|This article includes a list of references or external links, but its sources remain unclear because it has insufficient inline citations. Please help to improve this article by introducing more precise citations where appropriate. (June 2010)|
The White Rose (German: die Weie Rose) was a non-violent/intellectual resistance group in Nazi Germany, consisting of students from the University of Munich and their philosophy professor. The group became known for an anonymous leaflet campaign, lasting from June 1942 until February 1943, that called for active opposition to dictator Adolf Hitler's regime.
The six core members of the group were arrested by the Gestapo (German secret police) and they were executed by decapitation in 1943. The text of their sixth leaflet was smuggled by Helmuth James Graf von Moltke out of Germany through Scandinavia to the United Kingdom, and in July 1943 copies of it were dropped over Germany by Allied planes, retitled "The Manifesto of the Students of Munich."
Today, the members of the White Rose are honored in Germany amongst its greatest heroes, since they opposed the Third Reich in the face of almost certain death.
The core of the White Rose comprised students from the University of Munich – Hans Scholl, Sophie Scholl, Alex Schmorell, Willi Graf, Christoph Probst, Traute Lafrenz, Katharina Schueddekopf, Lieselotte (Lilo) Berndl, Jurgen Wittenstein, Marie-Luise Jahn and Falk Harnack. Most were in their early twenties. A professor of philosophy and musicology, Kurt Huber, also associated with their cause. Additionally, Wilhelm Geyer, Manfred Eickemeyer, Josef Soehngen, and Harald Dohrn participated in their debates. Geyer taught Alexander Schmorell how to make the tin templates used in the graffiti campaign. Eugen Grimminger of Stuttgart funded their operations. Grimminger's secretary Tilly Hahn contributed her own funds to the cause, and acted as go-between between Grimminger and the group in Munich. She frequently carried supplies such as envelopes, paper, and an additional duplicating machine from Stuttgart to Munich.
Between June 1942 and February 1943, they prepared and distributed six leaflets, in which they called for the active opposition of the German people to Nazi oppression and tyranny. Huber wrote the final leaflet. A draft of a seventh leaflet, designed by Christoph Probst, was found in the possession of Hans Scholl at the time of his arrest by the Gestapo. While Sophie Scholl hid incriminating evidence on her person before being taken into custody, Hans did not do the same with Probst's leaflet draft or cigarette coupons given to him by Geyer, an act that cost Probst his life and nearly undid Geyer.
The White Rose was influenced by the German Youth Movement, of which Christoph Probst was a member. Hans Scholl was a member of the Hitler Youth until 1937, and Sophie was a member of the Bund Deutscher Mdel. Membership of both groups was compulsory for young Germans, although many - such as Willi Graf, Otl Aicher, and Heinz Brenner - never joined. The ideas of Deutsche Jungenschaft vom 1.11.1929 (dj 1.11.) had strong influence on Hans Scholl and his colleagues. d.j.1.11 was a youth group of the German Youth Movement, founded by Eberhard Koebel in 1929. Willi Graf was a member of Neudeutschland, a Catholic youth association, and the Grauer Orden.
The group was motivated by ethical and moral considerations. They came from various religious backgrounds. Willi and Katharina were devout Catholics. The Scholls, Lilo, and Falk were just as devoutly Lutheran. Traute adhered to the concepts of anthroposophy, while Eugen Grimminger considered himself Buddhist. Christoph Probst was baptized a Catholic shortly before his execution. Earlier he had followed his father's theistic beliefs.
Some had witnessed atrocities of the war on the battlefield and against the civilian population in the East. Willi Graf saw the Warsaw and Lodz Ghettos, and could not get the images of brutality out of his mind. By February 1943, the young friends sensed the reversal of fortune that the Wehrmacht suffered at Stalingrad would eventually lead to Germany's defeat. They rejected fascism and militarism and believed in a federated Europe that adhered to principles of tolerance and justice.
In 1941 Hans Scholl read a copy of a sermon by an outspoken critic of the Nazi regime, Bishop August von Galen, decrying the euthanasia policies (extended that same year to the concentration camps) which the Nazis maintained would protect the European gene pool. Horrified by the Nazi policies, Sophie obtained permission to reprint the sermon and distribute it at the University of Munich as the group's first leaflet prior to their formal organization.
Under Gestapo interrogation, Hans Scholl gave several explanations for the origin of the name "The White Rose," and suggested he may have chosen it while he was under the emotional influence of an obscure 19th century poem with the same name by German poet Clemens Brentano. Most scholars, as well as the German public, have taken this answer at face value. Earlier, before these Gestapo transcripts surfaced, Annette Dumbach and Jud Newborn speculated briefly that the origin might have come from a German novel Die Weie Rose- The White Rose, published in Berlin in 1929 and written by B. Traven, the German author of The Treasure of the Sierra Madre. Dumbach and Newborn said there was a chance that Hans Scholl and Alex Schmorell had read this. They also wrote that the symbol of the white rose was intended to represent purity and innocence in the face of evil.
