There are many examples, leading up to and during World War II, of resistance movements. Usually it was a group outside Germany within countries that had been taken over by Hitler’s armies. The French are well known, as well as others, who risk everything for FREEDOM and eventual peace.
It may not be as familiar with some of my readers that there were Germans who also resisted. In fact, there were several movement who paid a great price for their heroic deeds. One was known as the White Rose. Perhaps three of the most famous were a brother and sister, Hans and Sophie Scholl, who were students in the University of Munich. Christoph Probst, a married father of three, was also part of the White Rose movement. They believed that the German people had suffered greatly under Adolph Hitler and the crimes he was committing against humanity was totally against their conscience and Christian beliefs.
Exactly what was the White Rose?
The White Rose ( Weiße Rose) was a non-violent, intellectual, resistance group in the Third Reich led by a group of students. The group conducted an anonymous leaflet and graffiti campaign that called for active opposition to the Nazi regime. Their activities started on 27 June 1942, and ended with the arrest of the core group by the Gestapo on 18 February 1943. The Scholls, as well as others, carried on distributing the pamphlets, faced show trials by the Nazi People’s Court (Volksgerichtshof), and many of them were sentenced to death or imprisonment.
Hans, Sophie Scholl and Christoph Probst were executed by guillotine four days after their arrest, on February 22nd, 1943. During the trial, Sophie interrupted the judge multiple times. No defendants were given any opportunity to speak.
The group wrote, printed and initially distributed their pamphlets in the greater Munich region. Later on, secret carriers brought copies to other cities, mostly in the southern parts of Germany. In total, the White Rose authored six leaflets, which were multiplied and spread, in a total of about 15,000 copies. They denounced the Nazi regime’s crimes and oppression, and called for resistance.
In their second leaflet, they openly denounced the persecution and mass murder of the Jews. By the time of their arrest, the members of the White Rose were just about to establish contacts with other German resistance groups like the Kreisau Circle or the Schulze-Boysen/Harnack group of the Red Orchestra. Today, the White Rose is well known both within Germany and worldwide. (Wikipedia)
A surviving member of the White Rose gave this description of life in Germany at that time:
“The government—or rather, the party—controlled everything: the news media, arms, police, the armed forces, the judiciary system, communications, travel, all levels of education from kindergarten to universities, all cultural and religious institutions. Political indoctrination started at a very early age, and continued by means of the Hitler Youth with the ultimate goal of complete mind control. Children were exhorted in school to denounce even their own parents for derogatory remarks about Hitler or Nazi ideology.”— George J. Wittenstein, M.D., “Memories of the White Rose” (Wikipedia)
Should this not be a history lesson for all of us today, who have the democratic privilege to vote for our officials…or see that our own society’s voice may be slipping away with more and more government control?
What motivated Hans and Sophie Scholl to stand strong under such oppression?
Sophie’s own words tell of her CHRISTIAN CONSCIENCE. This was the great motivator to do something important in the midst of evil. Here are some of her quotes:
“Stand up for what you believe in, even if you are standing alone.”
“An end in terror is preferable to terror without end.”
“How can we expect fate to let a righteous cause prevail when there is hardly anyone who will give himself up undividedly to a righteous cause?”
“The real damage is done by those millions who want to ‘survive.’ The honest men who just want to be left in peace. Those who don’t want their little lives disturbed by anything bigger than themselves. “
“I will cling to the rope God has thrown me in Jesus Christ, even when my numb hands can no longer feel it.”
(quotes from article by Bill Muehlenberg)
HONORS in recent history for Sophie and Hans Scholl by the German people
The Geschwister-Scholl-Institut (“Scholl Siblings Institute”) for Political Science at the Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich (LMU) is named in honour of Sophie Scholl and her brother Hans. The institute is home to the university’s political science and communication departments, and is housed in the former Radio Free Europe building close to the city’s Englischer Garten. (Wikipedia)
OPPRESSION CAN HAPPEN ANYWHERE
Will you or I be willing to speak up against it?
VIDEO Turn up your sound. Scenes from the movie The Final Days based on the true story of the White Rose Resistance. (The full movie is on You Tube)
Recently I saw pictures of the crosses placed together over a period of three hundred years in Lithuania. Even though my Christian faith has always had the cross at the center of our worship, it led me to ask why people around the world find that this instrument of agony and crucifixion is so powerful as they contemplate their own lives?
The words that came to mind were these: sacrificial love; hope, forgiveness of sins, grace, mercy, healing…and many more words.
To the Lithuanians, it had an even deeper meaning for this hill has a dark history. The hill, called The Hill of Crosses, was a symbol of strength during the German invasion of Lithuania. The Soviets also murdered many people in Lithuania and brought bulldozers in to destroy the hill. The road to the hill was blocked and there was a ban on going to the hill. The people would defy those restrictions and go there at night…for the cross was their symbol of resistance; their struggle and hope for freedom. Yes, there is power in the cross of Christ….and perhaps in 100,000 crosses on this hill.
In 1855, John Bowring penned the words that may seem a little odd for he wrote about his “glory” in the cross. He wrote “In the Cross of Christ I Glory”. What did he mean that he could glory in the cross? His words may give us an understanding of what was true to him and down through the ages. Mr. Bowring had no idea how much suffering the people of Lithuania would endure and what the cross would mean to them or to those who read blogs.
“In the cross of Christ I glory, towering o’er the wrecks of time; all the light of sacred story gathers round its head sublime.
When the woes of life over take me…hopes deceive and fears annoy, never shall the cross forsake me. Lo it glows with peace and joy.
When the sun of bliss is beaming..light and love upon my way, from the cross the radiance streaming…adds more luster to the day.
Bane (sorrows) and blessing..pain and pleasure, by the cross are sanctified; peace is there that knows no measure, joys that through all time abide…..”
This writer reminds us that he can only glory in what Christ did on the cross…to be our substitute for the punishment of sin….and this cross brings him light and joy in his everyday walk. He also mentions that the cross (or Christ who died on the cross and rose again) will never forsake him. There is not much more that the cross could represent.
To many, it has a multitude of meanings. People of Lithuania and thousands of visitors now climb this hill to place their crosses and say their prayers. Multiply all the crosses over hundreds of years…. plus all the prayers to God through wars and persecution…the POWER OF THE CROSS is most incomprehensible!
Artists and sculptors have tried to depict Christ and his suffering. Many can show his suffering, but few can depict what all this means in joy to the believer and to those who clung to the symbol of the cross for their survival.
It is a mystery why the cross has so much power…but it is obvious that it does and those who have tried, or will try, to destroy faith in Christ, Who conquered death on the cross, will not succeed.