Wednesday, February 22, 2006
The White Rose
Today is the anniversary of the executions of Hans Scholl, Sophie Scholl, and Christoph Probst who were half of the group called the White Rose. The White Rose was a German Resistance group during World War II.
Hans and his sister Sophie were caught leaving anti-war leaflets in a lecture hall at the University of Munich and Christoph was arrested the next day. They were all executed a few hours after being found guilty of treason.
I read this brief account of their life. It has no sources cited, so take it for what it's worth. It has no obvious inaccuracies, although I'm hardly an expert. I liked this part:
By a miracle the parents had a last opportunity to see their children. They
saw Hans first. Robert embraced him saying, 'You will go down in history. There is another justice than this.' Hans asked them to say farewell to his friends, and only when he mentioned one name very special to him did he weep, bowing his head so that no one should see. Sophie, when her turn came, accepted some little cakes that her brother had refused, saying, 'Lovely. I didn't get anything to eat at lunchtime.' She looked wonderful, fresh and full of life. Her mother said, 'I'll never see you come through the door again.' 'Oh mother,' she answered, 'after all, it's only a few years' more life I'll miss.' She was pleased and proud that they had betrayed no one, that they had taken all the responsibility on themselves. Her main concern was that her mother should be able to withstand the deaths of two children at the same time. But, for herself, she was completely composed.
Of course, no one really knows how they would act under certain circumstances, but I always felt that I would have been a Sophie Scholl had I been living in Germany at the time. I always saw my brother Pete working with me too. And, yes, I saw myself losing my head over the whole thing, literally, just as they did. Oh, I think I would have eaten the little cakes too.
And this part struck me as interesting for our current political situation:
It was striking to see with what incisiveness and logic Sophie saw how things would develop, for she was warm-hearted and full of feeling, not cold and calculating. Here is an example: in winter 1941-42 there was a big propaganda campaign in Germany to get the people to give sweaters and other warm woolen clothing to the Army. German soldiers were at the gates of Leningrad and Moscow in the middle of a winter war for which
they weren't prepared ...Sophie said, 'We're not giving anything.' I had just got back from the Russian Front... I tried to describe to her how conditions were for the men, with no gloves, pullovers or warm socks. She stuck to her viewpoint relentlessly and justified it by saying, 'It doesn't matter if it's German soldiers who are freezing to death or Russians, the case is equally terrible. But we must lose the war. If we contribute warm clothes, we'll be extending it.'
I think of how today so many people say that they oppose the war in Iraq, but support the troops. This makes no sense to me. How can you support the troops if you think they are engaged in what is often called an immoral war? Should the German people have supported their troops during WWII? Or should they have let them freeze, as Sophie felt they should?