Traute Lafrenz Page—Forgotten Hero

There is an Iron Maiden song that has the line, “Only the good die young, all the evil seem to live forever.” There was a time when I thought this to be true, but luckily this is not the case. Sometimes the good ones live a long time.

Traute Lafrenz Page died ten days ago at age 103. She was a German resistance fighter and a White Rose member of the White Rose during World War II. Many people will have heard the names of Sophie and Hans Scholl but may not be familiar with Traute Lafrenz (now Page). She was in her early 20s when she joined the White Rose and ultimately to survive the war, even though many White Rose members were executed.

The White Rose never numbered more than a few dozen persons representing one of the first organized protests calling attention to the Holocaust, which eventually claimed the lives of six million Jews, and additionally, Roma, disabled people and others. “We will not be silent,” said one of the leaflets, and “We are your bad conscience. The White Rose will not leave you in peace!”

White Rose members from left to right: Hans Scholl, Alexander Schmorell (hidden behind Hans), Sophie Scholl, and Christoph Probst

Lafrenz was born on 3 May 1919 in Hamburg to Carl and Hermine Lafrenz, a civil servant and a homemaker; she was the youngest of three sisters. Together with Heinz Kucharski, Lafrenz studied under Erna Stahl at the Lichtwarkschule, a liberal arts school in Hamburg. When coeducation was abolished in 1937, Lafrenz moved to a convent school, from which she and classmate Margaretha Rothe graduated in 1938. Together with Rothe, Lafrenz began to study medicine at the University of Hamburg in the summer semester of 1939. After the semester she worked in Pomerania, where she met Alexander Schmorell who had begun studying in the summer of 1939 at the Hamburg University Medical School but continued his studies from 1939 to 1940 in Munich.

In May 1941, she went to Munich, where she soon met Hans Scholl and Christoph Probst. She took part in many of the White Rose group’s conversations and discussions, including with Kurt Huber.

The White Rose never numbered more than a few dozen persons and represented one of the first organized protests calling attention to the Holocaust, which eventually claimed the lives of six million Jews in addition to Roma, disabled people and others. “We will not be silent,” said one of the leaflets. “We are your bad conscience. The White Rose will not leave you in peace!”

In November 1942, Traute Lafrenz brought the third White Rose leaflet to Hamburg. That Christmas, she tried to get hold of a duplicating machine in Vienna. Along with Sophie Scholl, Traute Lafrenz obtained paper and envelopes for dispatching more leaflets in January 1943. She was first interrogated by the Gestapo on 5 March 1943, and then arrested a few days later on 15 March.

After her release, the Gestapo arrested her again at the end of March 1944 and put her into Fuhlsbüttel Gestapo prison in Hamburg with other female prisoners from the Hamburg White Rose group. Traute Lafrenz was then transferred via prisons in Cottbus and Leipzig to Bayreuth. On 15 April 1945 she was liberated by American troops.

After Germany’s defeat, Page emigrated to the United States. There, she met her husband and had four children, and largely stayed quiet about her activities during World War II. According to The New York Times, her children didn’t learn about what she’d done during the conflict until 1970.

Even then, Page largely stayed out of the public eye. It wasn’t until 2019, on her 100th birthday, that she was awarded Germany’s Order of Merit for rebelling “against the dictatorship and the genocide of the Jews.”

“Traute Lafrenz was not at the centre of the White Rose,” Peter Normann Waage, a Norwegian author and journalist who interviewed Page, said according to The New York Times. “She did not physically write any of the leaflets—but she did just about everything else.”

Waage added, “She helped lay the foundation for the revitalization of cultural heritage as a weapon against brutality; she helped make the distribution of the leaflets as practical as possible and helped to spread them.”

She emigrated to San Francisco and worked as a medical resident at St. Joseph’s hospital. In 1948, she married fellow resident physician Vernon Page of Texas. Together they formed a medical practice in tiny Hayfork, California. Vernon Page received further training in ophthalmology, and the growing family settled in Evanston, Illinois. A strong conviction in the reality of the spiritual world inspired Traute’s adult life. She joined the Anthroposophical Society and was an early practitioner of the anthroposophical-inspired holistic medical approach. Like many women in the post-WWII years, Traute was at home with her young family. She liked to say “in those days you met PhDs at the park.” In the 1960s, Traute organized Waldorf summer school programs in Evanston. Waldorf schools work to awaken and enliven recognition of the human spirit through art, poetry, and appreciation of great human advances. Her son, Michael and granddaughter, Emily are Waldorf teachers. In later years, Traute became director of the Esperanza school in Chicago for developmentally delayed children, with a focus on these same principles. Traute always travelled extensively with her family including trips to Italy, Austria, France, Spain, Norway, Ireland, Scotland, Egypt, Mexico, and South America into her 80s and 90s. In 1993, Traute and Vernon moved to Charleston, SC.

On 6 March 2023, Lafrenz died on Yonges Island, South Carolina, at age 103, as the last living member of the White Rose group.

sources

https://www.legacy.com/us/obituaries/charleston/name/traute-page-obituary?id=49800057

https://www.gdw-berlin.de/en/recess/biographies/index_of_persons/biographie/view-bio/traute-lafrenz/?no_cache=1

https://www.washingtonpost.com/obituaries/2023/03/11/lafrenz-white-rose-resistance-dies/

https://allthatsinteresting.com/traute-lafrenz-page

Dietrich Bonhoeffer— Defying Hitler

The picture is a still from a behind-the-scenes shot of the movie God’s Spy. The film was shot in Limerick and is now in the post-production stage. It tells the story of Dietrich Bonhoeffer.

Bonhoeffer was a German Lutheran pastor, theologian and anti-Nazi dissident who was a key founding member of the Confessing Church—a movement within German Protestantism during Nazi Germany that arose in opposition to government-sponsored efforts to unify all Protestant churches into a single pro-Nazi German Evangelical Church.

Bonhoeffer’s name is mentioned quite a bit in a book I am reading at this moment. titled, Defying Hitler: The Germans Who Resisted Nazi Rule.

