Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Germany's White Rose Movement

History fascinates me. And it does so for the same reason science does. I always want to understand why things happen/happened. But it's also fascinating to see some of the things that didn't work, and attempts by people and groups that failed. They're instructive, too.

Today's case in point is Germany's White Rose Movement. I hadn't known about them, but they were a group at Munich University before and during World War II. They opposed Adolf Hitler and his National Socialist German Workers Party (the Nazis). They printed leaflets describing the horrors of the Holocaust, trying to bring national and international attention to the Nazi government's program of genocide. The movement spread these leaflets through affiliated groups in major cities throughout the German Reich.

They were not very successful. Most of the world wanted to — and did — ignore them. The Nazis wanted to exterminate them, and did execute the leaders of the movement and most or all of the movement's Munich members in 1943. The movement did reach someone's conscience, however, as Allied aircraft dropped some of their leaflets over Europe later in 1943.

Very few of the White Rose Movement's leaflets survive and, like the movement itself, they have been nearly forgotten. But a collector is now donating one of these rare leaflets to the British Holocaust Center. The White Rose Movement may remain fairly obscure but, partly as a result of this donation, they will not be forgotten.

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