntlessness which might not have been linked with guns and bombs, but which did go above and beyond the call of duty of any reasonable citizen, regardless of which nation they happened to belong to.
Falconer, H. M. (2018). The Gestapo’s Most Improbable Hostage
Photo by the author – Memorial, Flossenbürg concentration camp.