Born in Breslau on 4 February 1906, Dietrich Bonhoeffer was the sixth child of Karl and Paula Bonhoeffer. His father was a neurologist and one with plans to stop Hitler. First, arrest Hitler, next have him examined by Bonhoeffer. This would be to determine if Hitler had brain damage. That plan, unfortunately, never came to fruition.

Two days after Adolf Hitler became chancellor of Germany, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, then lecturer at Berlin University, took to the radio and denounced the Nazi Fuhrerprinzip, the leadership principle, that was merely a synonym for dictatorship. Bonhoeffer’s broadcast was cut off before he could finish. Shortly thereafter, he moved to London to pastor a German congregation while supporting the Confessing Church movement in Germany, a declaration by Lutheran and evangelical pastors and theologians that they would not have their churches co-opted by the Nazi government for propagandistic purposes. Bonhoeffer returned to Germany in 1935 to run a seminary for the Confessing Church; the government closed it in 1937.

Bonhoeffer’s outspoken political opinions isolated him within his church. Throughout the 1930s many of his activities were focused abroad.

He regularly reported on events in Nazi Germany to ecumenical Protestant leaders in Europe and the United States. In September 1933, he attended the ecumenical World Alliance meeting in Sofia, Bulgaria, where he spoke about the Jewish question, and the delegates passed a resolution condemning Nazi actions against Jews. Bonhoeffer took a copy of the resolution to the German consul in Sofia to prove that Nazi policies were damaging to Germany’s image abroad. The leaders of the German Evangelical Church in Berlin demanded that he withdraw from ecumenical activities; Bonhoeffer refused.

From September 1933 to April 1935, Bonhoeffer served as pastor to several German-speaking congregations in London, leading them to break with the official German church and join the Confessing Church. In April 1935, Bonhoeffer returned to Germany, where the Confessing Church was under increasing pressure from the Gestapo. Most church leaders refused to openly oppose the Nazi regime and criticized their colleagues who did. As a result, more radical Confessing Christians found themselves embattled on all sides.

Bonhoeffer began to train young clergy at an illegal Confessing Church seminary, Finkenwalde, which was closed by the Gestapo View This Term in the Glossary in September 1937. Bonhoeffer spent the next two years secretly travelling throughout Eastern Germany to supervise his students, most of whom were working illegally in small parishes. The Gestapo banned him from Berlin in January 1938 and issued an order forbidding him from public speaking in September 1940.

Pressed into service in the Office for Foreign Affairs/Counter Intelligence of the Armed Forces High Command in 1940, Bonhoeffer repeatedly travelled abroad to contact the Allied governments. His brother-in-law, Hans von Dohnanyi—son of the Hungarian composer Ernő Dohnányi, also was an officer at the Abwehr, the German intelligence service. Dohananyi used his position in the Abwehr to help Jews escape from Germany and worked with German resistance against the Nazi régime.

The first deportations of Berlin Jews to the East occurred on 15 October 1941.

A few days later, Bonhoeffer and Friedrich Perels, a Confessing Church lawyer, wrote a memo giving details of the deportations. The memo was sent to foreign contacts, as well as, trusted German military officials in the hope that it might move them to action. Bonhoeffer also became peripherally involved in “Operation Seven.” It was a plan to help Jews escape Germany by giving them papers as foreign agents. After the Gestapo uncovered the “Operation Seven” funds that had been sent abroad for the emigrants, Bonhoeffer and his brother-in-law Hans von Dohnanyi were arrested in April 1943.

For one and a half years, Bonhoeffer was imprisoned at Tegel Prison and was awaiting trial. There he continued his work in religious outreach among his fellow prisoners and guards. Sympathetic guards helped smuggle his letters out of prison to Eberhard Bethge and others. The uncensored letters were posthumously published in Letters and Papers from Prison. One of those guards, a corporal named Knobloch, even offered to help him escape from the prison and disappear with him. Plans were made for the disappearance, but in the end, Bonhoeffer declined it, fearing Nazi retribution against his family, especially his brother Klaus and brother-in-law Hans von Dohnányi, who was also imprisoned.

After the failure of the 20 July Plot on Hitler’s life in 1944 and the discovery in September 1944 of secret Abwehr documents relating to the conspiracy, Bonhoeffer was accused of association with the conspirators, although he had been in prison when the attempt happened. He was transferred from the military prison Tegel in Berlin, where he had been held for 18 months, to the detention cellar of the house prison of the Reich Security Main Office, the Gestapo’s high-security prison. In February 1945, he was secretly moved to Buchenwald Concentration Camp, and finally to Flossenbürg Concentration Camp.

The following hymn was written by him in the concentration camp, shortly before his death.

By gracious powers so wonderfully sheltered,
And confidently waiting, come what may,
we know that God is with us night and morning,
and never fails to greet us each new day.


Yet is this heart by its old foe tormented,
Still, evil days bring burdens hard to bear;
Oh, give our frightened souls the sure salvation
for which, O Lord, You taught us to prepare.


And when this cup You give is filled to brimming
With bitter suffering, hard to understand,
we take it thankfully and without trembling,
out of so good and so beloved a hand.

Yet when again in this same world You give us
The joy we had, the brightness of Your Sun,
we shall remember all the days we lived through,
and our whole life shall then be Yours alone.”

On 9 April 1945, he was hanged with other conspirators. His brother Klaus Bonhoeffer was also executed for resistance activities, as were his brothers-in-law Hans von Dohnanyi and Rüdiger Schleicher.

There is so much more that could be said about this man. So many books have been written about him and now a movie had been made about this Hero. All that is left for me to say is happy birthday, Herr Bonhoeffer.

sources

https://www.britannica.com/biography/Dietrich-Bonhoeffer/Ethical-and-religious-thought

https://encyclopedia.ushmm.org/content/en/article/dietrich-bonhoeffer

https://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/defiant-theologian-dietrich-bonhoeffer-is-hanged

https://www.gdw-berlin.de/en/recess/biographies/index_of_persons/biographie/view-bio/dietrich-bonhoeffer/?no_cache=1

http://justus.anglican.org/resources/bio/133.html

https://www.imdb.com/title/tt26237514/?ref_=tt_mv_close

All Quiet on the Western Front

I watched All Quiet on the Western Front, last night. I thought that November 11 would be the perfect date to watch a World War I movie. It is a very powerful retelling of the story. Although I thoroughly liked the movie, this is not going to be a review of it, suffice to say I do recommend it.

