The First Pamphlet

This translation was undertaken by Louise Mayer-Jacquelin and Poppy Robertson, student translators on the White Rose Translation Project 2018-19. Please see the terms of use below.

Pamphlets of the White Rose I

Complicity with the ‘governance’ of an irresponsible clique of rulers driven by their darkest urges, and complicity without resistance — nothing is more unworthy of a civilised people. Is it not so that in the present day, every honourable German is ashamed of their government? And who amongst us can foresee the extent of the infamy that will be on us, and on our children, when the veil is one day lifted from our eyes and the most horrific crimes, crimes beyond all measure, come to light? If, in their innermost being, the German people have been corrupted and degraded enough to betray the  greatest quality humanity possesses, that quality which elevates them above all other creatures — free will — without so much as lifting a finger, foolishly trusting the dubious notion that history follows its natural course; if this people can betray the freedom1 of humankind to intervene in the course of history and to subordinate it to its rational judgement; if the Germans, so utterly devoid of any kind of individuality, have already become such a weak and mindless horde: then yes, they truly deserve their own demise.

Goethe speaks of the Germans as a tragic people, much like the Jews or the Greeks, but these days, they seem more like a shallow, spineless herd of mindless followers2 whose substance has been sucked out of them from within and who, robbed of their very core, allow themselves to be baited into their own demise. This seems like the truth, but it isn’t; a slow, deceitful, systematic violation has locked every single one of us into a mental cage, and it is only once shackled that we become conscious of our fate. Very few recognised the impeding calamity, and the reward for their heroic warnings was death. Much remains to be said about the fate of these people.

If every one of us waits for someone else to start, then the heralds of avenging Nemesis will draw ever closer until the last sacrificial victim is vainly thrown into the jaws of a demon that will never be sated. Every individual must therefore fight back with an awareness of their responsibility as a member of Christian and Western culture, must work against the scourges of humanity, against fascism and all the systems of dictatorship that resemble it. Wherever you may be, mount passive resistance — RESISTANCE — obstruct the progress of this atheistic war machine before it’s too late, before, like Cologne, the last cities are left in ruins, before the last remaining youths of this nation bleed to death in some unknown place for the sake of the hubris of  a subhuman.3 Remember that every people deserves the government it is prepared to tolerate.

From Friedrich Schiller’s The Legislation of Lycurgus and Solon:

‘… Seen in the light of its chosen ends, Lycurgus’ legislation is a masterpiece of political and human science. He wanted a state that was powerful, founded upon itself and indestructible; the aims he set himself were political strength and longevity, and he achieved these aims as far as was possible under the circumstances he was facing. But if one confronts the aims of Lycurgus with the aims of mankind, the admiration that a first fleeting glance sparked in us must give way to deep disapproval. One may sacrifice everything for the best of the state, with one exception: that to which the state is only a means. The state in and of itself is never the object; it is merely the necessary condition under which the purpose of mankind may be fulfilled — and this purpose is none other than the development a person’s abilities to their full extent, that is to say progress. If a state’s constitution hinders the development of all the inward powers of mankind, if it hinders the progress of the Geist,4 then it is harmful and reprehensible, however well thought out and perfect a work of its kind it may be. And so its longevity comes to earn it more censure than glory, it becomes a prolonged curse; the longer it lasts, the more harmful it becomes.

… Political merit was achieved, and the ability to obtain it taught, at the extent of every moral sentiment. There was no marital love in Sparta, no mother’s love, no child’s love, no friendship; there were nothing but citizens, nothing but citizens’ virtue.

… A state law made it a duty for Spartans to treat their slaves inhumanly; and in these wretched victims of butchery, humanity was violated and abused.

The Spartan Code of Law itself preached the dangerous principle that people were to be regarded as means and not ends, thereby constitutionally obliterating the foundations of natural law and morality.

… There is no finer scene than that played out in his camp at the gates of Rome by the savage warrior Gaius Marcius who sacrificed revenge and victory because he could not bear to see his mother’s tears!

… The state (of Lycurgus) could only subsist under one condition: the spirit of the nation would have to stand still; and to ensure its continued existence would therefore mean to neglect the highest and the sole aim of a state.’

From Goethe’s Epimenides Awakes, Act II, scene 4:

What burst forth bold from the abyss
Could with a brazen mastery
Claim victory of half the globe —
Yet now back to the void it must.
A monstrous fear already looms,

And all resistance will be vain!
The ones who still cling on to it
Will perish with its name.

And now I’ll meet my brave of heart,
Who gather in the midst of night,
To share a silence, keep awake.
They stutter, stammer, on and on
That fair enchanting word: Freedom,
Till on our temple’s steps anew
So youthful and so unfamiliar
We call its name, a joyful clamour:
(With conviction, loud:)
(More moderately:)
(Echoing from all sides:)

We urge you to transcribe this leaflet, make as many copies as you can and distribute them!


1 ‘Freiheit’: ‘freedom’. See the glossary for a discussion of this term.

2 ‘Mitläufer’: ‘fellow travellers’. See the glossary for a discussion of this term.

3 ‘Untermensch’: ‘subhuman’. This word was commonly used in Nazi propaganda to describe non-Aryan ‘inferior people’, including Jewish people, Roma, and Slavs, who were to be exterminated.

4 ‘Geist’: German noun pertaining to philosophy. Its semantic field covers translations like ‘spirit’, ‘mind’, ‘intellect’, ‘essence’. It is a central concept of German philosophy, especially in Hegel’s Phänomenologie des Geistes (The Phenomenology of Spirit, 1807).


This text is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0). This means you can share the material but you must give appropriate credit and provide a link to the license. You may do so in any reasonable manner, but not in any way that suggests the licensor endorses you or your use. You may not use the material for commercial purposes. If you remix, transform, or build upon the material, you may not distribute the modified material. Permission to adapt this material must be sought from The White Rose Project.