Center for
              White Rose

May 31, 2013

The Newsletter of the
Center for White Rose Studies

May 31, 2013 - Volume 12, Issue 3

In Memoriam
      Lieselotte Fürst-Ramdohr, born October 11, 1913 in Aschersleben (Germany), died quietly in her home near Starnberg on May 13/14, 2013. Her grandson Domenic Saller wrote that she was seated at her breakfast table, upright and peaceful.
     While we hold great affection in our heart and work for most of the surviving White Rose family members, Lilo was special. She wasn't just Lilo, she was unsre liebste Lilo, our dearest Lilo. The time we spent with her overflowed with laughter, with her awareness of the richness of each new day. She answered every question we posed directly, with no hesitation. Lilo never tried to figure out what the "right" answer could be, what we may want to hear. She spoke from the heart and introduced us to her friends.
     That very first interview, which took the better part of a day in May 2002, she apologized for her physical frailty. Four years earlier, she explained, she had granted an interview to Bayerischer Rundfunk. As part of that documentary, she had swum across Starnberger See. 'But that was four years ago when I was only 88,' she said. 'I am much older now.'
     By 2002, we'd grown extraordinarily weary of the runaround we received from so many who claimed to have been part of White Rose resistance. Files in archives were blocked, interviews were guarded, and far too often we encountered egregious inconsistencies in stories that cast doubt upon the very character of the words we had heard or read, even (especially) from supposed eyewitnesses. We had learned to treasure the people whose words matched up, no matter when they were spoken or written.
     Lilo held a place on the very short list of those whose "memory" never faltered. Oh, she missed some dates here and there. And she was the first to admit she had not been able to remember e.g. whether the first leaflet was published in March or June of 1942. When we talked about publishing her memoirs in English translation, she expressed her delight at the suggestion that we "fix" the dates.
     Because those memoirs were based on notes she jotted down in 1947 and 1948, when she determined never to forget what her friends had done. She had not kept a diary while she and Alexander Schmorell sketched and painted and drank tea and chatted and strolled and debated and all the other things that good friends do. But she wanted to remember forever what he and his friends had sacrificed, the true patriotism they had displayed as they tried to bring justice to their homeland.
     Through the years as we corresponded, every direct question was met with an equally direct answer. If we asked her for proof (because her words shed a most personal light on White Rose friendships), she would dig through her living room closet till she found a photograph or letter, then copy it and mail it to us. (And Domenic says that he is still finding additional materials that even Lilo had forgotten she had! You'd have had to have seen that living room closet to understand.)
     Joyce developed a very special attachment to Lilo. That first interview, Lilo described how hard her life had been after the war. Her mother and stepfather really didn't want to have much to do with her, because they saw her - still! - as a traitor to Germany. And what the Nazis hadn't stolen, the East German government took. So she was left with little income, raising a family by herself, feeling terribly alone and forsaken. All she would have had to do to regain her family after the war: Tell her mother she had been wrong to oppose Hitler. But she could not do that.
     Joyce asked her, "Have you ever regretted then what you did, wished you could undo it, knowing what you know now about how much it would cost you?"
     And in all the time we talked to Lilo, that is the only moment she ever hesitated with an answer. Her eyes watered, she looked away, then she stared straight in Joyce's eyes. "No. I would do it all over again, even knowing what it would cost me."

