Center for
              White Rose

February 16, 2014

The Newsletter of the
Center for White Rose Studies

February 16, 2014 - Volume 13, Issue 1

 In Memoriam: Nikolay Daniel Nikolaeff-Hamazaspian
     We first met Nikolay at the September 2007 conference in Orenburg, Russia. He was a fascinating character, intense, intelligent, passionate. He offered fresh new insight into the personhood of Alexander Schmorell, a man Nikolay called friend.
     To Nikolay, Alexander was not a historical figure. He was a fellow student who likewise cared about POWs and forced laborers. Together, Alexander and Nikolay would take bread and tobacco to French (and later, Russian) POWs. Nikolay talked about those days with the easy familiarity we have when we remember good times spent with friends of our youth. Clearly to Nikolay, Alexander Schmorell was but a heartbeat away.
     We were distressed, however, when Nikolay told us in private conversation how angry he was with Lilo Fürst-Ramdohr. He perceived Lilo's memoirs as falsely taking credit for Alexander's forged passport. We explained to him that she plainly wrote that Alexander had gotten the passport from Nikolay, and that her involvement solely lay in her neighbor's subsequent insertion of Alex's photograph and forging of the official seal. Nikolay would only be partly mollified.
     When we returned from Russia, we talked to Domenic Saller (Lilo's grandson) about Nikolay's perception of Lilo's memories. True to Domenic's character, he broached the subject with Nikolay head-first, no beating around the bush. A curious friendship emerged between the older Armenian gentleman and the brash young Bavarian. In 2010, Nikolay sat down for a four-hour "official" interview with Domenic.
     It was only natural, then, to ask Domenic to pen our tribute to Nikolay. We greatly appreciate his willingness to do so.- Denise Heap.

