Why This Matters

We moved our newsletter to Substack, for ease of distribution. Linking to each post here. If you like what you see, you can subscribe free to the general posts. If you're an independent scholar or researcher (professor, grad student, undergraduate, high school) who is writing about White Rose, we'll give you a free one-month "paid" subscription if you ask. Contact us here.

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Organized here by topic. Hyperlink takes you to post. Date of post is at end of description here.

Pinned posts (in other words, important):

  • Just the Facts. Why tell the story of White Rose - and other - resistance, when it was all for nothing? Because: Their deaths and imprisonments were not in vain. They changed the people around them. (2022.01.06)
  • About Why This Matters. Introduction to Substack posts.
  • Moving forward. White Rose scholarship can be a battleground between legend and truth. It's worth it. Voices of real people make it so. (2023.06.09)
  • Anger and awe and joy and work. Writing about German resistance is not for the faint of heart. The stories are complex, unpleasant, wonderful, and life-changing. (2023.03.01)
  • Yes, this matters. The stifled voices must be heard. At some point, the hero worship must end and the respect for courage beyond measure must begin. (2023.02.24)
  • Important Enough to Write Down. When I ask myself: What have I left behind? Rough drafts, sketches only – papery masses, hardly a clean copy. The clean copy of my life is only my death. And it was not in vain. - Professor Kurt Huber. (2022.02.22)
  • The Dichotomy of Dissent. Real change cannot be ushered in until idealists and dreamers join hands with realists and pragmatists. (2022.01.18)
  • The Hillelian Imperative. A Rabbi answers the question: If I was not Jewish and was living in Germany during the time of the Shoah, would I have risked my life by hiding Jews or actively resisting the Nazis? (2022.01.16)
  • Happy anniversary to us!, belatedly. July 1994, I had no idea I was embarking on a journey that would tackle historical revisionism and counterfactual versions of White Rose resistance. As hard as it's been, I wouldn't change a thing. (2023.07.31)
  • Social media and history. "History" may not lag behind other disciplines or industries re social media. Some thoughts on how we can use social to teach and learn, and research. (2023.08.08)
  • Their story. A very, very short version of the White Rose story. One that honors their lives and deaths, and their impact on Germany. And on us. No mythology here. (2023.08.18)
  • Mythologies: Thinking out loud. White Rose resistance. They were all Catholic. No, all Lutheran. No, they were democrats. No, they were... It's time to listen to Michael Probst and stop the fairy tales. Enough of mythology! (2023.08.15)
  • Mythology and historical revisionism. "When your government and cultural authorities stop downplaying and denying the hard reality of the past, we can then come together for a better future." - Ron Riesenbach. August 19, 2023. (2023.08.23)
  • Teachers matter. Treat students like adults. Remember when you were twelve and how you wanted to be respected for what you thought and were capable of. (2023.08.25)
  • Wall Street paper. "Unspeakable horror highlights what we hold dearest, honors our most valued holdings." 9/11 revisited. (2023.09.11)

Women of the White Rose Series (in alphabetical order). Names without hyperlinks are works-in-progress, and will be updated once published. This link takes you to the full collection (2023.03.09)

Remembering dates and anniversaries:

  • Eighty years ago this week. White Rose storytellers tend to skip over the painful events of this week. They should not. (2023.02.14)
  • Calm Before the Storm. Regarding February 17, 1943. "Gradually one notices that the mosaic is beginning to take shape. Lines and patterns appear, and then one does not lose his orientation any more." (2022.02.17)
  • Timeline: February 18, 1943. If you think you know their story... (2022.02.18)
  • Timeline: February 22, 1943. If you think you know their story... (2022.02.22)
  • April 19, 1943 - The Second White Rose Trial. If you think the February 22, 1943 trial was riveting, you ain't seen nothin' yet. The second White Rose trial contained more drama, more pathos, more humor, more courage than anything you know about the White Rose, if you stop at February 22, 1943, that is. (2023.04.19)
  •  “I will be fresh and courageous” – July 13, 1943. Kurt Huber and Alexander Schmorell: Executed. Wilhelm Geyer, Josef Söhngen, Harald Dohrn, and Manfred Eickemeyer: Expecting a guilty verdict for treason. A day unlike others. (2023.07.13)
  • New Year's Eve 1942. We are entering the weeks and months wherein we commemorate the work, arrests, and deaths of White Rose students. But February 1943 had its roots in New Year's Eve 1942 and decisions they made then. (2022.02.08)

Russian Front series (most current posts first):

