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70 years ago

Remembering the White Rose

Munich, 02/04/2013

In 1943, the members of the inner circle of the White Rose resistance group were condemned to death and executed. The annual White Rose Memorial Lecture at LMU was given this year by Joachim Gauck, President of the Federal Republic.

Photo: Bundespresseamt

Picture Gallery: “Remembering the White Rose“

The White Rose Memorial Lecture given by Joachim Gauck, President of the Federal Republic, on January 30, 2013:

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“After all, someone had to make a start.” This retort, made by Sophie Scholl to the presiding judge, while she, her brother Hans and Christoph Probst were on trial for their lives, articulates “the anguish and isolation, but also the courage and undaunted hope of this young woman and her companions,” said Federal President Joachim Gauck in the course of his address. The remark also touches on something “that is of direct concern to us today, which can inspire us, even as it must perturb us.” For the members of the White Rose, and many other brave men and women during the Nazi dictatorship, chose the path of active resistance – even though they knew they could not win the fight, and might well lose their lives.

On 18 February 1943 Hans Scholl and his sister Sophie were arrested in the Atrium of the Main Building at LMU, as they were dispersing copies of the sixth and last of the leaflets protesting against the Nazi regime that they had clandestinely printed. On the following day their friend Christoph Probst was arrested in Innsbruck. All three were convicted of treason by the Volksgerichtshof, and executed on 22 February.

Subsequently other members of the White Rose were arrested and put on trial. On 19 April, the Volksgerichtshof sentenced Alexander Schmorell, Willi Graf and Professor Kurt Huber to death – Alexander Schmorell and Kurt Huber were executed on 13 July, Willi Graf on 12 October 1943. Eleven others were incarcerated.

“What can I do now, today?”

The members of the White Rose were convicted and “murdered because they refused to look the other way, were outraged by what they saw, and took action - because they called criminals criminals, murderers murderers and cowardice cowardice,” the President said. “With their modest means, they pointed the finger at gross injustice – because they wanted to make others see it and not remain silent about it any longer.”

Gauck called on his audience not to brood over how one might have thought and acted in the same situation, not to ask: “What would I have done at that time?”, but “What can I do now, today?” In this spirit, Gauck recommended that, rather than being overawed by their bravery, we should keep their example before us. “Let us bring the young men and women of the White Rose into our lecture halls and classrooms, have them sit in our midst, and be ready to listen when we hear them say: “After all, somebody has to make a start.”


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