This post is going to be about the man who wrote the book, Im Westen nichts Neues, which was translated into English as All Quiet on the Western front Erich Maria Remarque was born as Erich Paul Remark, his life was everything but quiet. it is also a reflection of how little regard the Nazis had for their World War I heroes.

Remarque was born on June 22nd, 1898, in Westphalia. After a local school and university education, he was drafted aged 18 and sent to Flanders on June 12, 1917.

Remarque was wounded five times within a month of being on the western front, the last during the third battle of Ypres. He began writing in a military hospital about his experiences, supplementing them with stories of fellow injured soldiers.

Remarque was the third of four children of Peter and Anna. His siblings were his older sister Erna, older brother Theodor Arthur (who died in early childhood), and younger sister Elfriede. The spelling of his last name was changed to Remarque when he published All Quiet on the Western Front in honor of his French ancestors and to dissociate himself from his earlier novel Die Traumbude (which he started writing at the age of sixteen and completed, but it was not published, until 1920). His grandfather had changed the spelling from Remarque to Remark in the 19th century.

In 1929, Remarque scored his greatest success with All Quiet on the Western Front. The novel, a lasting tribute to Germany’s “lost generation” that perished in the Great War, became an immediate international bestseller. In Germany alone in 1929, the book sold almost one million copies. It was translated into more than a dozen languages, including English, Chinese, and Dutch.

All Quiet on the Western Front earned Remarque accolades generally from the liberal and leftist press for the work’s pacifist stance. The Nazis and conservative nationalists immediately called it an assault on Germany’s honor, a piece of Marxist propaganda, and the work of a traitor.

That same year, German-born Hollywood producer Carl Laemmle, acquired the rights to make a film of the book. In May 1930, the American film premiered in Los Angeles and won Academy Awards for Best Picture and Best Director. That summer, audiences in France, Britain, and Belgium flocked to the film and it received popular acclaim.

Nearly immediately the Hollywood-made movie ran into trouble in Germany. When it was proposed for showing, a representative of the German Ministry of Defense demanded that its screening be rejected on the grounds that it damaged the country’s image and shed a bad light on the German military. In response, the Berlin censorship office requested Laemmle to edit the film, which was done. Remarque’s former boss, the press and film magnate, and outspoken German nationalist, Alfred Hugenberg, indicated that because of the movie’s alleged anti-German bias it would not be shown in any of his theaters. He subsequently petitioned German president, Paul von Hindenburg, to ban the film.

In December 1930, when the edited and dubbed version of the film was shown to the general public in Berlin, the Nazis sabotaged the event. The Party’s leader in Berlin and its propaganda chief, Joseph Goebbels, organized a riot to disrupt the showing. Outside, SA Stormtroopers intimidated moviegoers, while inside they released stink bombs and mice and harangued the audience. At subsequent showings, the Nazis carried out violent protests. In response to these actions and conservative attacks on the film, the government banned the film. Liberals and socialists condemned the action, but the prohibition lasted until September 1931, when Laemmle produced a more censored version for German audiences.

Remarque left Germany for Switzerland in 1932.

Once in power, Goebbels banned all Remarque’s works, stripped him of his citizenship, and let his Nazi rumor mill claim the author’s birth name, Remark (his grandfather dropped the French spelling), was a reversal of his real, Jewish, name: Kramer. On May 10, 1933, pro-Nazi students consigned his works to the flames during the fiery book-burning spectacles staged throughout the country. Remarque’s writing was publicly declared as unpatriotic and was banned in Germany. Copies were removed from all libraries and restricted from being sold or published anywhere in the country. The 1930s version of cancel culture.

In 1943, the Nazis arrested his youngest sister, German: Elfriede Scholz, who had stayed behind in Germany with her husband and two children. After a trial at the notorious Volksgerichtshof (Hitler’s extra-constitutional “People’s Court”), she was found guilty of “undermining morale” for stating that she considered the war lost. Court President Roland Freisler declared, “Ihr Bruder ist uns leider entwischt—Sie aber werden uns nicht entwischen” (“Your brother is unfortunately beyond our reach – you, however, will not escape us.”) Elfriede was beheaded on 16 December 1943. The bill of 495.80 Reichsmarks was sent to her surviving sister, Erna. Remarque later said that his sister had been involved in anti-Nazi resistance activities.

In exile, Remarque was unaware of his sister Elfriede’s fate until after the war. He would dedicate his 1952 novel Spark of Life (Der Funke Leben) to her. The dedication was omitted in the German version of the book, reportedly because he was still seen as a traitor by some Germans

In 1944, Remarque wrote a report for America’s Office of Strategic Services (OSS), the country’s foreign intelligence organization and the forerunner to today’s Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). In it, he urged the Allies to adopt a systematic policy for re-educating the German population after the war. Germans, he believed, had to be exposed to Nazi crimes and evils of militarism.

When you watch the movie, and I hope you will, or read the book then please remember it is not just a bit of cultural history, but also something that is still current. That hate has never left, it just came back in different configurations.

(Many thanks to John Davis for pointing out the story to me, and Jackie Frant for doing some research on it)

sources

https://www.irishtimes.com/opinion/an-unquiet-life-erich-maria-remarque-and-all-quiet-on-the-western-front-1.3772230

https://encyclopedia.ushmm.org/content/en/article/erich-maria-remarque-in-depth

https://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/erich-maria-remarque-born

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Erich_Maria_Remarque#Early_life

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Hans Scholl

When you look at the picture, you would assume it is the mugshot of a hardened criminal. But you couldn’t be further from the truth. The picture is of Hans Scholl. He was arrested and later murdered for exposing the criminals that arrested him.

There wasn’t an awful lot of resistance in Germany against the Nazi regime, but there were some groups who actively defied the Nazis. One of those groups was the ‘White Rose’, Hans and his sister Sophie were the founders of that group.

