On 9 April 1945, only weeks before the end of the war in Europe, Dietrich Bonhoeffer was executed on the direct orders of Adolf Hitler, already hiding in his bunker. The liberators arrived just 11 days later.
His crime? He helped a group of Jews to escape from Nazi Germany to Switzerland but much worse, in Hitler's eyes, he was also implicated in the July 1944 plot to kill the Nazi leader.
Coming from a well-heeled family in Breslau, Poland, Bonhoeffer was ordained a pastor in 1931 and was controversial from the start, seeking to convert Jews to Christianity. On the coming to power of the Nazis in 1933, the Pretestant Church split and Bonhoeffer and Martin Niemöller created the Confessing Church.
Bonhoeffer gave a radio talk which focused on the difference between a leader ("Führer") and a mis-leader ("Verführer") and was was cut-off in mid-sentence. Clearly, he was now a marked man and the Confessing Church was outlawed in 1937 although he himself became an officer in military intelligence, the Abwehr.
He also became a courier and diplomat to the British government on behalf of the resistance and lived for a time at Ettal, a Benedictine monastery outside Munich, where he worked on his book, Ethics, from 1940 until his arrest in 1943. In Ethics, he wrestles with the essential problem: how can a Christian, essentially a pacifist, justify murder?
His argument can be summarised thus: The demand for responsible action is one that no Christian can ignore. Christians are, therefore, faced with a dilemma: when assaulted by evil, they must oppose it through direct action. They have no other option. Any failure to act is simply to condone evil.
Today Bonhoeffer is honoured at Westminster Abbey in London as one of ten 20th Century martyrs, including Martin Luther King Jr and the murdered Archbishop of San Salvador, Oscar Romero, whose statues now grace the West Front of the famous abbey.
The problem for Bonhoeffer's legacy is that his example is used by everyone from rabid feminists to animal action to justify violence. How do you see the man and his legacy?