It was 1942. Sophie Scholl was a student at the University of Munich when Adolf Hitler brought Germany to ruin. She, like most Germans, was optimistic about Hitler’s leadership, clinging to him to lead the nation out of a horrendous economic collapse and international scorn left over from the First World War. She joined the Hitler Youth as many German teens did. Though as the war progressed, there were signs that Hitler was not a savior of the German states. Her brother Hans briefly served on the front lines and witnessed the horrific treatment of those considered inferior to Hitler’s standards, confirming their father’s suspicions of Hitler’s insidious intentions.Sophie, Hans, friends, and their psychology/philosophy professor formed Die Weiβe Rose, or The White Rose, an intellectually based, peaceful resistance movement against Hitler’s regime. Their campaign consisted of essays written as leaflets and distributed anonymously throughout the region.
The first leaflet appeared around the University of Munich. The leaflet criticized and called for Germans to stand against the tyranny of Hitler, criticizing the actions that Hitler had taken during the war. The leaflet references concentration camps and correctly predicts the outcome of the German legacy immediately following the war:
It is certain today every honest German is ashamed of his government. Who among us has any conception of the dimensions of shame that will befall us and our children when one day the veil has fallen from our eyes and the most horrible of crimes – crimes that indefinitely outdistance every human measure – reach the light of day?
The words were shocking, and the first instance of blatant backlash against Hitler’s authority.The Gestapo were baffled as copies of the leaflets began showing up in the mail. Students at the University of Hamburg also began joining in the efforts, copying and mailing out more leaflets across Germany. The leaflets were left outside of lecture halls so that students would see them as they walked out of class along with telephone booths and on the ground.
The White Rose exhibited true nationalism, reminding the public of the glory that Germans once had. Besides the obvious objective of resisting fascism and Hitler, the leaflets were also aimed towards reviving the cultural and intellectual pride in Germany, often quoting Goethe(the “German Shakespeare”) among other significant German figures. The leaflet refers to Goethe’s views of Germans as a “tragic people,” but then goes on to describe then modern Germans as “spineless [and a] herd of hangers-on.”
Sophie was a devout Lutheran, and other members of The White Rose were also particularly pious. Many Germans had ties with Catholicism and Lutheranism, and Sophie’s boldness was heavily driven by her faith. Prior to her death, Sophie often laced her urgent conversations with family with optimistic valor. Her speech, like the wording in the leaflets, was highly descriptive and poetic, incorporating wisdom in her words:
“Only man can be truly ugly, because he has the free will to estrange himself from this song of praise. It often seems that he’ll manage to drown out this hymn with his cannon thunder, curses and blasphemy. But during this past spring it has dawned upon me that he won’t be able to do this. And so I want to try and throw myself on the side of the victor.”
The faith of all of the members appeared in their arguments against the soulless regime, comparing their fellow Germans to nothing more than will-less animals:
If the German people are already so corrupted and spiritually crushed that they do not raise a hand, frivolously trusting in a questionable faith in lawful order in history; if they surrender man’s highest principle, that which raises him above all other God’s creatures, his free will; if they will abandon the will to take decisive action and turn the wheel of history and thus subject it to their own rational decision; if they are so devoid of all individuality, have already gone so far along the road toward turning into a spiritless and cowardly mass – then yes, they deserve their downfall.
As conditions worsened, more leaflets were hastily distributed.
Unfortunately, Sophie, Hans, and friend Christoph Probst were arrested in 1943 after a janitor at the university witnessed Sophie throwing the leaflets from the second floor of the atrium. On February 22nd, 1943, Sophie Scholl, Hans Scholl, and Christoph Probst were executed by guillotine. After their execution, copies of the final leaflet were copied and dropped from planes all across Europe.
Sophie’s sister Inge wrote the story of her siblings’ movement in her book The White Rose. In 2005, the story snagged the Academy Award for Best Foreign Film in Sophie Scholl – The Final Days.
Sophie’s acts are now considered courageous throughout Germany and the University of Munich has a square dedicated to The White Rose. Many would think that Sophie is an extraordinary woman. And she is. But what is so extraordinary is that a typical young woman dared to make a change.
In today’s time, “ordinary” women such as Malala Yousafzai have stepped up to fight for their own causes. I have heard plenty express their ideas and desires for a better future, but never take initiative because they believe they are “too young.” But the only requirement is to take initiative, no matter when, what, or how old you are, and start a movement…just as Sophie told the court while deciding her fate:
“Somebody, after all, had to make a start. What we wrote and said is also believed by many others. They just don’t dare express themselves as we did.”