      Susanne Zeller nee Hirzel, August 7, 1921 - December 4, 2012. Full disclosure upfront: We liked Frau Zeller-Hirzel. We met her for the first time mere days before we met Lilo. The two women shared a passion for the arts - both were quite good in their chosen fields.
     Hirzel held a distinction that few women of her era could boast: She was her high school's valedictorian. That honor would have been impressive enough just on the face of it. But Susanne attended the boys' Gymnasium in Ulm - the only girl in the school. That achievement was surpassed only by the fact that the Nazi education minister in Baden-Württemberg gave her the traditional full-ride scholarship to study at university, even though she was a girl.
     But she wasn't just any girl. Hirzel was one of the most gifted musicians in Ulm - she used her scholarship to study cello with Alfred Saal of the famed Wendling Quartet in Stuttgart. And she frequently won athletic competitions. She could do it all. Not exactly what one would expect of a young woman living under Hitler.
     Hirzel could have become a full-fledged Nazi but for two things. First, she hated being coerced into doing anything. Since the National Socialists were especially gifted at coercion, Hirzel chafed under the strictures they imposed. Marching in torchlight parades as a young teenager was one thing. Being told how to live one's life and why, quite another.
     Second, she lucked into a close friendship with the family of Rev. Rudi Daur of Stuttgart's Markuskirche. That church would be the postwar site for Martin Niemöller's fiery sermon that led to the Stuttgarter Schulderklärung, a Lutheran declaration of 'guilt and repentance' for having done nothing to stop Germany's crimes against humanity. These words were penned by the "good guys" who had spoken out against the Nazis to one extent or the other, but who recognized that they could have done more, they should have done more.
     These were the people who shaped Hirzel's thinking in her early college years, with whom she found respite and rational thought. Although she continued to rebuff Sophie Scholl's request to work with the White Rose friends, Hirzel acceded to her brother's appeal to help him mail several hundred leaflets in Stuttgart. Hirzel always thought of herself as a coward who knew what was right, and tried to do it as best she could.
     That is the reason we liked Hirzel as we did. She would not make a heroine of herself. Her memoirs (Vom Ja Zum Nein) paint an honest portrait of her family life, of her friendship with the Scholls, of the students she knew in Ulm. She spares no one, not even her parents or herself. The mirror reflects back the awful pain of growing up in Nazi Germany, especially for teenagers who had a conscience.
     In Hirzel's later years, she and her brother Hans Hirzel aligned themselves with the Republikaner, a far right-wing political group in Germany. Hans Hirzel ran for president of Germany on their ticket in 1994; in a radio broadcast, he publicly repudiated White Rose resistance and claimed not to have been part of it. The Hirzel siblings then blocked access to their Gestapo interrogation transcripts.
     Susanne Zeller-Hirzel eventually became the face of anti-Islam politics in Germany. She trampled White Rose thought, essentially using language towards Muslim Germans that once had been directed at Jewish Germans. She continued to grant "White Rose" interviews about their resistance efforts (and even Hans Hirzel would later modify his repudiation), and in those interviews she would sound like the old Zeller-Hirzel.
     Her private correspondence as well as interviews with anti-Islam groups told another story. While her memoirs deserve to be read and understood, she backtracked on some of her stronger and more meaningful anti-Nazi statements found in that book. For example, she presented an excellent argument against the "revisionist" claim that Hitler didn't know what was happening in the concentration camps. Her book debunks that mythology pretty nicely. Then she threatened to sue us for quoting her argument, asking how Hitler could possibly know - in other words, arguing precisely what she had disproved.
     Zeller-Hirzel provides a good case study for the pitfalls one faces when studying the Holocaust, especially when trying to decipher German resistance during the era. It can be difficult to discern who is telling the truth, or which truth one should believe.

      Joyce Light Heap, born December 31, 1935 in Kenedy, Texas, died April 21, 2013 in California. A co-founder of Center for White Rose Studies, Joyce poured her heart and soul into this work. Those of you who have been customers and friends since the beginning know: Joyce handled our finance and administration with efficiency and unmatched charm.
     Our initial research trip to Germany (February through May 1995), Joyce "manned" the video camera. We have our sweet Erich and Hertha Schmorell on tape, showing us Alex's samovar and bust of Beethoven. She made Dr. Inge Jens laugh, and convinced the Kohlermanns to show us nooks and crannies we'd otherwise have missed. Joyce had a sixth sense about people. She could tell when the camera made someone uncomfortable. Occasionally when she would shut the camera off, we would experience a real breakthrough in hearing stories that made a difference.
     About ten years ago as our White Rose work became more serious, Joyce chose to return to her maiden name of Light. It was a conscious decision, one that reflected changes our work was making in her.
     A product of her generation and of Texas, Joyce had never considered that there could have been "good Germans" during the Shoah. As she told Fritz and Elisabeth Hartnagel, she had always assumed that all Germans were evil. She was moved, and challenged to grow, as she learned the life stories of Willi and Traute, Christl and Alex, Hans and Sophie, Lilo and Falk, and the rest of the friends.
     Her death has left a gaping hole in our lives. When Domenic said he had found some previously unknown Lilo letters, reflex was, "Oh, Joyce would love this!" We miss her as sounding board, as copy editor, as business advisor.
     Her memory will always be for a blessing.
     - Denise Heap

 Publishing News
     We've started uploading all our publications to Kindle on To keep things simple, all Gestapo interrogation transcripts (regardless of length) will be priced at $9.99, with equivalents in other currencies. We've also enabled Kindle's "lending" feature, so anyone who is a member of Kindle Prime can 'check out' our publications free of charge.
     As of May 31, 2013, we have successfully added the following books (click on link to go to that book on
     Alexander Schmorell/RGWA, Eugen Grimminger/Manfred Eickemeyer, Hans and Sophie Scholl (ZC13267), Third White Rose Trial, The Bündische Trials, and Professor Kurt Huber/Falk Harnack.
     The rest will be added over the next few weeks.

