This German site also cites many groups and people who stood up against the Nazi Regime, youth groups like “Edelweiss Pirates”, “Swing Youths”, and the most prominent…. “The White Rose”.
die Weiße Rose / The White Rose
In 1942, members of the student non-violent, intellectual resistance group, “THE WHITE ROSE” wrote, printed and spread anonymous leaflets that called for active opposition to the Nazi party regime. The society started as a group of friends.
The website weisse-rose-stiftung.de gives a detailed retelling:
“Reading, including reading banned books, was essential for the White Rose circle of friends. Literature helped them shape their thoughts and opinions.
They read alone, in small groups, or meeting in larger groups for reading and discussion. Their notes mention books that meant a lot to them. Among them are the German classics, philosophers of religion, or Russian and French writers.
Kurt Huber’s lectures on philosophy and musicology were very popular with students of various faculties. The White Rose circle also visited these lectures – just like their professor, the students Scholl and Schmorell feel the need to act. The University had long since stopped being a place of open, critical discussion. Intellectual argument could only take place in a protected and private surrounding. For the White Rose circle, their nightly reading sessions provided such a surrounding. On 17 June 1942, Professor Kurt Huber participated in a reading session with the White Rose students for the first time. While discussing the destruction of moral values that night, he demanded that “Something must be done, and today!”
Alexander Schmorell and Hans Scholl wrote the first four leaflets criticizing the regime in June and July 1942. They produced around 100 pieces of each leaflet in secret in Schmorell’s parents’ house. Among the recipients they chose to send them to, are many academics. The two expected support for their resistance among the ‘intelligence’.
Owning and dissemination critical writings was strictly forbidden in National Socialism. Everyone was obliged to hand them in to the police. Accordingly, the first four leaflets were reported by approximately one-third of the 100 recipients.
Upon their return from military service in Russia, Alexander Schmorell and Hans Scholl were even more determined to resist than they had been before. That was when Sophie Scholl, Willi Graf, Christoph Probst, and, in late December 1942, Kurt Huber actively joined the resistance. They created the fifth and sixth leaflet together in January and February 1943. Using a new and more effective duplicating machine they produced around 6000 copies. Paper, envelopes, and stamps were rationed during the war. Buying large quantities of those items was suspicious. The students risked their lives producing and distributing the leaflets. Despite this mortal danger, their indignation at the Nazi crimes pushed them to resist.
The Resistance Expands
The goal of the group was to convince critics of the regime in other cities to participate in distributing the leaflets. They aimed to bring trustworthy friends and acquaintances in Ulm, Stuttgart, Saarbrücken, Bonn, Freiburg, Hamburg and Chemnitz on board.
The chapter “Dissemination of the Leaflets” describes where, how and by whom the leaflets were distributed beyond Munich.
Slogans on Walls
The friends also experimented with other forms of expression than leaflets by painting anti-regime slogans on walls around the city.
More information on these clandestine activities can be found in the chapter “White Rose Wall Slogans”.
Hitler is the devil “Every word that comes from Hitler’s mouth is a lie. When he says peace, he means war, and when he blasphemously uses the name of the Almighty, he means the power of evil, the fallen angel, Satan. His mouth is the foul-smelling maw of Hell, and his might is at bottom accursed. “True, we must conduct a struggle against the National Socialist terrorist state with rational means; but whoever today still doubts the reality, the existence of demonic powers, has failed by a wide margin to understand the metaphysical background of this war.” – From the fourth White Rose leaflet (source)
Manhunt, Arrests, and Trials
With the fifth leaflet appearing all over Munich, the Gestapo decided in early February 1943 to intensify the search for the authors and creates a special investigative commission. The previous search for the unknown authors of the ‘Leaflets of the White Rose’ had not been successful.
The investigative commission initially couldn’t come up with concrete results of their search. They didn’t make a connection between the leaflets and the wall slogans at the university. Nevertheless, Oswald Schäfer, director of the Gestapo’s Munich office from 1942 to 1945, placed the university under increased surveillance. This also meant that all suspicious activity and incidents had to be reported immediately.
