The White Rose - Beginnings


In the summer of 1942, within the space of just a few weeks, four leaflets, authored by an organisation calling themselves the "White Rose" started circulating around Germany.

For an "organisation" that would strike fear into the top Nazi leaders, the White Rose was particularly small. The first four leaflets were authored by two medical students at the University of Munich - Hans Scholl and Alexander Schmorell. Besides the two of them, there were perhaps only three or four other people knew who was behind the White Rose at this point.

At least a few hundred of these leaflets were turned in to the Nazi police. Just possessing such a leaflet could result in a long prison sentence. Besides, many people believed that this could be a Nazi set-up - similiar to the burning of the Reichstag building - where these were leaflets being sent out by the Nazis themselves, and anybody not fulfilling their patriotic duty in turning these in would be arrested. However, even with the number of leaflets that came in, after weeks had passed, the investigators still had no clue as to who was behind them. If that weren't unsettling enough for the authorities, there was a concentration of them coming from Munich, which was a favourite city of Hitler, and a stronghold of Nazi power.

One person who did quickly figure out who had taken part in writing these leaflets was Sophie Scholl. She began her university studies in Munich in May of 1942, arriving to the city on her 21st birthday. She shared an apartment with her brother, Hans. One day she did receive a copy of one of the leaflets of the White Rose. After reading it, she returned home, and happened upon a volume of Schiller which belonged to her brother. As she read through passages which had been underlined, it became clear to her that her brother was involved in writing the leaflets. She confronted him when he came home that night, accompanied by his friends Alexander Schmorell and Christoph Probst. They assured her that they knew of the risk, but there was no way that the leaflets could be traced back to them.

Hans would have rather had Sophie know nothing about the White Rose, and he was even less pleased that she wanted to be part of this. However, Sophie won out, and from that point out, she not only knew who was behind the White Rose, but she was now a part of it.

White Rose