Heroes Of WWII: The White Rose

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Heroes Of WWII: The White Rose

February 18th, 1943. Papers are flying down the main atrium of the central hall in the Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich, they had just been pushed off of the top floor banister by Sophie Scholl and her brother Hans.

The papers flying from above are the fifth installment of the leaflet created by the non-violent resistance group the White Rose denouncing the Nazi regime and informing the German people of the horrors that were taking place around them.

This was, in the eyes of the Nazi's, an act of treason punishable by death.

Sophie and Hans Scholl grew up in Forchtenberg, where their father Robert Scholl was the mayor of the town from 1919-1930. While growing up Sophie and Hans were a part of the Hitler youth groups, however their mother and father were more liberal and often openly criticized Hitler and the regime to their six children.

The Scholl's also listened to foreign radio stations to get a true update on what was happening at the time, Sophie and Hans soon realised what they were being indoctrinated into by taking part in the Hitler youth groups and left.
Members of the White Rose: Hans Scholl, Christoph Probst and Sophie Scholl
The White Rose comprised of five students and a professor of the University of Munich. It was first started by Hans Scholl and Alex Schmorell, who had served as a part of the German army on the eastern front together, and had firsthand experience of the horrors of the mass murder being carried out by the Nazi regime in Poland and the Soviet Union.

After serving on the Eastern front both men left to attend the University of Munich as medical students, where they became friends with Willi Graf, Christoph Probst, and Kurt Huber, a professor of philosophy and musicology. Each person had become horrified by the regime that they lived under and knew they had to do something to take a stand.

The group had decided to make a non-violent, anonymous stand against the regime by creating leaflets to speak out against the Nazi's and their war crimes. They urged the German people to renounce Hitler, to fight for their future and never to give up hope. In their leaflets they often quoted the Bible, famous philosophers and poets of the German bourgeoisie.

The leaflets were distributed throughout Munich, they were left in telephone books in public phone booths, mailed to professors and students and couriered to other university institutions across Germany.

From the end of June to mid July 1942, the group had written the first four leaflets. In Autumn 1942 Sophie Scholl had joined the university to study and had discovered her brother's activities, she persuaded him to allow her to help him and those in the White Rose, as Sophie was less likely to be stopped by a member of the SS while distributing the leaflets as she was a woman.
A memorial to the members of the White Rose
While distributing the fifth installment of the White Rose leaflets at their university on February 18th 1943, Sophie threw a pile down from the top level of the atrium after this Hans and Sophie quickly fled from the scene. This action was unfortunately witnessed by a janitor at the university who contacted the Gestapo who arrested the siblings later that day.

After searching Hans, the Gestapo discovered a manuscript for the next leaflet written by Christoph Probst, who was then also detained. The main Gestapo interrogator was Robert Mohr, who initially thought Sophie was innocent. However, after Hans had confessed, Sophie assumed full responsibility in an attempt to protect other members of the White Rose.

On the 22nd of February 1943 Sophie, Hans and Christoph were all found guilty of treason and sentenced to death by guillotine in the 'people's court', a court infamous for their unfair trials where most trials ended in a death sentence. All three were said to have faced their death with courage and stayed defiant until the end with Hans shouting "Es lebe die Freiheit! – Long live freedom!" just before the guillotine's blade fell.

Copies of the White Rose's sixth unreleased leaflet were smuggled out of Germany to the United Kingdom. On July 1943, copies were dropped over Germany by Allied planes, and the leaflet was retitled "The Manifesto of the Students of Munich".

1 comment

  • Gretel

    Very brave people. We had to read the book for A Level German

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