Born on September 22 1918, Hans Scholl was the typical Aryan ideal. In 1933, he joined the Hitler Youth and quickly became a squad leader. However he soon grew disillusioned with the Nazi party. In 1937 a former member of his group, Ernest Reden, confessed to a homosexual relationship with him. Hans was arrested and kept in solitary confinement before admitting the allegations were true. Hans made a positive impact on the judge, who dismissed the choice to join the youth groups as the “youthful exuberance” and “obstinate personality” of a “headstrong young man.” The judge then dismissed the homosexual allegations as a “youthful failing.” Although he was charged under “Paragraph 175”, the paragraph in Nazi law that criminalized homosexual behavior,Hans was allowed to leave the trial with a clean slate. Ernest Reden, on the other hand, was sentenced to three months prison and three months in a concentration camp for the relationship.

Paragraph 175 was only abolished in 1994.

In the summer of 1940 Scholl was sent as a member of the medical corps that went with the German Army invading France. Although he observed little of the actual fighting as he was working at a field hospital where four hundred soldiers were being treated. As a medic he assisted during leg amputations and other operations. He was based in the town of Saint-Quentin and felt guilty about living in requisitioned houses. He told his parents in a letter: “I liked it better when we slept on straw. What am I – a decent person or a robber?”

Scholl returned to his studies in Munich. He attended classes at the university, listened to lectures at various clinics around the city, and attended the wounded soldiers who had returned from fighting on the front-line. He told his sister Inge Scholl: “Going from bed to bed to hold out one’s hand to people in pain is deeply satisfying. It’s the only time I’m really happy. But it’s madness just the same… If it weren’t for this senseless war there would be no wounded to be cared for in the first place.”

Hans was again enrolled in the military service in the spring of 1941 as a medic in the Wehrmacht. After his experiences at the Eastern Front, having learned about mass murder in Poland and the Soviet Union, Scholl and one of his friends, Alexander Schmorell, felt compelled to take action.

In 1942, Hans ,Sophie and others founded the non-violent underground protest movement called The White Rose. From the end of June until mid-July 1942, they wrote the first four leaflets. Quoting extensively from the Bible, Aristotle and Novalis, as well as Goethe and Schiller, the German poets, they appealed to what they considered the German intelligentsia, believing that these people would be easily convinced by the same arguments that also motivated the authors themselves. These leaflets were left in telephone books in public phone booths, mailed to professors and students, and taken by courier to other universities for distribution.

Hans also was responsible for graffiti on public buildings which read ‘Down With Hitler’ and ‘Hitler the Mass Murderer.’ The siblings continued to distribute the leaflets until they were apprehended in 1943 after throwing dozens of fliers from a university window.

“Since the conquest of Poland, 300,000 Jews have been murdered in this country in the most bestial way … The German people slumber on in dull, stupid sleep and encourage the fascist criminals. Each wants to be exonerated of guilt, each one continues on his way with the most placid, calm conscience. But he cannot be exonerated; he is guilty, guilty, guilty!”

— 2nd leaflet of the White Rose.

The Scholls and another member of White Rose, Christoph Probst, were scheduled to stand trial before the Volksgerichtshof—the Nazi “People’s Court” notorious for its unfair political trials, which more often than not ended with a death sentence—on 22 February 1943. They were found guilty of treason. Roland Freisler, head judge of the court, sentenced them to death. The three were executed the same day by guillotine at Stadelheim Prison. Sophie went under the guillotine first, followed by Hans and then Christoph. While Sophie and Christoph were silent as they died, Hans yelled “es lebe die Freiheit!” (long live freedom) as the blade fell.

IN THE NAME OF THE GERMAN PEOPLE in the action against

  1. Hans Fritz Scholl, Munich, born at Ingersheim, 22 September 1918,
  2. Sophia Magdalena Scholl, Munich, born at Forchtenberg, 9 May 1921,
  3. Christoph Hermann Probst, of Aldrans bei Innsbruck, born at Murnau, 6 November 1919, now in investigative custody regarding treasonous assistance to the enemy, preparing to commit high treason, and weakening of the nation’s armed security, the People’s Court first Senate, pursuant to the trial held on 22 February 1943, in which the officers were:
    President of the People’s Court Dr. Freisler, Presiding,Director of the Regional Judiciary Stier, SS Group Leader Breithaupt, SA Group Leader Bunge, State Secretary and SA Group Leader Koglmaier, and representing the Attorney General to the Supreme Court of the Reich, Reich Attorney Weyersberg,
    [We]find: That the accused have in time of war by means of leaflets called for the sabotage of the war effort and armaments and for the overthrow of the National Socialist way of life of our people, have propagated defeatist ideas, and have most vulgarly defamed the Führer, thereby giving aid to the enemy of the Reich and weakening the armed security of the nation.
    On this account they are to be punished by death.
    Their honor and rights as citizens are forfeited for all time.

— Translation made by Berlin Documents Center HQ US Army Berlin Command of 1943 Decree against the “White Rose” group.

Something that is often overlooked is the fact that Hans had 4 more siblings aside from Sophie.

Inge Aicher-Scholl (1917–1998) she wrote a book about the White Rose after the war.

Elisabeth Scholl Hartnagel (1920–2020), married Sophie’s long-term boyfriend, Fritz Hartnagel

Werner Scholl (1922–1944) missing in action and presumed dead in June 1944. In 1942, Werner was sent out to the Russian front, where, by chance, he was stationed near Hans. The two were able to see each other fairly often.

Werner and Sophie Scholl

Thilde Scholl (1925–1926)

Robert Scholl was a politician and the father of Hans and Sophie Scholl. He was a critic of the Nazi Party before, during and after the Nazi regime, and was twice sent to prison for his criticism of Nazism. He was mayor of Ingersheim 1917–1920, mayor of Forchtenberg 1920–1930 and lord mayor of Ulm 1945–1948, and co-founded the All-German People’s Party in 1952.

On 27 February 1943, five days after the execution of his children Hans and Sophie as members of the White Rose, Scholl was sentenced to 18 months in prison for listening to enemy radio broadcasts.

Although this post is titled ‘Hans Scholl’ we should not forget the sacrifices made by the other family members.

