White Rose 

About the White Rose

The White Rose was a Nazi resistance group consisting of students from the University of Munich and their professor. The group practiced and preached nonviolent and passive resistance by calling for opposition to Adolf Hitler's regime through secret leaflet campaigns. These leaflets were distributed to German citizens mainly by mail and through their university.


Die Weiße Rose, more commonly known as the White Rose, was a non-violent and student-driven resistance group known mainly for its anti-Nazi sentiments and distribution of leaflets which called for opposition to Adolf Hitler’s regime. Consisting of 51 people, the core six members were Sophie and Hans Scholl, Christoph Probst, Alexander Schmorell, Willi Graf, and their professor of philosophy, Kurt Huber. The White Rose was named after Rosa Blanco, a novel written by B. Traven in 1931 that discusses peasant exploitation in Mexico. The group’s members wrote that they chose the white rose as their symbol to portray innocence and purity in the face of evil, something that they felt was necessary if the German people were to ever stop Hitler. Aside from the distribution of leaflets, members participated in weekly discussions and painted anti-Nazi slogans on walls in Munich and around their school campus.

The founding of the White Rose was greatly influenced by German youth groups. Christoph Probst was a member of the German Youth; Hans Scholl belonged to the Hitler Youth, and Sophie Scholl, participated in the League of German Girls. Over the course of their teenage years, they became more and more disillusioned with the ideas, values and beliefs of their respective youth groups and began developing their own ideas of passive resistance and political dissent. With the completion of secondary school and their required labor or military service, the members of the White Rose were able to come together through common grounds and beliefs while at the University of Munich.

In late 1941, Sophie Scholl came across an extremely harsh sermon from Cardinal Clemens August Graf von Galen, the Roman Catholic Bishop of Münster. This sermon was critical of the Nazi party and the Third Reich, condemned euthanasia calling on the German people to realize the true deeds and intentions of the Nazis. Although Sophie and her family were Lutheran, she believed in the ideals and values of the sermon and reprinted and distributed it in a leaflet prior to the White Rose’s organization. This inspired her brother, Hans, to establish the White Rose with the help of his friends from the University of Munich.

During the summer of 1942, Hans Scholl, Alexander Schmorell and Willi Graf were required to serve as combat medics on the eastern front during the war. While they were on their tour, they witnessed many atrocities on the front line including the mass execution of Poles, Russians and Jews in shooting pits. When the three friends returned from the front, they published and circulated four of “The Leaflets of the White Rose”.

The first leaflets were written during a short time span, between June 27 and July 12. Hans wrote the first and the fourth and Alex wrote the second and third. These were distributed before the three other core members joined the group. When Sophie found out about her brother’s activities she joined immediately. Shortly thereafter, Christoph Probst was invited to become a core member of the group. Later on, the students asked their professor, Kurt Huber, to join when they realized he shared similar beliefs and despised the Nazis. Different roles and tasks were assigned to each group member, with Hans, Alex, Christoph and Professor Huber serving as the primary writers. Sophie Scholl was mainly in charge of requisitions, particularly paper and stamps, which at the time were extremely difficult to acquire without raising suspicion. When the group realized that the Gestapo was less likely to search and stop a woman, they counted more and more on Sophie to distribute the leaflets. Willi Graf helped write the fifth leaflet with Hans and Professor Huber, but mainly recruited new members and distributed leaflets. The last core member, Christoph Probst, aside from drafting the seventh leaflet, also criticized and commented on the earlier leaflets.

The production of the leaflets was an incredibly complicated and dangerous ordeal. The risks were immense and the rewards were few. The core six members of the White Rose used their own money and toiled day and night to draft, revise, and print leaflets. Any public opposition or sedition against the Nazi powers meant almost certain death if convicted—being found with leaflets would be life threatening. Buying a large amount of stamps aroused suspicion. The leaflets were mailed from various locations across Germany so the senders could not be traced, and the risk of detection would be lessened.

