A large portion of our understanding of scripture was formed in this picturesque setting. Be challenged by the faith and courage of our church fathers on this wonderful tour vacation. Dietrich Bonhoeffer, pastor, author and one of the "Heroes of Conscience" in the fight against Hitler - plus Martin Luther, Protestant Reformer, monk, teacher, family man and Germany's greatest theologian and Biblical scholar. See where both these men lived and ministered.
Day 1: Depart USA
Overnight flight to Berlin, Germany.
Day 2: Arrival in Berlin
On arrival in Berlin, we will begin our tour with a visit to Kurfürstendamm Boulevard with plenty of shops and cafés and the Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church which was destroyed during WWII and only partly reconstructed afterwards. We'll then travel past the Brandenburg Gate and the new government buildings to the eastern part of the city, along the boulevard Unter den Linden which has some of the most interesting historic buildings in Berlin, like the Zeughaus, National Opera, and the Berlin Dom. The Gendarmen-Markt with its two cathedrals and the concert building is one of the most picturesque places in the city. Tonight we will celebrate our arrival with a welcome dinner at a local restaurant. We will stay in the Hotel Dietrich Bonhoeffer in Berlin for 2 nights.
Day 3: Berlin
Today's city tour will pay special attention to German church history, the resistance to the Nazis, and the key Bonhoeffer sites. The tour ends at the Bonhoeffer House, built in 1935 for Dietrich Bonhoeffer's parents. Hidden here, the manuscript of Bonhoeffer’s analysis of the German resistance survived the war. On April 5, 1943, Dietrich Bonhoeffer was arrested in this building, which now houses an exhibition devoted to his works. After a break for lunch, we'll visit sites related to the German resistance to Hitler plot of July 20, 1944.
Day 4: Wroclaw (Poland)
We will begin the day with a sobering visit to the "Memorial for the murdered Jews of Europe", also known as the "Holocaust Memorial" - a huge site between the Brandenburger Tor and Potsdamer Platz with 2,751 concrete pillars. Next we will visit the Jewish Museum, including the stunning addition by American architect Daniel Libeskind. We will gain insight into Jewish history in Berlin, including a view of Jewish life in the years leading up to the First World War. This afternoon we will travel on to Bonhoeffer’s home town of Wroclaw in Poland, where we'll stay in the Scandic Hotel or similar for 3 nights.
Day 5: Wroclaw
We'll enjoy the medieval beauty of the Rynek (market square) on our first full day in Poland. The square and many of the streets around it were designed by city planners in 1241. It was then, and remains till this day, one of the largest squares of its kind in Europe. Its centre is dominated by the Gothic Town Hall, one of the most precious historical monuments in Poland, and a variety of buildings that replaced the original trading stalls. Also visit the famous Aula Leopoldina. A walk through the lovely and peaceful part of town known as Ostrow Tumski leads us to an area which is the centre of religious life. We'll visit the Gothic Church of the Blessed Virgin on the Sand and continue to the Church of the Holy Cross and to the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist. The elaborate portal of the elegant twin-spired Gothic church is one of the most valuable medieval artifacts in Wroclaw. The Cathedral suffered massive damage in WWII, with traces of bullet holes still visible, and has been meticulously rebuilt since. The guided tour includes a walk through the “District of Mutual Respect,” a symbol of tolerance and multi denomination, which houses a protestant, catholic, and polish orthodox church, as well as a synagogue. A highlight will be a visit to the house where Dietrich Bonhoeffer was born. Today it is a small pension with a garden, where we can have a coffee. We'll meet up with a member of the local Bonhoeffer-Society, who will stay with the group during the afternoon and the following day. We'll take a walk to the Old Town and visit the Bonhoeffer-Memorial near St. Elizabeth's Church.