  • Fritz Hartnagel and Stalingrad. Fritz Hartnagel's letters to Sophie Scholl from the battlefield of Stalingrad provide an intimate glimpse into that turning point in World War II. Read his firsthand observations here. (2023.07.28)
  • Fritz Hartnagel in Ukraine: May-July 1942. The Holomodor. Slaughter of Jewish population in occupied Russia. Fritz Hartnagel did not think it could get much worse. He was wrong. (2023.07.26)
  • Questions about the Russian front. Military history regarding service of White Rose students has been sloppy at best. We want to change that and better understand what fueled their resistance. We need ethical scholars to join us! (For paid subscribers only.) (2023.07.24)
  • Painting autumn. Perhaps more than the actual events on the Russian front, the trip home and that first week back in Munich cemented determination to resist. The golden threads of the first week in Nov-42 are lovely. (2023.07.21)
  • Choices on the Russian Front – October 1, 1942-October 30, 1942. The month of October 1942, Alexander Schmorell, Willi Graf, Hans Scholl, and Hubert Furtwängler planted deep roots in Russia and started their "stimulating" conversations about White Rose resistance. (2023.07.19)
  • Choices on the Russian Front – August 1, 1942-September 30, 1942. Alexander Schmorell, Willi Graf, Hans Scholl, Hubert Furtwängler, and Raimund Samüller were set down in the middle of a Russian forest, 6 miles from the front lines. They never forgot what they saw. (2023.07.17)
  • Russia via Warsaw - July 1942. Although the soldier students saw little of Warsaw on their way to the Russian front, what they did see impacted their resistance efforts. The White Rose circle would never be the same. (2023.07.14)
  • The Russian front and the problem of Wittenstein. There is likely not one single person who has distorted the experiences of the White Rose circle on the Russian front to the extent that Wittenstein has. (For paid subscribers only.) (2023.07.07)
  • Black Tea and Champagne (The Party) - July 22, 1942. It was just one evening, this going-away party before the soldier-students headed for the Russian front. But what a game-changer this party was! (2023.07.05)
  • Prepping for Russia. The medical students of the Second Student Company in Munich entered Summer 1942 unaware they would soon be on the Russian front. Yet everything they did readied them for the horrors they'd soon see. (2023.07.04)
  • In search of military records. We frequently talk about the student-soldiers among the circle of White Rose friends. Yet we know almost nothing about their military service. (For paid subscribers only.) (2023.06.30)
  • The Battle of Moscow, and beyond. The Battle of Moscow directly impacted Willi Graf, and indirectly affected Lilo Berndl and Otl Aicher. When Willi left the Russian front in April 1942, he was resolved to do something. (2023.06.28)
  • June 22, 1941: Operation Barbarossa. Willi Graf and Fritz Hartnagel both participated in Operation Barbarossa. The two men had radically different perspectives. White Rose as rarely discussed. (2023.06.26)
  • Baku oil and Kuban grain. Otl Aicher's memoirs recorded unwilling days spent on the Russian front. His perspective in 1942 was that of a German soldier sent to fight Russians. His words ring true in these difficult days. (2022.03.01)

Historiography series:

  • History of the History of the White Rose (part 1). Why so many posts about Traute Lafrenz? Weren't there only six or so friends in the White Rose inner circle? Why should I care? (2023.04.25)
  • Reviews of our White Rose histories. Our historiographies have included reviews of others' works regarding White Rose resistance. Here's what people say about OUR work. BYBO. (2023.08.31)
  • 1998. Kerstin Sonnenwald, Susanne Hirzel, and an anonymous writer from Munich: Good publications that greatly added to our understanding of White Rose resistance! (2023.08.04)
  • 1996-1997. Ruprecht Poensgen (Salem), Wittenstein (Memories/History Place and Shoah Foundation interview), and Hildegard Hamm-Brücher: Two very good, two... well, read on. (2023.08.02)
  • 1990-1995. These six short years brought us the worst of White Rose "scholarship," along with the best (Siefken, Lill, Fürst-Ramdohr, Linder, Stadtarchiv Ulm). Which have you read? (2023.05.09)
  • 1980-1989. The 1980s brought us some of the best - and the worst - publications related to White Rose resistance. The worst promoted false legends. The best preserved memories of heroes. (2023.05.03)
  • 1945-1979. “One of these days, someone needs to write a history about the history of the White Rose. And the resistance to the correct telling of the resistance!” (Dr. Armin Ziegler, 2002) (2023.04.27)
  • Collection of all historiography posts. This forum exists to discuss secondary source materials about White Rose resistance. Scholars, researchers, serious students, this is for you! (For paid subscribers only.) (2023.06.23)
  • Thinking out loud: The ethics of scholarship. If you are researching White Rose resistance, this is a must-read post. If you enjoy reading books about White Rose resistance, this is a must-read post. (2023.09.06)

People, in alphabetical order:

