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December 7, 2008
Roses at Noon
The newsletter of the
Center for White Rose Studies

December 7, 2008 - Volume 7, Issue 4

Perspective

    Susanne Hirzel remembered a feverish woman in her cell who coughed incessantly. Suddenly she stopped - she had died. Eugen Grimminger recalled bugs so thick, they fell on his head all night long in a cell cramped with "dangerous" political prisoners.
    Gestapo agents threatened Willi Graf with the torture of his family if he refused to give up his co-conspirators. He loved his family, but he would not betray his friends. His agony could not be measured.
    They told Wilhelm Geyer he would never see his wife or six children again. Gestapo agent Eduard Geith sneeringly advised Katharina Schueddekopf she would return from trial shaved, with her head under her arm. Agent Schmauss tormeneted Eugen Grimminger with the gruesome details of what the Nazis would do to his beloved (Jewish) wife Jenny. Traute Lafrenz was released from her White Rose imprisonment only to be denounced anew by friends in Hamburg.
    At trial, they were cursed, ridiculed, abused. Judge Freisler made no secret of the certainty of their fate. They saw everything they believed in, everything they held dear - law, liberty, justice - scorned and derided by a red-cloaked man unworthy of his calling.
    And yet they stood firm. Professor Kurt Huber, stripped of his right to that title, delivered a speech that served as eulogy for his society and lighthouse for years to come. Falk Harnack theatrically proclamed his love of country, his patriotism, the grand finale his words, "Germany may not perish!"
    Even before the days of prison cells and courtroom dramas, these brave friends had endured much. They survived on two hours of sleep, juggling classes, exams, and stubborn duplicating machines. They painted seditious slogans on city walls by night, and studied anatomy by day. They savored Handel's Messiah and its buoyant message of faith, meeting afterwards to debate their nation's faithlessness.
    When stencils ripped at 2 a.m., they typed another. When they ran out of envelopes provided by Eugen Grimminger, they improvised by converting the leaflets into self-mailers. When they no longer had money for postage, they skulked through Munich's streets under cover of darkness, placing dangerous words in telephone booths, on bulletin boards and advertising pillars, on doorsteps, wherever they believed the flyer would be read.
    Sophie Scholl would later say, "I always made it a point to carry several extra copies of the leaflets with me whenever I was walking through the city - specifically for that purpose. Whenever I saw an opportune moment, I took it."
    Through the fourteen-plus years we have been involved with this history, these have been the scenes, the events, that have kept us going, that have provided us perspective. When our own funds run low or supplies dwindle, we are challenged to improvise, to keep going, to work past inconveniences.
    Perhaps this is the lesson of liberty. When free men and women wish to preserve basic human rights, wherever we are faced with injustice that must be rectified, we can expect the fight to be long and hard. And that fight will use up our energy, our resources, our well-being. It must be a fight we are convinced is worth the effort.
    Once convinced, we will look for - and take - all "opportune" moments.
    - Ruth Hanna Sachs

Bubis and Galinski
    While researching an obscure point for an upcoming publication, I ran across a story that intrigued me. In the last interview before his death in 1999, STERN asked Ignatz Bubis about his status as a "moral authority" in Germany, due to his tenure as president of the Central Council of Jews (Zentralrat der Juden) in that country.
    In stark contrast to the opinions of his fellow Germans, Bubis looked back on his life's work with considerable dismay. "I achieved nothing or almost nothing," he told the reporters.
    He could not see any difference in Germany society for all his work on behalf of "fairness" - equal rights for all regardless of race, creed, or ethnicity. At his death less than two months later, people of color eulogized him. Germany's Muslim community acknowledged that things were better for them because of Ignatz Bubis's persistent advocacy.
    Taken aback by his words, the two reporters - Michael Stoessinger and Rafael Seligmann - asked again. "You have directly addressed hundreds of thousands of young people. You [spoke] in schools, at universities. And today you say you achieved nothing?"
    Bubis admitted that the hate mail he received indicated that he had accomplished something. But he had not achieved the radical rethinking of core policies that had led to the pogroms and concentration camps of the Third Reich. Or so he thought.
    "These days, I think I spoke to the wrong groups. I should not have sought out the students. I should have sought out their teachers. You know, today I have a better understanding of Heinz Galinski than I did before."
    Galinski - Bubis's predecessor as president of Germany's Central Council of Jews - had been well-known for his insistence on remembering the Holocaust. He'd endured Auschwitz, Buchenwald, and Bergen-Belsen as a young man, horror that shaped his life. Known for his statement, "I did not survive to keep quiet," Galinski fought for reparations for those imprisoned in concentration camps and worked to bring Nazi war criminals to justice.
    Bubis on the other hand focused on the here and now. Auschwitz and the Holocaust only had meaning if the atrocities taught lessons that would affect the current generation's behavior. He wished to use the past to point to a better future.
    Happily, Ignatz Bubis did not allow Galinski's bitterness to consume him until the very end of his life. Because Germany is indeed a better place on account of forward-looking justice.
    To read the Washington Post article about Ignatz Bubis's death (as cached on haGalil.com), click here. To read more about Heinz Galinski, click here. (The original German-language interview is no longer available on Stern's Web site. They archive only ten years' worth of articles.)

