White Rose: Munich 1942-1943, by Inge Scholl. Did the Scholl's die in vain, and if so, what purpose did their resistance serve against the Nazis? Inge Scholl wrote this moving book about her brother and sister, who formed a student group, the White Rose, to fight the Nazis with propaganda and intelligent arguments. The two Scholls were beheaded in 1943 for treason. This is the story of their group, and what they accomplished.
RESISTANCE TO THE NAZIS
The German people were incredibly afraid to criticize Hitler and his Nazi party because they knew what would happen, they would end up like the Scholls, condemned for treason. The "volk" were the people, but if they dissented from their "fuehrer," they were traitors, and had to be dealt with "swiftly." For example, once Hans joined the Nazi Youth program, he became disillusioned with the "discipline and conformity down to the last detail, including personal life," (Scholl 8). He felt each boy in the group should follow their own personal talents and ideas and give to the group that way, but that was not the Nazi way, and he was uncomfortable with the strict adherence to policies and procedures.
In war, it is difficult to dissent, and even though many Germans knew of the concentration camps, they rationalized them as necessary for war. The Scholl's father said, "That is war. [...] War against human happiness and the freedom of its children. It is a frightful crime" (Scholl 11). Hans felt the sting of war, too. He stared school as a medical student, served in a Nazi medic company in France, and then returned to Munich to continue his studies. While he was in Munich, he began to listen to speeches by Count Galen, Bishop of Munster, who protested the Nazi regime and their anti-Christian sentiments and controls. Hans was impressed that the Bishop was giving voice to his concerns. A short time later, he met an editor who befriended him, and Alexander Schmorell, the son of a Munich doctor, and they both influenced his thinking as well, later he met two more students, Christl Probst and Willi Graf, and they all formed a common bond. Soon, his sister Sophie would join him, too.
Sophie could not begin school until she was twenty-one, because she had to serve the Nazis, first in six months of "labor service," and later in six months of "war-aide service" (Scholl 22). She, like her brother, found solace in the words of a religious man - her favorite writer was St. Augustine, and she hid her reading material from the Nazis, because it was banned. The family knew the danger of speaking out, or even reading banned material, because their father had been questioned by the Gestapo and taken away, simply because he spoke out against Hitler to his employee, and she turned him in. His crime? He called Hitler "God's scourge of mankind" (Scholl 25).
When Sophie arrived in Munich, she met Hans' friends, and they all celebrated her birthday with the cake her mother had sent with her in her suitcase. Then they read poems and tried to guess who wrote them. Hans read a poem by Gottfried Keller, and dedicated it to Hitler. It was the first time the group spoke of resistance to the Nazis, and Hans tried to find out where they could find a duplicating machine so they could print and distribute leaflets of the poem all over Germany. About this time, he also began attending the lectures of a philosophy professor named Huber, who spoke often of Leibniz and his theory of theodicy, which spoke of "the vindication of the justice of God" (Scholl 31). About six weeks after Sophie came to Munich, the first White Rose leaflets appeared, advocating that all people needed to "offer passive resistance - resistance - whenever you may be" (Scholl 32). At first, Sophie did not know her brother had any part in the leaflets, but when she visited his room, she saw a book marked with a passage that had been reprinted in the leaflets, and she grew frightened, because she knew her entire family was in danger if he was caught. Three more leaflets came out in a few more…