Hans Scholl would have been 104 today. In wikipedia he is called an activist, but he was much more then that.

sources

https://www.gdw-berlin.de/en/recess/biographies/index_of_persons/biographie/view-bio/hans-scholl/?no_cache=1

https://legacyprojectchicago.org/person/hans-scholl

https://spartacus-educational.com/GERschollH.htm

https://encyclopedia.ushmm.org/content/en/article/paragraph-175-and-the-nazi-campaign-against-homosexuality

The Kreisau Circle

Many people assume that there was no resistance in Germany against the Nazi regime, and to be honest there wasn’t much, nevertheless there were those who were relentless in trying to end that regime.

There were dozens of assassinations attempts on Hitler’s life, the most famous being the 20 July plot. Some of the those involved in that plot weren’t necessarily anti Nazi, but more anti the way the war was going, I therefore think it is a mistake that all should be considered to be heroes.

One of the men was Adam von Trott zu Solz. He was one of the leaders of Colonel Claus von Stauffenberg’s plot of 20 July 1944 to assassinate Hitler. He was arrested within days, placed on trial and found guilty. Sentenced to death on 15 August 1944 by the Volksgerichtshof (People’s Court), he was hanged in Berlin’s Plötzensee Prison on 26 August. He had also been a member of the Kreisau Circle.

From 1940 on, men and women opposed to the regime but with a variety social backgrounds, values, and also values met for talks in Berlin, on the Kreisau estate in Silesia, and in Munich. The driving force behind it were the friends Helmuth James Graf von Moltke and Peter Graf Yorck von Wartenburg. Catholic and Protestant Christians and clergymen, Social Democrats, conservatives, and liberals who had different positions in society , but had a mutual respect.

The Kreisau Circle aimed to draft basic principles for an intellectual, political, and social new order after the end of the “Third Reich.” They prepared themselves for “the time afterward” through conferences, discussions, and memoranda. They hoped to provide a new foundation for both human coexistence and the state. Questions of the state structure, the restriction of state power, the economy, the church, and education were discussed in depth. It was particularly important to them to embed Germany in a new European postwar order.

Although the circle did not promote violent overthrow of the regime, their planning was considered by the Nazis to be treasonous as it rested on the assumption that Germany would lose the war.

The members of the Kreisau Circle recognized early on “not only the devastation of the cities but also the horrific destruction in the minds and hearts of the people” (Moltke). They knew that a functioning democracy required both the participation and the sense of responsibility of its citizens. As early as 1939, Moltke had outlined his concept of democracy in a text on “Small Communities”:

“Only those who have carried some form of responsibility in smaller communities will have the right sense of responsibility towards a larger community, the state or any other large communities …”.

The participation of women in the Kreisau Circle discussion was often limited to the presence of their husbands. Freya von Moltke, a founding participant, was cut off from the circle’s correspondence following her husband Helmuth von Moltke’s arrest.

There are also no known female members who were not married to a male member. However, despite these limitations, women played an integral role in the Kreisau Circle. Margrit von Trotha, for example, utilized her skills as an economist to partake in the plans for Germany’s future economy. In addition, in Marion Yorck von Wartenburg’s memoirs, she refers to the circle as “our group”, indicating that she was a part of the circle’s membership and discourse. A known list of female members of the circle includes: Freya von Moltke (lawyer), Marion Yorck von Wartenburg (lawyer), Margrit von Trotha (economist), Rosemarie Reichwein (physician/therapist), and Irene Yorck von Wartenburg

The group disagreed about several different issues. Whereas Peter Graf Yorck von Wartenburg and Helmuth von Moltke were strongly anti-racist, others such as Fritz-Dietlof von der Schulenburg, believed that Jews should be eliminated from public service and evinced unmistakably anti-Semitic prejudice. “As late as 1938 he repeated his call for the removal of Jews from government and the civil service. His biographer, Albert Krebs, attests that he ‘was never able to rid himself of feelings of alienation toward the intellectual and material world of Jewry.’ He was appalled to learn of the crimes perpetrated against the Jewish population in the occupied Soviet Union, but this was not a major factor in his determination to see Hitler removed.

In the autumn of 1943, Helmuth von Moltke learned from an informant that a Gestapo spy had discovered an anti-Nazi salon in Berlin and that there would be a round-up of all participants. Moltke warned his friend who had been present at the salon, Otto Kiep, of the round-ups.[2] Kiep, former German Consul General in New York and member of the counterintelligence department under Admiral Wilhelm Canaris, failed to escape and was arrested in January 1944.The Gestapo later discovered that von Moltke had warned him of the arrests, and Helmuth himself was then arrested on 19 January 1944.This left the Kreisau Circle without one of its integral members. Freya von Moltke was also ousted from the group following Helmuth’s arrest as the members were worried she would be interrogated. During this time, Yorck struggled to maintain cohesion of the group. However, this was not the death knell of the circle as the Gestapo was not yet aware of the resistance. Prior to the attempted assassination of Adolf Hitler, Helmuth von Moltke was treated fairly in prison and allowed to correspond with his wife Freya.

The mass round up of suspects after the July 1944 Bomb Plot and the subsequent torture of these suspects led to the Gestapo gaining the names of many plotters or supposed plotters – including men in the Kreisau Circle. Yorck von Wartenburg was arrested as part of the July Bomb Plot, tried, found guilty and executed in August 1944. Von Moltke had already been arrested (January 1944) and tried before the People’s Court. Found guilty of treason, he was executed in January 1945.

sources

https://www.kreisau.de/en/kreisau/kreisau-circle/

https://www.gdw-berlin.de/en/recess/topics/12-the-kreisau-circle/

https://spartacus-educational.com/Kreisau_Circle.htm

Letter from a Bishop to the Reichsminister

No one can deny that the Roman Catholic Church, and especially the Vatican have a lot to answer for when it comes to its part in the Holocaust.

However, some Catholic clergymen did speak out to the Nazi regime and many of them paid the ultimate price.