On 18 February 1943 around 11 a.m. the Scholl siblings placed copies of the sixths leaflet in front of the lecture rooms in the university’s main building, tossing a stack of remaining leaflets into the atrium. The janitor Jakob Schmid saw this and seized them. Both were immediately arrested by the Gestapo and further arrests followed. By late February most members of the Munich circle were apprehended.
Heinrich Himmler ordered their family members to be arrested as well, in a common Nazi practice of assuming ‘guilt by relation’ (‘Sippenhaft’). The students and Kurt Huber were expelled from the university, the soldiers discharged from the Wehrmacht so that the trial can be held by the “People’s Court” (‘Volksgerichtshof’), a special Nazi court operating outside of the constitutional frame of law.
Sophie and Hans Scholl were interrogated separately. Sophie stated that she “does not want anything to do with National Socialism”. At four a.m. the next morning, 19 February 1943, she learns that her brother has confessed and now she, too, confesses.
Christoph Probst had been asked by Hans Scholl to draft a new leaflet for the group. Hans Scholl carried that handwritten draft with him when he is arrested and is not able to tear it up unnoticed. Christoph Probst was soon suspected to be the author and is arrested on 20 February in Innsbruck. The Gestapo forced him to reassemble his text from the paper shreds during his interrogation on 21 February 1943.
Wanted posters were put up in the search for Alexander Schmorell, who was attempting to escape. On the evening of 24 February 1943, he is recognized while hiding in an air raid shelter where he is seized and handed over to the Gestapo.
As early as 22 February 1943 the ‘People’s Court’ sentenced Christoph Probst and Sophie and Hans Scholl to death for “highly treasonous aiding and abetting of the enemy, preparation of high treason and demoralization of the ‘Wehrkraft’ (troops).” The sentences were carried out that same day with the guillotine at the Munich-Stadelheim
On the evening of the same day, the student leaders called for a rally in the university in order to dissociate themselves from the actions of the White Rose and to insult them as ‘Traitors to the Fatherland’.
The Second trial for high treason against 14 defendants of the resistance group took place on 19 April 1943. The ‘People’s Court’ pronounces death sentences on Alexander Schmorell, Willi Graf, and Kurt Huber. Ten fellow defendants were sentenced to prison terms, Falk Harnack was acquitted.
Relatives and friends of the White Rose tried to avert the enforcement of the death sentence with clemency pleas. All pleas were denied stating the reason that theirs is “probably the most severe case of highly treasonous leaflet propaganda”.
Parting words “It is such a splendid sunny day, and I have to go. But how many have to die on the battlefield in these days, how many young, promising lives? What does my death matter if by our acts thousands are warned and alerted? Among the student body there will certainly be a revolt.” – Sophie Scholl before leaving her cell for execution, reported by her cellmate Else Gebel (source)
Kurt Huber stressed in his defense plea on 19 April 1943 that the circle acted on “ethical motives, an inner necessity and fighting for the right […] to […] political self-determination”. Sophie Scholl in her hearing on 20 February 1943 stated that she “remains convinced she has done the best thing.”
Seven members of the White Rose resistance were sentenced to death and executed by the NS judiciary beginning in February 1943. Around 60 fellow campaigners are tried in court and some of them sentenced to long terms in prison.”
The terrors of the Nazi regime, unfortunately, are still very much alive; just under different names. Communist Party of China, Republic of Cuba, Socialist Republic of Vietnam, Laos People’s Democratic Republic, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (North Korea).
Communism has already been condemned by the Catholic Church in the 19th century, specifically in the Encyclical “Rerum Novarum” of Pope Leo XIII. Pope Pius XI, in his 1937 Encyclical Divini Redemptoris spoke boldly on this issue:
“In the face of such a threat, the Catholic Church could not and does not remain silent.