New Publications and Other News
Three new releases in the series of fully annotated Gestapo interrogation transcripts in English language!
Professor Kurt Huber and Falk Harnack
    English translation of NJ1704 Volumes 2, 7, 9, and 13 for Kurt Huber and Falk Harnack, including interrogations, clemency proceedings, and (for Kurt Huber) execution documents. Of special interest: The manner in which the Gestapo played these two men against one another by taking excerpts from Huber's interrogations to try to rattle Harnack, and vice versa.
    This volume is especially valuable for historians examining the paradoxes and contradictions of German resistance during the Holocaust. On the one hand, Kurt Huber clearly defined his political view as anti-Hitler but in strong favor of National Socialism. On the other, Falk Harnack defended his pro-democracy, pro-Soviet beliefs. Just when you think you have it all figured out...
    To order this volume, click here.

Gisela Schertling and Katharina Schueddekopf
    English translation of ZC13267 Volume 15 for Gisela Schertling and Katharina Schueddekopf. Fascinating juxtaposition of two women who could not have been more different. Gisela Schertling gave up everyone else in the circle of White Rose friends, including those who were on the fringe of the fringe. Her testimony, while disastrous for everyone she knew, provides extraordinary insight into the inner workings of the group.
    Kaethe, on the other hand, played the expected Nazi role of a young woman too naive and silly to bother her head with politics. In so doing, she covered well for friends never indicted.
    To order this volume, click here.

Manfred Eickemeyer and Eugen Grimminger
    English translation of ZC13267 Volume 7, surviving documentation for Manfred Eickemeyer and Eugen Grimminger. [Note: Likely not their complete files, because of "loss of evidence" noted during the third White Rose trial on July 13, 1943. But all that is contained in ZC1367.]
    The additional information about the older members of the group who made significant financial contributions to their resistance adds yet another layer to the intrigue. What they did should never be glossed over or forgotten.
    To order this volume, click here.

White Rose Screensavers
    Photography mixed with B&W line art depicting the places of the White Rose. Ulm, Munich, Bad Duerrheim, Blumberg, Saarbruecken, Oberbayern - it all comes to life on your monitor. Make good use of your PC's customizable screensaver feature to enjoy over two hundred pictures of the places you've read about.
    Instructions for customizing screensaver options included with the CD-ROM.
    To order the standard White Rose CD-ROM, click here. To order the option that includes two hundred extra pictures of Israel and Russia (makes for an absorbing juxtaposition of locales and cultures!), click here.

Excerpts from the transcripts and photographs from the Screensaver CD-ROM are available only to paid subscribers of our newsletter.

Teaching the Hard Questions
    Nicholas Welsh of Eton College in Windsor (UK) challenges his students to tackle inconvenient truths. For him, it's not enough that the teenagers in his class learn facts and figures about the Shoah. He works to ensure they "get" the application of those facts and figures to their 21st century lives.
    He recommends Annedore Leber's Das Gewissen Steht Auf as a starting point, along with movies like the recent Boy in the Stryped Pajamas.
    But the tool he finds most valuable: An element of the BBC's Web site, tucked away in one of its remote recesses, hard to access unless you're sent there by a caring teacher (or friend). It's their interactive timeline of the Third Reich, replete with the bells and whistles that appeal to today's teens and young adults.
    This timeline takes you through all 12 years of Nazi rule. But it deliberately deprives you of the benefit of hindsight or a view of the future, ensuring you experience events in the sequence they happened to those who lived through them.
    Hitler did not take power with a clear plan for Jews, 'Gypsies', the disabled and other groups. Instead, his regime gradually adopted ever more radical 'solutions', culminating in genocide and mass murder.
    The timeline will allow you to decide if you too would have accepted teh drip-drip of events that led to killing on an unimaginable scale
.
    And that's how Nicholas uses it. 'At what point would YOU have said no,' he asks his students. 'Tell me, when would it have been enough for you to decide you must sacrifice your life if necessary to take a stand?'
    The question is not: 'At what point would you have recognized that what the National Socialists were doing was wrong?' That question is almost a no-brainer. No, the disturbing question that gives us no peace, even to this day, is the one that demands the ultimate sacrifice, being accused and executed for treason, when that treason actually represented the truest form of patriotism on the planet.
    Check it out for yourselves, and share it with your own students or friends, and then bookmark it!

