Munich, Nazi Germany
The White Rose (German: Weiße Rose, pronounced [ˈvaɪ̯sə ˈʁoːzə] (listen)) was a non-violent, intellectual resistance group in Nazi Germany led by a group of students from the University of Munich, including Sophie Scholl, Hans Scholl and Alexander Schmorell. The group conducted an anonymous leaflet and graffiti campaign that called for active opposition to the Nazi regime. Their activities started in Munich on 27 June 1942, and ended with the arrest of the core group by the Gestapo on 18 February 1943. They, as well as other members and supporters of the group who carried on distributing the pamphlets, faced show trials by the Nazi People's Court (Volksgerichtshof), and many of them were sentenced to death or imprisonment.
Hans and Sophie Scholl, as well as Christoph Probst were executed by guillotine four days after their arrest, on 22 February 1943. During the trial, Sophie interrupted the judge multiple times. No defendants were given any opportunity to speak.
The group wrote, printed and initially distributed their pamphlets in the greater Munich region. Later on, secret carriers brought copies to other cities, mostly in the southern parts of Germany. In total, the White Rose authored six leaflets, which were multiplied and spread, in a total of about 15,000 copies. They denounced the Nazi regime's crimes and oppression, and called for resistance. In their second leaflet, they openly denounced the persecution and mass murder of the Jews. By the time of their arrest, the members of the White Rose were just about to establish contacts with other German resistance groups like the Kreisau Circle or the Schulze-Boysen/Harnack group of the Red Orchestra. Today, the White Rose is well known both within Germany and worldwide.
Members and supporters
Students from the University of Munich comprised the core of the White Rose: Hans Scholl, Alexander Schmorell, Willi Graf, Christoph Probst, and Kurt Huber, a professor of philosophy and musicology. Hans's sister, Sophie later came to be a core member of the White Rose. They were supported by other people, including: Otto Aicher, Theodor Haecker, Anneliese Graf, Traute Lafrenz, Katharina Schüddekopf, Lieselotte "Lilo" Ramdohr, Jürgen Wittenstein, Falk Harnack, Marie-Luise Jahn, Hubert Furtwängler, Wilhelm Geyer, Manfred Eickemeyer, Josef Söhngen, Heinrich Guter, Heinrich Bollinger, Wilhelm Bollinger, Helmut Bauer, Harald Dohrn, Hans Conrad Leipelt, Gisela Schertling, Rudi Alt, Michael Brink, Lilo Dreyfeldt, Josef Furtmeier, Günter Ammon, Fred Thieler and Wolfgang Jaeger. Most were in their early twenties. Wilhelm Geyer taught Alexander Schmorell how to make the tin templates used in the graffiti campaign. Eugen Grimminger of Stuttgart funded their operations. Grimminger was arrested on 2 March 1943, sentenced to ten years in a penal institution for high treason by the "People's Court" on 19 April 1943, and imprisoned in Ludwigsburg penal institution until April 1945. His wife Jenny was murdered in the Auschwitz-Birkenau extermination camp, presumably on 2 December 1943. Grimminger's secretary Tilly Hahn contributed her own funds to the cause, and acted as go-between for Grimminger and the group in Munich. She frequently carried supplies such as envelopes, paper, and an additional duplicating machine from Stuttgart to Munich. In addition, a group of students in the city of Ulm distributed a number of the group's leaflets and were arrested and tried. Among this group were Sophie Scholl's childhood friend Susanne Hirzel and her teenage brother Hans Hirzel and Franz Josef Müller. In Hamburg, a group of students including Reinhold Meyer, Albert Suhr, Heinz Kucharski, Margaretha Rothe, Rudolf Degkwitz, Ursula de Boor, Hannelore Willbrandt, Karl Ludwig Schneider, Ilse Ledien, Eva von Dumreicher, Dorothea Zill, Apelles Sobeczko, and Maria Leipelt formed as a resistance group against the National Socialist regime and distributed the group's leaflets.
Historical and intellectual background
Germany in 1942
White Rose survivor Jürgen Wittenstein described what it was like for ordinary Germans to live in Nazi Germany:
The government—or rather, the party—controlled everything: the news media, arms, police, the armed forces, the judiciary system, communications, travel, all levels of education from kindergarten to universities, all cultural and religious institutions. Political indoctrination started at a very early age, and continued by means of the Hitler Youth with the ultimate goal of complete mind control. Children were exhorted in school to denounce even their own parents for derogatory remarks about Hitler or Nazi ideology.— George J. Wittenstein, M.D., "Memories of the White Rose", 1979
The activities of the White Rose started in the autumn of 1942. This was a time that was particularly critical for the Nazi regime; after initial victories in World War II, the German population became increasingly aware of the losses and damages of the war. In Summer 1942, the German Wehrmacht was preparing a new military campaign in the southern part of the East front to regain the initiative after their earlier defeat close to Moscow. This German offensive was initially very successful, but came to a standstill in the autumn of 1942. In February 1943, the German army had faced a major defeat in the Battle of Stalingrad. During this time, the authors of the pamphlets could neither be discovered, nor could the campaign be stopped by the Nazi authorities. When Hans and Sophie Scholl were discovered and arrested whilst distributing leaflets at Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich, the regime reacted brutally. As the "Volksgerichtshof" was not bound to the law, but led by Nazi ideology, its actions were declared unlawful in post-war Germany. Thus, the execution of the White Rose group members, among many others, is considered as judicial murder.
