Sunday, 22 February 2015

The White Rose

Sophia Magdalena Scholl

9 May 1921 – 22 February 1943

Hans Fritz Scholl

22 September 1918 – 22 February 1943

Christoph Hermann Probst

6 November 1918 – 22 February 1943

Hans Scholl was a medical student. 

His sister Sophie was horrified by her boyfriend Fritz Hartnagel’s accounts of atrocities committed by Nazis on the eastern front.

She was a committed Christian, and her religious beliefs were an important motivation in her opposition to the Nazi regime.

Between June 1942 and February 1943, together with a group of their friends, they distributed anti war leaflets which also opposed Nazi rule. They called themselves 'The White Rose'.

On 18 February 1943 – shortly after the collapse at Stalingrad - Hans and Sophie Scholl brought a suitcase full of leaflets to the University of Munich and distributed them around the corridors for students to find at the change of lectures. Realising they had some left, they returned and climbed the stairs to the top of the atrium. Sophie spilled the remaining leaflets into the void.

The university porter saw this and came after them shouting ‘You’re under arrest!’ and rather than run, they decided to submit.

Sophie and Hans were interrogated by the Gestapo. 

Christoph Probst was a medical student and a member of the White Rose resistance group.

He was married with three children.

When Hans and Sophie Scholl were arrested, Hans carried a draft of a further leaflet designed by Christoph Probst. The leaflet referred to Hitler as a ‘military conman’ and said that the war must be lost so that Germany could live on. 

The handwriting matched the letters Probst had sent Hans Scholl.

Christoph Probst was arrested by the Gestapo on 19 February 1943 as he was on his way to visit his newborn daughter Katja and his wife, who was unwell following childbirth. He underwent extensive interrogation. 

All three were charged with treason, while the People’s Court hurried down to Munich to try them.
At their trial on 22 February 1943 the Scholls' parents Robert and Magdalene were not permitted entry. When they tried to enter the courtroom. Magdalene said to the guard: ‘But I'm the mother of two of the accused!’ The guard responded: ‘You should have brought them up better.’

Robert Scholl forced his way into the courtroom and told the court that he was there to defend his children. He was seized and forcibly escorted outside. The entire courtroom heard him shout: ‘One day there will be another kind of justice! One day they will go down in history!’

Sophie told Roland Freisler:

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.

Later she said to him:

            You know the war is lost. Why don’t you have the courage to face it?

Freisler sentenced all three defendants to death - and the sentence was carried out that day.

Sophie walked to the guillotine a few hours later, with great courage. Confronting death, she said:

How can we expect righteousness to prevail when there is hardly anyone willing to give himself up individually to a righteous cause? Such a fine, sunny day, and I have to go, but what does my death matter, if through us, thousands of people are awakened and stirred to action?

Christoph Probst was also guillotined that day, before his family knew that he had even been arrested.

He never saw Katja.

Helmuth von Moltke smuggled a copy of the offending pamphlet to the Allies, who distributed millions of them over Germany.

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