In February 2006, however, Dr. Jud Newborn authored an essay entitled, "Solving Mysteries: The Secret of 'The White Rose'," originally intended as an Afterword to his co-authored book, In this essay he argues that Hans Scholl's response to the Gestapo was intentionally misleading in order to protect Josef Soenghen, the anti-Nazi bookseller who had provided the White Rose members with a safe meeting place for the exchange of information and to receive occasional financial contributions. Soenghen kept a stash of banned books hidden in his store. Dr. Newborn also looked into the content of B. Traven's The White Rose, arguing that the novel, banned by the Nazis in 1933, provided evidence of origin of the group's name.
In the same essay, Newborn also revealed information about Hans Scholl's 1937/1938 arrest and trial for participation in a youth movement banned the end of 1936–one he had joined in 1934, when he and other Ulm Hitler Youth members considered membership in this group and the Hitler Youth to be compatible. Hans Scholl was also accused of transgressing Paragraph 175, the anti-homosexuality law, because of a same-sex teen relationship dating back to 1934-5, when Hans was only 16 years old. Newborn built this argument partially on the work of Eckard Holler, a sociologist specializing in the German Youth Movement, as well as on the Gestapo interrogation transcripts from the 1937/38 arrest, and with reference to historian George Mosse's discussion of the homoerotic aspects of the German "bndisch" Youth Movement. As Mosse indicated, idealized romantic attachments among male youths was not uncommon in Germany, especially among members of the "bndisch" associations. Newborn argued that this experience led both Hans and Sophie to identify with the victims of the Nazi state, providing an explanation for why Hans and Sophie Scholl made the transformation from avid Hitler Youth leaders to passionate opponents of National Socialism.
Quoting extensively from the Bible, Aristotle and Novalis, as well as Goethe and Schiller, they appealed to what they considered the German intelligentsia, believing that they would be intrinsically opposed to Nazism. At first, the leaflets were sent out in mailings from cities in Bavaria and Austria, since the members believed that southern Germany would be more receptive to their anti-militarist message.
|–||Isn–t it true that every honest German is ashamed of his government these days? 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?||–|
– From the first leaflet of the White Rose
|–||Since the conquest of Poland three hundred thousand Jews have been murdered in this country in the most bestial way – The German people slumber on in their dull, stupid sleep and encourage these fascist criminals – Each man wants to be exonerated of a guilt of this kind, each one continues on his way with the most placid, the calmest conscience. But he cannot be exonerated; he is guilty, guilty, guilty!||–|
– From the second leaflet of the White Rose.
Alexander Schmorell, who penned the words the White Rose, has become most famous for having spoken. Most of the more practical material –calls to arms and statistics of murder– came from Alex's pen. Hans Scholl wrote in a characteristically high style, exhorting the German people to action on the grounds of philosophy and reason.
At the end of July 1942, some of the male students in the group were deployed to the Eastern Front for military service (acting as medics) during the academic break. In late autumn, the men returned, and the White Rose resumed its resistance activities. In January 1943, using a hand-operated duplicating machine, the group is thought to have produced between 6,000 and 9,000 copies of their fifth leaflet, "Appeal to all Germans!", which was distributed via courier runs to many cities (where they were mailed). Copies appeared in Stuttgart, Cologne, Vienna, Freiburg, Chemnitz, Hamburg, Innsbruck, and Berlin. The fifth leaflet was composed by Hans Scholl with improvements by Huber. These leaflets warned that Hitler was leading Germany into the abyss; with the gathering might of the Allies, defeat was now certain. The reader was urged to "Support the resistance movement!" in the struggle for "Freedom of speech, freedom of religion, and protection of the individual citizen from the arbitrary action of criminal dictator-states". These were the principles that would form "the foundations of the new Europe".
The leaflets caused a sensation, and the Gestapo began an intensive search for the publishers.
On the nights of the 3rd, 8th, and 15th of February 1943, the slogans "Freedom" and "Down with Hitler" appeared on the walls of the University and other buildings in Munich. Alexander Schmorell, Hans Scholl and Willi Graf had painted them with tar-based paint (similar graffiti that appeared in the surrounding area at this time was painted by imitators).
The shattering German defeat at Stalingrad at the beginning of February provided the occasion for the group's sixth leaflet, written by Huber. Headed "Fellow students!", it announced that the "day of reckoning" had come for "the most contemptible tyrant our people has ever endured". As the German people had looked to university students to help break Napoleon in 1813, it now looked to them to break the Nazi terror. "The dead of Stalingrad adjure us!"