The members of the core group all shared an academic background as students at Munich University. The Scholl siblings, Christoph Probst, Willi Graf and Alexander Schmorell were all raised by independently thinking and wealthy parents. Alexander Schmorell was born in Russia, and his first language was Russian. After he and Hans Scholl had become friends at the university, Alexander invited Hans to his parents' home, where Hans also met Christoph Probst at the beginning of 1941. Alexander Schmorell and Christoph Probst had already been friends since their school days. As Christoph's father had been divorced and had married again to a Jewish wife, the effects of the Nazi Nuremberg Laws, and Nazi racial ideology had impacts on both Christoph's and Alexander's lives from early on.
The German Youth Movement and the Hitler Youth
The ideas and thoughts of the German Youth Movement, founded in 1896, had a major impact on the German youth at the beginning of the twentieth century. The movement aimed at providing free space to develop a healthy life. A common trait of the various organizations was a romantic longing for a pristine state of things, and a return to older cultural traditions, with a strong emphasis on independent, non-conformist thinking. They propagated a return to nature, confraternity and shared adventures. The Deutsche Jungenschaft vom 1.11.1929 (abbreviated as "d.j.1.11.") was part of this youth movement, founded by Eberhard Koebel in 1929. Christoph Probst was a member of the German Youth Movement, and Willi Graf was a member of Neudeutschland ("New Germany"), and the Grauer Orden ("Grey Convent"), which were illegal Catholic youth organizations.
The Nazi Party's youth organizations took over some of the elements of the Youth Movement, and engaged their members in activities similar to the adventures of the Boy Scouts, but also subjected them to ideological indoctrination. Some, but not all, of the White Rose members had enthusiastically joined the youth organizations of the Nazi party: Hans Scholl had joined the Hitler Youth, and Sophie Scholl was a member of the Bund Deutscher Mädel. Membership in both party youth organizations was compulsory for young Germans, although a few—such as Willi Graf, Otl Aicher, and Heinz Brenner—refused to join. Sophie and Hans' sister Inge Scholl reported about the initial enthusiasm of the young people for the Nazi youth organization, to their parents' dismay:
But there was something else that drew us with mysterious power and swept us along: the closed ranks of marching youth with banners waving, eyes fixed straight ahead, keeping time to drumbeat and song. Was not this sense of fellowship overpowering? It is not surprising that all of us, Hans and Sophie and the others, joined the Hitler Youth? We entered into it with body and soul, and we could not understand why our father did not approve, why he was not happy and proud. On the contrary, he was quite displeased with us.— Inge Scholl, The White Rose
Youth organizations other than those led by the Nazi party were dissolved and officially forbidden in 1936. Both Hans Scholl and Willi Graf were arrested in 1937–38 because of their membership in forbidden Youth Movement organizations. Hans Scholl had joined the Deutsche Jungenschaft 1. 11. in 1934, when he and other Hitler Youth members in Ulm considered membership in this group and the Hitler Youth to be compatible. Hans Scholl was also accused of transgressing the German anti-homosexuality law, because of a same-sex teen relationship dating back to 1934–1935, when Hans was only 16 years old. The argument was built 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 "Bündische Jugend" Youth Movement. As Mosse indicated, idealized romantic attachments among male youths were not uncommon in Germany, especially among members of the "Bündische Jugend" associations. It was argued that the experience of being persecuted may have led both Hans and Sophie to identify with the victims of the Nazi state, providing another explanation for why Hans and Sophie Scholl made their way from ardent "Hitler Youth" leaders to passionate opponents of the Nazi regime.
