The White Rose - Letters


For some reason, there is something particularly telling about letters which people send. They are quite different from most journal entries, since with letters, there is an intended recipient, as well as topics and themes that run through correspondence that are particular to the situation and circumstances of the present time. For the White Rose, this was no different. I, by no means, am an expert on the letters of the White Rose, but in the correspondence that I have read, I have been quite impressed, and I feel like I've been allowed a window into the real personalities of these people. Since this website is about the people who made up the White Rose, I'd like to share some of that with you.

Most of the letters and journals about the White Rose are still only in the German language. Most of what appears in this section are translations that I have done myself. I am no professional translator (though I've done a bit of work for the Army) so I'm sure there are things that aren't "perfect". Then again, translation is never an exact science. I hope, in any case, to bring a little bit of the spirit of the White Rose to those of you who don't have the chance to read the originals.

To Marita, 29.8.42

This letter is from Willi Graf to his friend, Marita Herfeldt, from Russia in August of 1942. She was a friend of his from Bonn, and studied Slavistics and art history at the university there. They corresponded regularly by letter. This was the second time that Willi Graf had been stationed in Russia, and obviously was a topic that interested the both of them quite a bit.

Alexander Schmorell - Letters from Prison
Alexander Schmorell - Abschiedsbriefe

This is a series of letters written by Alexander Schmorell to his family during the time that he was in prison (February-July 1943). At the time, prisoners were allowed to write one letter every two weeks. It's a beautiful series.

Himmler to Hoffman

This letter, in it's blunt cruelty, makes my blood run cold every time I read it. The letter is from Himmler to one of Alexander Schmorell's uncles (actually one of his stepmother's brothers). Being as Professor Kurt Huber, Willi Graf, and Alexander Schmorell were imprisoned for some time, there was time to try to make petitions for appeals and for leniency. Apparently, Alex's father's standing as a doctor, as well as various connections the family had, helped keep Alex out of some trouble before. However, when it came to a case such as this, there was nothing - not even with the help of family members who also belonged to the Nazi party - that they could do.

Alexander Schmorell to Nelly

Nelly was a friend of Alexander Schmorell's that he had met in Gzhatsk when he had been sent to Russia the summer before. This was a quick note that was smuggled out of Stadelheim Prison, most probably by the Russian Orthodox priest Father Alexander Lowtschy, on the day of his execution. It's interesting to note that Alex still used the "old" Russian orthography - twenty-some odd years after the Bolshevik "reforms" to the Russian language had done away with it in Russia. (Note the use of the letter "ѣ" and "i", which were completely removed from the Russian alphabet, and also "ъ" which almost experienced the same fate, as it was removed from probably 90% of the words it appeared in before.) Unfortunately, this letter never made it to its intended recipient, since by this time Gzhatsk had fallen back into the hands of the Soviets, making delivery impossible.

White Rose