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October 12, 2006
Roses at Noon
The newsletter of the
Center for White Rose Studies

October 12, 2006 - Volume 5, Issue 2


    A couple of weeks ago, I decided to revamp my author's Web site. It had been nearly a year since I'd done so much as the basics.
    The revamp occurred at a particularly stressful time, which as any creative body will tell you, is not the best moment to undertake a major project. I stared at a blank screen for the longest, unable to put together two words that made sense. Too much self-pity got in the way, self-pity for the manner in which the easiest things were turning out to be complicated and time-consuming.
    That self-pity morphed into the question: Did "my" White Rose kids wallow in the same kind of despair when stencils ripped and people they trusted let them down? How did they handle the stress that was peculiar to saying No during the Third Reich, stress that was far more terrifying than dealing with bureaucracy or disappearing relationships?
    I already knew the answer to the question. For the most part, they did not wallow. Oh, Sophie may have written chillingly despondent words, and Hans may have sought refuge in drugs. And Willi may have moaned to his journal about how alone he felt. But for the most part, the college students whom we think of as the White Rose took their aloneness in stride, drawing strength from one another and the conviction that what they were doing was right.
    My contemplations were underscored a few days later when Enron once again dominated the news. One of our family members had led the revolt of vice presidents against Ken Lay ... in 1986. He refused to tolerate illegal and unethical actions perpetrated by Lay. Almost half the management team agreed with his stand and resigned en masse. Lay went on to replace them with people like Fastow and Skillings who shared his warped view of business ethics.
    But I never heard one of these vice presidents (including our family member) wish they had stayed, wish they had the multi-million dollar salaries that Lay implemented, wish they had gotten a piece of Ken Lay's pie. They were content to have their integrity intact, and found sustenance with others of their kind.
    Putting the two (White Rose and Enron) together got me out of my funk like nothing else could have. Sometimes I get so fixated on what I don't have, or the difficulties we face as a small nonprofit, or brick walls that block the path when following a particular line of research, that I overlook the cornucopia of most excellent things all around me.
    When it comes right down to it, perspective - seeing that cornucopia for what it is - is one of the few things I can control. If only I will.
    - Ruth Hanna Sachs

Book Review
Dr. Igor Khramov, ed. Alexander Schmorell: Gestapo Verhoerprotokolle, Februar - Maerz 1943. RGWA I361K-I-8808. Orenburg, Russia: Orenburg Charity Foundation "Eurasia", 2005.
    If you've followed our work for very long, you know that most "scholarly" works on the White Rose tend to disappoint. Too many researchers still toe the Scholl-centric line and avoid commentary on continuing censorship of Nazi-era documents. Even the alleged documentation that accompanied the recent Sophie Scholl movie was at best highly edited to present her in only the most favorable light, and at worst consciously censored to circumvent critical controversy.
    So we opened the package from the scholars in Orenburg, Russia with trepidation, fearing that Igor Khramov (alt. Chramov - the Schmorell biographer) would have similarly short-changed Alex in his presentation of Schurik's interrogations. Because we already knew that the Gestapo had played Willi Graf against Alex, Alex against Willi, and both against everyone else. Leaving out any of the painful cross-examination would have limited our view of Alex and thereby limited our view of truth.
    To Dr. Khramov's credit, this volume exceeds even our high standards for accuracy with its faithful portrayal of the young freedom fighter with strawberry blond hair. The Russian National Military Archives granted Dr. Khramov permission to publish actual facsimiles of the interrogation transcripts, accompanied by Russian translation of same. (It should be noted that the quality of those documents greatly surpasses the quality of Bundesarchiv documents, which at times can be all but illegible, especially those in the NJ1704 series.)
    Dr. Khramov took his attention to detail one step further. Not only did he ensure that this hard-cover book contained everything in Alex's files, he also bound in samples of the envelopes with leaflets as they mailed them. Complete with replication of the Hitler postage stamps, postmarks from Munich and Vienna, and the different type "styles" that arose from use of either the Remington or Erica typewriters as well as preferences for addressing an envelope.
    This neat little feature - an unexpected bonus -  affected us more than we would have believed possible. It makes their act more immediate, something tangible that bridges the gap of time.
    To order, contact Dr. Khramov directly. Tell him Ruth Sachs sent you!

More About Orenburg
    When Dr. Erich Schmorell first told us about Igor Khramov (alt. Igor Chramov), he did so with more than a little embarrassment. After all, non-Scholl family members had long (and unsuccessfully) fought the White Rose "establishment" to broaden the narrow horizons of the Foundation to include everyone who had been involved with White Rose resistance. Not to exclude Hans and Sophie, but to put them into proper context. Even Fritz and Elisabeth (nee Scholl) Hartnagel joined this battle, but their efforts too were in vain.
    And along comes Igor Khramov, who focused solely on Alexander Schmorell. Dr. Erich Schmorell feared that Khramov's concentration on "Schurik" could be perceived as an attempt to shift the spotlight away from anyone else and put it squarely and exclusively on his half-brother.
    In time, Khramov won Dr. Schmorell over by proving that he was not anti-Scholl, he merely wished to act as biographer for one of Orenburg's native sons, to honor Alex as few German towns honor those who resisted Hitler.
    In keeping with that principle, the Orenburg Charity Foundation "Eurasia" holds its own annual White Rose conference every September 16 on Alex's birthday. And in keeping with their greater agenda, they honor not only Alex, but also his half-brother, and others who contribute to peace and understanding between Russia and Germany. We hope to take a small contingent from our Center for White Rose Studies to that conference in September 2007.
    The Orenburg foundation also has a documentary about Alex's life available. If you are serious about German resistance, and are not satisfied with the schmaltzy representations typical of the genre, please contact Igor at the email address above.
    To learn more about them, what they do, who they are, check them out. The site is available in Russian, German, and English.
    To order Alex Schmorell's transcripts in English translation, click here. To read an excerpt free of charge on Google Books, click here.

