Wednesday, March 19, 2014

The White Rose: Munich 1942-1943 by Inge Scholl

Originally written in 1947 for use in schools in Germany, ages 13-18
 Published in 1970, 1983 by Wesleyan University Press
Most Recent Publication 2011, Wesleyan University Press
Nonfiction / Informational Text

Inge Scholl's book The White Rose: Munich 1942-1943 was originally written in German and later translated into English by Arthur R. Schultz. Inge Scholl was the surviving sister of Hans and Sophie Scholl, two German students who attended the University of Munich during World War II. She had to tell their story.

Hans and Sophie Scholl were members of the "White Rose" movement, a group of students and others who opposed Hitler's dictatorship and openly protested the regime by distributing anti-Nazi literature on their college campus. They were later arrested, along with Christoph Probst, tried, and executed on February 22, 1943. In her book Tell Them We Remember, Susan Bachrach defines the "White Rose" movement and explains its purpose and intent:
Hans Scholl
Of the Germans who opposed Hitler's dictatorship, only one group openly protested the Nazi genocide against Jews. The "White Rose" movement was founded in June 1942 by Hans Scholl, a 24-year-old medical student at the University of Munich, his 22-year-old sister Sophie, and 24-year-old Christoph Probst. Although the exact origin of the name "White Rose" is unknown, it clearly stands for purity and innocence in the face of evil. Hans, Sophie, and Christoph were outraged that educated Germans went along with Nazi policies. They distributed anti-Nazi leaflets and painted slogans like "freedom!" and "Down with Hitler!" on walls of the university. In February 1943, Hans and Sophie Scholl were caught distributing leaflets and arrested. Together with their friend Christoph, they were executed four days later. Hans's last words were "Long live freedom" (68)!
Christoph Probst, Sophie Scholl, Han Scholl
Hans, Sophie, and Christoph were beheaded for speaking out against the Nazi regime. Inge Scholl's book tells their story and documents their arrest, trial, and execution. The Introduction to the book explains the legacy of the "White Rose" movement, and then the author provides biographical information about Hans and Sophie Scholl, Christoph Probst, and other leading members of the movement, including Kurt Huber, a professor of psychology and philosophy in Munich, who was also executed five months later.

In her well-documented book, Scholl includes copies of the six leaflets that were distributed by the
students on campus, as well as other documents revealing what happened to her brother, her sister, and their friend:

The Indictment of Hans and Sophie Scholl and Christoph Probst

The Sentence of Hans and Sophie Scholl and Christoph Probst

The Sentence of Alexander Schmorell, Kurt Huber, the university professor, Wilhelm Grad, and Others

A Letter from Else Gebel

"Death Sentences," from Munchner Neueste Nachrichten

"Just Punishment of Traitors," from Volkischer Beobachter

Letter from Bishop Berggrave (excerpt)

Although the movement began with a sense of excitement, it soon became evident there would be no freedom to speak out against the Nazis, and the "White Rose" movement was crushed. Not all Germans supported Hitler, but most remained bystanders. The story of the "White Rose" movement is powerful; these young people should be remembered and admired for the stand they took against evil and for freedom. One of Hans and Sophie's favorite songs went:
Christoph Probst

Close the eye and ear a while
Against the tumult of the time;
You'll not still it or find peace
Until your heart is pure.

As you watch and wait
To catch the Eternal in the Everyday,
You freely choose to take your role
In History's great play.

The hour will come when you are called.
Be then prepared, be ready;
If the fire dies down, leap in;
Again it blazes, steady (14).

Scholl writes in her book, "Suddenly there occurred throughout Germany a wave of arrests that wiped out these last remnants of a genuine youth movement which had started at the beginning of the century with big expectations and great spirit" (14). This book would be an excellent nonfiction text for students on the high school level to read. I highly recommend this book for high school students and adults and believe we should never forget what they did for their country and for the cause of freedom:

Hans Scholl, born September 22, 1918, medical student, executed February 22, 1943
Sophie Scholl, born May 9, 1921, biology and philosophy student, executed February 22, 1943
Christoph Probst, born November 6, 1919, medical student, executed February 22, 1943
Kurt Huber, born October 24, 1893, professor of psychology and philosophy, executed July 13, 1943
And the list goes on. . . .

Let us not be naive; there is evil in the world. Read this book, and learn about the brave, young men and women of the "White Rose" movement who were not afraid to acknowledge this truth.

The White Rose Movement: United States Holocaust Memorial Museum
Learn More About Inge Scholl
Images for Inge Scholl
Source of Images
Find This Book At Your Local Library
Roland Freisler (Judge Who Sentenced Hans and Sophie Scholl to Death)

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