This Day in History

Feb. 22, 1943: White Rose Members Executed

Time Periods: Prosperity, Depression, & World War II: 1920 - 1944
Themes: Democracy & Citizenship, Wars & Related Anti-War Movements

On Feb. 22, 1943, Sophie Scholl, Hans Scholl, and Christoph Probst were executed for their role in urging students to rise up and overthrow the Nazi government.

They were members of the White Rose, who organized nonviolent resistance to Hitler, and were arrested for printing and distributing anti-Nazi flyers. Here is an excerpt from their third leaflet:

But the present “state” is the dictatorship of evil. “Oh, we’ve known that for a long time,” I hear you object, “and it isn’t necessary to bring that to our attention again.” But, as I ask you, if you know that, why do you not rouse yourselves, why do you allow these men in power to rob you step by step, both openly and in secret, of one of your rights after another, until one day nothing, nothing at all will be left but a mechanized state system presided over by criminals and drunkards? Is your spirit already so crushed by abuse that you forget it is your right—or rather, your moral duty—to eradicate this system?

But if a man can no longer summon the strength to demand his right, then he will definitely perish. We would deservedly be scattered over the earth like dust in the wind if we do not marshal our powers at this late hour and finally find the courage we have lacked up to now. Do not hide your cowardice behind a cloak of expedience, for with every new day that you hesitate, failing to oppose this offspring of Hell, your guilt, like a parabolic curve, grows higher and higher.

Many, perhaps most, of the readers of these leaflets cannot see clearly how they can mount an effective opposition. They cannot see any avenues open to them. We want to try to show them that everyone is in a position to contribute to the overthrow of this system. Solitary withdrawal, like embittered hermits, cannot prepare the ground for the overthrow of this “government” or bring about the revolution at the earliest possible moment. No, it can only be done through the cooperation of many convinced energetic people—people who agree on the means they must use to attain their goal. We have few choices as to these means. The only one available is passive resistance.

For more information, view the film trailer Sophie Scholl: The Final Days, download the White Rose leaflets, or read them at www.white-rose-studies.org.

Film Trailer

Note: Sophie Scholl was born on May 9, 1921. The caption in the trailer is incorrect to state she was born in 1941.