There were many heroes who fought for the Allies in World War 2. I’m sure there were lots who fought on the losing side, too. But of course we hear very little about them. While writing The Black Orchestra, I discovered the story of The White Rose, a student organisation that published a series of anti-Nazi leaflets in Germany between June 1942 and February 1943.
Hans and Sophie Scholl were sister and brother, both studying at the University of Munich. They, their friend Christoph Probst, and a small group of their fellow students, recognizing the Nazi regime for the evil that it was, printed a series of 6 mimeographed leaflets in which they implored the German people to oppose the government by whatever means they could. The leaflets were distributed all over Germany by a network of willing helpers.
These young students were true heroes. They knew the risks they were taking, risks that escalated with each leaflet as the Gestapo tried desperately to identify them.
When they were caught, they faced trial by a kangaroo court. The students spoke bravely against their oppressors, but they were found guilty and several were sentenced to death, along with one of their professors, Kurt Huber.
Hans, Sophie and Christoph Probst were executed by guillotine on February 22, 1943, the day of their trial. Christoph Probst was 23, Hans was 24, Sophie was just 21.
It was an uneven contest. How could the Nazis prevail against the single-minded courage of the youth of Germany?
Ref: Sophie Scholl & The White Rose by Dumbach and Newborn Oneworld, 1986, 2006 978-1-85168-474-8
Photos from Wikipedia