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August 13, 2008

The newsletter of the

August 13, 2008 – Volume 7, Issue 3

Keeping Memory Alive: The Legacy of Angelika Probst
Sitting down to write the 2007 updates to our White Rose histories required more energy than most people will ever realize.
Documenting negative aspects of the dysfunctional Scholl family isn’t fun. I’ve never shied away from controversy in dealing with White Rose topics, but it gives me no pleasure to tell of Sophie’s low self-esteem and inability to love or be loved, or of Robert Scholl’s strong connections to high-ranking National Socialists.
    These matters cannot be swept under the carpet, because they do in fact impact Hans and Sophie Scholl’s participation in “White Rose” resistance. Sophie’s personal issues rendered her self-centered and incapable of seeing how her actions affected others. Had she been stronger at her core, she likely would not have flippantly tossed leaflets over that balcony, and she certainly would not have named Traute Lafrenz and Willi Graf during her interrogation.
    One factor kept me sane and motivated during the writing process: Getting to tell the story of the friendship between Alexander Schmorell and Christoph Probst, and narrating for our readers the totally functional, precious relationship between Christl and his sister Angelika.
    At the time Christl was most heavily involved in White Rose resistance, his sister faced the dilemma of a marriage that was crumbling. In addition, the siblings shared anxious moments over the fate of their Jewish stepmother Elisabeth Rosenthal and their half-brother Dieter Sasse, who could be sent to the Russian Front at any time. On top of these things, which would have made life difficult enough, Christl’s wife was going through a problematic pregnancy.
    Summer of 1942 through winter of 1943, Christoph Probst and his sister Angelika could have chosen to envelop themselves in a protective cocoon to shut out the rest of the world. Instead, Christl poured himself into editing leaflets, and working on the distribution phase. Over and over, we hear from his contemporaries how his opinion meant the world to Alex (and occasionally even to Hans), how they sought his guidance.
    While Christl never recruited Angelika for their work, he turned to her to hash out his conflicting thoughts and emotions. Angelika – and of course, Christl’s wife Herta! – provided emotional stability and unflinching support.
    Angelika’s grief over Christl’s execution tears your heart out. Anneliese Knoop-Graf (Willi Graf’s sister) became Angelika’s closest friend after the war. Anneliese noted that Angelika never recovered from Christl’s death.
    For a few years, Angelika tried to keep her brother’s memory alive. In 1946, she wrote a moving treatise describing Christl’s childhood, teenage years, family life, and commitment to White Rose work. She tried to speak out about White Rose resistance, telling the story of all the friends, none elevated above the other.
    Gradually she was worn down by Inge Scholl’s wrong-headed insistence on making the White Rose story all about Hans and Sophie.
Michael Probst, Christl’s son and Angelika’s nephew, said this about his aunt:
To this day, I do not know why my Aunt Angelika suddenly one day discontinued her publicist activities. But I suspect that she was no longer able to bear up under the emotional strain that arose from the particular manner in which the story of the White Rose was adopted by the general public.
    She had suffered so inexpressibly from the death of her brother, to whom she was so close – closer than she ever was to any other person in her life. It likely seemed impossible to her to continue with this commemoration in a sort of public competition.
    From that time forward, she largely kept her memories to herself and lost all hope, because of the impact of the developments to which the legacy of the White Rose had fallen victim – and in which relatively little room remained for remembering those others who likewise had been sentenced to death.
    So for a brief moment, a silent tribute to a sister who loved her brother as brothers should be loved. A tribute to Angelika Probst, who even in death, keeps Christl’s memory alive.

--Ruth Hanna Sachs

New Publications and Other News
White Rose Travel Guide
Have you ever wondered how you could plan a trip to Germany that would enable you to find the places that were meaningful to Christl, Traute, Willi, Sophie, Hans, Schurik, and the rest? Well, now all this information is collected into a single publication.
    The White Rose Travel Guide is available in two versions. The first is a comb-bound edition, organized by city. It contains B&W line drawings, travel information, and recommendations for best times to visit the sites (where applicable).
    For Munich and Ulm, we also include a “White Rose” walking tour of the two cities, along with maps to guide your steps. Anyone who purchases this travel guide may also download the corresponding Google maps to your BlackBerry, cell phone, or lap top. A third walking tour retraces the midnight route of one of the graffiti operations, so you can better get a feel for what that part of their resistance efforts “felt” like.
    The second version of the guide – the Take Me Along White Rose Travel Guide – is customizable. You tell us when you’re going, and we will add calendar and diary pages bound into the guide, so you can take notes as you travel. It also includes additional information not available in the simpler version. Every Take Me Along White Rose Travel Guide also includes a fun surprise, unique to each order.

The White Rose Travel Guide may be ordered through the online store of Exclamation! PublishersClick here
to order.


