Top positive review
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Highly recommended - an amazing story
on 11 March 2006
This is a very moving story about the student resistance movement in Nazi Germany who came together to try to undermine Hitler’s grip on the country and encourage their fellow Germans to fight back against probably one of the most terrifying totalitarian regimes one could imagine. It does a very good job at capturing both their idealism and high moral principles, and their youthful courage and spontaneity which saw them throwing their anti-government leaflets over the balcony of the main hall in Munich University in broad daylight, which led to their capture, interrogation and execution.
Despite the shortness of their campaign, and its ultimate failure, there was much to admire. In an atmosphere of fear, secret police, and rigid laws controlling every aspect of the population, they tried to raise awareness about the persecution of the Jews, and drew attention to the need for freedom of expression and individualism. They decided that to save Germany from the National Socialists, it was essential that Germany lose the war, and they came up with a campaign of passive resistance and sabotage which they encouraged everyone to support in order to undermine the regime and thwart the war effort.
Various members helped write a series of leaflets that they smuggled out of Munich and sent all over the country. One of them ended up in the hands of the Allies and was reproduced and dropped by plane a year later. They also sneaked out at night and daubed anti-Nazi messages on public buildings, fully convinced that their countrymen would take heart from their efforts and throw off the shackles that kept them compliant. Captured and swiftly executed after a show trial, their defiance stands as a huge testament to the power of the individual to hold fast to their own values, even when it is illegal and even dangerous to do so.
This is a beautiful story, and it is told with lots of pace and insightful character portraits. The original photographs of the students and their professor bring home to you that this is actually a true story, and the text of the leaflets, translated from the German for this book, give you the flavour of what they were trying to do, and why. One of the leaflets is published for the first time, as it was only discovered when the Gestapo transcripts of the interrogation of Christoph Probst, one of Sophie Scholl’s fellow White Rose members, turned up in East Germany after the fall of the Berlin Wall.
This is an important episode in our history, and the White Rose members - who were all executed as traitors - have since quite rightly been honoured in Munich and around Germany for their bravery. A very impressive book, and one well worth the read.