The Rose and the Reich

Munich 1942, from the left: Hans Scholl, his sister Sophie Scholl, and Christopher Probst.
Munich 1942, from the left: Hans Scholl, his sister Sophie Scholl, and Christopher Probst.

The White Rose were a group of students, writers and designers from the University of Munich that held weekly discussion groups, painting "Freedom" on brick walls and circulated anti-facist literature in the heart of Nazi Germany during World War II.

From June 1942 until February of 1943, members of the White Rose wrote and distributed newsletters that attacked the brutal policies of Nazi Germany that included the brutal truth about euthanasia of German citizens, genocide of Jews, the practice of concentration camps for opposition leaders, and the draconian punishments for speaking out against the policy of compulsorary military service, beginning as children, in Hitler's armies. The White Rose sent these leaflets across Germany and Europe in an attempt to build a "bridge to the non-Nazi world."[0]

"- why do you allow these men who are in power to rob you openly and in secret, of your rights until one day nothing, nothing at all will be left but a mechanized state system presided over by criminals? Is your spirit already so crushed by abuse that you forget...?"
— From Leaflet #2, 1942

The leaders of the White Rose: Hans and Sophie Scholls, Christopher Probst and the others were not Jewish, Communists or violent dissenters. They were German citizens. As children, the Scholls had been leaders in the Nazi Youth Party. Hans had been a flagbearer at a Party Rally in Nuremberg. Additionally, before entering medical school, Hans Scholls had enlisted in the German Army and fought for Germany in WWII.

One day however, as the war raged, Hans Scholls came upon a young Jewish woman, under forced labor, digging a trench. The whole idea of what the Nazi regime was doing struck his heart, he realized but for the grace of God, he could have been the one there, or his sister.

A series of six leaflets signed by the "Students of Munich" were diseminated until the six core members of the group were captured by the Gestapo in 1943.

The leaders of the White Rose, mostly in their twenties, including the Scholls and Christopher Probst, were tried in the notorious People's Courts and executed by decapitation in 1943. Inge Scholl, one of the few members of the group who outlived the Reich, went on to found a school in Ulm and wrote several books about the resistance group.

[0] = "G.39, Ein deutsches Flugblatt (A German Leaflet)", Aerial Propaganda Leaflet Database, Twentieth World War,

Wikipedia, The White Rose of Munich
IMDB, Die weiße Rose (1982)
Spartacus Education, White Rose: Nazi Germany
Shoah Education, The White Rose
Amazon, The White Rose: Munich, 1942-1943 by Inge Scholl translated by Arthur R. Schultz, Unknown Binding 1983.

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