My children didn't get breakfast this morning before going to school, but I DID have enough time to put together a little history for you on The White Rose (don't worry, I'm making it up to them by bringing them Subway sandwiches and milkshakes for lunch).
Though the following people are not the main characters of 'Silent No More', they form the factual foundation on which my story rests:
“Die Sonne Scheint Noch” (The sun still shines).These were some of the last words uttered by Sophie Scholl just before she was beheaded at the notorious Stadelheim Prison in Munich on Feb. 22, 1943. She was executed along with her brother, Hans, and Christoph Probst, another co-conspirator, for treason against the Third Reich. Sophie, Hans, Christoph, Willi Graf, Alexander Schmorell, and Kurt Huber all shared one common dream – to one day see their beloved country torn from the iron grip of Adolf Hitler and a Nazi war machine that was out of control. All of them paid for their dissension with their lives.
Over the course of about 10 months, from the summer of 1942 to February 1943, this small group of mostly university students drafted, published and distributed several leaflets decrying the war and Hitler’s regime from its headquarters in Munich. (I use the term ‘headquarters’ loosely, as there was never one designated place where the group met and drafted the leaflets. Sometimes it was in the secrecy of a small apartment and other times in the secluded basement of a friend).
Referring to itself as The White Rose (Die Weisse Rose), the group called on Germans everywhere to rise up and passively resist Adolf Hitler and his Nazi regime. “We will not be silenced. We are your bad conscience,” Hans and Alex wrote in the first leaflet. As the war grew worse and news of the Jewish atrocities more severe, The White Rose redoubled its efforts, distributing leaflets to other like-minded groups as far north as Hamburg.
The Gestapo, or German Secret Police, eventually caught up with the Scholls after a janitor spied them secretly distributing leaflets at the University of Munich on Feb. 18, 1943. They were arrested, along with Probst, who was implicated by the draft of new leaflet he had written that was discovered in Hans’ pocket. Within four days of their arrest, the three were tried in a kangaroo court and executed a few hours after their conviction. Graf, Schmorell and Huber were later found, tried and executed as well. Hans’ last words were, “Es lebe Freiheit!” (Long live freedom!).