Antonius Hilfrich was a German priest and Roman Catholic Bishop of Limburg, Germany. Amid 1941 Catholic protests over Nazi euthanasia led by Bishop Clemens August von Galen of Münster, Hilfrich wrote to Franz Gürtner, the German Minister for Justice, to denounce the murders, calling them an “injustice that cries out to heaven…”

Below is the translated version of that letter.

The Bishop of Limburg

“Limburg/fiahm, 13 August 1941

To the Reich Minister of Justice
Berlin

Regarding the report submitted on 16 July (sub. ZV, pp.6-7) by the Chairman of the Fulda Bishops’ Conference, Cardinal Dr Bertram, I consider it my duty to present the following as a concrete illustration of the destruction of the so-called “useless life.”

About eight kilometres from Limburg in the little town of Hadamar, on a hill overlooking the town, there is an institution which had formerly served various purposes and of late had been used as a nursing home. This institution was renovated and furnished as a place in which, by consensus of opinion, the above-mentioned euthanasia has been systematically practised for months— approximately since February 1941. The fact is, of course, known beyond the administrative district of Wiesbaden because death certificates from the Hadamar-Moenchberg Registry are sent to the home communities. (Moenchberg is the name of this institution because it was a *Franciscan monastery prior to its secularization in 1803.)

Several times a week buses arrive in Hadamar with a considerable number of such victims. Schoolchildren in the vicinity know this vehicle and say: “There comes the murder box again.” After the arrival of the vehicle, the citizens of Hadamar watch the smoke rise out of the chimney and are tortured by the ever-present thought of depending on the direction of the wind.

The effect of the principles at work here is that children call each other names and say, “You’re crazy; you’ll be sent to the baking oven in Hadamar.” Those who do not want to marry, or find no opportunity, say, “Marry, never! Bring children into the world so they can be put into the bottling machine!” You hear old folks say, “Don’t send me to a state hospital! When the feeble-minded have been finished off, the next useless eaters whose turn will come are the old people.”

All God-fearing men consider this destruction of helpless beings a crass injustice. And if anybody says that Germany cannot win the war, if there is yet a just God, these expressions are not the result of a lack of love for the Fatherland but of a deep concern for our people. The population cannot grasp the fact that systematic actions carried out in accordance with paragraph 211 of the German Penal Code are punishable by death. High authority as a moral concept has suffered a severe shock as a result of these happenings. The official notice that N. N. died of a contagious disease and, therefore, his body had to be burned, no longer finds credence, and official notices of this kind which are no longer believed have further undermined the ethical value of the concept of authority.

Officials of the Secret State Police, it is said, are trying to suppress discussion of the Hadamar occurrences by means of severe threats. In the interest of public peace, this may be well intended. But the knowledge, the conviction, and the indignation of the population cannot be changed by it; the conviction will be increased with the bitter realization that discussion is prohibited by threats, but that the actions themselves are not prosecuted under penal law.

I beg you most humbly, Herr Reich Minister, in the sense of the report of the Episcopate of 16 July of this year, to prevent further transgressions of the Fifth Commandment of God.

[Signed]
DR.HTLFBICH£

11 days later on 24 August 1941 Hitler ordered the cessation of Nazi Germany’s systematic T4 euthanasia program of the mentally ill and the disabled due to protests, although killings continue for the remainder of the war.

source.

Karl Amadeus Hartmann— Protesting Against the Nazi Regime Through Music

Today marks the 117th birthday of Karl Amadeus Hartmann. He was born on 2 August 1905 in Munich and came into contact with art and music at an early stage. He studied trombone and composition at the Staatliche Akademie der Tonkunst in Munich from 1924 to 1929.

He hated Nazism and Hitler and anything that ranked extreme socialism and communism. A fellow composer, Udo Zimmermann, said about Hartmann, “His concept of life oriented towards humanity is inscribed in all his scores. A warning in view of the atrocities of this world, but also resistance from the heart: revocation of the spirits, love and life.”

His compositions were often politically charged, as Hartmann was a socialist who staunchly opposed the Nazis and fascism. During World War II, Hartmann half-poisoned himself to avoid military conscription.

He voluntarily withdrew completely from musical life in Germany during the Nazi era, while remaining in Germany, and refused to allow his works to be played there. An early symphonic poem, “Miserae” (1933–1934, first performed in Prague, 1935) was condemned by the Nazi regime but his work continued to be performed, and his fame grew abroad. A number of Hartmann’s compositions show the profound effect of the political climate. His “Miserae” (1933–34) was dedicated to his friends…who sleep for all eternity; we do not forget you (Dachau, 1933–34), referring to Dachau Concentration Camp, and was condemned by the Nazis. His “Piano Sonata 27 April 1945,” is about the thousands of prisoners from Dachau, whom Hartmann witnessed being led away from Allied forces at the end of the war.

Just three days before the liberation of the Dachau camp, the SS forced approximately 7,000 prisoners on a death march from Dachau, south to Tegernsee. During the six-day death march, anyone who could not keep up or continued was shot. Many died of exposure, hunger, or exhaustion. American forces liberate the Dachau Concentration Camp on 29 April 1945. In early May 1945, American troops liberate the surviving prisoners from the death march to Tegernsee.

Solly Ganor, a survivor said about the march, “We could see the furtive parting of curtains as German civilians peered out at us. To our surprise, a few of them came out and tried to offer us some bread, but the result was disastrous. Hundreds of starving inmates would descend on the benefactor, often knocking him or her down. The bread was immediately torn to pieces, and the guards set upon the mob. Each time this happened several more bodies were left by the side of the road.”

After the fall of the Nazi regime, Hartmann was one of the few prominent surviving anti-fascists in Bavaria whom the postwar Allied administration could appoint to a position of responsibility. In 1945, he became a dramaturge at the Bavarian State Opera and there, as one of the few internationally recognized figures who had survived untainted by any collaboration with the Nazi regime, he became a vital figure in the rebuilding of (West) German musical life. Perhaps his most notable achievement was the “Musica Viva” concert series, which he founded and ran for the rest of his life in Munich.

He died on 5 December 1963 in Munich.