The White Rose was operational for nearly eight months with the danger mounting daily. During the summer and fall of 1942, most leaflets were circulated by mail. During January and February of 1943, the group’s activities reached new heights. The fifth leaflet, drafted by Hans, Willi and Professor Huber and the sixth leaflet drafted exclusively by Huber, called for opposition to the Nazis and freedom for Germany. Also on February 3, 8 and 15, Hans, Alex and Willi used tar and paint to write their slogans such as “Nieder mit Hitler” (Down with Hitler) and “Freiheit” (Freedom) on buildings near their university. For such a public place, surveillance was high, but they were never caught. However, on February 18, Sophie and Hans were distributing the sixth and final leaflet in the empty halls of the university while the other students attended class, when they were finally caught by custodian Jakob Schmid. This was the end as it led to the arrests of the other core members of the White Rose. Sophie, Hans and Christoph were tried and executed on February 22, 1943. Alexander Schmorell and Kurt Huber were executed on July 13and Willi Graf on October 12 of the same year. Each accepted their sentences and embraced death bravely. Hans Scholl is famously known for shouting “Es lebe die Freiheit!” (“Long live freedom!”) moments before he was guillotined.


The date was February 18th, 1943, a sunny Thursday morning. A close friend of Sophie and Hans came to their door with an urgent message but was moments too late. They had left with their suitcases full of leaflets on what would unfortunately be their last mission against the Nazi regime.

Sophie and Hans arrived at the university with only minutes to spare before the lecture halls let out. They quickly placed as many leaflets as they could throughout the hall, but the moment that sealed their fate was when Sophie decided to push the leaflets over the tallest stairway leading into the open entrance hall. It was then the eyes of the building’s custodian locked on to her. Immediately, all of the exits in the building were locked and escape for the siblings were impossible.

The Gestapo transferred them to the infamous Wittelsbach Palace where they were interrogated day and night. It was during their time here that Sophie learned that Christoph Probst had been “delivered”. This shook Sophie because this was the same man they had tried to spare for he had three small children and a wife. However, anyone that came into contact with them were highly impressed by their bravery.

It was clear to them, after their second day, that they must expect a death sentence. There was no way out, so they were forced to stay strong and make sure that as few people as possible would be drawn into their trouble. Even though they had no communication with each other, they each took it upon themselves to take the full burden of the blame in order to lighten the burden for the others. “Hold out in defiance of all despotism” were the final words that Hans wrote on his cell wall; these words belonged to Goethe, words which his father had often repeated to himself and used to bring a smile to Hans’s face.

The defense lawyer appointed to them in their trial was nothing but a puppet. The three did not expect much from him. Sophie only made one request, “If my brother is sentenced to die, you mustn’t let them give me a lighter sentence, for I am exactly as guilty as he.” And their trial went as expected; all three were sentenced to death by guillotine.

They were transferred to a large jail where they wrote their farewell letters. It was here that Sophie requested an interview with the Gestapo investigator. She wanted to make a supplementary statement; she had recalled something that might exonerate one of the other two.

The three had a cigarette together before they met eternity. Sophie was the first and took her death without the flicker of an eyelash, something the executioner had not seen before. Hans however cried out “Long live freedom!” which rang throughout the huge prison. And thus they disappeared silently, but the prison chaplain thought otherwise, pointing to the sun and the blue sky and stating, “It will rise again.”

Shortly after their execution one arrest after another took place. The new prisoners were: Professor Kurt Huber, Willi Graf, and Alexander Schmorell. Their trial took place on April 19, 1943 and their fate was to the same as Hans, Sophie and Christoph. Many people throughout Germany were apprehended for suspicion of treason to the National Socialist State. However, their deaths were not in vain as their deaths spurred a spark that set a blaze throughout the Nazi regime, one which could not be suppressed. The Nazi regime learned then that resistance would never be stopped even if it is just a flickering light.


Sophie Scholl

Sophia Magdalena Scholl was born on May 9, 1921 in Forchtenberg, Germany as the fourth child of Robert and Magdalene Scholl. Having been required to join the Bund Deutscher Mädel (League of German Girls) and the auxiliary war service as a nursery teacher as a prerequisite before entering university, Sophie started to reflect upon the political situation in Germany and began practicing passive resistance. Her practice along with her political dissent against fascist Nationalist Socialism allowed her to come in contact with those with similar views at University. She was twenty one years old when she joined the White Rose along with her brother and his friends from the University of Munich. Convicted of high treason along with her brother Hans, and Christoph Probst in the People’s Court of the Greater German Reich, she was executed on February 22, 1943.

