When Ruth Sachs began her research into the White Rose resistance movement in July 1994, initially she relied on secondary sources - the books penned by Richard Hanser, Harald Steffahn, and Annette Dumbach and Jud Newborn. Her intention at that time: Write a short historical nonfiction young adult novel
During her 1995 research trip to Germany, interviewing surviving family members, reading in dusty archives, talking to perfect strangers, she learned the absolute value of primary sources
. The Hanser, Steffahn, and Dumbach-Newborn books that had captured her imagination proved to be unreliable at best, and in some cases outright misleading.
As Sachs began to meet family members from the White Rose circle, she understood how skewed the story had been told. How little she had believed to be true could stand up to reasonable scrutiny. How many questions remained unanswered, and how much had been swept under the carpet to maintain perfect complexions and haloes.
But when she shared her findings with others in the field of Holocaust education, specifically with people concerned with documenting the history of German resistance, she encountered either skepticism or apathy. The skeptics could not believe that the story was as dark - as human
- as it is. Others simply did not care to learn anything but a simplistic fairy tale that did not challenge their black-and-white notions of White Rose as saintly martyrs.
It therefore became top priority to gather as much primary source material as possible, translate it into English so it could be read and understood by all American scholars, and make it widely available.
In the beginning, this goal applied solely to White Rose resistance. But a serendipitous mistake by the Bundesarchiv
in Berlin gave birth to Center for White Rose Studies' emphasis on other resistance, on the stories that have not been told.
You see, when they filled Sachs' order for all White Rose documents, she asked them to include every scrap of paper in the files, not just the things that looked important.
The good people in Berlin complied. They copied tiny scraps of paper. And they copied back sides of interrogation transcripts.
Those back sides - recycled interrogations - contained names, deeds, words that should not be forgotten.
The list below, the pieces of paper we do
have in our archives, is way too short. The more we really know about the courage displayed during the Shoah, the better we can learn how to arm ourselves inside and out.
To learn about Ruth's process for evaluating accuracy of dates and information, see her descriptions of preparation
To ask questions, please contact us