Friday, May 23, 2008

The White Rose

Photo: A black granite memorial to the White Rose Movement in the Hofgarten in Munich with the dome of the Bavarian State Chancellery in the background.

I went to see the play 'The White Rose' last night at the NC Stage Company. I found it very moving.

It is the story of peaceful resistance. This resistance took place in Germany in 1942 and 1943. There was a group of students at the University of Munich (along with one professor) who made copies of leaflets called "The White Rose". They then distributed these leaflets around the university and mailed them to people around the country of Germany.

Here's what the Wikipedia article has to say about how they started:

In 1941 Sophie and Hans Scholl attended the sermon of an outspoken critic of the Nazi regime, Bishop August von Galen, decrying the euthanasia policies which the Nazis maintained would protect the European gene pool.[4] Horrified by the Nazi policies, Sophie obtained permission to reprint the sermon and distribute at the University of Munich as the group's first pamphlet prior to their formal organization.

Under Gestapo interrogation, Hans Scholl said that the name had been taken from a Spanish novel he had read. Annette Dumbach and Jud Newborn speculate that this may have been The White Rose, a novel about peasant exploitation in Mexico published in Berlin in 1931, written by B. Traven, the German author of The Treasure of the Sierra Madre. Dumbach and Newborn say there is a chance that Hans Scholl and Alex Schmorell had read this. They write that the symbol of the white rose was intended to represent purity and innocence in the face of evil.

From the article "A Lesson in Dissent":
The date was February 22, 1943. Hans Scholl and his sister Sophie, along with their best friend, Christoph Probst, were scheduled to be executed by Nazi officials that afternoon. The prison guards were so impressed with the calm and bravery of the prisoners in the face of impending death that they violated regulations by permitting them to meet together one last time. Hans, a medical student at the University of Munich, was 24. Sophie, a student, was 21. Christoph, a medical student, was 22.
The play left me in tears. I came home and started reading about this group called "The White Rose" and while some of the details I read about were not exactly as the play was written, the play definitely caught the spirit of what the dissidents were trying to do, why they were doing it, and how it was received. The members of the group were executed by guillotine for treason.

They are now considered heroes and heroines in Germany today. The picture above is from the Wikipedia page on The White Rose, and it is a statue at the University of Munich.

Here is a clip from a leaflet:

Since the conquest of Poland three hundred thousand Jews have been murdered in this country in the most bestial way ... The German people slumber on in their dull, stupid sleep and encourage these fascist criminals ... Each man wants to be exonerated of a guilt of this kind, each one continues on his way with the most placid, the calmest conscience. But he cannot be exonerated; he is guilty, guilty, guilty! — from the second leaflet of The White Rose.

It is amazing how much some people will do and give to further the truth. These young people gave their lives. There are only a few more plays in Asheville (Friday, Saturday, Sunday) and I hope that many have the opportunity to see the play.

1 comment:

Tor Hershman said...

The White Rose [should have] ruled