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The White Rose - Resisting the Nazis in Germany
The White Rose was a German Nazi resistance group that was active in 1942-1943. It was composed mainly of college students attending the University of Munich. The students (and one teacher) were united by their disgust for Nazi policies. The White Rose anonymously distributed several leaflets criticizing Hitler’s regime and encouraging German citizens to rise up against the Nazis. The members of the group were eventually arrested by the Gestapo, and many were executed. Their final leaflet was smuggled to Britain. Millions of copies of it were dropped into German cities by Allied airplanes. Although they are now national heroes in Germany, The White Rose are relatively little known compared to many other aspects of World War II. This article gives a brief overview of the group and provides links for more information.
The following people were the main members of the group. All six were eventually executed for their involvement. Many other members avoided execution but received jail time.
Sophie Scholl – The most famous member of the group, Sophie was not an original member of the White Rose, but joined after learning of their activities. Her status as a woman helped her go undetected by the SS and Gestapo. After being captured, she was executed at the age of 21 in February 1943. Today, there are statues and postage stamps bearing her likeness in Germany.
Hans Scholl – Hans was Sophie’s brother and one of the original members of the group. He was the co-author of the leaflets that the group distributed. Hans was a former member of the Hitler Youth before becoming disillusioned. He initially kept his activities secret from Sophie because he did not want to endanger her. Like his sister, he was captured and executed in February 1943.
Christopher Probst – One of the later members to join the group, Probst was a university medical student. He was married and had three children. He tried to stay in the shadows and work behind the scenes, but a draft of a leaflet he had written was found on Hans Scholl when Scholl was captured. Probst was arrested shortly after the Scholls and was executed on the same day.
Alex Schmorell – A friend of Han’s and a founding member of the group, Schmorell helped distribute the group’s leaflets. He was executed in July 1943.
Kurt Huber – Huber was a college philosophy professor at the University of Munich. He was an important adviser to the Scholls. Huber was also executed in July 1943.
Willi Graf – A university medical student, Graf became friends with the Scholls and became another member of the White Rose himself. He was executed in October 1943.
These are excerpts from the White Rose’s leaflets that they distributed, translated into English:
“It is certain that today every honest German is ashamed of his government. Who among us has any conception of the dimensions of shame that will befall us and our children when one day the veil has fallen from our eyes and the most horrible of crimes — crimes that infinitely outdistance every human measure — reach the light of day?”
“We will not be silent. We are your guilty conscience. The White Rose will not leave you in peace!”
“Every word that comes from Hitler's mouth is a lie. When he says peace, he means war, and when he blasphemously uses the name of the Almighty, he means the power of evil, the fallen angel, Satan. His mouth is the foul-smelling maw of Hell, and his might is at bottom accursed.”
“Although we know that the National Socialist power must be broken by military means, we seek the revival of the deeply wounded German spirit. For the sake of future generations, an example must be set after the war, so that no one will ever have the slightest desire to try anything like this ever again.”
Here are some quotes from members of the White Rose (translated from German, of course):
“The real damage is done by those millions who want to "survive." The honest men who just want to be left in peace. Those who don't want their little lives disturbed by anything bigger than themselves. Those with no sides and no causes.” – Sophie Scholl
“An end in terror is preferable to terror without end.” – Sophie Scholl
“Hitler and his regime must fall so that Germany may live.” – Christopher Probst
“I knew what I took upon myself and I was prepared to lose my life by so doing.” – Hans Scholl
“Such a fine, sunny day, and I have to go, but what does my death matter, if through us thousands of people are awakened and stirred to action?” – Sophie Scholl