Center for
              White Rose

December 27, 2011

The Newsletter of the
Center for White Rose Studies

December 27, 2011 - Volume 10, Issue 4

Want some great background music while reading this newsletter? Click here. It's Christoph Probst on cello. Grandson of "that" Christoph Probst. Playing Mendelssohn's Klaviertrio d-moll opus 49, 1st movement...

 Considering "Mission"
     No matter who you are or where you live, the end of the year seems to spark introspection. Whether we write Christmas letters or light a Hanukiah, whether we dance to new-old Kwanzaa rhythms or carol from door to door, whether we teach children to spin a dreidel or air grievances at Festivus - those of us living in "western" society complete a cycle of our lives every December. Even alternate calendars do not alter that reality.
     We think about those who died, whether family member, friend, politician, or celebrity. We think about career changes. We think about the good and the bad from the previous 365 days. The end of the year serves as a mechanism for self-evaluation, a time to consider what we have and what we want, where we have been and where we are going.
     While a corporation cannot resolve to work out at the gym, we can review the past year's accomplishments and determine how to proceed in the new year.
     A couple of months ago, our board of directors decided we should look at our ten-year-old mission statement and update it to reflect our tightened objectives. When we first officially organized in 2002, we knew generally what we intended to accomplish. As we have expanded - and especially as we added our extraordinary board - those "general" goals have become better focused.
     Therefore, going into the new year, our Mission Statement reads: The Center for White Rose Studies is dedicated to preserving the memories of those who courageously opposed the crimes of National Socialism, using their lives and work as a springboard to address the issues of informed dissent in a civilized society.
     We see our work as complementing that of the Shoah Foundation, USHMM, and Simon Wiesenthal Museum of Tolerance. Where these exemplary organizations seek to "overcome prejudice, intolerance and bigotry" (Shoah Foundation) by focusing on the testimony of Holocaust survivors or nailing the facts of the Holocaust (USHMM), we come at the same goal from a different perspective.
     The Center for White Rose Studies collects the stories (mainly in the form of primary source documents) of those who could not remain silent when their society committed crimes against humanity. As injustice grew, as persons were deprived of liberty on a daily basis, our heroes spoke out. They wrote leaflets decrying the wrongs (not limited to White Rose!). They offered comfort and protection to the oppressed (not limited to White Rose!). They used conventional and unconventional means to stand up for what was right, knowing that doing so would surely cost them their lives.
     These stories have relevance in the 21st century. We can learn from the exercise of their backbone... Through understanding how some were willing to face death to do what was just and honorable, we can address the injustices in our own country.
     We invite you to join us in this mission. We believe we can - and will - make a difference, but only with your help!

     Special thanks to Dr. Helen McConnell and Dr. Stephani Richards-Wilson for diligent persistence and inspiration in the creation of this new mission statement.