White Rose History Volume II: The 2007 Update.
Topics included in the update:

  • Fritz Hartnagel’s influence on Sophie Scholl’s political views. This was covered in the Volume I update as well, but it’s even clearer here, as Fritz Hartnagel is deployed to Stalingrad.
  • More about Christoph Probst. Additional information about Christl’s involvement in White Rose activities, and how his family learned of his arrest and execution.
  • Alexander Schmorell’s interrogations in full. The original volume of the History only included the parts that had been excerpted and referenced in the interrogations of others.
  • Robert Scholl’s connections to high-ranking Gestapo officers and National Socialists. His pandering to both sides of the political spectrum continued after the war, and no one has ever called him (and Inge Scholl) to task for it.
  • Debunking of the myth of Robert Mohr as a “sympathetic” Gestapo agent.
  • Better understanding of Sophie’s relationship (or lack of one) with Fritz Hartnagel. Includes her mother’s attempts to comfort Fritz without lying about Sophie’s affections.

    The 2007 update may be ordered through the online store of Exclamation! PublishersClick here to order.

    White Rose History: The Ultimate CD-ROM.
    History of the White Rose on CD-ROM. Includes music and video. E-book version of the three-volume White Rose series.

    Notes to the September 2008 release:
    Because so many people have expressed interest in this version of our Histories, we’ve opted to release this in two phases. The September 2008 release will include only the first two volumes with all updates, linking to the Gestapo interrogation transcripts and other publishable materials.

    We have also incorporated still photography, along with our B&W line drawings, in this CD-ROM. It will have some music, but not extensive compositions to support the musical interludes of the story, e.g. the concerts they attended.

    In 2009/2010, we will re-issue the CD-ROM to include Volume III of the History, plus video and more music. Everyone who purchases the CD-ROM in its current form will automatically receive the updated version free of charge (including waiving of shipping fees for the updated version).

    White Rose History: The Ultimate CD-ROM may be ordered through the online store of Exclamation! PublishersClick here
    to order.

    Calling All Writers!
    We are on the threshold of major expansion of our Holocaust education efforts. It’s long been our dream for more of our readers to become our writers, for people with whom we’ve shared our research to teach us from the depths of their experience.

    To that end, we are rejuvenating one project and starting a second. For both projects, we are accepting queries effective immediately.

    Common Ground
        We initially conceived of a space on our Web site that would provide a forum for writers and thinkers who concern themselves with German-Jewish dialog. We wanted to give voice to Germans who are involved with Jewish affairs, and those in the Jewish community who care about recognizing t’shuvah when and where it occurs.
        The results of the Dreyfus Conference held at Wittenberg University (Ruth Sachs presented a paper during that conference) convinced us that we should expand beyond these parameters to include all communities where voices speak “past” one another. If you are interested in tikkun olam, repairing the world, and have something to say along these lines, please consider this as an outlet.
        We invite personal essays from serious scholars in every discipline for this part of our work. As soon as eight to ten essays have been received and approved for publication, we will release the first volume. Each new volume will follow as appropriate essays come in.
        We wish to encourage people to believe in the future, to find historical or current-day examples of successful conflict resolution and peace negotiations. Once we begin to explore the victories of the past, we can better envision a hopeful tomorrow.
        For more about this project, including suggested topics, click here.
    For submission guidelines, click here.

    Leaflets of Our Resistance
        We are seeking personal essays, “easy-to-read” articles, annotated interviews – works that will illuminate and enlighten. Remember that our target group has been, is, and will continue to be high school and college students, although we welcome readers of any age. So avoid scholarly treatises and present your work in clear, understandable prose.
        Suggested topics (although feel free to explore areas outside these parameters): Lesser-known resistance personages, or non-German resistance; the ethics of resistance as seen in concrete form; interviews with Holocaust survivors; interviews with US soldiers that broaden our understanding of what occurred during the Shoah; Warsaw Ghetto uprising; portraits of families (especially German and Jewish) who lived during the Third Reich, based on primary source documents; and, comparative journalism on events during the Holocaust.
        Also remember to check out our Call for Papers for ideas! For more information about the Leaflets project, click here.


    In Closing
    Thanks to Dr. Enoch Gordis of Maryland for a critique of our Web site, we’ve added a site map to make navigation easier. In the next couple of months, we will add a site directory as well, so you can quickly locate items of interest.

        Herta Probst celebrated another birthday recently. Every day the “good” family members live on is one more day we are lucky enough to hear their memories yet again.
        Thinking about her birthday and the family that gathered around her, I was struck by the notion that these are people who could have grown bitter. Not only did Herta lose husband and father to the Nazis, she lost a brother too. And as the war ended, the SS came looking for her to murder her and her three precious babies.
        I cannot imagine what life must have been like for that young woman as of February 22, 1943 at approximately 5 p.m., when Christl was beheaded. To have lost so much, and then to lose it all a second time when “White Rose legend” wrote her husband and father out of the story . . .
        She could have become bitter. She could have refused to ever trust anyone who said they wished to write a White Rose history (and I am grateful she did not). She could have played tit-for-tat and glossed over Christl’s shortcomings, censoring his letters, not allowing us to see his flaws – the flaws that made him so wonderfully human.
        But she did not. Instead, she and her family chose to focus on the legacy that “doing right” gave their families. It has made such a difference. I always come away from their presence feeling encouraged and uplifted.
        Thank you, Herta Probst. And Hertha Schmorell, and Lilo, and our dear Geyers, and all the others who live the honor written in blood, faith, and hope. 


    All the best,



    Ruth Hanna Sachs

    (c) 2008 Exclamation! Publishers. All rights reserved. Please contact us for permission to quote.


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