The White Rose group was motivated by ethical, moral, and religious considerations. They supported and took in individuals of all backgrounds, and it did not depend on race, sex, religion, or age. They came from various religious backgrounds. Willi Graf and Katharina Schüddekopf were devout Catholics. Alexander Schmorell was an Orthodox Christian. Traute Lafrenz adhered to the concepts of anthroposophy, while Eugen Grimminger considered himself a Buddhist. Christoph Probst was baptized a Catholic only shortly before his execution. His father Hermann was nominally a Catholic, but also a private scholar of Eastern thought and wisdom. In their diaries and letters to friends, both Scholl siblings wrote about their reading of Christian scholars including Augustine of Hippo's Confessions and Etienne Gilson, whose work on Medieval philosophy they discussed amongst other philosophical works within their network of friends. The Scholls read sermons by John Henry Newman, and Sophie gave two volumes of Newman's sermons to her boyfriend, Fritz Hartnagel, when he was assigned to the Eastern Front; he wrote to her: "[W]e know by whom we are created, and that we stand in a relationship of moral obligation to our creator. Conscience gives us the capacity to distinguish between good and evil." This is a paraphrase of Newman's sermon, "The Testimony of Conscience."
Mentors and role models
In 1941, Hans Scholl read a copy of a sermon by an outspoken critic of the Nazi regime, Catholic Bishop August von Galen, decrying the euthanasia policies expressed in Action T4 (and extended that same year to the Nazi concentration camps by Action 14f13) which the Nazis maintained would protect the German gene pool. Horrified by the Nazi policies, Sophie obtained permission to reprint the sermon and distribute it at the University of Munich.
In 1940, Otl Aicher had met Carl Muth, the founder of the Catholic magazine Hochland. Otl in turn introduced Hans Scholl to Muth in 1941. In his letters to Muth, Hans wrote about his growing attraction to the Catholic Christian faith. Both Hans and Sophie Scholl were influenced by Carl Muth whom they describe as deeply religious, and opposed to Nazism. He drew the Scholl siblings' attention to the persecution of the Jews, which he considered sinful and anti-Christian.
Both Sophie Scholl and Willi Graf attended some of Kurt Huber's lectures at the University of Munich. Kurt Huber was known amongst his students for the political innuendos which he used to include in his university lectures, by which he criticized Nazi ideology by talking about classical philosophers like Leibniz. He met Hans Scholl for the first time in June 1942, was admitted to the activities of the White Rose on 17 December 1942, and became their mentor and the main author of the sixth pamphlet.
Experience on the World War II Eastern Front
Hans Scholl, Alexander Schmorell, Christoph Probst, and Willi Graf were medical students. Their studies were regularly interrupted by terms of compulsory service as student soldiers in the Wehrmacht medical corps on the Eastern Front. Their experience during this time had a major impact on their thinking, and it also motivated their resistance, because it led to their disillusionment with the Nazi regime. Alexander Schmorell, who was born in Orenburg and raised by Russian nurses, spoke perfect Russian, which allowed him to have direct contact and communication with the local Russian population and their plight. This Russian insight proved invaluable during their time there, and he could convey to his fellow White Rose members what was not understood or even heard by other Germans coming from the Eastern front.
In summer 1942, several members of the White Rose had to serve for three months on the Russian front alongside many other male medical students from the University of Munich. There, they observed the horrors of war, saw beatings and other mistreatment of Jews by the Germans, and heard about the persecution of the Jews from reliable sources. Some witnessed atrocities of the war on the battlefield and against civilian populations in the East. In a letter to his sister Anneliese, Willi Graf wrote: "I wish I had been spared the view of all this which I had to witness." Gradually, detachment gave way to the conviction that something had to be done. It was not enough to keep to oneself one's beliefs, and ethical standards, but the time had come to act.
The members of the White Rose were fully aware of the risks they incurred by their acts of resistance:
I knew what I took upon myself and I was prepared to lose my life by so doing.— From the interrogation of Hans Scholl.
Origin of the name
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 a 19th-century poem with the same name by German poet Clemens Brentano. It has also been speculated that the name might have been taken from either the Cuban poet, Jose Marti's verse "Cultivo una rosa blanca" or the novel Die Weiße Rose (The White Rose) by B. Traven, which Hans Scholl and Alex Schmorell had both read. They also wrote that the symbol of the white rose was intended to represent purity and innocence in the face of evil.
If the White Rose was indeed named after the novel, Hans Scholl's interrogation testimony may have been intentionally vague in order to protect Josef Söhngen, the anti-Nazi bookseller who had supplied this banned book. Söhngen had provided the White Rose members with a safe meeting place for the exchange of information and to receive occasional financial contributions. Söhngen kept a stash of banned books hidden in his store, and had also hidden the pamphlets when they had been printed.
