Resistance Fighters Against the Nazi Regime
“Such a splendid day, and I shall go. But what about our lives when we manage to stir up and wake up thousands of people ?”1 Those were the words of Sophie Scholl, a leader of the White Rose Movement on the day of her execution, February 22, 1943. I dedicate my essay to her and the other members of the White Rose because they inspire me to act with moral courage.
When I was in Grade 5 in Germany, I learned for the first time about the Second World War, the Nazi regime, and the Holocaust. After the first lesson I was shocked, speechless and angry because how could I be proud to be a German when the generation of my grand-grandparents was responsible for this genocide. Unspeakable many people were killed “at least 55 million people”2 in the war and approximately another 6 million people in the biggest genocide the earth has ever seen.3 So much suffering was caused by the Nazi regime who controlled the unwilling German folk, the soldiers who marched full of pride into the war,4 the SS (a Protection Squadron)5 who monitored the deportation and execution of the Jewish folk in the KZ`s, and the last, the cruel, inhuman and disgusting KZ.6
After some history lessons about the war we started the chapter “Resistance against the Nazi regime.” It was very important for me to learn that not every German was a mute and cowardly follower of National Socialism. There were some people who did not accept the Nazi regime but just a few of them had the courage to voice their support against the regime in public. The members of the White Rose were a part of them. I was fascinated and impressed because they had the courage to stand up against a brutal regime that punished any criticism or other opinions with death.
“The six main players of the resistance group were the students from the University of Munich: Hans (24)7 and Sophie Scholl (21)8, Alexander Schmorell (25)9, Christoph Probst (23)10, Willi Graf (25)11 and the professor Kurt Huber (49)12.”13
The group had created a total of six anti-nationalism leaflets, in which they sharply criticized the National Socialists but the Germans looked away from the crime. The first four leaflets were written by Hans Scholl and Alexander Schmorell in June and July, 1942.15 The main aim of their action was to clarify and persuade the German folk that the National Socialists were cruel and the war useless and a shame for Germany.
“Every word that comes from Hitler’s mouth is a lie. When he says peace, he means war, and when he blasphemously uses the name of the Almighty, he means the power of evil, the fallen angel, Satan.” A quote from the fourth leaflet line.30-33.14
“Many, perhaps most, of the readers of these leaflets do not see clearly how they can practice an effective opposition. They do not see any avenues open to them. We want to try to show them that everyone is in a position to contribute to the overthrow of this system.”14 Written in the third leaflet.
They also condemned the genocide to the Jews in their second leaflet: “We want to cite the fact that since the conquest of Poland three hundred thousand Jews have been murdered. Here we see the most frightful crime against human dignity.”14
Hans Scholl and Alexander Schmorell were sent to the Russian front as paramedicsat the end of July 1942. As they returned to Munich in November 1942, they were even more passionate to offer resistance against the regime and the war. After the German defeat in Stalingrad at January 1943, Alexander and Hans wrote the fifth and sixth leaflets with the help of their art history professor Karl Huber, Sophie Scholl and Willi Graf.
The fifth and sixth leaflets dealt with the useless war and they tried to convince all Germans that the war had already been lost. “Hitler cannot win the war; he can only prolong it.”14 Written in the fifth leaflet.
They produced a total of 6,000 to 9,000 copies of the fifth leaflet at night and distributed them in different German cities to reach the great German population and start a big anti-Hitler movement. But the hoped-for reaction in the population, however, did not happen.
The sixth leaflet becomes the fate of the White Rose. In the early morning on the 18th of February 1943, Hans and Sophie Scholl were walking to the Munich University with a total of 1,800 copies in their bags. They distributed the leaflets into the building but they were watched by the caretaker who denounced them to the Gestapo.17 Four days later on the 22nd of February, Sophie and Hans Scholl were sentenced to death.
An important thing I have learned from the White Rose is that freedom, whether it is political freedom to vote, freedom of religion or freedom of speech, is not self-evident and that there must always be people who feel responsible for our freedom.
The actions of the White Rose have inspired me to act with moral courage. Even in everyday situations you should act with moral courage and not to look away when you see, for example, a student is bullied.
The members of the White Rose tried peacefully to start a resistance against National Socialism; even if they didn’t succeed, they are still role models for freedom and moral courage.
1 https://www.goodreads.com/author/quotes/801549.Sophie_Scholl 08.10.2017
2 http://www.zeit.de/news/2015-05/08/geschichte-hintergrund-der-zweite-weltkrieg-in-zahlen-und-fakten-08065612 08.10.2017
3 http://www.ndr.de/kultur/geschichte/chronologie/Holocaust-Das-beispiellose-Verbrechen,verbrechen100.html 08.10.2017
4 http://www.cnn.com/2013/07/09/world/world-war-ii-fast-facts/ 08.10.2017
5 https://www.welt.de/geschichte/zweiter-weltkrieg/article155532554/Die-ekelhafte-Humanitaet-im-SS-Musterlager.html 08.10.2017
6 http://www.berliner-zeitung.de/kultur/kz-dokumentation-hitchcock-und-die-bilder-vom-tod-3288940 08.10.2017
7 https://www.pinterest.de/explore/hans-scholl/ 09.10.2017
8 https://infograph.venngage.com/p/100480/sophie-scholl 09.10.2017
9 http://www.bpb.de/geschichte/nationalsozialismus/weisse-rose/60984/alexander-schmorell 09.10.2017
10 http://www.bpb.de/geschichte/nationalsozialismus/weisse-rose/60975/christoph-probst 09.10.2017
11 http://www.bpb.de/geschichte/nationalsozialismus/weisse-rose/60993/willi-graf 09.10.2017
12 http://www.bpb.de/geschichte/nationalsozialismus/weisse-rose/61001/kurt-huber 09.10.2017
13 Alfred Grosser et al., Des Allemands contre le nazism. Albin Michel. 30/10/1997. Print
14 Paul Jakob, The six pamphlets of the White Rose. LibertyiFound.org. 20.02.2015. Web
15 http://www.bpb.de/geschichte/nationalsozialismus/weisse-rose/60965/hans-scholl 09.10.2017
16 http://www.bpb.de/geschichte/nationalsozialismus/weisse-rose/61008/die-flugblaetter-im-wortlaut 09.10.2017
17 http://www.kas.de/wf/de/191.5728/ 09.10.2017