At the beginning of the 1930s, Hans Scholl and his sister Sophie Scholl were in school learning about the Nazi Regime in a small town of Forchtenberg, Germany. It was a time when fear, propaganda, and surveillance kept the Nazi Families under the strict watch of the regime. Under the dictatorship of Hitler, millions of Jews were mass slaughtered and what remained was nothing but a huge void of pain and terrific memories. The well-planned event still gives chills down our bones every time we hear about the stories. But that doesn’t mean the cries should stop or the tales should be forgotten.
In 1943, when the power of Hitler was all-time high and propaganda’s against it was considered high treason, several pamphlets talking against the regime were found at every booth of Nazi Germany. These pamphlets reached through every city, house, business to even prisoners calling out to wartime cries and awaring people to speak out against the holocaust. It was only when the war ended, that the stories of the authors came to light and their tragic end was recognized.
White Rose Resistance Group
Hans Scholl was born in 1918 and Sophie in 1921. Their father, Robert, earned enough to support his wife, Magdalena, and five children as a tax adviser. The parents were of liberal thoughts and thus taught their children the importance of freedom and tolerance. When Hans and Sophie joined the school, the Nazis first gained control and specifically targeted the young people in changing their ideologies and behavior in favor of the regime.
The Nazis set up institutions to police their thoughts and spread propaganda. Hans became a member of the Hitler Youth and Sophie enrolled in the Union of German Girls. These were the youth organizations designed to breed party loyalty and spread Nazi ideals. At first, the sibling participated enthusiastically but as they engaged deeply with the Nazis, only then did they realize the truth.
In 1936, Hans was chosen to carry a flag at a national rally, where he witnessed the zeal of Nazi rhetoric. Sophie too was questioning the ideals taught at the school. To stop spreading any kind of truth among society, Hitler banned sources of foreign media like radios, televisions, or newspapers. But the Scholl family continued to tune through foreign radio stations secretly to keep themselves updated.
Later Hans was enrolled to serve in the army while attending medical college in Munich. While in the army, Hans made friends with Christoph Probst, Alexander Schmorell, and Willi Graf. Together they witnessed the atrocities of war firsthand. They all were sickened by the Nazi ideologies and were desperate to share their ideals with the people. But it was a time when it was utterly impossible to know whom to trust.
Thus, the group decided to write anonymously under the sign of ‘The White Rose’. They collectively shared money, bought a printing press, and started circulating and drafting pamphlets. Most of these messages were written by Hans himself signed under the group’s name. In June 1942, mysterious anti-Nazi leaflets started appearing all over Munich. These leaflets were left in telephone books in public phone booths, mailed to professors and students, and taken by courier to other universities for distribution.
The first pamphlet denounced Hitler and asked them to sabotage the war and urged them to “Adopt passive resistance.” It also stated, “Do not forget that every nation deserves the government that it endures.” The messages drafted on the leaflet were considered a constitute treason, thus the forces by Gestapo started searching for the leads. The same year Sophie Scholl also arrived in Munich, at first she was unknown to her brother’s activities.
In Munich, she encountered these anti-Nazi leaflets and doubted it to be written by her brother. She searched Hans room and discovered the truth. But Sophie praised her brother’s ideals and wanted to support his efforts thus joining the White Rose group. For the next year, the group worked cohesively and in total drafted six messages. When the war raged on, the restrictions also tightened and so the group started drawing graffiti on the walls of the schools and colleges- “Freedom!” and “Hitler the Mass Murderer!”.
In February 1943, Hans and Sophie bought a suitcase full of leaflets at their universities. They dropped hundreds of leaflets to the ground from the balcony of the University. Their actions were caught by a custodian who further informed Gestapo. The siblings were bought in for questioning, at first they denied any involvement but later when the forces rearranged all the leaflets back into the case, they fit perfectly.
They were immediately led to court and sentenced to death by guillotine. Despite the harsh interrogation, the siblings refused to betray their co-conspirators and took full responsibility on their own. However, Gestapo recovered a draft of a seventh pamphlet, written by Christoph Probst. This led to the arrest of Probst as well. The three were executed the same day by guillotine at Stadelheim Prison. Sophie was the first to be executed followed by Christoph and Hans. Sophie and Christoph, both were silent but Hans shouted “Long Live Freedom!”. And with this, their shortlived rebellion ended yet their intentions lived in the heart of the people forever.