Actions: The leaflets and graffiti
After their experiences at the Eastern Front, having learned about mass murder in Poland and the Soviet Union, Hans Scholl and Alexander Schmorell felt compelled to take action. From end of June until mid of July 1942, they wrote the first four leaflets. Quoting extensively from the Bible, Aristotle and Novalis, as well as Goethe and Schiller, the iconic poets of German bourgeoisie, they appealed to what they considered the German intelligentsia, believing that these people would be easily convinced by the same arguments that also motivated the authors themselves. These leaflets were left in telephone books in public phone booths, mailed to professors and students, and taken by courier to other universities for distribution. From 23 July to 30 October 1942, Graf, Scholl and Schmorell served again at the Soviet front, and activities ceased until their return. In autumn 1942, Sophie Scholl discovered that her brother Hans was one of the authors of the pamphlets, and joined the group. Shortly after, Willi Graf, and by the end of December 1942, Kurt Huber became members of the White Rose.
In January 1943, the fifth leaflet, "Aufruf an alle Deutsche!" ("Appeal to all Germans!") was produced in 6,000–9,000 copies, using a hand-operated duplicating machine. It was carried to other German Cities between 27 and 29 January 1943 by the members and supporters of the group to many cities, and then mailed from there. Copies appeared in Saarbrücken, Stuttgart, Cologne, Vienna, Freiburg, Chemnitz, Hamburg, Innsbruck and Berlin. Sophie Scholl stated during her Gestapo interrogation that from summer 1942 on, the aim of the White Rose was to address a broader range of the population. Consequently, in the fifth leaflet, the name of the group was changed from White Rose to "German Resistance Movement", and also the style of writing became more polemic and less intellectual. The students had become convinced during their military service that the war was lost: "Hitler kann den Krieg nicht gewinnen, nur noch verlängern. – Hitler cannot win the war, he can only prolong it." They appealed to renounce "national socialist subhumanism", imperialism and Prussian militarism "for all time". 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 a new Europe".
By the end of January 1943, the Battle of Stalingrad ended with the capitulation and near-total loss of the Wehrmacht's Sixth Army. In Stalingrad, World War II had taken a decisive turn, inspiring resistance movements throughout the European countries then occupied by Germany. It also had a devastating effect on German morale. On 13 January 1943, a student riot broke out at Munich University after a speech by the Nazi Gauleiter of Munich and Upper Bavaria, in which he had denounced male students not serving in the army as skulkers and had also made obscene remarks to female students. These events encouraged the members of the White Rose. When the defeat at Stalingrad was officially announced, they sent out their sixth—and last—leaflet. The tone of this writing, authored by Kurt Huber and revised by Hans Scholl and Alexander Schmorell, was more patriotic. Headed "Fellow students!" (the now-iconic Kommilitoninnen! Kommilitonen!), it announced that the "day of reckoning" had come for "the most contemptible tyrant our people has ever endured." "The dead of Stalingrad adjure us!"
On 3rd, 8th, and 15 February 1943, Alexander Schmorell, Hans Scholl, and Willi Graf used tin stencils to write slogans like "Down with Hitler" and "Freedom" on the walls of the university and other buildings in Munich.
Capture, Gestapo interrogation and trial
On 18 February 1943, the Scholls brought a suitcase full of leaflets to the university main building. They hurriedly dropped stacks of copies in the empty corridors for students to find when they left the lecture rooms. Leaving before the lectures had ended, the Scholls noticed that there were some left-over copies in the suitcase and decided to distribute them. Sophie flung the last remaining leaflets from the top floor down into the atrium. This spontaneous action was observed by the university maintenance man, Jakob Schmid. Hans and Sophie Scholl were taken into Gestapo custody. A draft of a seventh pamphlet, written by Christoph Probst, was found in the possession of Hans Scholl at the time of his arrest by the Gestapo. While Sophie Scholl got rid of incriminating evidence before being taken into custody, Hans did try to destroy the draft of the last leaflet by tearing it apart and trying to swallow it. However, the Gestapo recovered enough of it and were able to match the handwriting with other writings from Probst, which they found when they searched Hans's apartment. 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.
The Scholls and Probst were scheduled to stand trial before the Volksgerichtshof—the Nazi "People's Court" infamous for its unfair political trials, which more often than not ended with a death sentence—on 22 February 1943. They were found guilty of treason. Roland Freisler, head judge of the court, sentenced them to death. The three were executed the same day by guillotine at Stadelheim Prison. All three were noted for the courage with which they faced their deaths, particularly Sophie, who remained firm despite intense interrogation, and intimidation by Freisler during the trial. She replied: "You know as well as we do that the war is lost. Why are you so cowardly that you won't admit it?" Immediately before Hans was executed, he cried out "Es lebe die Freiheit! – Long live freedom!", as the blade fell.