 New Year's Eve 1942
     Less than two months before the White Rose came to an abrupt end, the students stepped up their efforts. They had traveled to Chemnitz, Aachen, Stuttgart, an Austrian monastery, Vienna, and points unknown, recruiting collaborators to join their work in 1943.
     But at the end of 1942, most of these students were ensconced in the warmth of home and family. Their letters speak to the introspection of late December, as they took a hard look at their work from the summer of 1942 and considered how they could improve it in the new year.
     Christoph Probst wrote his sister Angelika a letter, encouraging her to move past her fear. "A little piece of worthwhile advice: Continue to live inwardly as though nothing were wrong! Could a bomb have fallen long ago in Marienau? Couldn't we have long since been dead? There is only one difference: Hope ever more, and trust."
     Lilo Berndl nee Ramdohr joined Falk Harnack and his family in Neckargmünd, grieving with them over the execution of Arvid Harnack, worrying about the fate of Mildred Harnack nee Fish. Lilo remembered "Muhmi" Harnack's gracious words. "What kind of poor souls are they who must carry out such a death sentence?" Her willingness to forgive astounded Lilo then, and now.
     Hans Hirzel vacillated between positions. When he thought about the unfair treatment his family had received at the hands of Nazi justice (a court had ruled in favor of a tenant they wished to evict), he jumped on the White Rose bandwagon. Then he listened to Nazi propaganda and believed that once Germany had won the war, all the restrictions that annoyed him would be lifted. "One must sacrifice the present for the future" was a Nazi slogan that appealed to him. Hans Hirzel therefore spent the end of the year trying to sort through competing emotions and political philosophies.
     Sadly, that young man's contemplations led him to seriously consider suicide as an acceptable option for the despair he knew.
     Hans Scholl ended 1942 with a heated argument with his father "about thoughts of the future". Inge noted that Sophie was "there but not there" on New Year's Eve, rocking back and forth as if she were fervently praying, with her hands folded, keeping time to Bach's music streaming from the radio. When Hans and Sophie retired to the guest bedroom in an upstairs apartment, they debated Leibniz's theodicy late into the night. Hans blithely accepted Professor Kurt Huber's interpretation of Leibiz's perception of good and evil, while Sophie shot holes in his arguments. If God could do anything he wanted, she asked, why couldn't he do something evil if he so chose?
     Willi Graf spent December 30 thumbing his nose at the Catholic hierarchy. He and his closest friends headed for St. Agatha's in Merchingen for a private conversation. L'Osservatore Romano had condemned St. Agatha's choice of artwork, calling it "pictorial blasphemy". What the Vatican deemed heresy, Willi and his friends deemed the sort of reform their church needed, liturgical reform and reform of basic attitudes.
     "Several sensible things were said. We understand one another." Willi wrote those words in his diary after Rudi Alt openly committed to joining White Rose work that day at St. Agatha's. Rudi bolstered stories of his war wounds (he had lost an arm and shattered a knee) with photographs he had taken in the Balkans and Russia, at once re-opening Willi Graf's emotional wounds and nightmares, while encouraging him to continue his resistance. Rudi pointed out that his wounds placed him in a "privileged position" that they could use to their advantage.
     Over the next six weeks, these students took their resolve to unimaginable heights. For fifty days, they lived with but one purpose - to change Germany, to convince their fellow students to join them in rising up to overthrow Hitler. They slept little, they occasionally ditched classes. They worked through the night. They devoted their total energy to standing up for truth and justice.
     When they looked back on New Year's Eve 1942, they had no regrets. They had known what their resolutions would cost them. And yet they chose to act.

     Additional information about New Year's Eve 1942 for Lilo Berndl nee Ramdohr; Hans and Sophie Scholl; and, Willi Graf is available only to paid subscribers of this newsletter.

 Publishing List for 2012
     These are the publications to be released in 2012 by Exclamation! Publishers. As you can see, most of the new releases deal directly with topics of German resistance. The links take you to that item in the online store of Exclamation! Publishers.
  • One Family's Houston: Lost Places, Found Memories. Houston, Texas from 1893 to 2002 as seen through the eyes of the Sachs family. Narrative based on approximately 500 photographs, with around 300 pictures in the book. Release date: January 31, 2012.
  • Raw data for White Rose History Volume III (October 13, 1943 to present). All individuals who have prepaid the academic version of this volume will receive log-in information and password to access the files. If you purchased this volume through a book service or university library, you must contact us directly for your log-in information. The license is valid only for one individual, not for a library or class. Initial release date: February 22, 2012, with monthly uploads of additional information until printed book is released.
  • Roses at Noon: The White Rose Novel. Creative nonfiction novel in letter/diary format, featuring the voices of Sophie Scholl, Willi Graf, Wilhelm Geyer, Gisela Schertling, and Traute Lafrenz. Target readers: High school students and college undergraduates. Release date: July 13, 2012.
  • Friendships in the White Rose, by Lieselotte Ramdohr, edited by her grandson Domenic Saller. Release date: October  11, 2012 (Lilo's 99th birthday).
  • Gestapo interrogation transcripts for the Hamburg students and the chemistry department at the university in Munich, Hans Leipelt and friends, part one. Release date: December 31, 2012.
     Please be aware that prices will almost assuredly increase in January, once we find out what our printer's new price list will be. If you want to lock in current pricing, please prepay your order online. Thanks!