(Think this could never happen to us? That's probably what Cardinal Pell thought, too. . .)
“See to it, Venerable Brethren, that the Faithful do not allow themselves to be deceived! Communism is intrinsically wrong, and no one who would save Christian civilization may collaborate with it in any undertaking whatsoever. Those who permit themselves to be deceived into lending their aid towards the triumph of Communism in their own country, will be the first to fall victims of their error.”
It was Communism that prompted the Cristero War in Mexico from 1926 to 1929 causing the death of over 30,000 Catholic Cristeros and numerous civilians, and a long persecution against the Catholic Church until 1992 when the Church was finally restored as a legal entity in Mexico.
It was Communism that caused the horrendous deaths of millions, including the Royal Tsar & his family in Russian Revolution 1917. At least 21 million people are believed to have died in repressions and “terror famines” after 1917.
In 1949, Pope Pius XII issued the, “Decree against Communism” which declared Catholics who professed Communist doctrine to be excommunicated as apostates from the Christian faith.
Yet, today we have a Pope that made the infamous deal that was “a major step toward the annihilation of the real Church in China.” (Words of Cardinal Joseph Zen Ze-Kiun, retired bishop of Hong Kong.) “The Holy See and Beijing cut off relations in the 1950s” he continued “Catholics and other believers were arrested and sent to labor camps. I went back to China in 1974 during the Cultural Revolution; the situation was terrible beyond imagination. A whole nation under slavery. We forget these things too easily. We also forget that you can never have a truly good agreement with a totalitarian regime.” He wrote, Pope Francis is “Naturally optimistic about communism, he is being encouraged to be optimistic about the Communists in China by cynics around him who know better.” “The faithful in China are suffering and are now coming under increasing pressure. Early this year, the government tightened regulations on the practice of religion. Priests in the underground on the mainland tell me that they are discouraging parishioners from coming to Mass to avoid arrest.”
Concerning the latest tearing down of Church crosses and demolishing Churches, Cardinal Zen states, “Tearing down the crosses and demolishing churches are only the more visible episodes,” he insisted, “the continuous harassments and humiliations [endured by China’s Catholics] would take volumes to be narrated.”
Just a few days ago VaticanNews.va posted a news article on the subject of China, where Pope Francis called the decommissioning of Churches an “invitation to adapt”:
“The observation that many churches, which until a few years ago were necessary, are now no longer thus, due to a lack of faithful and clergy, or a different distribution of the population between cities and rural areas, should be welcomed in the Church not with anxiety, but as a sign of the times that invites us to reflection and requires us to adapt.”
The Pope has even been quoted to say in his interview with Eugenio Scalfari: “It is the communists who think like Christians.”
In the secular world, on May 18, 2018 an article in the Chicago Tribune spoke on the issue of “Why millennials are drawn to socialism”
“The University of Chicago’s GenForward Survey of Americans age 18 to 34 finds that 62 percent think “we need a strong government to handle today’s complex economic problems,” with just 35 percent saying “the free market can handle these problems without government being involved.” Overall, 49 percent in this group hold a favorable opinion of capitalism — and 45 percent have a positive view of socialism. Socialism gets higher marks than capitalism, though, from Hispanics, Asian-Americans and African-Americans. Sixty-one percent of Democrats take a positive view of socialism — and so do 25 percent of Republicans.”
With the continual acceptance of Socialism among the youth here in the United States, and the usual confusion from the Holy See concerning politics and theology, it is prudent to truly look to the young White Rose Society members of 1942, and prepare ourselves spiritually and intellectually for whatever we may have to encounter. For it is not overnight that heroes are born, nor is it overnight that martyrs are willing to die for Christ, but only after truly devoting their lives to Him and His Bride.
You can read all of the White Rose leaflets in their glory here.
I also encourage you to watch the film, “Sophie Scholl: The Final Days”.
May the fire that burned inside these young people also burn inside of us to always do what is right, no matter the costs.