Hans Scholl

Hans Fritz Scholl, the second eldest of the Scholl children, was born on September 22, 1918 in Forchtenberg, Germany. He joined the Hitler Youth in 1933 but after becoming disillusioned, he left when he realized the real implication and significance of the group. After leaving the Hitler Youth, Hans attended the University of Munich where he studied medicine and became friends with future White Rose members, Alexander Schmorell, Willi Graf and Christoph Probst who shared his mounting opposition to the Nazi regime. Having learned of his sister’s redistribution of an anti-Nazi sermon by Cardinal Blessed Clemens August Graf von Galen, Hans and his friends distributed four of the six leaflets as Leaflets of the White Rose. These leaflets called for non-violent passive resistance and disruption in German cities from the German people while also denouncing the actions of the Nazi regime. Caught distributing the sixth and final leaflet, he was convicted of high treason on February 22, 1943 with his sister and Christoph Probst. Moments before his execution, he shouted “Es lebe die Freiheit!” (“Long live freedom!”).

Christoph Probst

Christoph Hermann Probst was born to a Sanskrit researcher and a Jewish mother on November 6, 1919 in Murnau am Staffelsee, Germany. After completing his secondary education early at the age of 17 and his labor and military service at the age of 20, Probst began studying medicine at the University of Munich. Having just turned 22 in 1941, he married Herta Dohrn, with whom he had three children. In 1942, longtime friend Willi Graf introduced Probst to Hans Scholl and his group of friends at university. Because he had a family and child to look after, he was not able to write many of the pamphlets although he was extremely active in the discussion of the fifth issue. Probst also drafted a seventh pamphlet before it incriminated him when it was found in Hans’s jacket after he and his sister were caught. He was prosecuted along with the Scholl siblings in the People’s Court and was executed the same day.

Alex Schmorell

Alexander Schmorell was born to a medical doctor and a Russian Orthodox mother on September 16, 1917 in Orenburg, Russia. After his mother died of typhus, he and his father moved to Munich where he attended secondary school, joined the German Labor Service and served in the German Army in Austria. After completing his military service he began studying medicine in Munich, where he came to know Hans Scholl and Willi Graf. During this period the three put together the group’s first four pamphlets and distributed them mainly by mailing anonymously to people throughout Germany. Schmorell was drafted into the military as a combat medic and was sent to the Russian front in Operation Barbarossa with Hans and Willi. It was there that he witnessed many Jews brutally shot and murdered in Poland and the Soviet Union which added even to his loathing for the Nazis, especially their treatment of enemy soldiers and civilians. Aside from writing the pamphlets, Schmorell took part in writing slogans such as “Nieder mit Hitler” (Down with Hitler) and “Freiheit” (Freedom) on walls throughout Munich. After the Scholl siblings and Christoph Probst were caught, he tried to leave the country for Sweden, but was also caught and arrested. Alexander Schmorell was tried on April 19, 1943 and sentenced to death. He was executed on July 13, 1943.

Willi Graf

Willi Graf was born on January 2, 1918 as the son of a wine wholesaler in Euskirchen, Germany. As a teenager, Graf joined two Catholic youth movements which would eventually be banned for their anti-Nazi ideals. After finishing secondary school he served his mandatory six months in the German Labor Service and enrolled in medical school at the University of Munich where he became good friends with Hans Scholl and Alexander Schmorell. After serving as combat medics, the three friends wrote and distributed the first four leaflets of the White Rose before involving Christoph Probst in their activities. After witnessing Hans and Sophie Scholl’s apprehension by the Gestapo at the university, Graf went to visit his relatives where he was also seized. He was sentenced to death in the second trial of the White Rose on April 19, 1943 with Alexander Schmorell and Kurt Huber. The Nazis tried to extract information from Graf about other anti-Nazi movements and was not executed until October 12 of the same year.

Kurt Huber

Kurt Huber was born in Chur, Switzerland on October 24, 1893. He moved with his family to Stuttgart Germany and later to Munich after his father’s death. He studied music, philosophy and psychology at the University of Munich, where he began teaching shortly after completing his studies. Throughout the next two decades, Huber became more and more appalled by the actions of the Nazis and knew that they must be removed from power. Huber came in contact with students, Hans Scholl and Alex Schmorell, through his lectures and was invited to join the White Rose. Huber wrote the sixth and final leaflet which was confiscated after the arrests of the Scholl siblings. He was eventually arrested on February 27, 1943 and tried before the People’s Court of Berlin on April 19. Convicted of sedition, he was executed on July 13.


About the Site

This site was built using Adobe Flash and Dreamweaver. It was built to fit a resolution of 800 by 600 pixels or higher with dynamic resizing. Coding was done using Actionscript 2 and animation was coded using the Green Sock Actionscript class, TweenMax.