Leaflet No. 6 was copied by the allies and dropped from aircraft. 
On 18 February 1943, coincidentally the same day that Nazi propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels called on the German people to embrace total war in his Sportpalast speech, the Scholls brought a suitcase full of leaflets to the university. They hurriedly dropped stacks of copies in the empty corridors for students to find when they flooded out of lecture rooms. Leaving before the class break, the Scholls noticed that some copies remained in the suitcase and decided it would be a pity not to distribute them. They returned to the atrium and climbed the staircase to the top floor, and Sophie flung the last remaining leaflets into the air. This spontaneous action was observed by the custodian Jakob Schmid. The police were called and Hans and Sophie Scholl were taken into Gestapo custody. The other active members were soon arrested, and the group and everyone associated with them were brought in for interrogation.
The Scholls and Probst were the first to stand trial before the Volksgerichtshof–the People's Court that tried political offenses against the Nazi German state–on 22 February 1943. They were found guilty of treason and Roland Freisler, head judge of the court, sentenced them to death. The three were executed the same day by guillotine. All three were noted for the courage with which they faced their deaths, particularly Sophie, who remained firm despite intense interrogation (however, reports that she arrived at the trial with a broken leg from torture are false). She said to Freisler during the trial, "You know as well as we do that the war is lost. Why are you so cowardly that you won't admit it?" When Hans was executed, he said "Let freedom live" as the blade fell.
The second White Rose trial took place on 19 April 1943. Only eleven had been indicted before this trial. At the last minute, the prosecutor added Traute Lafrenz (who was considered so dangerous that she was to have had a trial all to herself), Gisela Schertling, and Katharina Schueddekopf. None had an attorney. One was assigned after the women appeared in court with their friends.
Professor Huber had counted on the good services of his friend, Attorney Justizrat Roder, a high-ranking Nazi. Roder had not bothered to visit Huber before the trial and had not read Huber's leaflet. Another attorney had carried out all the pre-trial paperwork. When Roder realized how damning the evidence was against Huber, he resigned. The junior attorney took over.
Grimminger initially was to receive the death sentence for funding their operations. His attorney successfully used the female wiles of Tilly Hahn to convince Freisler that Grimminger had not known what the money was really being used for. Grimminger therefore escaped with a sentence of ten years in a penitentiary.
The third White Rose trial was to have taken place on 20 April 1943 (Hitler's birthday), because Freisler anticipated death sentences for Wilhelm Geyer, Harald Dohrn, Josef Soehngen, and Manfred Eickemeyer. He did not want too many death sentences at a single trial, and had scheduled those four for the next day. However, the evidence against them was lost, and the trial was postponed until 13 July 1943.
At that trial, Gisela Schertling –who had betrayed most of the friends, even fringe members like Gerhard Feuerle– redeemed herself by recanting her testimony against all of them. Since Freisler did not preside over the third trial, the judge acquitted all but Soehngen (who got only six months in prison) for lack of evidence.
Alexander Schmorell and Kurt Huber were beheaded on 13 July 1943, and Willi Graf on 12 October 1943. Friends and colleagues of the White Rose, who had helped in the preparation and distribution of leaflets and in collecting money for the widow and young children of Probst, were sentenced to prison terms ranging from six months to ten years.
After her release for the sentence handed down on April 19, Traute Lafrenz was rearrested. She spent the last year of the war in prison. Trials kept being postponed and moved to different locations because of Allied air raids. Her trial was finally set for April 1945, after which she probably would have been executed. Three days before the trial, however, the Allies liberated the town where she was held prisoner, thereby saving her life.
The White Rose had the last word. Their last leaflet was smuggled to the Allies, who edited it, and air-dropped millions of copies over Germany. The members of the White Rose, especially Sophie, became icons of the new post-war Germany.
The square where the central hall of Munich University is located has been named "Geschwister-Scholl-Platz" after Hans and Sophie Scholl; the square opposite to it is "Professor-Huber-Platz". Two large fountains are in front of the university, one on either side of Ludwigstrae. The fountain in front of the university is dedicated to Hans and Sophie Scholl. The other, across the street, is dedicated to Professor Huber. Many schools, streets, and other places across Germany are named in memory of the members of the White Rose.
One of Germany's leading literary prizes is called the "Geschwister Scholl" prize (the "Scholl Siblings" prize.)
With the fall of Nazi Germany, the White Rose came to represent opposition to tyranny in the German psyche and was lauded for acting without interest in personal power or self-aggrandizement. Their story became so well-known that the composer Carl Orff claimed (though by some accounts, falsely) to his Allied interrogators that he was a founding member of the White Rose and was released. In fact, he was personally acquainted with Huber, but there is a lack of any evidence that Orff was involved in the movement.