IN THE NAME OF THE GERMAN PEOPLE in the action against
1. Hans Fritz Scholl, Munich, born at Ingersheim, 22 September 1918,
2. Sophia Magdalena Scholl, Munich, born at Forchtenberg, 9 May 1921,
3. Christoph Hermann Probst, of Aldrans bei Innsbruck, born at Murnau, 6 November 1919, now in investigative custody regarding treasonous assistance to the enemy, preparing to commit high treason, and weakening of the nation's armed security, the People's Court first Senate, pursuant to the trial held on 22 February 1943, in which the officers were:
President of the People's Court Dr. Freisler, Presiding,Director of the Regional Judiciary Stier, SS Group Leader Breithaupt, SA Group Leader Bunge, State Secretary and SA Group Leader Koglmaier, and representing the Attorney General to the Supreme Court of the Reich, Reich Attorney Weyersberg,
[We]find: That the accused have in time of war by means of leaflets called for the sabotage of the war effort and armaments and for the overthrow of the National Socialist way of life of our people, have propagated defeatist ideas, and have most vulgarly defamed the Führer, thereby giving aid to the enemy of the Reich and weakening the armed security of the nation.
On this account they are to be punished by death.
Their honor and rights as citizens are forfeited for all time.— Translation made by Berlin Documents Center HQ US Army Berlin Command of 1943 Decree against the "White Rose" group.
Willi Graf had already been arrested on 18 February 1943; in his interrogations, which continued until his execution in October 1943, he successfully covered other members of the group. Alexander Schmorell was recognized, denounced and arrested on 24 February 1943, after his return to Munich following an unsuccessful effort to travel to Switzerland. Kurt Huber was taken into custody on 26 February, and only then did the Gestapo learn about his role within the White Rose group.
The second White Rose trial took place on 19 April 1943. On trial were Hans Hirzel, Susanne Hirzel, Franz Josef Müller, Heinrich Guter, Eugen Grimminger, Otto Aicher, Theodor Haecker, Willi Graf, Anneliese Graf, Heinrich Bollinger, Helmut Bauer and Falk Harnack. At the last minute, the prosecutor added Traute Lafrenz, Gisela Schertling and Katharina Schüddekopf. Willi Graf, Kurt Huber, and Alexander Schmorell were sentenced to death. Eleven others were sentenced to prison, and Falk Harnack was acquitted of the accusations. Schmorell and Huber were executed on 13 July 1943. Willi Graf was further interrogated, but managed to cover his friend Willi Bollinger, and was finally executed on 12 October 1943. On 29 January 1945, Hans Konrad Leipelt was executed. He had been sent down from Hamburg University in 1940 because of his Jewish ancestry, and had copied and further distributed the White Rose's pamphlets together with his girlfriend Marie-Luise Jahn. The pamphlets were now entitled "And their spirit lives on."
The third White Rose trial was scheduled for 20 April 1943, Hitler's birthday, which was a public holiday in Nazi Germany. Judge Freisler had intended to issue death sentences against Wilhelm Geyer, Harald Dohrn, Josef Söhngen and Manfred Eickemeyer. Because he did not want to issue too many death sentences in a single trial, he therefore wanted to postpone his judgment against those four until the next day. However, the evidence against them was lost, and the trial finally took place on 13 July 1943. In that trial, Gisela Schertling—who had betrayed most of the friends, even fringe members like Gerhard Feuerle—changed her mind and recanted her testimony against all of them. Since Freisler did not preside over the third trial, the judge acquitted for lack of evidence all but Söhngen, who was sentenced to a six months' term in prison. After her acquittal on 19 April, Traute Lafrenz was placed under arrest again. 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.
Reactions in Germany and abroad during World War II
The hopes of the White Rose members that the defeat at Stalingrad would incite German opposition against the Nazi regime and the war effort did not come true. On the contrary, Nazi propaganda used the defeat to call on the German people to embrace "Total War". Coincidentally, on 18 February 1943, the same day that saw the arrests of Sophie and Hans Scholl and Christoph Probst, Nazi propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels delivered his Sportpalast speech, and he was enthusiastically applauded by his audience.
Shortly after the arrest of the Scholl siblings and Christoph Probst, newspapers published all-points bulletins in search of Alexander Schmorell. On 22 February 1943, the students of Munich were assembled, and officially protested against the "traitors" who came from within their ranks. Gestapo and Nazi jurisdiction documented in their files their view of the White Rose members as "traitors and defeatists". On 23 February, the official newspaper of the Nazi party, Völkischer Beobachter and local newspapers in Munich briefly reported about the capture and execution of some "degenerate rogues". However, the network of friends and supporters proved to be too large, so that the rumors about the White Rose could not be suppressed any more by Nazi German officials. Further prosecutions took place until the end of World War II, and German newspapers continued to report, mostly in brief notes, that more people had been arrested and punished. On 15 March 1943, a report by the Sicherheitsdienst of the Schutzstaffel stated that rumors about the leaflets spread "considerable unrest" amongst the German population. The report expressed particular concern about the fact that leaflets were not handed in to the Nazi authorities by their finders as promptly as they used to be in the past.