     Nikolay’s family was of Armenian descent. They came from the southern Russian Caucasus region that was controlled by the White Army. In 1920, Nikolay’s family fled the terror of war on a British ship, on which Nikolay was born November 3, 1920. They first went to Turkey, then on to Bulgaria. Nikolay grew up in Sofia and attended a private Russian high school (Gymnasium, or college preparatory school).
     Nikolay’s father – Daniel Nikolaeff-Hamazaspian – worked as a civil engineer in Sofia. Because of the hostilities in the region resulting from the Balkan Wars and the Armenian genocide, the family changed its name, choosing to omit Hamazaspian, the hyphenated portion that identified them as “of Armenian descent”. Therefore the forged passport that Alexander Schmorell carried bore only the name Nikolaj Nikolaeff.
     Nikolay learned many languages in that school in Sofia, among them Russian, Bulgarian, and German. His father sent him to the Technical University in Munich to study civil engineering.
     In the autumn of 1939, Nikolay went to Munich. A classmate named Georg Schlee, who likewise hailed from Sofia but was a Volksdeutscher (ethnic German living abroad), brokered Nikolay’s first residence: A room with a landlord named Kessler. The room was located at Promenadenstrasse 15.
     Towards the end of 1939, Nikolay’s housemate Konstantin Petroff (also a civil engineering student) invited Nikolay to a Russian-German wedding celebrated by Alexander Schmorell’s family circle. Petroff was the nephew of Elisabeth Hoffmann, Alexander Schmorell’s stepmother.
     Nikolay and Alexander quickly became friends. They began to meet up frequently. Nikolai received invitations to the Schmorells’ home in Harlaching (Benediktenwand Strasse 12). They would often discuss literature, especially Dostoevsky’s Grand Inquisitor from The Brothers Karamazov. They saw that character as analogous to the so-called allgemeines Gluck (common happiness, that is, the happiness of the Volk) that had been ‘bought’ on the backs of mountains of corpses in the early years of Hitler’s regime. ...
On January 14, 1943 (the date the Russian Orthodox Church celebrates the beginning of new year), Alexander told Nikolay and Nikolay’s sister Anna about the protests against the speech of the Nazi student leader [should be Gauleiter] the day before at the Deutsches Museum.
     Alexander also appeared in Nikolay’s room on February 3, 1943 and enthusiastically asked him if he knew “what was happening in the city and at the university.”
     Likewise after the meeting with Falk Harnack and Professor Huber (February 9?, 1943 – the date is uncertain), Alexander visited Nikolay and drank a glass of cognac with him, spending the night talking, since it was too late to catch a street car to Harlaching. Alex told Nikolay about the dispute that had arisen regarding the possibility of “cooperation with someone who was allegedly a Communist”, as well as his reservations about the risky expansion of their circle.
     Early afternoon on February 18, 1943, Alexander showed up at Nikolay’s room and told him about the Gestapo patrols in front of the university. He was wearing a gray coat and carrying a briefcase. Independent of Nikolay’s recollection, Lilo Fürst-Ramdohr also remembered that Alexander was carrying a briefcase that day. (See her June 6, 2010 interview with Michael Kloft of Spiegel TV.) Alexander would later tell the Gestapo that he had first heard of the arrests from a classmate named Hans Eichhorn, as he sat in a streetcar. Shortly thereafter, Alexander left Nikolay’s apartment.
     Alexander had wanted to get to Hans Scholl’s apartment at Franz-Joseph-Strasse 13. As he approached that rear building, and while he was still in the passageway between the main house and the “garden house” where the Scholl siblings lived, a stranger (a different classmate) warned him about the Gestapo agents who were lying in wait at the Scholls’ apartment.
     Alexander then returned to Nikolay’s room. Nikolay offered to let him stay there, since it was clear the Gestapo would not limit their search to the Scholl siblings. Also, thanks to a 25 pound package from his father in Bulgaria, Nikolay was extraordinarily well-stocked with food and supplies.
     He also suggested a Bulgarian student in Berlin as possible escape route for Alexander. ...
     Shortly thereafter, Nikolay returned to Bulgaria and applied for a continuation of his studies in Sweden, which was a neutral country. This application was submitted on the basis of an invitation from a Swedish acquaintance who lived in Munich.
     By December 1943, Nikolay was back in Munich, waiting for his Swedish visa. However, he was arrested on January 14, 1944 and imprisoned in the full-to-overflowing basement of the Gestapo jail in the Wittelsbacher Palace, then transferred to police headquarters located in the Ettstrasse. He had to sleep in the corridor and was given food (bread) rations by a Czech woman who had been condemned to death.
     Nikolay suffered interrogations that lasted for days on end. They threatened to send him to a concentration camp. Finally they put him in a police transport to Vienna, where he spent six months in prison (the Viennese Gestapo prison Roßauer Lände) under the most atrocious conditions. ...
     In September 1944, Nikolay was deported to Bulgaria. The SS transported him and his sister Anna to the Hungarian border by train. At that border, Nikolay had a dangerous encounter with drunken SS men on the train platform. They shouted at him through the open train window and tried to provoke him. His sister Anna convinced him to retreat within himself and not give in to their provocations. Anna would later emigrate to Paris to live with their aunt. ...
     Following Nikolay’s death on October 1, 2013, the funeral service and interment took place on October 9 following Russian Orthodox rituals. His grave is located in the same row as the graves of Alexander Schmorell and Alex’s half-brother, Erich Schmorell.
     With his death, we lost another important contemporary witness who personally knew Alexander Schmorell. Nikolay Daniel Nikolaeff-Hamazaspian, November 3, 1920 – October 1, 2013. His memory is for a blessing.

To read all of Domenic's tribute to "Niko" (the above is about 1/3 of the full article) or to ask questions, click here. Learn more about Alexander Schmorell's harrowing escape attempt, the other Bulgarian-German friend who joined with Nikolay to put together a plan to free Alex from prison, and about Nikolay's life after the war. Be sure to comment - we will make sure Domenic Saller and Michael Kaufmann are notified about anything you post.

