During Hitler's reign over Germany in the 30's and 40's, few people stood up against him and those who did were quickly snuffed out. The punishment for treason against the Reich was severe and public. Everyone knew what would happen to them if they were caught. But even with the knowledge of what would happen to them, a group of college students called the White Rose (die Weiße Rose) began distributing anti-Hitler flyers around Munich in 1941. They protested against hate; using graffiti and printing leaflets against the Nazis with messages to rebel against Hitler and to stop him. The White Rose distributed their flyers all over the country, mailing them from different cities, leaving them in trains and shops, risking their lives to try to save Germany.
The leaders were in their 20's: Hans Scholl and his sister Sophie, Willi Graf, Alex Schmorell and Christoph Probst. One of their greatest influences was a philosophy professor at the University of Munich, Kurt Huber.
The group had created five leaflets and distributed hundreds of copies of each by February of 1943. That month a high-ranking officer gave a speech at the University of Munich that caused an uproar among the students. The next day Hans and Sophie decided to distribute pamphlets at the university, but were caught by a janitor, who saw them throw flyers from a balcony. In less than a week, Hans, Sophie, and Christoph were tried, convicted, and sent to the guillotine. In the next year, many others in the group followed the same path.
Many people would say that the actions of the White Rose were foolish and pointless, because their chances of succeeding in starting any student revolution were next to nothing. Hitler was an enemy that half the world almost couldn't defeat, so what could a handful of students possibly do? Well, they could do all they could to stand up for what was right. The members of the White Rose possessed bravery that few people have. They gave up their lives rather than live and remain silent when such awful things were going on. Because of their efforts, many average citizens found out more about what was actually going on, and people were encouraged that others thought like they did. Many started doing small things to hinder the Nazis goals. Today there are many schools in Germany named after members of the White Rose, so people can be reminded that anyone can help destroy tyranny.
The White Rose should be studied by everyone, and their story should be made known because someday, there will be a time when the world will need a White Rose to bloom again.
Check out our page on the White Rose Exhibit.
Check out our page of White Rose links.
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