The Nazis Persecuted Him. The Soviets Killed Him. Today He’s Barely Known.

ChristianityToday.com | 6/21/2019 | Staff
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Whenever I teach the history of 20th-century Europe, I incorporate stories from Christians who resisted the evils of totalitarianism. That list always includes martyred anti-Nazis like the theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer and the university student Sophie Scholl. But thanks to theologian James R. Edwards, this fall I can add one more name to that cloud of witnesses: the German Lutheran Ernst Lohmeyer, who stood fast against Nazism and survived fighting in two world wars, only to be executed by Soviet authorities in 1946.

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Lohmeyer - Commentary - Gospel - Mark - School

Having first encountered Lohmeyer’s commentary on the Gospel of Mark in graduate school, Edwards’s interest was kindled on a 1979 visit to Greifswald, East Germany. A local pastor told him that “we cannot mention the name of Ernst Lohmeyer” in the city whose university Lohmeyer served as theology professor and president. As he began a decades-long research project, Edwards “joined the small company of people dedicated to remembering, recovering, and recording the life of Ernst Lohmeyer.”

His labors have resulted in a new biography, Between the Swastika & the Sickle: The Life, Disappearance, & Execution of Ernst Lohmeyer. I hope it finds an audience among many Christian readers, for whom Lohmeyer’s life should serve as both an inspiring and cautionary tale.

Story - Turn - Century - Home - Lutheran

The story begins at the turn of the 20th century, in the home of a Lutheran pastor whose fourth son followed him into the clergy. Young Ernst concluded his 1912 ordination sermon with Jesus’ admonition that the “truth will set you free” (John 8:32). The liberating power of truth became a recurring theme in his life, forming him, as Edwards writes, “to follow a unique course in life as a scholar, leader, and witness.”

Though he continued to serve the church throughout his life, Lohmeyer found his primary calling as a...
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