Day 6: Swidnica
After breakfast we'll visit the Jewish Cemetery. This is a beautiful and peaceful place where we can learn about a part of Wroclaw's history that has all but disappeared. With over 1,200 gravestones and tombs it is among the best-preserved Jewish cemeteries in Poland. We'll then take an excursion to Krzyzowa (German name is Kreisau) where between 1942/43 the "Kreisau Circle", a group of Germans, based at the Kreisau estate of Helmuth James Graf von Moltke, tried to envision an alternative to Nazism. The von Moltke family estate at Kreisau was, and still is, the symbolic centre for this vision of a new democratic and tolerant Germany. The estate, initially in eastern Germany, now Poland, is the headquarters of The Kreisau Foundation, devoted to the teaching of democratic ideals and tolerance. The visit is followed by a lecture and discussion with experts. In the afternoon we will continue on to Swidnica and visit the Church of Peace (UNESCO list of World Heritage Sites). It was built in Silesia in the mid-17th century and bears testimony to the quest for religious freedom. We'll return to Wroclaw.
Day 7: Wroclaw, Dresden, Leipzig
We'll set off early this morning for Leipzig. On route we'll visit Dresden, centre of the Baroque movement. Dresden's highlights include the magnificent palatial buildings around the Theaterplatz, the newly rebuilt Frauenkirche, the Kreuzkirche, and the Brühl Terraces, and the many art treasures at the state museums. Today, Dresden offers a unique blend of stunning architecture, world-famous art collections and great tradition in both music, and fine art. We'll also enjoy the great natural beauty of the countryside along the Elbe River, as well as view magnificent castles and villas.We'll spend the rest of the tour in the Hotel Ramada City Center or similar in Leipzig.
Day 8: Eisleben, Leipzig
In Leipzig we'll visit St. Nicholas’ Church, the home of the faithful “Pray for Peace” Christians who were a powerful force in transforming Germany’s East and West. We will also tour St. Thomas Church, where Luther preached and introduced the ideas for the Reformation to the people, and Johann Sebastian Bach performed and directed the world famous St. Thomas Boys Choir. In the afternoon we'll take an excursion to Eisleben. Here we will see the houses where Luther was born in 1483 and where he died in 1546. Another stop on the tour is St. Peter’s Church where Luther was baptized, and St. Andrews Church where he preached his last four sermons and where his body was laid in state. We'll return to Leipzig and dine in the restaurant of our choice.
Day 9: Erfurt, Naumburg, Leipzig
When we arrive in Medieval Erfurt, we’ll tour St. Mary's Cathedral, where Luther was ordained. We’ll also tour the Augustinian Monastery and Luther Exhibition, where we will see what a cell from Luther's time would have looked like. On our return to Leipzig we will pass through the northern-most German wine area along the Saale and Unstrut Rivers and visit Naumburg with its famous Dom.
Day 10: Torgau, Wittenberg, Leipzig
The tour continues - off the beaten track - to the small town of Torgau. During the reformation, the town council closed all of the cloisters in 1523. Martin Luther’s wife, Katharina von Bora, is buried in St. Mary’s Church. Johann Walter, Luther’s musical advisor and close friend, was the cantor at this church. He helped put together a new liturgy and composed the music for many Lutheran hymns. We'll be treated to an organ demonstration in the Castle Church in Torgau. In the afternoon we'll travel on to Lutherstadt Wittenberg. Luther made Wittenberg the centre of intellectual and spiritual life in Europe. We'll visit the inspiring Castle Church where Luther posted his 95 Theses. Although the original door was destroyed, we can see the beautiful replica made out of bronze. The "Stadt Kirche" is also very impressive and contains the altar with themes from the reformation painted by Lucas Cranach. Next we tour the Lutherhalle (Luther House) Museum, where Luther lived for 35 years. It was here that he had his pivotal "Tower Experience" while reading Romans 1:17 Today it houses the largest collection of Reformation artifacts in the world. We will end the tour with a farewell dinner in Leipzig.
Day 11: Return
We transfer to the airport early this morning for our flight home.