Sophie & Hans Scholl with Christoph Probst summer of 1942

The White Rose in World War II

In the early summer of 1942, a group of young men — including Willi Graf, Christoph Probst and Hans Scholl formed a a non-violent resistance group in Nazi Germany, consisting of a number of students from the University of Munich and their philosophy professor. The group became known for an anonymous leaflet campaign, lasting from June 1942 until February 1943, that called for active opposition to the Nazis regime.

 

The group co-authored six anti-Nazi Third Reich political resistance leaflets. Calling themselves the White Rose, they instructed Germans to passively resist the Nazis. They had been horrified by the behavior of the Germans on the Eastern Front where they had witnessed a group of naked Jews being shot in a pit.

The core of the White Rose consisted of five students — Sophie Scholl, her brother Hans Scholl, Alex Schmorell, Willi Graf, and Christoph Probst, all in their early twenties — also members were Hans and Sophie's sister Inge Scholl, and a professor of philosophy, Kurt Huber.

Between June 1942 and February 1943, they prepared and distributed six different leaflets, in which they called for the active opposition of the German people to Nazi oppression and tyranny. Huber drafted the final two leaflets. A draft of a seventh leaflet, written by Christoph Probst, was found in the possession of Hans Scholl at the time of his arrest by the Gestapo, who destroyed it.

The White Rose was influenced by the German Youth Movement, of which Christoph Probst was a member. Hans Scholl was a member of the Hitler Youth until 1936 and Sophie was a member of the Bund Deutscher Mädel. The ideas of d.j.1.11 had strong influence on Hans Scholl and his brothers and sisters. d.j.1.11 was a youth group of the German Youth Movement, founded by Eberhard Koebel in 1929.

Willi Graf was a member of Neudeutschland and the Grauer Orden. Neudeutschland is a catholic youth association. The group's members were motivated by their Christian beliefs. They had witnessed the atrocities of the war, both on the battlefield and against the civilian population in the East, and sensed that the reversal of fortune that the Wehrmacht suffered at Stalingrad would eventually lead to Germany's defeat. They rejected fascism and militarism and believed in a federated Europe that adhered to principles of tolerance and justice.

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Written by www.HolocaustResearchProject.org; used by permission

Additional Sources

Students Against Tyranny: The Resistance of the White Rose, Munich, 1942-1943 

White Rose, The (pamphlet) Franz J. Muller,et al., White Rose Foundation, Munich  1991

At the Heart of the White Rose: Letters and Diaries of Hans & Sophie Scholl Inge Jens, ed., Harper & Row, 1987 
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