Although Hartmann is one of the greatest German composers of the 20th century, he is forgotten in the English-speaking world.

sources

https://holocaustmusic.ort.org/politics-and-propaganda/hartmann-karl-amadeus/

https://archive.ph/20130104153710/http://www.schott-music.com/shop/persons/featured/8399/index.html#selection-559.0-559.208

They Came First…

Martin Niemöller was a German theologian and Lutheran pastor. He is best known for his opposition to the Nazi regime during the late 1930s and for his widely quoted 1946 poem “First they came…”

Although he was an opponent of the Nazi regime. In the 1920s and early 1930s, he sympathized with many Nazi ideas and supported radically right-wing political movements. But after Adolf Hitler came to power in 1933, Niemöller became an outspoken critic of Hitler’s interference in the Protestant Church. He spent the last eight years of Nazi rule, from 1937 to 1945, in Nazi prisons and concentration camps.

This is the poem he wrote, its words are still relevant now.

First they came for the Communists
And I did not speak out
Because I was not a Communist

Then they came for the Socialists
And I did not speak out
Because I was not a Socialist

Then they came for the trade unionists
And I did not speak out
Because I was not a trade unionist

Then they came for the Jews
And I did not speak out
Because I was not a Jew

Then they came for me
And there was no one left
To speak out for me

source

https://encyclopedia.ushmm.org/content/en/article/martin-niemoeller-first-they-came-for-the-socialists

Remembering Two Heroes

Two definitions of a Hero are :1. a person admired for achievements and noble qualities. 2. one who shows great courage. Both definitions apply to Józef Cebula and Sophie Scholl.

The reason why I am remembering these 2 people is because of today’s date May 9. Sophie Scholl was born on May 9,1921, Józef Cebula was murdered on May 9 1941.

Józef Cebula Józef Cebula was born into a modest family of Polish origin on March 23, 1902, at Malnia in southern Poland. He suffered tuberculosis as a child, and was in fact declared incurable . After an unexpected recovery, he visited an Oblate shrine where he shared his story with an Oblate priest. The priest advised Józef to study with the Oblates at the newly-established Oblate minor seminary.

He was ordained as a priest on 5 June 1927 while still in a seminary. Father Cebula became a superior at the Oblate seminaries in 1931, and became novice master at Markowice in 1937.

When the Nazis occupied Poland during the Second World War, they declared loyalty to the Church illegal. All Church associations were forbidden, and many priests were arrested. On May 4, 1940, the Oblate novices at Markowice were arrested by the Nazis and sent to the concentration camp at Dachau, Germany.

Fr. Cebula was forbidden to exercise his priestly ministry and obliged to work in the fields. But at night, the zealous priest celebrated the Eucharist and administered the sacraments in the surrounding villages, until he was arrested on April 2, 1941. He was taken to a concentration camp at Mauthausen in Austria.

Fr. Cebula was known for his humility ,he was a man of quiet prayer with a deep spiritual life. He radiated peace in the very middle of the death camp, even when he was tormented by the Nazis.

Father Cebula was forced to carry 60-pound rocks from the quarry to a camp two miles away. He had to climb a 144-step staircase called the Death Stairs, while being beaten and insulted by his tormentors. The guards humiliated and mocked him by ordering him to sing the texts of the Mass while he worked.

On May 9th 1941 , Fr. Cebula summoned up his strength and courage and said, “It is not you who are in charge. God will judge you.” The Nazis ordered him to run, with a rock on his back, towards the camp’s barbed wire fence, where a guard shot him with a sub-machine gun and declared that Fr. Cebula “was shot while trying to escape”. He died in this volley of bullets. His body was taken to a crematorium and burned.

Sophie Scholl, was only 11 years-old when Adolf Hitler came to power in Germany Sophie, like her brothers and sisters, were influenced by the changes that took place in their school.

Growing up in Nazi Germany, Sophie Scholl had automatically become a member of the girl’s branch of Hitler Youth, the League of German Girls, at the age of twelve, and she was soon promoted to Squad Leader. She was an excited and happy follower of the National Socialist cult of youth. The teenager believed in the ideals propagated at the time, as did many of her peers.

However, as discrimination against the Jews grew, Sophie began to question what she was being told. When two of her Jewish friends were barred from joining the League, Sophie protested and as she grew older she became more and more disillusioned by the Nazi Party.

The strict rules opened her eyes to Nazi doctrine and their treatment of other peoples, and she became disillusioned with German education. She also served six months in the Auxiliary War Service, but this only strengthened her resolve against the Nazis.

She joined her brother, Hans and his Munich University friends when they formed a passive resistance group called ‘The White Rose’. Their actions against the regime included peaceful demonstrations, painting anti-Nazi slogans and distributing leaflets. It was the leaflet distribution that led to their arrest. They were observed by a university janitor collecting those which had not been taken, he denounced them.

The White Rose was a small endeavor with large consequences. At its core were siblings Hans and Sophie Scholl, their fellow students Alexander Schmorell, Willi Graf, Christoph Probst, and a professor of philosophy and musicology at the University of Munich, Kurt Huber. Together they published and distributed six pamphlets, first typed on a typewriter, then multiplied via mimeograph. At first, they only distributed them via mail, sending them to professors, booksellers, authors, friends and others—going through phone books for addresses and hand-writing each envelope. In the end, they distributed thousands, reaching households all over Germany. Acquiring such large amounts of paper, envelopes, and stamps at a time of strict rationing without raising suspicion was problematic, but the students managed by engaging a wide-ranging network of supporters in cities and towns as far north as Hamburg, and as far south as Vienna. These networks were also activated to distribute the pamphlets, attempting to trick the Gestapo into believing the White Rose had locations all across the country.

The translated text of one of their pamphlets

“Our current ‘state’ is the dictatorship of evil. We know that already, I hear you object, and we don’t need you to reproach us for it yet again. But, I ask you, if you know that, then why don’t you act? Why do you tolerate these rulers gradually robbing you, in public and in private, of one right after another, until one day nothing, absolutely nothing, remains but the machinery of the state, under the command of criminals and drunkards?”

In January 1943, the group felt empowered and hopeful. Their activism seemed to be working, rattling the authorities and sparking discussions amongst their peers.