On 18 April 1943, the New York Times mentioned the student opposition in Munich. The paper also published articles on the first White Rose trials on 29 March 1943 and 25 April 1943. Though they did not correctly record all of the information about the resistance, the trials, and the execution, they were the first acknowledgement of the White Rose in the United States.
On 27 June 1943, the German author and Nobel prize winner Thomas Mann, in his monthly anti-Nazi broadcasts by the BBC called "Deutsche Hörer!" ("German Audience!") highly praised the White Rose members' courage. Soviet Army propaganda issued a leaflet, wrongly attributed by later researchers to the National Committee for a Free Germany, in honour of the White Rose's fight for freedom.
The text of the sixth leaflet of the White Rose was smuggled out of Germany through Scandinavia to the United Kingdom by the German lawyer and member of the Kreisau Circle, Helmuth James Graf von Moltke. In July 1943, copies were dropped over Germany by Allied planes, retitled "The Manifesto of the Students of Munich". Thus, the activities of the White Rose became widely known in World War II Germany, but, like other attempts at resistance, did not provoke any active opposition against the totalitarian regime within the German population.
For many years the primary sources for research were limited to those provided by White Rose members and their supporters. These included Inge Scholl's 1952 commemorative book "The White Rose", surviving copies of the pamphlets, the letters and diaries of Sophie and Hans Scholl and Willi Graf, and other people with direct knowledge of the group's activities. With the end of communism in the Soviet Union and the German Democratic Republic in the early 1990s, the Gestapo interrogation protocols and other documents from Nazi authorities became publicly available. The interrogation protocols were part of the Volksgerichtshof documents, and were confiscated by the Soviet Red Army, and brought to Moscow. Here, they were kept secret in a special archive. After the foundation of the German Democratic Republic, the major part of the Nazi documents were handed over to the East German government, except the documents concerning Alexander Schmorell, who was born in Russia. The documents were distributed between the Central Archive of the communist Socialist Unity Party of Germany and the archive of the Ministry for State Security. With the German reunification, the documents were transferred to the Federal Archive of Germany in Berlin, and finally published. The documents concerning Alexander Schmorell still remain in the State Military Archive of Russia, but have been fully transcribed and published in a German/Russian edition.
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 (falsely by some accounts) to his Allied interrogators that he was a founding member of the White Rose and was released. He was personally acquainted with Huber, but there is no evidence that Orff was ever involved in the movement.
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 Ludwigstraße. 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.
In the media
The following is a non-exhaustive 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 TV film Der Pedell (lit. The Bedel) focused on the university maintenance man Jakob Schmid, who denunciated Scholl and the other White Rose members. The TV film was produced in 1971 for the German ZDF. In 1982, Percy Adlon's Fünf 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 Weiße 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.
- An opera Weiße Rose was produced by Udo Zimmermann
- In memoriam: die weisse Rose by Hans Werner Henze, Kommilitonen!
- An opera by Peter Maxwell Davies
- A 2017 organ piece by Carlotta Ferrari
- Lillian Garrett-Groag's play, The White Rose, premiered at the Old Globe Theatre in 1991.
- In February 1993, the Long Island newspaper Newsday, commemorated the 50th anniversary of the execution of Probst and Scholl siblings. Lillian Garrett-Groag called the White Rose “…possibly the most spectacular moment of resistance in the 20th century” and Jud Newborn stated, “The White Rose really has a more symbolic value, but it’s a very important value.” and in 2013, after the 70th anniversary of the executions, Newsday published an article, “Story of courage amid horrors of holocaust.”
- 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 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.
- Geschwister-Scholl-Institut - (Scholl Siblings Institute for Political Science)
- Nikolaus Gross
- Georg Hafner
- Gerhard Hirschfelder
- Joseph Kugler
- Hermann Lange
- Karl Leisner
- Bernhard Lichtenberg
- Rupert Mayer
- Eduard Muller
- Johannes Prassek
- Unsere Besten ("Our Best") – 100+ great Germans
- Swing kids
- Helmuth Hübener
- Otto and Elise Hampel
- "1942/43: The White Rose Resistance Group". Archived from the original on 19 October 2017.
- Zubrin, Robert (2012). Merchants of Despair. New York: Encounter Books. p. 75. ISBN 978-1594034763.
- The Newsletter of the Center for White Rose Studies: Roses at Noon. Archived 2013-05-21 at the Wayback Machine 17 December 2011
- Marcuse, Harold. "George Wittenstein biography and links". Archived from the original on 24 May 2013.
