The Fourth Pamphlet
There is an old and wise saying, which we preach to children time and again, that ‘he who will not listen, must feel’.1 However, clever children will burn their fingers on a hot stove only once.
Who has counted the dead, Hitler or Goebbels? — neither of them, in truth. Thousands fall in Russia every day. It is harvest-time, and the Reaper cuts into the ripe crop with broad strokes. Grief settles into the country’s cottages, and no-one is there to dry the mothers’ tears. Hitler, however, lies to those whom he has robbed of their most precious possessions, and driven to a meaningless death.
Every word that comes out of Hitler’s mouth is a lie. When he says ‘peace’, he means ‘war’, and when he blasphemously invokes the name of the Almighty, he means the power of the Evil One, of the fallen angel, of Satan. His mouth is the stinking maw of Hell, and his power is, at its very essence, corrupt. We must undoubtedly lead a struggle against the National Socialist terror state by rational means, but whoever today still doubts the genuine existence of demonic powers has woefully failed to grasp the metaphysical background of this war. Behind the concrete, behind that which is discernible to the senses, behind all factual, logical considerations, there lies the Irrational, i.e. the fight against the demon, against the messenger of the Antichrist. Everywhere and always, demons have lurked in the darkness, waiting for the day on which man would become weak; the day on which he would forsake his position in the divine order,3 freely ordained for him by God; the day on which he would surrender to the forces of the Evil One, unbind himself from the powers of a higher order and, having taken the first step of his own volition, be then driven forcibly towards taking the second and third steps at an ever more furious pace. In all places and at all times when man has found himself most in need, men have taken a stand; prophets and saints who, in asserting their freedom4, have pointed towards the one and only God and, with His help, beseeched the people to reverse their course.5 Man is undoubtedly free, but he is defenceless in the face of evil without the one true God: he is like a ship6 without a rudder, abandoned to the storm; like a nursing child without a mother; like a cloud that disperses.7
And so I ask you — you who proclaim yourself Christian — do you waver in this struggle for the preservation of your highest Goods?8 Is there a calculation, deferring your decision in the hope that someone else will raise their weapons to defend you? Did not God himself endow you with the strength and courage to fight? We MUST make an assault upon evil where it is strongest, and it is strongest in the hands of Hitler.
‘So I returned, and considered all the oppressions that are done under the sun; and behold the tears of such as were oppressed, and they had no comforter; and on the side of their oppressors there was power; but they had no comforter.
Therefore I praised the dead which are already dead more than the living who are yet alive….’ (Ecclesiastes)9
Novalis: ‘True anarchy is the generative element of religion. Out of the annihilation of all that is positive she raises her glorious head aloft, as the new foundress of the world…
Oh, if Europe were to reawaken, and a state of states, a theory of political science, were to confront us! Should hierarchy then… be the principle of the union of states? Blood will flow over Europe until the nations become aware of the frightful madness which drives them in circles; until, struck by celestial music and pacified, they approach their former altars as a colourful collective, compose works of peace and hold a great festival of peace, hot tears falling upon the smouldering battlefields. Only religion can re-awaken Europe, protect the rights of the peoples, and swear Christendom into its peace-making office, its new splendour visible on earth.’10
We want to make clear that the actions of the White Rose are not being done in the service of some foreign power. Although we know that National Socialism’s hold on power can only be broken through military force,11 we are attempting to reawaken the gravely wounded German spirit from within. This rebirth must, however, be preceded by full recognition of the guilt with which the German people have burdened themselves, and by a ruthless battle against Hitler and his all too numerous accomplices, party members, Quislings,12 and so on. The gulf between the better part of society and those who choose to associate with National Socialism must be torn apart with uncompromising brutality.
There is no punishment on this earth that would do justice to the crimes of Hitler and his inner circle. But out of love for the coming generations, an example must be set after the end of the war, so that no one will ever feel even the slightest inclination to commit such acts again. Do not forget the petty villains of this regime; remember their names, so that not a single one goes free! They should not be allowed to switch sides at the last minute, after committing such abhorrent crimes, and act as though nothing had happened!
We would like to add for your reassurance that the addresses of White Rose readers are nowhere recorded in writing. The addresses are taken at random from directories.13
We will not be silent. We are your bad conscience. The White Rose will never leave you in peace!
Please duplicate and re-distribute!