 Things (and People) We Like

     "White Rose research" often forces contact with people who want the legend, not reality. They want haloes, not humans. They write paper dolls, not flesh and blood. They ignore inconvenient truths, usually to sell more books or promote a movie.
     And this makes us weary. We question our work, question our ability to keep plugging along.
     Then something wonderful or two happens, and we remember.
     In recent months, we've been thrilled to see two young students who have followed our work since high school days suddenly and irrevocably "get it". They have grown from girls enamored of courageous people, to young women who want to keep digging, who want to take what we've done and move beyond it to even deeper truth. Thank you, Cymbaline (Baylee) Santa Valentina and Audrey Kennedy, for renewing our vision.
     And Chris Sterling attends a "living history" exhibit in Stow, Massachusetts, where a group he's affiliated with plans to exhibit World War II vehicles. At the last minute, this young public defender decides to put together a poster board commemorating the 70th anniversary of Willi Graf's execution. Expecting maybe five people to show interest in "some little poster about a dead German" (as Chris notes), he is shocked when people stand in line for hours to see it and to talk with him. He estimates that maybe 1000 people learned about Willi Graf and White Rose resistance that weekend, about the real Willi Graf, not about a flawless saint, but about an earnest medical student who set about righting the wrongs he saw in his country. Thank you, Chris Sterling, for reminding us that it's the message, not the medium.
     When corresponding with Domenic Saller about his "Niko" tribute, he mentioned the memorial service sponsored by the Weisse-Rose-Institut e.V. in Munich on October 12, 2013. They talked about Romano Guardini's influence on Willi Graf. Willi had wrestled with Guardini's insistence on liturgical reform. The professor who presented the Guardini portion of the commemoration commented that White Rose resistance had been zwecklos aber nicht sinnlos - futile but not pointless. Thank you Domenic Saller and Michael Kaufmann for continuing to ask the hard questions and for your persistence. We need people like you (and you two specifically) as continuing partners to remember well and remember right.
     To read more about these three incidents and the people who made them be (and to see pictures!), please read the full article here.

 Remembering in Munich
Terry Swartzberg
is a nice Jewish boy from Wisconsin who has found himself loving life in Munich, Germany these last twenty years or so. Active with the Reform congregation in that city, Terry also spends many waking hours advocating on behalf of the Stolpersteine initiative.
     Stolpersteine (stumbling stones) are those small brass bricks that typically are placed in public sidewalks directly in front of the last residence of those imprisoned or murdered by the Nazis. Mark Schwartz (a nice Jewish boy from Oklahoma!) recently placed several Stolpersteine at Wielandstrasse 15 in Berlin to commemorate his relatives Peter, Leon, and Jenny Yasgur Driller. (Jenny survived, so her stone bears that information.)
     Mark has also been working to get a Stolperstein placed in memory of Christoph Probst. The initiative is not limited to Jewish victims of the Holocaust. Roma, Sinti, LGBT, Jehovah's Witness, Communists/Socialists, anyone in the resistance - people who were arrested and imprisoned, or murdered/executed, for political or racial reasons qualify for a Stolperstein to be placed before the house where they lived before their arrest. Or, if the house no longer stands, before their final workplace.
     Munich is a different animal altogether. While Stolpersteine exist in nearly every German city, and many others across Europe, Munich continues to resist. Surprisingly, the primary resistance has come from Munich's Orthodox Jewish community, specifically from Charlotte Knobloch, former president of the Zentralrat der Juden in Deutschland (Central Council of Jews in Germany). She fears that these small memorials are too easily vandalized and desecrated. So in Munich, the only Stolpersteine that have been placed to date have been laid on private property.
     Terry and most people in Munich point to the larger Holocaust memorials as even more susceptible to vandalism. Additionally, in the few incidents of defacing Stolpersteine to date, the act of the hooligans has been met with community-wide efforts to restore the stones. In effect, the vandalism serves to remind people why we must remember and brings neighbors together on a common mission.
     Terry asked us to spread the word. Mrs. Knobloch's position has recently relented somewhat, and Munich's Mayor and City Council will soon be reconsidering the matter. Terry noted that Munich's leaders truly do care what the rest of the world thinks about how the city remembers the Holocaust. "Letters from America are worth their weight in gold!"
     To help, all you need to do is send an email. Address it to Christian Ude, Mayor of Munich, Germany. Use the email address ...  Keep your message short and sweet. Briefly tell Mr. Ude who you are (student, accountant, historian), where you work or study, and why you think this is important. Sign it with your full name and address to prove you are a real person. Be respectful.
     Terry and his Stolpersteine colleagues will then collect all your emails and hand-deliver them to the next city council meeting where the matter will be voted upon.
     This information has also been posted to our White Rose blog. Please share on your Facebook page. Tweet it. Email it to the members of your synagogue, mosque, or church. Get your German Club or Hillel involved. We can make a difference. We can ensure that these people - people who were friends, family, thinkers, doers, doctors, teachers, people whose only crime was their ethnicity or their sexual orientation or their political views - we can ensure that these people are remembered every time someone walks down their street to catch a street car, pick up groceries, or go to the theater.
     We can make a difference.
     PS: Check out the Stolpersteine Munich Facebook page!