The Nazi Assault that affected the lives of thousands of people and became the cause of the death of many individuals during the Second World War was a nightmare that everyone does not want to come back to. It was the glorious days of Adolf Hitler and his men and the immense recognition of the Nazi power over those whom it aimed to oppress. Nevertheless, it was also the time when the birth of heroes came into the picture. The White Rose Movement was among the fearless groups formed that directed faced the challenge of imposing power over the powerless and giving voice to the voiceless.
The White Rose Movement is a particular attention getter in history as it basically introduces a group of youths who were willing to face their death for the sake of going against the oppressive government of Adolf Hitler. This research aims to show the different aspects of development and the history that made the White Rose Movement a worthwhile discussion that shall teach the current society with the all the necessary lessons they ought to learn. Specifically referring to the strategies used by the organization to defend their youth and their people from Hitler’s oppression, this research shall serve as a wide-eyed opener that would redefine the recognition behind the heroism that the youth’s of the White Rose did not fear to show during the most tumultuous times of the Nazi history.
Significance of the Research
Today, many people believe that the youth can do so much if they put their minds into it. In the past, this has already been proven by the White Rose Movement and was basically recognized to be a part of the German history that is now being well noted in historical records. Truthfully, it is undeniable that the emotional strength and the impressive belief that these young individuals have shown before could be imposed as a great lesson among individuals at present. It is with their great courage that the current generation of youths could learn to continuously defend what is right and find the right cause for their lives. This research is aiming to create an eye-opener to all that if in the past, unity was one of the causes that the oppressive regime of Hitler failed to be victorious with its goals, at present, unity could also become the cause for development that is needed by the society today. True, there might not be any Nazi-like assaults today; there are still several issues in the society that aim to suppress several individuals who do not have the power to speak for themselves. Trough learning the history of The White Rose Movement, it is expected that youths today would learn how to stand for the right and defend those who might need their assistance.
Rationale of the Research [Topic and Title Choice Reasoning]
The reason behind the topic and title choice for this research is based upon the importance of the contribution of the White Rose Movement towards the development of the history written about the Nazi assault and the people behind its supposed victory and its failing end. Specifically, it the researcher’s interest in showing how a group of determined youths have actually made a great difference on how history turned out to be is the main basis of the pursuance of this research. The importance of discussing the source of confidence and motivation that the members of the White Rose Movement is a basic identification that makes it easier for the researcher to redefine the important role that is covering the willing capability of each young individual today to defend the society from the oppressive effects that modern living itself imposes.
To be able to establish the research that is to be completed under this topic, the following questions shall be carried on into consideration:
- What is the White Rose Movement? Who founded it, when did it start and what were its primary objectives for establishment?
- What were the strategies used by the members of these movement and how well did the said strategies turn out?
- How important is the identification of the White Rose Movement in History and how much does that reputation affect the human society today?
The White Rose Movement is a well recognized arrangement that basically marked the pages of the Nazi history and created a more vivid picture of what success is all about when it is teamed up with the application of complete unity among members of the organization. Through this discussion, the important of unity in mission and cooperation among members to make a change in the society shall be better presented hence creating a more definite effect in defining the life of the people in the past and how their experiences should actually affect the lives of the human society today.
- Introduction: This section of the research shall be the host source of understanding as to what the entire study shall be about. It shall introduce the major components of research that shall be included within this documentation which is expected to give the readers a rightful vision of what the entire study is all about.
- Background of the Study: This part shall give the readers an understanding about the basis of the entire research and how it is supposed to be handled by the researcher for better discussion and development of topic.
- What is the White Rose Movement: through this section, the identification of the White Rose Movement shall be better known and explained to the readers.
- How the White Rose Movement Affect the History: This section shall create a more vivid picture on how the White Rose movement actually turned around the path of history that is being taken by the Nazi assault era in Germany and how it affected the whole world’s history.
- Commemorating the White Rose Movement: In this phase of the discussion a collective presentation of the influence of the White Rose Movement shall be given light in an aim of making the society realize about the supposed effect that this marking aspect of history must have on the society at present.
- Conclusion: This section shall provide a five-point conclusion on what has been discovered and what has been understood within the entire study.
Dumbach, Annette & Newborn, Jud. "Sophie Scholl & The White Rose". First published as "Shattering the German Night", 1986; this expanded, updated edition Oneworld Publications, 2006. This reading provides a specific description on how the White Rose Movement first began towards that of its pursuance to get into Hitler’s system and create a commotion which they thought would put an end to the regime of the iron hands of Adolf Hitler himself.