In Closing
    We have updated our Web site with the timelines for April 19, 1943 and July 13, 1943. (The timelines for February 18 and February 22 were already up.)
    If you remain one of the doubters who sees nothing wrong with the legend as Inge Scholl would have it told, peruse these timelines. We believe you will be deeply moved by the real people who were the group of friends known as the White Rose. What they did deserves rich reward and a very long memory.

    Curious about our publications, but unsure about purchasing them? We're slowly but surely getting them all uploaded to Google Books.
    You can read up to 20% of each volume free of charge. This should help you decide whether a book is a good match for a class you're teaching, a paper you're writing, or other research you're involved with.
    Check it out! Note that the link takes you directly to Exclamation! Publisher's book list.

    The release of the White Rose CD-ROM (yes, it shipped!) reminded us of the power of new forms of communication. We don't intend to abandon the hard copies of our books, but we will increasingly embrace technology that "speaks" to our younger readers. So, look for more (and more diverse) releases to follow.
    To order this CD-ROM, click here.

    Finally... All too often "Holocaust education" is synonymous with doom and gloom, with the worst that mankind has to offer. We focus on the atrocities of concentration camps and mass murders such as the one in Babi Yar. We see only gas chambers and stinking ovens.
    Even the study of non-Holocaust genocides (Rwanda, Armenia, Soviet gulags and purges, the concentration camps of the Second Boer War) tend to look only at the horror that men perpetrate on one another. And with good cause. We usually think quite highly of ourselves. Seeing "ourselves" in the mirror of so much bloodshed and hate can be unsettling, to say the least.
    And of course, we do so in the hope that remembering will keep it from ever happening again. Nie wieder, never again.
    We believe, however, that the best line of defense against inhuman acts is, has been, and forever will be the arming of our youth. Arming them not with guns and swords, but with values and ethics that will give them backbone to fight back when that line in the sand has been crossed, courage to do what is right not mindful of the cost, and wisdom to know the difference between violations of personal comfort zones and violations of the civil rights of an unrelated but disadvantaged group.
    Showing them positive examples of "informed dissent" can be far more effective than teaching only the crimes that have been committed in the name of God and country. Whether Willi Graf, Alexander Schmorell, and the friends of the White Rose, or the young German-Jewish American Hellmut ("Helle") Hirsch, or the 15,000 Germans who paid the price for their No. Or Barbara Johns, the "teenage Rosa Parks" during the American civil rights movement. Or any number of contemporary teens who build houses in New Orleans, teach inner city children how to read, or volunteer for the Peace Corps when they graduate from college. These young people should be held up as shining examples of Doing The Right Thing.
    The author C.J. Hayden wrote, "I say if there is a mess in front of you and your hand lights upon a broom, pick it up and start sweeping. Perhaps ultimately a mop might do a better job, or even a shovel. But the longer you wait to decide what tool to use, the longer the mess will be there.
    "I don't mean to suggest you should just throw a dart at a random list of ways to help the world. But you have probably already done a lot of studying and thinking and listening about what your mission in life should be. Most people I talk to are seriously considering no more than a handful of different ideas at any one time.
    "What I am suggesting, though, is that you should allow yourself to be moved in the direction of action regarding one of these ways to be of service the next time some useful action presents itself to you."
    The moment we pick up that broom, when we stop the timeline before a single person has been murdered, when we do whatever we can to right the wrongs we see: That moment becomes the truest, even the holiest remembrance of the millions who were murdered by the Nazis.
    Because in that moment, we are in fact doing whatever we can to ensure the Nie Wieder.

All the best,

Ruth Hanna Sachs

(c) 2008 Exclamation! Publishers and Center for White Rose Studies. All rights reserved. Please contact us for permission to quote.
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