     If we receive another six essays or articles for Leaflets of Our Resistance Volume III, we will add that anthology to our 2012 list. Additionally, if any of our archive projects receive funding, enabling translation of non-White-Rose primary source documents into English, those publications will also be added to the 2012 list.
     In 2013, we will continue to publish primary source documents in English translation. The Churches and Alignment project should likewise be completed and published in 2013. It's our sincerest wish that White Rose History Volume III will also see the light of day in 2013!
     If you have any questions or comments, please contact us. If you have a manuscript you'd like us to consider, please contact us. If you wish to support (and thereby fast-track) any of our archive projects - you got it, please contact us!
     Note too that we are always looking for primary source documents for our Shades of Grey project. If you have old family letters stashed away in the attic from family or friends in Germany from 1920 to 1955, we would highly value your donation of those documents to our archives. If you would rather not part with the originals, we would also accept scanned documents.

A sample of the raw data for White Rose History Volume III is available only to paid subscribers of this newsletter.

 Research News and Book Reviews
     We've postponed the book review for Christiane Moll's Alexander Schmorell/Christoph Probst: Gesammelte Briefe (Berlin: Lukas Verlag, 2011). We do not wish to parse words, but neither do we wish to misstep. Aufgeschoben ist nicht aufgehoben, rain check!

     Thanks to a generous donation from Donald Dembling, we now have the two-volume set Die deutsche Universitätsphilosophie in der Weimarer Republik und im Dritten Reich, by Christian Tilitzki (Berlin: Akademie Verlag, 2002). A full review will follow in six or eight months (the two volumes are a combined 1400+ pages).
     But an initial rip-open-the-package-and-dive-right-in reading of the sections on Kurt Huber and Fritz-Joachim von Rintelen reveal that Tilitzki created a masterpiece. He ignored sacred cows and current taboos, and told their stories frankly and honestly. How refreshing!
     We see the Huber who wrote for Nazi journals and Catholic magazines, conflicted to his core. Rintelen's whitewash is removed, disclosing a professor who knew how to play the game. His dismissal says less about his backbone than it does about the insanity of National Socialism.
     Tilitzki's work is not about Huber or Rintelen, nor about any single professor or university in particular. Therefore the section on Huber and Rintelen is short, consisting of perhaps twenty pages in total for the two men combined.
     The value of his massive tome is found in the gateway he provides for further research into the individuals covered in the book. Tilitzki is meticulous in pinpointing his sources. While his comments about Kurt Huber may encompass seven of those pages, we now know where to go to expand what he condensed - including resources I would not have thought to pursue (the archives of Huber's colleagues, for example).
     So far, I've read only fifty or sixty pages. Once I picked it up, I could not put it down, despite a pile of other work I'd planned to complete the day the book arrived. But those pages firmed up my resolve to continue our work, to preserve the memories of those who courageously opposed the crimes of National Socialism.
     After wading into Christian Tilitzki's words, I understand better than ever just how alone those people were.

     A good word here for Verlag der Jugendbewegung, based in Berlin. I first learned of their publications when beginning White Rose research in 1994/95. Dr. Inge Jens recommended a couple of the house's Puls issues, especially the one focusing on Hans Scholl, and another about Jewish-bündische youth groups.
     While one certainly should not assert that most members of bündische youth opposed National Socialism, the converse would hold true. Namely, many of those who joined various resistance activities had first learned tolerance, cultural diversity, and appreciation for non-German literature and music through their involvement in bündische clubs.
     Verlag der Jugendbewegung preserves the songs, stories, and memories of these young people. Their work provides a valuable service to those of us interested in "why" and "how" some of these teenagers and young adults took a stand against the injustice of their day, while others did not. (And why Hitler Youth was such an insidiously clever way to transform something essentially good into pure evil.)