- Wittenstein, George (Jurgen), M.D., Memories of the White Rose (Part 4, Trial and Aftermath) Archived 2013-08-04 at the Wayback Machine
- Hochmuth, Ursel; Meyer, Gertrud (1969). Streiflichter aus dem Hamburger Widerstand. 1933-1945 (in German). Frankfurt: Röderberg-Verlag. ISBN 3-87682-036-7.
- Wittenstein, George J., M.D., "Memories of the White Rose" (Part 1, Introduction and Background), 1979 Archived 2003-08-06 at the Wayback Machine
- German Bundestag, 10th Term of Office, 118. plenary session. Bonn, Friday, 25 January 1985. Protocol, p. 8762: "The Volksgerichtshof was an instrument of state-sanctioned terror, which served one single purpose, which was the destruction of political opponents. Behind a juridical facade, state-sanctioned murder was committed." PDF Archived 2016-06-03 at the Wayback Machine, accessed 3 May 2016
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- Scholl, Hans, and Sophia Scholl. At the Heart of the White Rose: Letters and Diaries of Hans and Sophie Scholl. Ed. Inge Jens. Trans. Maxwell Brownjohn. New York: Harper & Row, 1987, p. 87.
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- Detlef Bald, Die "Weiße Rose". Von der Front in den Widerstand. – The "White Rose". From the front to resistance. Aufbau Taschenbuch Verlag, Berlin 2004, ISBN 978-3746681160, pp. 11–24
- "The White Rose", Holocaust History.org. Archived from the original
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- Dumbach & Newborn, (2006)
- Hanser, A Noble Treason
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- Münchener Neuste Nachrichten, 23 February 1943
- Corina Petrescu: Against all odds: Models of subversive spaces in National Socialist Germany. Peter Lang Publishers, Bern 2010, ISBN 978-3039118458
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- "Senkt die Fahnen über frischen Gräbern deutscher Freiheitskämpfer! – Lower your banners to honor German freedom fighters' graves!". State Library of Berlin Collection of Manuscripts: Einbl. 1939/45, 8725, p. 75
- "G.39, Ein deutsches Flugblatt" Archived 2013-12-24 at the Wayback Machine, Aerial Propaganda Leaflet Database, Second World War, Psywar.org. (in German), with link to English translation
- Inge Scholl: The White Rose: Munich, 1942–1943. 2nd ed., originally published as "Students Against Tyranny". Transl. from the German Edition by Arthur R. Schulz. ISBN 978-0819560865
- Scholl, Hans, and Sophia Scholl. At the Heart of the White Rose: Letters and Diaries of Hans and Sophie Scholl. Ed. Inge Jens. Trans. Maxwell Brownjohn. New York: Harper & Row, 1987.
- Anneliese Knoop-Graf, Inge Jens (ed.): Willi Graf – Briefe und Aufzeichnungen – Letters and [diary] records. Berlin, 1994, Fischer Verlag, ISBN 978-3596123674, in German
- Otl Aicher: innenseiten des kriegs – the inside of war. 3rd ed., 1998, Fischer Verlag, Berlin, ISBN 978-3596137954
- Igor Chramov (ed.): Alexander Schmorell. Gestapo-Verhörprotokolle Februar–März 1943. – Gestapo interrogation protocols February–March 1943 (RGWA 1361K-1-8808). Dimur-Verlag, Orenburg 2005, ISBN 5768901256. See section "Primary Sources" for an English translation
- Stephen Thursby re Karen Painter's 'symphonic aspirations: German music and politics 1900–1945' Archived 2016-08-15 at the Wayback Machine (ISBN 978-0674026612) at h-net.org
- "H-German – H-Net". Archived from the original on 24 July 2008.
- Kettle, Martin (1 January 2009). "Secret of the White Rose". Archived from the original on 26 August 2016 – via The Guardian.
- Collège la Rose blanche www.ac-paris.fr, accessed 9 May 2021
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- Der Pedell. In: IMDb.
- Die Weiße Rose (Ferrari, Carlotta): Scores at the International Music Score Library Project
- Bernstein, Andrew (Summer 2020). "The White Rose: A Story of Unsurpassed Courage". The Objective Standard. Glen Allen Press. 15 (2): 23–27.