More About Transcripts
    It was exciting to receive Alex's "missing" transcripts, the ones that have been stored with the Russian National Military Archives all these years.
    It was equally exciting to receive a most unexpected gift, quite anonymously, of Franz Josef Mueller's Gestapo interrogation transcripts. We knew they existed, because he spoke of holding them in his own hands and seeing the black grease pencil marks the Gestapo agents had made.
    But if you inquire about those transcripts with the Bundesarchiv in Berlin, you get nothing. In their list of White Rose documents, there is one file that has no description and is empty. We have long guessed (correctly) that that file was Mueller's. And assumed (wrongly) it was forever gone.
    We are grateful to have these explosive documents at our disposal. Please, if you have good connections with an intellectual property lawyer who's got experience in international copyright and privacy law, please bitteschoen, have them contact us as soon as possible. We want to add Mueller's transcripts to the primary sources we provide in English translation.
    No matter what, look for new and perhaps even shocking (to those of you who have invited Mueller to speak on campus) information in one of our next updates to White Rose History, Volume II. (We may not be able to incorporate all the information into the 2007 update, but we will try.) This is precisely the kind of thing we anticipated when we called our books "The Unfinished Story" and chose such an unorthodox binding method. Once this update is released, you will appreciate that silly three-ring binder!

A Question from Germany
    Dr. Armin Ziegler, a German researcher whose work we value, has posed a question we deem significant enough to pass along here.
    When you read the indictments and verdicts for the various White Rose individuals, you are struck by the Nazi fixation on foreign broadcasts. And indeed, both Otl Aicher and Susanne Hirzel allude to the importance of the BBC and Beromunster in the development of their political thought processes, although Hirzel tended towards skepticism, believing the Allies were just as capable of propaganda as the Nazis.
    And then when you compare known, specific broadcasts to White Rose writings, it becomes even clearer how much information they were gleaning from "illegal" sources. In our White Rose History, Volume II, we provided the text of the press conference given by Franklin D. Roosevelt, as it elucidated much of Christoph Probst's unpublished leaflet. The direct correlation between FDR's speech and Christl's plea to end the war honorably is unmistakable.
    And not merely with the benefit of hindsight. There was a good reason that the prosecutor tacked on "listening to illegal foreign broadcasts" to Christl's indictment at the last minute.
    If anyone has already researched this aspect of German resistance, or even more generally, the effect of Allied radio broadcasts on German audiences during the Third Reich, please contact us. We will forward your communication to Dr. Ziegler. He will be delighted to hear from you.

    After years of grousing about the poor quality of dramas available on the subject of German resistance in general, and White Rose resistance in particular, Ruth Sachs was challenged to write a play that would accurately and passionately portray the group as they really were.
    The result: Abandonment.
    Although the play is book-ended by first and third acts that feature Willi Graf's aloneness - hence the title - it is not "about" Willi Graf. The meat of the play, indeed, a full half of the performance time, is dedicated to the debate that took place in February 1943, a debate that both strengthened and weakened the White Rose.
    Strengthened, because those who were truly dedicated to resistance, to informed dissent, left more determined than ever to bring down Hitler's regime. Weakened, because the debate highlighted their differences and pointed to an eventual dissolution of the group as it stood.
    This debate is more relevant to 21st century America (and Western Europe) than the leaflets they wrote. It raises questions that the best ethicists and philosophers among us have difficulty answering.
    What if any are the "absolutes" at stake when a government is dead wrong? Is it all right to protest alongside people with whom we have deep differences on other matters important to us? What role does (or should) religion play in our politics? When is compromise acceptable, when is it not? What issues are so compelling that we are willing to lay down our lives for them, and how can we know we are right?
    No easy answers (if any) for the above questions. It is our sincere hope that this play will get students - and their teachers! - talking about things that matter.
    Sixteen named players in all (plus undetermined number of extras - your discretion). Nine adult males, six adult females, and one small child (no speaking lines for the child). The play includes a "Brecht-ian" scene that may be effective, depending on your audience. The option for omitting it is included with each script.
    Click here to read an excerpt from the play. Click here to order.

In Closing
    With this edition of our newsletter, we have also instituted improvements for those of you who either pay for a subscription, or who have prepaid any White Rose publication that has not yet been released. You will receive a separate copy by snail mail that contains more information than this e-newsletter. This is our way of saying Thank you for your extra support, for going above and beyond in enabling our work.
    To subscribe, click here. We know you will enjoy the extra goodies!

    Newsweek ran a short story about a hopeful historical find: "Proof" that Sgt. Alvin York's exploits in World War I were real (Do Cartridges Mark the Spot of York's Heroics?, October 26, 2006).
    I loved the end quote from Dr. Tom Nolan of Middle Tennessee State University. "We don't have enough evidence to reach any definite conclusion," Nolan said. "I don't see how anyone else could at this point. ... Our aim is to create some sort of permanent record of what is available and reach the most probable conclusion of where the events took place. The truth will come out eventually."
    He could have been talking about what we do, who we are, why we keep on digging despite brick walls and closed archives. The truth will come out eventually!

All the best,

Ruth Hanna Sachs

(c) 2006 Exclamation! Publishers and Center for White Rose Studies. All rights reserved. Please contact us for permission to quote.
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