Special Thanks

We would like to give special thanks to the following people. -Ms. Judi Freeman -The Seevak Family -Dr. William Carroll -Shelley Norton-Icaza -Members of actionscript.org -Jack Doyle



Scholl, Inge. The White Rose: Munich 1942-1943. Indianapolis, IN: Wesleyan University Press, 1983


Sophie Scholl - Die letzten Tage. Dir. Marc Rothemund. Perf. Julia Jentsch and Fabian Hinrichs. DVD. Zeitgeist Films, 2005.

Die Weiße Rose. Dir. Michael Verhoeven. Perf. Lena Stolze and Wolf Kessler. VHS. TeleCulture, 1982.


"Sophie Scholl : Nazi Germany." Sparticus Educational. April 19, 2009 <http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/GERschollS.htm>.

"Hans Scholl : Nazi Germany." Sparticus Educational. April 19, 2009 <http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/GERschollH.htm>.

"Christoph Probst : Nazi Germany." Sparticus Educational. April 19, 2009 <http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/GERprobst.htm>.

"Alexander Schmorell : Nazi Germany." Sparticus Educational. April 19, 2009 <http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/GERschmorell.htm>.

"Willi Graf : Nazi Germany." Sparticus Educational. April 19, 2009 <http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/GERgraf.htm>.

Katja. "The White Rose - Die Weisse Rose." Katja's Dacha. April 25, 2009 <http://www.katjasdacha.com/whiterose/>.

Hornberger, Jacob G. "The White Rose: A Lesson in Dissent." Jewish Virtual Library. April 25, 2009 <http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/Holocaust/rose.html>.

"White Rose." Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. March 5, 2009<http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=White_Rose&oldid=287190229>.

"Sophie Scholl." Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. March 6, 2009 <http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Sophie_Scholl&oldid=287956614>.

"Hans Scholl." Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. March 6, 2009 <http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Hans_Scholl&oldid=287594207>.

"Christoph Probst." Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. March 6, 2009 <http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Christoph_Probst&oldid=287812276>.

"Alexander Schmorell." Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. March 6, 2009 <http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Alexander_Schmorell&oldid=265411126>.

"Willi Graf." Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. March 6, 2009 <http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Willi_Graf&oldid=267527237>.

"Hans Scholl." Microsoft Encarta Online Encyclopedia 2009. March 8, 2009 <http://au.encarta.msn.com/encyclopedia_781530533/scholl_hans_fritz.html>.

"GDW - Biographies - Christoph Probst." Gedenkstätte Deutscher Widerstand. March 8, 2009 <http://www.gdw-berlin.de/bio/ausgabe_mit-e.php?id=318>.

"The White Rose Revolt & Resistance." Holocaust Education & Archive Research Team. March 20, 2009 <http://www.holocaustresearchproject.org/revolt/whiterose.html>.

“The White Rose.”  Shoah Education Project. April 30, 2009 <http://www.shoaheducation.com/whiterose.html>

“Sophie Scholl und die Weiße Rose – Dossier.” Bundeszentrale für politische Bildung. May 1, 2009 <http://www.bpb.de/themen/HKQ6B3,0,0,Sophie_Scholl_und_die_Wei%DFe_Rose.html>.


Scholl, Inge. The White Rose: Munich 1942-1943. Photo. Indianapolis, IN: Wesleyan University Press, 1983 fig. 1, 2, 3, 4, 6, 8, 10, 12, 14, 15.

 “The White Rose.” Photos. holocaustresearchproject.org May 3, 2009 <http://www.holocaustresearchproject.org/revolt/whiterose.html>. figs. 5, 7, 9, 11, 13, 16, 19.

 “White Rose Leaflets.” Photos. holocaustresearchproject.org May 3, 2009 <http://www.holocaustresearchproject.org/revolt/wrleaflets.html>. figs. 17, 20.

"White Rose." Photo. wikipedia.org March 5, 2009 <http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=White_Rose&oldid=287190229>. fig. 18.

“Gallery – The White Rose.” Photos. fcit.usf.edu May 1, 2009 <http://fcit.usf.edu/Holocaust/photos/wrose/wrose.htm>. figs. 21, 22.

“Sophie Scholl: The final days” Photos. thecia.com.au May 2, 2009 <http://thecia.com.au/reviews/s/sophie-scholl-the-final-days-sophie-scholl-die-letzten-tage.shtml>. figs. 23, 24.


Sophie Scholl - Die letzten Tage. Dir. Marc Rothemund. Perf. Julia Jentsch and Fabian Hinrichs. DVD. Zeitgeist Films, 2005. Timestamp: 3:18-3:42.