- Hanc, John (30 March 2013), "Story of courage amid horrors of holocaust", Newsday, Long Island
- DeVita, James The Silenced. HarperCollins, 2006. Young adult novel inspired by Sophie Scholl and The White Rose. ISBN 978-0060784621
- DeVita, James The Rose of Treason, Anchorage Press Plays. Young adult play of the story of The White Rose. ISBN 978-0876024096
- Dumbach, Annette & Newborn, Jud. Sophie Scholl & The White Rose. First published as "Shattering the German Night", 1986; expanded, updated edition Oneworld Publications, 2006. ISBN 978-1851685363
- Hanser, Richard. A Noble Treason: The Revolt of the Munich Students Against Hitler. New York: G.P. Putnam's Sons, 1979. Print. ISBN 978-0399120411
- Lloyd, Alexandra (ed.), The White Rose: Reading, Writing, Resistance. Oxford: Taylor Institution Library, 2019. ISBN 978-0995456440
- McDonough, Frank, Sophie Scholl: The Real Story of the Woman Who Defied Hitler, History Press, 2009. ISBN 978-0752455112
- Sachs, Ruth Hanna. Two Interviews: Hartnagel and Wittenstein (Annotated). Ed. Denise Heap and Joyce Light. Los Angeles: Exclamation!, 2005. ISBN 978-0976718338
- Sachs, Ruth Hanna. White Rose History, Volume I: Coming Together (31 January 1933 – 30 April 1942). Lehi, Utah: Exclamation! Publishers, 2002. ISBN 978-0971054196
- Sachs, Ruth Hanna. White Rose History, Volume II: Journey to Freedom (1 May 1942 – 12 October 1943). Lehi, Utah: Exclamation! Publishers, 2005. ISBN 978-0976718307
- Sachs, Ruth Hanna. White Rose History, Volume III: Fighters to the Very End (13 October 1943 – 8 May 1945).[ISBN missing]
- Sachs, Ruth Hanna. White Rose History: The Ultimate CD-ROM (1933–1945).
- Scholl, Inge. The White Rose: Munich, 1942–1943. Middletown, CT: Wesleyan University Press, 1983. ISBN 978-0819560865
- Shrimpton, Paul. Conscience before Conformity: Hans and Sophie Scholl and the White Rose Resistance in Nazi Germany. Gracewing, 2018. ISBN 978-0852448434
- Vinke, Hermann. The Short Life of Sophie Scholl. Trans. Hedwig Pachter. New York: Harper & Row, 1984. Print. ISBN 978-0060263027
- Wilson, Kip. White Rose. Boston, MA: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2019. ISBN 978-1328594433
- Link to an English translation of all seven leaflets: http://white-rose-studies.org/The_Leaflets.html
- A collaborative, student-led translation of the six printed leaflets by students at the University of Oxford
The White Rose Leaflets
- Leaflet I (in German) (Text / Original as PDF)
- Leaflet II (in German) (Text / Original as PDF)
- Leaflet III (in German) (Text / Original as PDF)
- Leaflet IV (in German) (Text / Original as PDF)
- Leaflet V (in German) (Text / Original as PDF)
- Leaflet VI (in German) (Text / Original as PDF)
Primary source materials in English translation
- Leaflets Online (English) via libcom.com
- White Rose pamphlets in English, translated by students at the University of Oxford (UK).
- Court testimony, records and documents (English) via the Center for White Rose Studies
- Alexander Schmorell: Gestapo Interrogation Transcripts. RGWA I361K-I-8808. ISBN 0976718383
- Gestapo Interrogation Transcripts: Graf & Schmorell (NJ 1704). ISBN 0971054134
- Gestapo Interrogation Transcripts: Scholls & Probst (ZC 13267). ISBN 0971054150
- The "Bündische Jugend" Trials (Scholl/Reden): 1937–1938. ISBN 0971054126
- Third White Rose Trial: 13 July 1943 (Eickemeyer, Söhngen, Dohrn, and Geyer). ISBN 0971054185
- Scholl, Hans, and Sophie Scholl. At the Heart of the White Rose: Letters and Diaries of Hans and Sophie Scholl. Ed. Inge Jens. Trans. Maxwell Brownjohn. New York: Harper & Row, 1987. ISBN 0060157054
- Center for White Rose Studies – Making the White Rose relevant to the 21st century
- The White Rose: Information, links, discussion, etc.
- Wittenstein, George. Memories of the White Rose
- WagingPeace.org, Waging Peace article on The White Rose
- Holocaust Rescuers Bibliography with information and links to books about The White Rose and other resistance groups
- "Weiße Rose Stiftung", FJ Müller et al., 1943–2009, Weisse-Rose-Stiftung.de (in German)
- Case Study: The White Rose by the UK's Holocaust Memorial Day, for educational and commemorative purposes
- "White Rose", United States Holocaust Memorial Museum
- BBC World Service: episode of Witness broadcast on 22 February 2013.
- The White Rose Project: a research and outreach initiative at the University of Oxford telling the story of the White Rose in the UK
- 'Defying Hitler: The White Rose Resistance Group', lecture given by Dr Alexandra Lloyd at the University of Oxford introducing the White Rose and their resistance writings.