 In closing
     Eight days after Nikolay's death, a grand dame in Salt Lake City died. Ruth Schwager nee Teutsch was born in Augsburg, Germany on April 27, 1912. She had the distinction of being the last bride in that city's synagogue before it was lost to Kristallnacht. (Here is an interesting account of Kristallnacht in that city.)
     Ruth, her husband Josef Schwager, and their tiny son Pete made it safely to the United States, as did Ruth's two brothers Erich and Walter. Erich's son David grew up to be president of the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College and a leading figure in that progressive branch of Judaism. Walter, who died shortly before his little sister Ruth, studied law and organ, and made his living as an organist. Ruth's parents Arthur and Clara were not as lucky. Arthur - a distinguished Justizrat - died in Theresienstadt, while Clara was murdered in Auschwitz.
     We've published Arthur Teutsch's JD dissertation on Constitutional Law (in English translation), anno 1903. It's an interesting read, as he essentially refuted and preempted the "doing my duty" defense heard so often after the war, proving that only constitutionally based crimes like shutting down newspapers or political arrests were protected under the Bavarian, Prussian, and later Weimar and even NSDAP constitutions, while regular felonies like murder or theft were never protected by the "duty" defense. Too bad the Nuremberg judges did not read Arthur Teutsch.
     Ruth tackled life head on, earning her Bachelor's degree in her late fifties. She became a fixture in Salt Lake City, teaching weaving and spreading her special brand of good cheer. She and Pete returned to Augsburg for a visit in the 1960s, and kept going back after that. Ruth exemplified the best of humanity, with her kindness and good heart. Her memory is for a gigantic, enormous, bubbling, overflowing, forever blessing.
     To read the extensive interview that Elizabeth Wilcox conducted with Ruth a few years ago, click here.

     The two young women (Audrey and Baylee) we mentioned upthread have been talking on Facebook about wishing for a White Rose "tour" - nothing superficial, but a study trip that will make the places (and hence the people) come alive. They want to talk to Michael, and to Domenic, and to Igor if they can. They wish to learn more about these people.
     So we have put together a "White Rose Tour" questionnaire to see if there's more interest for such a trip. It would take a group of about 15 to amortize expenses like insurance, ground transportation, and evening meals.
     If you personally, or your college or university, would like to participate in such a trip, please complete our questionnaire and let us know exactly what you're interested in. There's no obligation at this point. We're just testing the waters!

     Finally, thanks for your patience these last few months. In mid-October, I (Denise Heap) became ill and struggled physically for several months. Although I'm still not 100%, things are looking up. The right meds can make a difference.
     This has renewed our determination to put a corporate structure in place that will allow Center for White Rose Studies to continue long after I'm gone (I am the last person left from our family who is still able to do this work). Subsequent newsletters will detail our efforts to get all our primary sources in English translation and our White Rose Histories on Kindle, as well as sold through in print version. We will restructure our board to put the right people in place to ensure continuity. And we will mentor young people who can step into our shoes.
     We are also looking at joint projects with Weisse-Rose-Institut e.V. in Munich. Michael Kaufmann shares our goals, aims, and truthseeking. He too looks to the future and would like to create a space that will be inhabited long after we are gone.
     So... stay in touch! We always welcome your input, your suggestions, your cooperation. Contact us with your ideas, support our work financially or by working with us on a project. In 1942/43 these students knew better than to undertake their work alone. In 2014, we too know that we need you, that we need all the honest partners who will join us on this journey.

     All the best,
     Denise Elaine Heap for
     the Board and friends of the Center for White Rose Studies

(c) 2014 Exclamation! Publishers and Center for White Rose Studies. All rights reserved. Please contact us for permission to quote.

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