The following, although not exhaustive, provides a chronological account of some of the more notable treatments of the White Rose in media, book and artistic form.
Beginning in the 1970s, three film accounts of the White Rose resistance were produced. The first was a film financed by the Bavarian state government entitled Das Versprechen (The Promise) and released in the 1970s. The film is not well known outside Germany, and to some extent even within the country. It was particularly notable in that unlike most films, it showed the White Rose from its inception and how it progressed. In 1982, Percy Adlon's Fnf letzte Tage (The Last Five Days) presented Lena Stolze as Sophie in her last days from the point of view of her cellmate Else Gebel. In the same year, Stolze repeated the role in Michael Verhoeven's Die Weie Rose (The White Rose).
A book, Sophie Scholl and the White Rose, was published in English in February 2006. An account by Annette Dumbach and Dr. Jud Newborn tells the story behind the film Sophie Scholl: The Final Days, focusing on the White Rose movement while setting the group's resistance in the broader context of German culture and politics and other forms of resistance during the Nazi era.
As mentioned earlier, Udo Zimmermann composed a chamber opera about the White Rose Weie Rose (opera) in 1986. Premiering in Hamburg, it went on to earn acclaim and a series of international performances.
In an extended German national TV competition held in the autumn of 2003 to choose "the ten greatest Germans of all time" (ZDF TV), Germans under the age of 40 placed Hans and Sophie Scholl in fourth place, selecting them over Bach, Goethe, Gutenberg, Willy Brandt, Bismarck, and Albert Einstein. Not long before, women readers of the mass-circulation magazine "Brigitte" had voted Sophie Scholl as "the greatest woman of the twentieth century".
In 2003, a group of students at the University of Texas in Austin, Texas established The White Rose Society dedicated to Holocaust remembrance and genocide awareness. Every April, the White Rose Society hands out 10,000 white roses on campus, representing the approximate number of people killed in a single day at Auschwitz. The date corresponds with Yom Hashoah, Holocaust Memorial Day. The group organizes performances of The Rose of Treason, a play about the White Rose, and has rights to show the movie Sophie Scholl – Die letzten Tage (Sophie Scholl: The Final Days). The White Rose Society is affiliated with Hillel and the Anti-Defamation League.
In February 2005, a movie about Sophie Scholl's last days, Sophie Scholl – Die letzten Tage (Sophie Scholl: The Final Days), featuring actress Julia Jentsch as Sophie, was released. Drawing on interviews with survivors and transcripts that had remained hidden in East German archives until 1990, it was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film in January 2006. An English language film, The White Rose (film), was in development for a time in 2005/06, to be directed by Angelica Huston and starring Christina Ricci as Sophie Scholl, but has since been abandoned, as it no longer appears on the Internet Movie Database site. Another American film project about the White Rose continues to be under development by co-author Jud Newborn of the 2006 book Sophie Scholl and the White Rose.
White Rose has inspired many people around the world, including many anti-war activists in recent years. Scattered throughout 2007-2008, 5 hoax pipe bombs were placed at various military recruitment centers with the words "Die Weisse Rose" written upon them. 
In February 2009, a biography of Sophie Scholl, [Sophie Scholl: The Real Story of the Woman Who Defied Hitler] was published in English by the History Press. The book by the Oxford educated British historian Frank McDonough, includes material related to Hans Scholl and featured in the national press in the UK and rose up the best seller lists. This renewed interest in Hans and Sophie Scholl led to the first ever showing on UK national television of Sophie Scholl: The Final Days on Channel 4 in March 2009.
The UK-based genocide prevention student network Aegis Students uses a white rose as their symbol in commemoration of the White Rose movement. There are numerous study guides to the White Rose, notably one available from the University of Minnesota's Holocaust Center.
In 2009 Dan Fesperman published a novel entitled "The Arms Maker of Berlin" in which activities by real and fictional White Rose characters play a significant role in the story.
|Wikiquote has a collection of quotations related to: White Rose|
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to: The White Rose|
This article is based on one or more articles in Wikipedia, with modifications and additional content contributed by
Connexions editors. This article, and any information from Wikipedia, is covered by a
Creative Commons Attribution-Sharealike 3.0 Unported License (CC-BY-SA) and the
GNU Free Documentation
We welcome your help in improving and expanding the content of Connexipedia articles, and in correcting errors. Connexipedia is not a wiki: please contact Connexions by email if you wish to contribute. We are also looking for contributors interested in writing articles on topics, persons, events and organizations related to social justice and the history of social change movements.
For more information contact Connexions