About the Project
The White Rose Project is a research and outreach initiative at the University of Oxford. It aims to bring the story of the White Rose resistance group, ‘Die Weiße Rose’, to an English-speaking audience. The project was launched on 12 October 2018, the 75th anniversary of White Rose member Willi Graf’s execution. Although the White Rose is a household name in Germany, it is relatively little known elsewhere. It is an important story in its own right and forms part of a larger discourse about resistance writing and how culture can inform political action.
The White Rose Project is led by Dr Alex Lloyd. Alex is a Fellow by Special Election in German Studies at St Edmund Hall, and Lecturer in German at Magdalen College and Trinity College, University of Oxford. She teaches German language and literature from the mid-eighteenth to the twenty-first century, translation between German and English, and film studies. Her main research interests lie in twentieth-century literature and visual culture, and her book Childhood, Memory, and the Nation: Young Lives under Nazism in Contemporary German Culture, will be published in Legenda’s Germanic Literatures series in 2020. In 2019 she received a Teaching Excellence Award from the university’s Humanities Division for her work with students on the White Rose Translation Project.
2018-2019 | Year One
The first year of the project, which began with an exhibition at the Taylor Institution Library, involved translation work with students and resulted in a book publication and a display on the White Rose at the Bodleian Library.
October 2018: The Project was launched at the Taylor Institution Library, University of Oxford. At the same time an exhibition on the White Rose was opened, co-curated by Alex Lloyd and the German Subject Librarian, Emma Huber. The exhibition (‘The White Rose: Reading, Writing, Resistance’) introduced the group members and their activities and explored their lives and legacy through examples of what they read and wrote, using books from the Taylorian and Bodleian holdings. You can watch Dr Alex Lloyd’s talk at the project’s official launch on 12 October 2018 here.
October 2018 – April 2019: Fifteen students from ten colleges participated in a collaborative translation of the White Rose resistance pamphlets. They attended an introductory seminar at which they discussed the pamphlets, translation theory, and the aims of their new translation. Students were provided with support mateirals including historical information abotu the White Rose. They then worked in groups, with two or three students taking responsibility for each of the pamphlets. They discussed their drafts together in seminars and refined their versions according to this feedback. There was a final meeting to make decisions about formatting, footnotes, and the glossary. Their work was edited by Alex Lloyd and any amendments were sent to them for their approval.
May – July 2019: Student members of the White Rose Project contributed to a display in the Bodleian Library’s Proscholium from 18 May to 7 July 2019, ‘White Rose: Writing and Resistance’. The display explored how the White Rose Resistance used the political power of the written word. The students wrote one of the text-panels and worked with Dr Alexandra Franklin at the Bibliographical Press to create posters with slogans from, and inspired by, their translations of the pamphlets. The display also displayed two of the original pamphlets alongside the students’ translations.
June 2019: A new book, The White Rose: Reading, Writing, Resistance (Oxford: Taylor Institution Library, 2019), edited by Alex Lloyd, was published. The publication includes the White Rose resistance leaflets in German as a parallel text alongside new translations undertaken by the Oxford undergraduate student translators. The leaflet texts are framed by a series of articles by experts on the White Rose, and the catalogue from the Taylorian exhibition. The foreword was provided by the director of the White Rose Foundation (Weiße Rose Stiftung) in Munich, Hildegard Kronawitter. The book was launched at an event at St Edmund Hall.
2019-2020 | Year Two
The second year of the project began in June 2019, when Dr Alex Lloyd was awarded a Knowledge Exchange Fellowship by The Oxford Research Centre in the Humanities (TORCH) to support the work of the White Rose Project. Knowledge exchange is defined as ‘the mutually beneficial sharing of ideas, data, experience, and expertise, and involves collaboration between researchers and external organisations or the public’. Alex’s external partner was the Munich-based Weiße Rose Stiftung (White Rose Foundation), whose mission is to uphold the resistance group’s memory and ‘to contribute to civic courage and individual responsibility and to promote democratic consciousness’.
September 2019: Following the success of the translation project in its first year, we launched a second translation project in September 2019. Again, students applied by submitting a short statement about their motivation and a sample translation. We had a number of very strong submissions and eighteen students received places. They were joined by one of the student translators from last year’s project.
November 2019: Alex Lloyd spent a week at the White Rose Foundation in Munich. The purpose of the visit was to get a better sense of the Foundation’s work, its approaches to disseminating the history of the White Rose, and to meet individuals connected with the history and memory of the group, including academics and family members. This was a very productive and rewarding week and contributed much to the ongoing development of the project.
December 2019: The project was awarded a generous grant from the Humanities Cultural Programme Project Fund (TORCH, University of Oxford) to develop a programme of spoken word and music in collaboration with the award-winning vocal ensemble SANSARA, led by Artistic Director Tom Herring. Alex and Tom’s project was the very first to be awarded this grant.
January – February 2020: This year the translation seminars began in January. Students worked on excerpts from the letters and diaries of Willi Graf, Christoph Probst, Hans Scholl, Sophie Scholl, Alexander Schmorell, and Fritz Hartnagel. In groups of three or four, the translators researched the lives of the letter-writers and discussed the purpose and challenges of working on these particular texts. The seminars were lively and productive, and in addition to Alex Lloyd, the students were joined by Jenny Lemke (DAAD Lektorin, University of Oxford) who was able to offer valuable insights into issues of style and tone in German. On Friday 21 February Alex Lloyd was interviewed on BBC Radio 4’s The World Tonight. She spoke about the White Rose group and the project’s collaboration with SANSARA, ahead of the 22 February concert, held on the 77th anniversary of the first White Rose trials and executions. The performance was very successful, and a short film was produced to give a sense of the project.
March 2020: We were due to hold an international symposium on the White Rose on 17 and 18 March 2020 at St Edmund Hall, Oxford. Sadly, this fell on the cusp of the lockdown and we had to postpone the event. Instead, we hosted a digital symposium on our website. The programme included academics, a visual artist, a professional storyteller, and students. Read, view, and listen to their contributions here.
July: This year the White Rose Project partnered with the Oxford German Network for its nationwide competition the Oxford German Olympiad. We offered two prizes: one for sixth formers (or equivalent) and one for university students. We had an extraordinary response to our inaugural White Rose Project Writing competition with nearly sixty entries from 45 schools across the UK. Entrants were asked to write a short essay in German in response to the question „Was können wir heute noch von der Weißen Rose lernen?“ [What can we learn from the White Rose today?]. The winning entries are featured here. This year’s inaugural White Rose Translation Competition invited university students to translate into English the draft leaflet written by Christoph Probst in January 1943. Read the winning entry here.
On 16 July Tom Herring (Artistic Director, SANSARA) and Alex Lloyd took part in the Big Tent Live Events series hosted by TORCH. Their discussion was streamed live from the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford. The event is available to watch again here.