  • Susanne Hirzel: The other side of words. Words matter. We must use words deliberately, consciously. In contrast to Hermann Krings' clear text, Susanne Hirzel's words muddy the waters. See how that makes a difference in the record. (2023.06.14)
  • Enigmas wrapped in riddles #2: Prof. Dr. Kurt Huber. Few of the White Rose friends are revered as much as Prof. Dr. Kurt Huber. And yet. His life - and death - present more questions than answers. How *do* we define resistance? (2023.05.22)
  • Hermann Krings: Signs versus examples. From Hermann Krings, I learned to think about White Rose resistance in unambiguous language. How do you see the White Rose, as sign or as example? Read on to see what Krings thought. (2023.06.12)
  • In Memoriam: Nikolay Daniel Nikolaeff-Hamazaspian. February 25, 1943, a close friend of Alexander Schmorell was arrested for assisting Alex with his attempted escape. This is Nikolay's story. (2022.02.25)
  • Enigmas wrapped in riddles #1: Josef Söhngen. How do we define dissidence? Who can be labeled as part of the "resistance" during the Shoah? Or are people like Josef Söhngen representative of that great gray mass who just got by? (2023.05.19)

Thanks are in order! Brief recap to the Tagung in Munich, October 10-11, 2023, with profound thanks to friends new and old. (2023.10.24)

Friendships matter. Wrapping up digital version of White Rose History, Volume I. Reminder that White Rose resistance was based on deep and true friendships. Justice mattered. People mattered. Humankindness mattered. (2023.09.20)

Good housekeeping, part one. There will be a conference in Munich in October, celebrating the life and remembering the death of Willi Graf. We will be there. You want to join us? Read on for more information. (For paid subscribers only.) (2023.08.28)

Egyptian White Rose. The story of White Rose resistance continues to inspire young people today. Ask Kareem Amer, who drew on their words for his informed dissent. In Egypt.

Freedom versus fascism – a revolutionary lesson. Too often in our fight for liberty and justice, we define political rivals as "socialists-communists" or "fascists." Labels muddy the real issues. Let's look to White Rose for their thoughts. (2023.06.21)

Freedom. In 1968, Wilhelm Geyer stated of the White Rose students, "Freedom was the alpha and omega for this group." On this Juneteenth, let's consider why freedom matters. To all of us. (2023.06.19)

Evaluating testimony. Gestapo interrogation transcripts, together with trial transcripts and crime lab reports, comprise the Protokolle so valuable to White Rose research. Evaluating them is critical to good scholarship. (For paid subscribers only.) (2023.06.16) 

Excursus: The Fate of Senta Meyer nee Stern, and her Children. To understand why I often write about the silences surrounding Kristallnacht, here is one example - personal to Eugen and Jenny Grimminger - of the deaths that followed. (2023.05.31)

Fun notes and serious comments. As respite from the long posts associated with White Rose historiography, here's a collection of fun notes from years past, with some serious comments for balance. Real people! (2023.05.11)

Things we know from those White Rose expense reports. When the historical record includes boring things like expense reports, we gain valuable data points that affect the story. (2023.02.23)

The importance of the crime lab. Yes, it was a show trial. But the Gestapo and their crime lab gathered impressive amounts of evidence. What they recorded helps us better understand what the White Rose friends did. (2023.02.18)

Rejuvenated reboot! It's been a strenuous cross-country move, but getting back to normal. (2023.02.12)

A very short pause. The move from Las Vegas to Gettysburg. (2022.05.18)

Political Humor. Jokes formed a release valve of sorts for those who put everything on the line for liberty and justice for all. Without the ability to make fun of their corrupt regime, they could not have kept going. (2022.03.10)

Dresden, Sowing the Wind. If there are but fifty righteous, will you not spare the city? (2022.02.15)

Kim's Dad and the White Rose. Why would the granddaughter of Mexican immigrants and child of a farmworker be drawn to the White Rose story? Kim explains her reasons. (2022.02.06)

War: A School Essay. "If anyone thinks that it would have been smarter never to have started the war in the first place, he is called a Social Democrat and sent to jail." (2022.02.03)

So Madeleine, was it a revolution? A bright young woman working on her National History Day project asked a thought-provoking question: ... (2022.02.01)

Freedom. January 30, 2022. When a nation is robbed of freedom, no one wins. (2022.01.30)

Remembering. We remember Auschwitz for the sake of all victims everywhere who suffer. -- Elie Wiesel. (2022.01.28)

Michael Kaufmann, the White Rose, and Munich. Bita Sheibani is a Disney alumna who worked as graphic designer and promotions expert for Walt Disney Imagineering, and had the supporting role of Leila in The Stoning of Soraya M. This is her story. (2022.01.25)

Won't You Be My Neighbor? Those who died at the hands of the Nazis remind us what happens when neighbors look the other way. (2022.01.23)

Old Hate Repackaged. Micha Probst was right: Politics and religion did not unify those we know as White Rose. If anything, those topics divided. They were unified by their moral outrage over injustice. (2022.01.20)

Historical considerations. Questions for which I do not have hard and fast answers. Opinions, always. Answers, no. (2022.01.13)

Loaded Words. “Understand history before changing the world” should not be heard as a call to inaction. Rather, our deeds should be based not on ineffective idealism, but on appreciation of the likely outcome. (2022.01.10)

Excerpts to think about. Every once in a while, researching White Rose resistance, we run across quotes that are just too good to keep to ourselves. (2022.01.09)