Defying Hitler: the story of the White Rose Pamphlets


Defying Hitler

The White Rose Pamphlets
By Alexandra Lloyd

Published by Bodleian Library; Dist. by New South
RRP $29.99 in hardback  |  ISBN 9781851245833

How relevant is this book in that it reminds us of the evils of the Nazi regime at a time when the neo-Nazi movement appears to be on the rise.

The book begins with a chilling description of a 14,000 strong rally in Berlin, addressed by Joseph Goebels, who incited the crowd to a frenzy of support for total war.

I ask myself this question: is this the blueprint for the frenzy modern far right leaders seek to inspire in their followers?

But there were voices of dissent, among them the White Rose resistance circle whose members secretly wrote and distributed anti-Nazi pamphlets. The leaders at the heart of this circle – Hans Scholl, Sophie Scholl, Christoph Probst, Alexander Schmorell, Willi Graf and Professor Kurt Huber – were all executed in 1943. The youngest among them, Sophie Scholl, was just twenty-one years old when she was sent to the guillotine.

This book outlines the story of the group and sets their resistance texts within their political and historical context, including archival photographs. A series of brief biographical sketches, along with excerpts from their letters, trace each member’s journey towards action against the National Socialist state.

The White Rose resistance pamphlets are included in full, translated by students at the University of Oxford. These translations are the result of work by undergraduates around the same age as the original student authors, working together on texts, ideas and issues.

The resistance pamphlets were written collaboratively, and they could not have had the reach they did without being distributed by multiple individuals, defying Hitler through words and ideas.

But their authors paid a high price for their resistance. Young lives were brutally cut short because of their belief in freedom. Political freedom. Intellectual freedom. Personal freedom. Freedom from fear. Do promoters of neo-Nazi ideology really understand what they put at risk protected as they are by the liberal democracies around them?

This books gives us a sobering reminder of the price of freedom. And how it must often be fought for.

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