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Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Memorial to Munich's White Rose Resistance Group - This Week is the 70th Anniversary of their Last Act, Trial and Execution
by Samuel D. Gruber (all photos Samuel D. Gruber 2006)

This week marks the 70th anniversary of the resistance, arrest and trial of the White Rose group in Munich, Germany - one of the only (the only?) public acts by Germans in Germany of Nazi power and policy.  You can read a detailed account of their resistance and fate here. 

An article in the JTA today recalls the group and lessons that should be learned. 

The events and the brave young perpetrators are well known in Germany where the group has (justly) achieved hero status.  Their moral courage acts as a reminder of all that other Germans did not do - and acts as a cover and solace in Germany today for the the apathy, neglect, ignorance and fear of many, and the full-throated support of Nazi policies of so many more during the 1930s and the war years.  Streets and squares have been named after White Rose group, and the group has been the subject of many movies. 

The most interesting memorial to their action is installed around the Ludwig Maximilian University building in Munich, where on Feb 18th, 1943, they scattered leaflets before their arrest.  Today, one can find memorial traces - in metal - set into the pavement of the area in front of the University building where the leaflets fell and scattered.  This space is now named Geschwister Scholl Platz (Scholl Sibling Place).  Included are portraits, biographies, leaflets and a farewell letter from White Rose member Willi Graf. 

Two large fountains dominate the space outside the University building in which the commemorative plaques are intentionally set - though seemingly haphazard.  In good weather these are popular places for students to sit and socialize - no doubt the White rose monument is walked over in haste, but it also must be much noticed by today's student generation.

At present (Feb 2013) I do not know the artist who designed this memorial, or the circumstances of its installation.  So far, the descriptions of the monument that I have consulted do not give this information.

In the atrium of the main university building, where the group distributed their sixth leaflet on February 18, 1943,  there is a small exhibit about the group  This is a bronze relief (1953) by Lothar Dietz that commemorates the group's executed members: Willi Graf, professor Kurt Huber, Hans Leipelt, Christoph Probst, Alexander Schmorell, Hans and Sophie Schol.  More information (in German) hereThere is also a bronze bust of Sophie Schol alone.

There are several other markers and memorials throughout Munich commemorating the White Rose group.  A listing of these can be found on the webpage White Rose Walking Tour.  More information about traces of the Nazi era in Munich can be found on the webpage Traces of Evil: remaining Nazi Sites in Germany.