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1943: Death and Resistance
 pg. 429 
White Rose

Hans Scholl, a 25-year-old Christian medical student at the University of Munich, formed the White Rose resistance group with his 22-year-old sister, Sophie (pictured), in 1942. The pair's goal was to create anti-Nazi pamphlets and disseminate them at universities across Germany. If caught, they would forfeit their lives.

Gestapo agents arrested the Scholls at the University of Munich early in 1943 after a janitor spotted Hans and Sophie emptying a suitcase full of anti-Nazi pamphlets into the university corridors. Although the Scholls revealed nothing to their interrogators, their White Rose compatriots--Professor Kurt Huber and students Christopher Probst, Willi Graf, and Alexander Schmorell--were soon arrested as well. Latter-day accounts of the Scholls' torture and captivity claim that the young people remained steadfastly brave--resigned to their fates but still committed to their cause.

The Scholls were tried by the Volksgerichtshof (People's Court), headed by the notorious Roland Freisler. Not surprisingly, the trial was a sham and the Scholls were sentenced to death by beheading.

According to her sister, Inge, Sophie Scholl lived her final hours with an odd sort of serenity. She left behind in her cell a scrap of paper upon which she had written the word "Freedom." She died on February 22, 1943. Hans followed. On his prison wall he had written, "To stand defiant before overwhelming power." Seconds before the executioner's axe fell, Hans Scholl shouted, "Long live freedom!"
Photo: Ullstein Bilderdienst

A gentile student living in Munich, Hans Scholl was shaken by the Nazi whirlwind of brutality that had swept up German Jews, Communists, and Social Democrats. In 1942 he told a family member, "It's time the Christians finally did something about it." With encouragement from a resister named Falk Harnaek, Hans founded a student resistance group called the White Rose. From a base at the University of Munich, Hans, his younger sister Sophie, and other White Rose members created vehemently anti-Nazi leaflets that were distributed at universities across Germany. He and Sophie were arrested at the University of Munich on February 18, 1943. They were sentenced to death, and were beheaded on February 22. In the courtroom after the verdict had been pronounced, Hans calmly said to his brother, Werner, "Remain strong--no compromises."
Photo: United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Photo Archive
 February 14-25, 1943: Americans and Germans clash at the Battle of Kasserine Pass, Tunisia.
 February 16, 1943: A small group of Palestinian Jews, the "Bergson Boys," agitate in the United States to try to help European Jews. Their strong activist stance upsets many main-line American Jewish organizations, who fear that these tactics will stimulate American antisemitism--already at its highest level in history. The Boys run this full-page advertisement: "For Sale to Humanity/70,000 Jews/Guaranteed Human Beings at $50 a Piece." This advertisement in The New York Times offers Americans the opportunity to ransom 70,000 Romanian Jews; See March 9, 1943.
1943: Death and Resistance
 pg. 429 
The Holocaust Chronicle
© 2009 Publications International, Ltd.