However ,on the 18th February 1943, Sophie and her brother Hans brought a suitcase full of leaflets to the Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich main building. They hurriedly dropped stacks of copies in the empty corridors for students to find when they left the lecture rooms. Leaving before the lectures had ended, the Scholl siblings noticed that there were some left-over copies in the suitcase and decided to distribute them. Sophie flung the last remaining leaflets from the top floor down into the atrium. This spontaneous action was observed by the university maintenance man, Jakob Schmied.

Hans and Sophie Scholl were taken into Gestapo custody. A draft of a seventh pamphlet, written by Christoph Probst, was found in the possession of Hans Scholl at the time of his arrest by the Gestapo. While Sophie Scholl got rid of incriminating evidence before being taken into custody, Hans did try to destroy the draft of the last leaflet by tearing it apart and trying to swallow it down. But, the Gestapo recovered enough to match the handwriting with other writings from Probst, which they found when they searched Hans’s apartment. The main Gestapo interrogator was Robert Mohr, who initially thought Sophie was innocent.

But , after Hans had confessed, Sophie assumed full responsibility in an attempt to protect other members of the White Rose.

The Scholls and Probst were to stand trial before the Volksgerichtshof— the Nazi “People’s Court” infamous for its unfair political trials, which more often than not ended with a death sentence — on 22 February 1943. They were found guilty of treason. Roland Freisler, head judge of the court, sentenced them to death.

Sophie and the 2 others. were executed the same day by guillotine at Stadelheim Prison.

It takes real courage to stand up to evil, especially when you know it can result in death. It is this courage that make all these people real heroes.

Finishing up with a poem about courage by the American poet Edgar Albert Guest

Courage isn’t a brilliant dash,
A daring deed in a moment’s flash;
It isn’t an instantaneous thing
Born of despair with a sudden spring
It isn’t a creature of flickered hope
Or the final tug at a slipping rope;
But it’s something deep in the soul of man
That is working always to serve some plan.

Courage isn’t the last resort
In the work of life or the game of sport;
It isn’t a thing that a man can call
At some future time when he’s apt to fall;
If he hasn’t it now, he will have it not
When the strain is great and the pace is hot.
For who would strive for a distant goal
must always have courage within his soul.

Courage isn’t a dazzling light
that flashes and passes away from sight;
it’s a slow, unwavering, ingrained trait
with the patience to work and the strength to wait.
It’s part of a man when his skies are blue,
it’s part of him when he has work to do.
The brave man never is freed of it.
He has it when there is no need of it.

Courage was never designed for show;
it isn’t a thing that can come and go;
it’s written in victory and defeat
and every trial a man may meet.
It’s part of his hours, his days and his years,
Back of his smiles and behind his tears.
Courage is more than a daring deed:
It’s the breath of life and a strong man’s creed.

sources

https://www.nationalww2museum.org/war/articles/sophie-scholl-and-white-rose

Christoph Probst-Executed February 22.1943.

Not every German supported the Nazis or signed up to their ideology. There were quite a few who were appalled by what their nation had become under the leadership of Hitler and his regime.

However there were only a handful of people who had the courage to stand up against the Nazis, at risk of their own lives. Some of these were an organisation that called themselves “White Rose”

It was a resistance group in Munich . The group, founded in June 1942, consisted of students from the Ludwig-Maximilians-University of Munich who distributed leaflets against the Nazis policies.

Sophie and Hans Scholl were the prominent members , and so much has already been written about the Scholl siblings. I want to focus a bit more on another member, Christoph Probst.

Probst had a lot more to lose the the Scholl siblings, although he was young, he was married with 3 children.

Born in Murnau/Upper Bavaria on November 6, 1919, Probst studied medicines in Munich after his labor and military service in 1939.

In 1941 Christoph he married Herta Dohrn, with whom he later had three children. Alexander Schmorell, a friend of his, introduced Probst to Hans Scholl and his group of friends in the summer of 1942.

Christoph Probst joined the White Rose rather late, as he did not belong to the same student group as Hans Scholl, Alexander Schmorell and Willi Graf, and stayed for the most part in the background. He had to consider the safety of his family. He belonged, together with the Scholl siblings, Graf and Schmorell to the tightest circle, into which university professor Kurt Huber also came.

The White Rose produced, printed and distributed, at the risk of their lives, six leaflets in all.

Although Probst had been transferred to Innsbruck in December 1942, he was still actively involved in the discussion of the fifth White Rose leaflet on his visits to Munich and was also prepared to write his own flyer. After Sophie and Hans Scholl were arrested, on February 18 1943, the Gestapo found a draft leaflet written by Probst in Hans Scholl’s jacket pocket, stating: “Hitler and his regime must fall so that Germany may live on.” Christoph Probst was arrested in Innsbruck on February 20, 1943. To his mother he wrote whilst in prison.

“By an unlikely mishap I have now found myself in an awkward position. I don’t sugarcoat anything when I tell you that I’m fine and that I’m very calm. The treatment is good and life in the cell seems so tolerable to me that I’m not afraid of a longer period of imprisonment… I’m only concerned for you, for the wife and the small children”

On 22 February 1943, Christoph Probst and the Scholls were tried and sentenced together at the Volksgerichtshof by judge Roland Freisler, who had already determined the sentences even before the trial had started.

All three were sentenced to death by guillotine. Their sentences were carried out on the very same day at Stadelheim Prison, Munich. Probst had asked for clemency during interrogation. He also requested a trial for the sake of his wife and three children, who were aged three years, two years and four weeks old. His wife, Herta Probst, was sick with childbed fever at the time.

Shortly before Christoph was executed, he was allowed a visit from a Catholic Priest. Christoph requested baptism into the Catholic faith.

The only consolation to this is that his wife Herta survived the war and died 21 September 2016 aged 102

sources

https://encyclopedia.ushmm.org/content/en/article/white-rose

https://www.britannica.com/topic/White-Rose#ref1111344

https://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/the-white-rose-a-lesson-in-dissent

https://www.newworldencyclopedia.org/entry/Christoph_Probst

https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/171854367/herta-siebler-probst

https://www.gdw-berlin.de/en/recess/biographies/index_of_persons/biographie/view-bio/christoph-probst/?no_cache=1

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