DeVita, James "The Silenced" HarperCollins, 2006. YA novel inspired by Sophie Scholl and The White Rose. This reading entails information inspired by some of the publications and leaflets released by the White Rose Movement in accordance with their aim of becoming heard by their government thus ending the human genocide that was occurring then.
McDonough Frank, Sophie Scholl: The Real Story of the Woman Who Defied Hitler, History Press, 2009. Describing the life of Sophie Scholl and how her being a woman served as an empowerment to the members of the White Rose Movement as they pursued their aim of putting an end to the iron clad of Adolf Hitler.
Sachs, Ruth Hanna. White Rose History, Volume I: Coming Together (January 31, 1933 – April 30, 1942). Lehi, Utah: Exclamation! Publishers, 2002.This historical documentation of the first years of the White Rose Movement’s function in the society basically defines the correlative existence of oppression among the people and how this has fired up the desire of the society to be free off the bounds of dictatorship and complete control from the Nazi regime.
Sachs, Ruth Hanna. White Rose History, Volume II: Journey to Freedom (May 1, 1942 – October 12, 1943). Lehi, Utah: Exclamation! Publishers, 2005. The second phase of White Rose Movement’s existence within the human society is described within this reading. Most likely, the approach used to write this piece of historical craft is based upon the actual functions of the movement and the procedures they took to pursue their missions.
Sachs, Ruth Hanna. White Rose History, Volume III: Fighters to the Very End (October 13, 1943 – May 8, 1945). This third and final writing of Sachs about the White Rose Movement’s role in the German society oversees the time of capture and trial of the primary founders of the White Rose Movement. Covered with intensity of emotions through inserted facts from research, this reading is indeed a worthy source for the study being completed herein.
History has a great deal of affecting the entire society’s current credibility and capability to face the most pressing issues of development. It could not be denied that it is already an accepted truth that from history, humans learn and from the present humans apply what they have gained from the past. Yes, through experiencing so much in the past, humans gain the knowledge they need to face the current issues that they are supposed to handle. One of the most devastating eras of the world history was that of the rise of the Nazi assault and the effects that it left in the past accounts of human living. The pressing on of genocide through holocaust has naturally marked that era which basically affects the current visions of human society towards obsessive power control and self definition of the current governments of the world. It could be recounted how careful human individuals are today at the moment that they feel their freedom is already being oppressed by those who are in power. This realization though has been fueled by past examples of being practically alert of the systems of governance that they had to live with.
One of the most important movements that made a great impact at the turn of time is that of the White Rose Movement which was specifically aimed at putting an end to the controls of the Nazi government over Germany and all of its other colonies around the globe. The founders’ desire to give assistance to those who are being oppressed by the said government grew ever stronger that pushed them to creating an organization that would invite the young generation to take the stand and insist on the changes that ought to be considered by the government for the sake of giving birth to a freer Germany. In the discussion that follows, an elaboration of the
Background of the Study
Through the years, researchers aimed to see through the different aspects of existence that the White Rose Movement has actually depended upon. Sociologists specifically gained interest on the fact that the youths who founded this organization plainly used their convincing power to help others see through their capabilities and be able to fight something that has covered them in fear for so many years already. Truthfully, the fondness of researchers in creating a more in depth study with regards the existence and the struggles of the group create a more colorful and vivid picture for that makes this issue a more worthy topic for research. In the same manner, the author of this study wants to expand his personal understanding about the reputation of the organization, their works and their actions towards the time when they have been captured and put to trial. Specifically, it could be denounced that the interest upon the being of each of the members and the conviction that they have with regards the supposed fulfillment of their agenda in creating the organization is the clear focus of the research that is to be presented herein.
What is the White Rose Movement?
One important matter to note with regards the existence of the White Rose Movement is its opposition towards what is violent. The founders of the group consisting of three primary student leaders from the University of Munich as guided by their philosophy professor criticized the ways by which Adolf Hitler handled his position and used his power to force people to follow his lead. It was the year 1942 that the students in the name of Hans Scholl, Sophie Scholl and Christoph Probst aimed to create a more definite effect on the society as they imposed to create possible procedures that would let the society know of the truth and understand the serious situation that they are in. Kurt Huber, the Philosophy professor was one of the advocates of peaceful rebellion. It is from him that the idea of intellectual fight came from. His belief over the fact that influencing the minds of the people to take their side and defend their country through a more intellectual approach has been recognized by the White Rose Movement as their base foundation (Sachs, 2002: 67). Most in their early twenties, the members of the White Rose Movement basically had much fresher ideas by which they are able to affect the being of the society that they are aiming to influence.
