cDc paramedia: text #386
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     ...presents...           By Any Other Name:
                       An Introduction To The White Rose
                                                         by Oxblood Ruffin

           __//////\   -cDc- CULT OF THE DEAD COW -cDc-   /\\\\\\__
                    __      Grand Imperial Dynasty      __
 Est. 1984   \\\\\\/  cDc paramedia: text 386-07/07/2004  \//////   Est. 1984

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          It was a sunny day and I was carrying a child in a long, white dress
          to its baptism.  The path to the church led up a steep mountain.
          But I was carrying the infant safely in my arms.  Suddenly a
          crevasse was gaping before me.  I had just enough time to put the
          child safely down on the other side, before I fell into the abyss.
          That child is our idea; it will persevere despite all obstructions.
          We were permitted to pave the way, but we have to die for it first.

    -From a dream recounted by Sophie Scholl, the morning of her execution.

    "There is nothing new under the sun, saith the Preacher."  This isn't a
quote from a hacker with a handle.  It's from the Bible.  The Book of
Ecclesiastes, to be precise.  The Preacher also said, "Vanity of vanities, all
is vanity."  He had a lot more nifty quotes.  Mais, ces deux belles phrases
pretty much sum up where we're at today.  All that's new is old, and there's a
whole lot of ego going on.  Some things never change.

     Still, it's refreshing to discover something from years gone by that's
relevant today, inspirational even.  The White Rose is one such discovery.
The White Rose was a group that worked to subvert and overthrow National
Socialist (Nazi) rule in Germany during the Second World War.  They were young
and idealistic and not really the types you'd associate with revolutionary
activity.  Almost all of them came from bourgeois families and were privileged
in terms of status and education.  They also shared an interest in theology
and philosophy and were, with the exception of one half-Jewish member, devout
Catholics.

     The White Rose were medical students, academics and professionals
centered mostly around the University of Munich.  Munich is the largest city
in the state of Bavaria, located in southern Germany.  There were seven
primary members: Willi Graf, Professor Kurt Huber, Hans Leipelt, Christoph
Probst, Alexander Schmorell, Sophie Scholl, and her brother, Hans.  As Hitler
came to power and rescinded free speech and political opposition in the 1930s,
the seeds of opposition were planted, quietly, and below the surface.  Most of
the students were in junior high school at this time.  But they were aware
that the religious and social groups to which they belonged were under
observation.  Some were banned outright.  Increasingly, the persecution of
Jews became a source of outrage.

     Hans Leipelt, for example, was the son of a Jewish intellectual woman.
His father was a Protestant.  After the Nuremberg Laws of 1935, Hans was
classified as a "First Degree Jewish Half-breed," and his mother as a
"Privileged Jewess."  Hoping for some social camouflage, Hans volunteered for
National Labor Service after graduating from high school, and later the
Wehrmacht (German armored division).  In 1939, Hans marched into Poland with
his unit while his mother and grandmother had to wear yellow stars back home
and observe nightly curfews imposed on Jews.  He was decorated twice for
gallantry, but later stripped of his medals and dishonorably discharged.  A
new law decreed that all half-Jewish soldiers were to be dismissed.  In 1940,
Hans enrolled at the University of Hamburg but was dismissed the next year.
Half-Jews were no longer allowed to study.  Treatment of full-blooded Jews was
more harsh. 

     There was no such thing as speaking out.  Hans and Sophie Scholl's father
was thrown into prison for three months in 1942 for making a remark critical
of Hitler.  He got off light.  There were eyes and ears everywhere, some
official, and some just snitches trying to kiss up.  Daily life became a
masquerade of approval, if only to stay out of trouble.  But resistance began
to organize itself.  The White Rose met at the University of Munich in 1942.
Some were studying medicine, and others met at Professor Huber's lectures.
Eventually they committed to a program of passive resistance.  They decided to
disrupt or call into question any way they could the institutions and
doctrines of National Socialism.  As well as being one of Germany's
intellectual and artistic centers, Munich was also the headquarters of the
National Socialist Party, and Hitler's favorite party town.  It seemed poetic
to bring the struggle right up his nose.

     It does seem likely that the students were influenced by Mahatma Gandhi's
philosophy of ahimsa, or doctrine of non-violence.  He had been active in
India during this time frame and known in the West.  However, if Gandhi-ji
would have tried anything so public in Germany, he would have been summarily
executed.  Knowing the dangers, the students set off on their mission.
Throughout 1942 and 1943, the White Rose distributed six leaflets in Munich,
and through a network of confederates, in and around various universities in
Germany.  They also initiated a graffiti program at the University of Munich
calling for an end to National Socialism and denouncing Hitler as a fiend.
Hans and Sophie Scholl dropped the last pamphlet from the balcony to the
atrium below in the main campus building in Munich.  A janitor observed the
action, locked the doors and summoned the police.  Ten minutes later, Hans and
Sophie were handcuffed and led away for questioning.

     From this point the whole house tumbled.  Within days, all of the members
of the White Rose were arrested, and one by one, guillotined.  The forces of
Nazism were especially swift with their critics.  Others in the White Rose
orbit were arrested, questioned - often brutally - and imprisoned for varying
lengths of time.  The White Rose had a short yet influential life span.  And
when prisoners from the Dachau concentration camp were released and heard of
their work, they couldn't believe that anyone, especially students, had had
the courage to stand up to Hitler and his hate machine.

     The White Rose are not very well known outside of Germany.  But their
legacy is important, not just for what it represented for their struggle and
their times, but for the world right now.  We live with political ignorance
and inconscient terror, and the leadership vacuum is sucking all the wrong
people into the mix.  Now is the time to think about what conflict and
resistance really means.

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