In detail

The White Rose ProjectWhite Rose poster PRINT 2
The White Rose Project is a research and outreach initiative led by Dr Alex Lloyd at the University of Oxford. It aims to raise awareness in the UK of the White Rose resistance. The project was launched on 12 October 2018, the 75th anniversary of Willi Graf’s execution.
In its first year, the project produced three main outputs: an exhibition at the Taylor Institution Library, a display in the Bodleian Library Proscholium, and a new publicationThe White Rose: Reading, Writing, Resistance (Oxford: Taylor Institution Library, 2019). The publication includes the White Rose resistance leaflets in German as a parallel text alongside new translations undertaken by Oxford undergraduate students. 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 publication was launched in June 2019. 

While there are many versions of the leaflets in English, the White Rose Project set out to produce a new translation with two aims: first, that it should be collaborative; and second, that it should be undertaken by university students. In July 2018 a call for translators was issued among Oxford undergraduates. Applicants were asked to submit a short statement outlining why they would like to be involved, and to translate an extract from the third leaflet. There were a number of very strong submissions and fifteen students from ten colleges were selected to participate. On 12 October 2018, the project was launched at an event in the Taylor Institution. At the same time, an exhibition on the White Rose was opened – ‘The White Rose: Reading, Writing, Resistance’. This 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.  

In October 2018, the fifteen student translators attended an introductory seminar at which we discussed the White Rose pamphlets, translation theory (including ‘function’ and ‘translatability’), and the aims of our new translation. Students were provided with support materials including historical information about the White Rose and footnotes explaining aspects of the pamphlets. The students were then divided into two groups and two or three students per group took responsibility for one pamphlet. They worked on it together in their own time, then brought a draft version to the next seminar and as a group we discussed the German original, translation challenges, what we felt did and did not work in the students’ draft and discussed alternative solutions. We had a final meeting to make decisions about formatting, footnotes, and the glossary. I edited the students’ final versions and sent comments and amendments for their approval.

The leaflets themselves were the result of collaboration: the first four were drafted by students Hans Scholl and Alexander Schmorell in the summer of 1942. Professor Kurt Huber helped them with the fifth in January 1943 and wrote the sixth leaflet independently in February 1943. All six core members of the group distributed the pamphlets and contributed to operations. It struck me that while the leaflets have been translated many times (not always well), I was unaware of any that had been collaborative, or that had been undertaken by students around the same age as those involved in the White Rose. This was a perfect opportunity to involve students in a translation exercise outside their regular studies. As one of them commented,

‘As soon as I heard about this project I knew I wanted to be a part of it. It was very humbling to be a part of producing these texts, knowing that we were translating the words of people our own age, who campaigned for peace and freedom in incredibly dangerous times, and paid the ultimate price for it.’

The student translators were also involved in curating and creating materials for a display in the Bodleian’s Proscholium from 18 May to 7 July 2019. 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.

The project continues its work in 2019 thanks to generous funding from The Oxford Research Centre in the Humanities (TORCH).

For further information, please contact Dr Alex Lloyd, alexandra.lloyd[at]seh.ox.ac.uk.