1 This is a similar proverb to ‘once bitten, twice shy’. The leaflet takes a sarcastic tone pointing to the hypocrisy of impressing this upon children while German adults do not act in accordance with the proverb.
2 From the end of May to the beginning of July 1942.
3 German: ‘im Ordo’. The leaflet develops the Augustinian idea from the third leaflet (III, 18ff.) that God endowed man with a nature between that of an angel and a beast. According to Augustine, if man remembers this endowment and obeys the divine order, then he acquires the immortality of the angel. If, however, he abuses his free will and forgets, disobediently and with bestial desire, his endowment, then he forfeits himself to death and hell (De civitate Dei, Book 12, Chapter 21).
4 ‘Freiheit’: ‘freedom’. The German word for freedom features especially heavily in the sixth leaflet, in the phrase ‘Freiheit und Ehre’ (‘freedom and honour’). The repetition makes this something of a rallying call, as the White Rose call for the freedom of the individual. They imply that the love of freedom is intrinsically German, evoking a German literary and philosophical tradition which includes Goethe and Kant. Goethe’s famous knight-hero in his play Götz von Berlichingen (1773) embodies these values, refusing to bow to an unjust authority and fighting to protect German independence. Götz dies in prison with the last word ‘Freiheit’. Hans Scholl’s last words were ‘Es lebe die Freiheit!’ (‘Long live freedom!’).
5 Here there is a stark theological implication related to the Greek notion of Metanoia: change in one’s way of life resulting from penitence or spiritual conversion. See Matthew 18:2-5: ‘He called a little child to him, and placed the child among them. And he said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever takes the lowly position of this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me.’
6 This is a recurrent theological-didactic equation. See the second recitative in Johann Sebastian Bach’s solo cantata ‘Ich will den Kreuzstab gerne tragen’ (BWV 56) from his third cycle: ‘My sojourn in the world / Is like a voyage at sea: / The sadness, cross and woe / Are billows which have overwhelmed me / And unto death / Each day appal me; / My anchor, though, which me doth hold, / Is that compassion’s heart / With which my God oft makes me glad.’ Life is likened to a sea voyage with death as the ultimate destination.
7 A reference to the Wisdom of Solomon 2:4: ‘our life will be undone like the trace of a cloud and will be dispersed like mist, pursued by the rays of the sun and oppressed by its heat.’
8 ‘Deiner höchsten Güter’: ‘your highest goods’. These are the Goods endowed by God as part of man’s place in divine order: the knowledge of good and evil, man’s duty to God’s creation, man’s responsibility for his own actions, righteousness and peace.
9 This refers to Ecclesiastes 4:1-2 in which the following arguments are put forward: oppression and evil deeds are vanity; the strength of two is better than one; and better is a poor and wise child than an old and foolish king. See also Ecclesiastes 4:3: ‘yea, better than both of them is he who hath not yet been, who hath not seen the evil work that is done under the sun.’ This is picked up in Luke 23:29: ‘Look, the days are coming when people will say, “Blessed are the barren women, the wombs that never bore, and breasts that never nursed”.’ See also Johannes Brahms’ Ich wandte mich und sahe an (op. 121 no. 2 (1896)).
10 Novalis (Friedrich von Hardenberg), Die Christenheit oder Europa (1799), written in the light of the French Revolution, which Novalis perceived as chaotic and irreligious. Within his speech, Novalis explores the possibility of a new Europe based on poetical Christendom (these particularly poetic excerpts were taken from around six pages of the original text) and inspired by Friedrich Schleiermacher’s Über die Religion (1799).
11 By 1942, it was too late to consider any solution other than to defeat National Socialism by military means.
12 ‘Quisling’: a term referring to a person who collaborates with the enemy (traitor), originating from the surname of Vidkun Quisling, who headed a Nazi collaborationist regime (the National Union) in Norway under the supervision of Nazi administrator, Josef Terboven, during World War Two. The term was first used by Norwegian Labour Party politician Oscar Torp in a 1933 newspaper interview to describe Quisling’s followers; eventually a puppet government was established with Quisling as Prime Minister between 1942 and 1945.
This translation was originally published in Alexandra Lloyd (ed.), The White Rose: Reading, Writing, Resistance (Oxford: Taylor Institution Library, 2019). Copyright © Taylor Institution Library 2019.
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