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Otto Dibelius

1880-1967. Bishop of the Berlin- Brandenburg Church. Son of a civil servant, he studied theology at Wittenberg, became a pastor of the Reformed Church, and for some years ministered to what he called “quite unpretentious congregations.” He came to prominence in 1933 when he was removed from his post as Lutheran superintendent in Berlin on refusal to recognize the church overseer appointed by Adolf Hitler. In 1934 he was a strong supporter of the Barmen Declaration* that asserted the primacy of Christ and opposed nationalization of the churches. Three times he was arrested by the National Socialist authorities, and though acquitted was forbidden to speak or publish. At the close of World War II he became bishop of a Berlin divided between East and West, a division later symbolized by the notorious Wall, and was instrumental in uniting several Protestant bodies into the German Evangelical Church. He was as fearless in resisting Communist demands as he had been under the Nazis; nevertheless, his resignation in 1961 was not accepted because East and West could not agree on a successor. A staunch supporter of the ecumenical movement, he had attended the 1910 Edinburgh Conference* and later became a president of the World Council of Churches (1954-61). Shortly before his death he participated in the 1966 Berlin World Congress on Evangelism.

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