[ An End to Intolerance (Volume 5 -- June 1997) ]

The White Rose

By Mary Williams, Katie Wells, and Lauren Zitner
Cold Spring Harbor High School
New York, USA

[ White Rose ]Sophie and Hans Scholl were born in 1921 and 1918, in a little town called Forchtenberg. Their father Robert Scholl was the individualistic mayor of this town. When their father was voted out of office in 1930, the family moved to Ludwignsburg and then finally to Ulm. There were five children in the Scholl's family.

When Hitler came into power, the children wanted to join the Hitler Youth and their parents allowed them to do so. The kids were spirited about the Hitler Youth when certain circumstances happened, like when Sophie's Jewish friends could not join, and Hans was not allowed to carry his special group flag. Hans even hit one of the officials because he was so upset.

Hans became enthusiastic about another group called the Deutsche Jugend or "dj.1.11." It met underground because it was illegal, for the members had open-minded and unique ideas. They read illegal books, and supported individuals and culture. In November 1937, two men from the Gestapo arrived at the door to the Scholl's apartment, commanding to search their house and arrest the kids involved with the dj.1.11. One of the sisters asked to excuse herself to go to the bakery but secretly hid all of the illegal books. Inge, Sophie, and Werner, the kids home at the time, were arrested, but soon after, released.

Sophie outright protested against Nazism because of Kristallnacht and the outbreak of war in 1939. She tried to resist doing work for the war, but was forced into labor until 1942 when she went to the university in Munich. She met with Hans here, who was studying medicine while he wasn't at the front. Hans became the center of a group of medical students who started a pamphlet campaign against the war. They called their group the "White Rose." The rose may be a symbol of secrecy, and white may have symbolized their pamphlet's humanism. Which ever way it is symbolized, it still has a powerful effect in Germany.

The first four pamphlets came out in June and July of 1942. They referred to the murder of the Jews in Poland. White Rose members wanted to hurt the weapon industry, and criticized the anti-Christian nature of the war. Hans and Sophie distributed the pamphlets throughout southern Germany, always aware that they were in danger of being caught. After a brief interlude, the "White Rose" came on even stronger. On the Front, Hans experienced the cruel treatment of Jews and Russian prisoners. In 1943, several thousand copies of the "White Rose" were made, and a student demonstration against the Nazis in Munich only made the Gestapo more driven to find the writers of the "White Rose."

Soon after, Sophie and Hans scrawled "freedom" on the entrance to the university, and the defeat at Stalingrad made the group feel they should make another pamphlet right away. This was the last issue.

On Thursday, February eighteenth, 1943, Sophie and Hans distributed the pamphlets personally at the university. At the last second, they were caught by the university's caretaker. They were taken to the Gestapo headquarters where they did not give any information about the other group members, but all were arrested soon after.

Sophie and Hans were questioned for four days in Munich, and their trial was set for February twenty second. Hitler's personal hanging judge came from Berlin especially for Hans and Sophie. After a four hour hearing, in which Hans and Sophie's parents were not allowed to participate, the brother and sister were sentenced to death by the guillotine. They did not wince once at the judge's harsh tone.

Miraculously, Sophie and Hans were able to see their parents for the last time. Hans' father said to him, "You will go down in history. There is another justice than this." By six o'clock P.M., Sophie and Hans's sentence had been carried out. Their words from the last pamphlet of the "White Rose" live on today as an example moral courage:

"We will not be silent. We are your bad conscience. The 'White Rose' will not leave you in peace."

Online Resources:

Gill, Anton. "Protest of Youth." [Online] Available
http://www.english.upenn.edu/~afilreis/Holocaust/gill-white-rose.html, 1994.

Jenna. "The White Rose." [Online] Available
http://www.jlrweb.com/whiterose/, Circa 2000. [ Updated: November 2005 ]

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