 Year-End Appeal
     Make us a part of your year-end giving, and see tangible results as we use your gifts to expand our archives.
     If you want young students to understand what it took to say NO in 1943, please support our work.
     If you are interested in understanding how positive political change (of any kind) can be effected, please support our work.
     If you want history to be recorded correctly, without the sugar-coating of white-washed memory, please support our work.
     If you wish to see documents available in English translation to enable interdisciplinary study of a wide range of topics, please support our work.
     You can support our work with your money, with your time and talents, or by contributing tangible items (books, office supplies and equipment, software).
     We need you!

 In Closing
     We've added a new way for you to support our work: An wish list. You can donate books, DVDs, office supplies, software, equipment - tangible items that will improve our daily operations. All tax deductible to you to the extent allowed by current tax law.
     Please feel free to expand the list! If you have something you believe would be useful to us, just ask! The current list includes books that are too expensive for our current budget, but if you have extra copies of books not on the list, we can always use them. Same with office supplies, equipment, and software.

     Our January newsletter will include a survey asking for YOUR input about our first annual White Rose conference. Please be thinking about topics you'd like to see covered, ways you can participate, and length of conference -- do you want a one-day affair, or something like the Texas Association of German Students (TAGS) conferences that span several days? We're getting excited!

      Finally, a funny: While working on the Houston book, we turned to Family Tree Maker for a good timeline of "big events" in the life of the Sachs family. Nothing nails down dates better than knowing when cousin Joey was a baby. "Yep, that house was built in 1953. Joey wasn't walking yet."
     Denise impulsively searched for a Scholl family tree. It would have been more than humorous, after all, if the "Marguerite Scholl" identified as LaRue Sachs' best friend in 1920 had been related to the Scholls of Forchtenberg and Ulm. And in a more serious vein, it would have answered dozens of open questions about the Scholl silence regarding aunts, uncles, and cousins during the Third Reich.
     Imagine our surprise and merriment when we found that three separate genealogists had posted family trees for Hans and Sophie Scholl, showing that their grandfather Wilhelm Scholl of Steinbrück had emigrated to Philadelphia shortly after Robert Scholl's birth. One genealogist had posted irrefutable evidence supporting his claim, namely a ship's passenger list. Sure enough, Wilhelm Scholl of Steinbrück, Germany. Shortly after landing, he married an American woman.
     For all of ten minutes, that was going to be the lead story for this month's newsletter. We floated ironic, humorous, satirical, and politically incorrect headlines, each guaranteed to generate enormous buzz.
     Buzzkill: The genealogist overlooked a single critical detail when posting the ship's passenger list. That Wilhelm Scholl hailed from Steinbrück in Niedersachsen (Lower Saxony). While Robert Scholl's father was from Steinbrück in Baden-Württemberg. An understandable mistake, especially since both Wilhelm Scholls were born in 1856.
     A pity, really, because the "Philadelphia Scholl" family would have made a beautiful extended story arc. You see, that Wilhelm Scholl had cousins or uncles or siblings who came to the United States to fight for the Union. One died in a Confederate prison in the Deep South, while another was captured in Texas, where he settled after the end of the Civil War.
     That would have been a story worthy of Rod Serling!

     Thank you, one and all, for making this one of the best years in the history of the Center for White Rose Studies. It's more than the sum of what we've accomplished - it's also the groundwork that has been laid that will enable us to work smarter and more efficiently in the months ahead.

Words worth quoting: "She appeared awfully tiny to me in her chair.  Her beautiful blue eyes burned in their dark caverns.  Death was near her, in her, around her.  We hardly dared to move, lest we touch her frailty with our youthful power." (Lilo Fürst-Ramdohr, Friendships in the White Rose, remembering Clara "Muhmi" Harnack in December 1942)

(c) 2011 Exclamation! Publishers and Center for White Rose Studies. All rights reserved. Please contact us for permission to quote.
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