Thursday, June 9, 2011

"The Day of Reckoning has Come"
The Sixth Leaflet of the White Rose

Two major events were to precede the publication and distribution of the sixth leaflet of the White Rose -- an inflammatory, misogynistic speech given to students of the University of Munich by the Gauleiter (Nazi district leader) of Bavaria, and the devastating defeat of German forces in the Battle of Stalingrad. And one major series of events was to immediately follow the distribution of the leaflet -- the arrest, trial, and execution of Han and Sophie Scholl, and fellow White Rose member, Christoph Probst.

On January 13, 1943, in observance of the 470th anniversary of the University, Gauleiter Paul Giesler addressed all university students at a special assembly at the German Museum in Munich. Giesler harshly criticized the women, saying that they had no right to waste time and money by being students, and they instead had an obligation to do their duty to the Führer by producing a son for Germany. He even offered them the services of certain men if the women could not attract one themselves. Several women protested and got up to leave, but they were then detained at Giesler's direction. At this, some of the men rushed the podium, beat the Nazi student leader, and held him until all women were released. This event was the first demonstration against the Nazis by the Munich students, and it encouraged the White Rose to appeal more directly to the student population.

Meanwhile, the German offensive to capture Stalingrad, which had begun in August 1942, was ending in disaster for the Wehrmacht, which was suffering from starvation and extreme cold due to the harsh winter and an inability to be resupplied or reinforced. A Soviet counter-offensive ended on February 2, 1943, with the destruction of the German Sixth Army and attached forces, with an estimated 750,000 killed, missing, or wounded, and 91,000 men captured. Hitler's arrogance and belief in the "power of the will" had resulted in an ocean of blood.

When news of the defeat reached the homeland, the White Rose struck with a graffiti campaign in Munich, and then set upon composing the sixth leaflet. Believing that the students were receptive to the message, Hans and Sophie decided to personally distribute copies at the University, in addition to mailing them anonymously to strangers. While classes were in session, when the hallways were empty, they spread copies wherever they could, on the floor outside classrooms, on ledges, and on benches. But they still had some leaflets remaining, so they took them up the stairs above an indoor courtyard and flung them down moments before students came streaming into the hallways.

The Sixth Leaflet
Distributed February 16-18, 1943
Fellow Fighters in the Resistance!

Shaken and broken, our people behold the loss of the men of Stalingrad. Three hundred and thirty thousand German men have been senselessly and irresponsibly driven to death and destruction by the inspired strategy of our World War I Private First Class. Führer, we thank you!

The German people are in ferment. Will we continue to entrust the fate of our armies to a dilettante? Do we want to sacrifice the rest of German youth to the base ambitions of a Party clique? No, never!

The day of reckoning has come - the reckoning of German youth with the most abominable tyrant our people have ever been forced to endure. In the name of German youth we demand restitution by Adolf Hitler's state of our personal freedom, the most precious treasure we have, out of which he has swindled us in the most miserable way.

We grew up in a state in which all free expression of opinion is unscrupulously suppressed. The Hitler Youth, the SA, the SS have tried to drug us, to revolutionize us, to regiment us in the most promising young years of our lives. "Philosophical training" is the name given to the despicable method by which our budding intellectual development is muffled in a fog of empty phrases. A system of selection of leaders at once unimaginably devilish and narrow-minded trains up its future party bigwigs in the "Castles of the Knightly Order" to become Godless, impudent, and conscienceless exploiters and executioners - blind, stupid hangers-on of the Führer. We "Intellectual Workers" are the ones who should put obstacles in the path of this caste of overlords. Soldiers at the front are regimented like schoolboys by student leaders and trainees for the post of Gauleiter, and the lewd jokes of the Gauleiters insult the honor of the women students. German women students at the university in Munich have given a dignified reply to the besmirching of their honor, and German students have defended the women in the universities and have stood firm.... That is a beginning of the struggle for our free self-determination - without which intellectual and spiritual values cannot be created. We thank the brave comrades, both men and women, who have set us brilliant examples.

For us there is but one slogan: fight against the party! Get out of the party organization, which are used to keep our mouths sealed and hold us in political bondage! Get out of the lecture rooms of the SS corporals and sergeants and the party bootlickers! We want genuine learning and real freedom of opinion. No threat can terrorize us, not even the shutting down of the institutions of higher learning. This is the struggle of each and every one of us for our future, our freedom, and our honor under a regime conscious of its moral responsibility.

Freedom and honor! For ten long years Hitler and his coadjutor have manhandled, squeezed, twisted, and debased these two splendid German words to the point of nausea, as only dilettantes can, casting the highest values of a nation before swine. They have sufficiently demonstrated in the ten years of destruction of all material and intellectual freedom, of all moral substance among the German people, what they understand by freedom and honor. The frightful bloodbath has opened the eyes of even the stupidest German - it is a slaughter which they arranged in the name of "freedom and honor of the German nation" throughout Europe, and which they daily start anew. The name of Germany is dishonored for all time if German youth does not finally rise, take revenge, and atone, smash its tormentors, and set up a new Europe of the spirit.

Students! Students! The German people look to us. As in 1813 the people expected us to shake off the Napoleonic yoke, so in 1943 they look to us to break the National Socialist terror through the power of the spirit.

Beresina and Stalingrad are burning in the East. The dead of Stalingrad implore us to take action.

"Up, up, my people, let smoke and flame be our sign!"
Our people stand ready to rebel against the Nationals Socialist enslavement of Europe in a fervent new breakthrough of freedom and honor.
Hans and Sophie thought that they had gone undetected, but a sycophantic janitor by the name of Jakob Schmid ran over and detained them. After being first taken to offices at the university, Hans and Sophie were transported to Gestapo headquarters for questioning.

For several hours, Sophie denied any involvement with the leaflets when questioned by Gestapo interrogator Robert Mohr. She nearly had him convinced, but after incriminating evidence began to mount, Sophie defiantly took full responsibility, seeking to protect the others. She then put her interrogator to shame with her fearless and eloquent exposition on freedom, conscience, God, and the dignity of human life.

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