Sophie Scholl and the White Rose
By Annette Dumbach
Review by Samvartika (History)
By the time I was doing my A Levels, I felt that I knew pretty much all the broad brushstrokes of Nazi history that there were to know. Up to that point I had naively assumed that all resistance to Nazi ideology came from outside the country, but when I picked up this book from my local library I found out just how wrong I had been.
The White Rose was a non-violent resistance group comprised of five students at the University of Munich and their philosophy professor. They came from varied social and religious backgrounds, and some of them had even been members of the Hitler Youth, but they were all now calling for active resistance to Nazi oppression through leaflets and graffiti. They were eventually arrested and beheaded by the Gestapo in 1943, but the text of their leaflets was so strong that it was later even dropped over Germany by Allied planes. Nor is their text irrelevant today – “we will not be silent”, the catchphrase widely used in protest against the US war in Iraq, originates from Leaflet 4’s concluding phrase, which originally read “We will not be silent. We are your bad conscience” and was the motto of the White Rose resistance.
Besides being a beautiful story, the book is extremely well written and accompanied by photographs and translated leaflets. It is great if you want perspective on Nazi Germany – how did people feel under Hitler, how much were they aware of what was actually going on, why did they not object to Nazi tyranny? I think it is sometimes too easy to forget that unlike the case with outside resistance, your German countrymen would regard you as a traitor, not a hero. My only complaint is that the title is a bit misleading, because it is more a story of the entire movement than it has any actual focus on Sophie; but overall it is a dramatic, tense, packed book that leads up to a terrible climax and is a fantastic read.
Sophie Scholl and the White Rose by Annette Dumbach