What was the White Rose Circle?
The White Rose resistance stretched far beyond Munich, but at its heart were six individuals: students Hans Scholl (1918–1943), and Sophie Scholl (1921–1943), who were brother and sister, Christoph Probst (1919–1943), Alexander Schmorell (1917–1943), and Willi Graf (1918–1943), and Professor Kurt Huber (1893–1943).
Between 1942 and 1943 the group wrote and disseminated six pamphlets calling on the German people to resist Nazism. They used a second-hand duplicating machine, and despite wartime shortages obtained paper, envelopes, and stamps. They distributed the pamphlets at great personal risk. On 18 February 1943 Hans Scholl and Sophie Scholl took copies of the sixth pamphlet to the University of Munich and deposited them around the atrium at the entrance of the main university building. They were spotted by a university caretaker and detained. Their arrest followed, and on 22 February Hans and Sophie Scholl and Christoph Probst were sentenced to death and executed by guillotine just hours after the conclusion of their trial. Alexander Schmorell, Kurt Huber, and Willi Graf were subsequently arrested, tried, and sentenced to death on 19 April. Schmorell and Huber were executed three months later, on 13 July, and Graf was executed on 12 October 1943.
Much has been written about the White Rose since the first post-war account of their activities was published by one of the Scholl siblings, Inge, in 1952. Their letters and diaries, available in German and in English translation, give a fascinating insight into the lives of these individuals who chose to stand up to the Nazis.