Through the use of literary creations, the members of the White Rose Movement are specifically dedicated to imposing on the thinking of the people. They used leaflets and distributed several issues of short newsletters that are dedicated towards the consideration of giving assistance to the people in an aim of making them understand about the situation that they are in and how much they are able to redefine their roles as individuals to be able to bring in change and developments in the society. Specifically, the progress of their movement depended on how the society responds to their call for cooperation. The effectiveness of using words and persuasive thoughts to help the individuals in the society actually find their place in the process of fighting the oppression that is occurring during their time was the primary source of the strength of the organization with regards the influence that they are supposed to impose on the human society. It is with the understanding of society that a unified strength of the community that they need could be formed.
How the White Rose Movement Affected the History
In the process of existing in the German society between the years 1942 and 1943, the White Rose Movement has already distributed at least six primary leaflets which all reflected their idealisms towards rebelling against the government of Adolf Hitler in a more peaceful manner and a more controlled approach that is best defined as an intellectual defense against the acts of Hitler which are all a specific defiance against the worth of human living.
The leaflets were usually penned by Alexander Schmorell. The ideas presented in each leaflet are collections of all the opinions of the members of the group. Most of the time, the leaflets released by the organization aim to exhort the thinking of the German society as the words try to exactly influence the philosophy, rationale and reasoning of the people. Through making each leaflet speak towards the concern of the people, it could be realized that the organization was able to create a specific thinking that is considered to have a definite effect on how the society began to view their position as part of an oppressed community. The call that the organization established actually proposed for resistance activities that are aimed towards defending the rights of the society to live a life of freedom. One of the most popular excerpts from the first released leaflet of the organization are the words presented below:
Isn’t it true that every honest German is ashamed of his government these days? Who among us has any conception of the dimensions of shame that will befall us and our children when one day the veil has fallen from our eyes and the most horrible of crimes—crimes that infinitely outdistance every human measure—reach the light of day? –(Sachs, Volume 1, 2002:45)
Yes, as seen from the excerpt presented above, the mission of the White Rose Movement in awakening the senses of the people in seeing the situation and speaking towards their role that could actually help in making a definite change in the community that they are living in. The organizations also used a specific picturesque that describes the devastating situation of the German society back then. With the effect that they left to the thinking of the people, the White Rose Movement appeared to have been one of the strongest organizations that have been able to turn things around through affecting the intellectual being of the society.
The released documents from the organization continuously increased the interest of the people towards the possibility of creating a more powerful organization that would be able to face against the challenges of going against the rules of a violent government (McDonough, 2009: 98). Standing as pacifists to the issue, many people among the German society were convinced that attacking the intellectual capabilities of others and even that of the government itself could help in the process of transforming matters to become more specifically protective of the rights that they have as individuals.
The other leaflets from the second towards the sixth that have been released in the name of the organization have been distributed in different manners which were all dedicated towards reaching most number of individuals that they could influence. The first leaflets were easy to distribute, however at the time when they were already being watched by the government, they became in need of being extra-careful about their process of reaching their readers. It has even been reported that the last leaflet has been released through being thrown from the air towards the people. Sophie Scholl even had to flung some of the leaflets from the upper floor of a building to reach the most number of people from below. This was when the members of the White Rose Movement were already being ran after by the officers for capture and trials. The end of the White Rose Movement was tragic as Hans Scholl has been executed. However, the long term effect of the messages that they sent towards the people in the society remained an actual definition of what Hans’ last words meant as he said “Let freedom live” (Sachs, 2005: 56).
Commemorating the White Rose Movement
Never will the White Rose Movement and the courage of its members be forgotten. The foundation they have established to help the people understand about their position in the situation and how they could actually create changes that would result to their freedom. Even though the White Rose Movement was not an immediate victory because of being captured, it could be realized how their influence lived long in fueling the thoughts of the society in wanting to survive the era of death in Germany and live to see the day when they would be free.
Through this discussion, it could be realized that the imposed effect of the White Rose Movement took time to be completely realized. No matter, their pursuance of making their determination work towards what is right and what is considerate of the rights of the people being able to live freely in their own land paid so much in the process of bringing the people of Germany into the awakening that they needed to motivate them to face the facts and defend themselves from being continuously oppressed by those in power. Through intellectually understanding the situation, the movement of the White Rose naturally created a more sophisticated way of seeing the situation which further empowered the people to push forward to fight for their right to freedom.
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