 The Conference!, JULY 11 - 14, 2013
     As the conference has begun to gel, it's been interesting to see how tapestry threads continue to be woven. In addition to Joyce's death (which left us truly rudderless for several weeks), we also faced the "Springs Fire" that consumed close to 30,000 acres in Ventura County. The fire came within two blocks of our home in two directions, and literally burned all the way up to many buildings on the campus of Cal State Channel Islands. On May 2 as the wildfire raged on three sides, and both home and campus were obscured from view by walls of flame, we didn't see how either could survive. A month later, we still don't know how home and campus were spared.
     [Check it out here. In addition to comprehending how scary those days were, you will also see the beauty of our conference site!]
     Those two circumstances - Joyce's death and the Springs Fire - forced us to pare back the conference a little bit. Not much - you will still have incomparable access to Igor and the rest of his Orenburg team, and Domenic, and other scholars and students. It should still be an unforgettable and inspiring event. If you research German resistance or other Holocaust topics, you will leave with fresh ideas and meaningful resources. If you're simply interested in the Shoah, you will go home with plenty to ponder.
     With both Igor (the premier biographer of Alexander Schmorell) and Domenic in the same place, two emphases have evolved:
     First, Lilo's oft-repeated insistence that White Rose resistance took place because they were above all friends, not political scientists. They had a sound grasp of various political theories, but their friendships provided common ground. Since Lilo and Alex were such good friends, it is only appropriate that Igor and Domenic be present as their "representatives" to talk about people they know so well.
     Second, the other commonality between Schmorell-Ramdohr centers on the Russian connection. As a native of Orenburg, Russia, Alexander Schmorell always felt the pull of his homeland. His Russianness defined him. And Lilo linked the White Rose to the Harnacks, a family that believed so strongly in the necessity of peace between East and West that Arvid and his American-born wife Mildred (nee Fish) died for that conviction. If German-Russian issues are on your radar, you will want to be in Camarillo, California in mid-July!
     If you haven't already registered, please do so soon. The last date for registration is June 30, but the earlier you can register, the better we can plan. 
     By the way, we simply must brag on Dr. Igor Khramov and his team in Orenburg. They are so committed to this conference that they drove 2000 miles round trip from Orenburg to Moscow to obtain their visas for this trip. We wish we had them here all the time. That sort of dedication is hard to come by. [Note to our friends on the East Coast: Igor, Dilya, Rustam, and Oleg are taking part in the Russian Festival in New York City from June 2 - June 16. If you're in the area, look them up.]

 In closing
     Congratulations to Nicholas Welsh of Oxford, England on his retirement! Welsh has long engaged his students with the Shoah's sticky wickets, coaxing them to think of that history in terms of informed dissent and civil disobedience. "At what point would YOU say no?" We have enjoyed hearing his teaching ideas, the curriculum content that can make a real difference.
     Nick, Eton College won't be the same without you!

     Jim Tobias of the Nuremberg Institute for Holocaust Studies happily reports that the Holocaust-era issues of AUFBAU have now been uploaded to the Web, thanks to the Leo Baeck Institute. As we have reported in earlier newsletters, the Deutsche Nationalbibliothek has taken down all German-Jewish newspapers and magazines from 1933 - 1945, citing potential copyright issues. Tobias has worked to obtain copyright permission from some publishers and authors, and we offered to make that a special project of the Center for White Rose Studies.
     But the DNB would not be deterred. The German-Jewish documents have stayed offline.
     So Tobias and his colleagues are changing direction. Here is Tobias's (German-language) update on the topic.
     An interesting by-product of this otherwise discouraging matter: Pressure has been put on the German government to finally move forward with a revision to copyright laws. Long debated and usually ignored, the new law will hopefully place "orphaned" documents in the public domain.
     After all, most of the publishers and authors in question for these German-Jewish newspapers and magazines died in concentration camps. Their voices should not be silenced any longer.

     On an upbeat note: The New York Times reported on May 31, 2013 that Germany is thi-is close to electing its first ever black member of the Bundestag. Mr. Karamba Diaby from Senegal stands a very good chance of becoming exactly that.
     Similarly, an article by Eli Chazan in notes that in Israel, it's no longer taboo to root for a German soccer team. Bayern München has an official fan club in Israel, with German soccer ("football") matches broadcast in Hebrew.
     This sort of progress provides hope for the future.

     Thank you to everyone who heard about Joyce's death and sent flowers, cards, emails, and other heartwarming forms of condolence. To those who have made scholarship gifts for the conference in her name: Thank you even more. Thank you.
     - Denise Heap.

     All the best,
     The Board and friends of the Center for White Rose Studies

(c) 2013 Exclamation! Publishers and Center for White Rose Studies. All rights reserved. Please contact us for permission to quote.

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