“Rebels Stand Alone
The six White Rose members managed to distribute thousands of anti-Nazi leaflets before they were arrested by the Gestapo and guillotined. The text of their sixth and final set of leaflets was smuggled out of Germany by the resistance leader Helmuth James Graf von Moltke, who was arrested in 1944 and hanged by the Nazis in January 1945. Copies of the leaflets’ language were dropped over Germany by Allied planes in July 1943. Furst-Ramdohr, who was widowed during the war when her first husband was killed on the Russian front, also was arrested by the Gestapo. She was imprisoned but eventually released.
The White Rose has been lionized by postwar Germans—one of its members, Alexander Schmorell, was made a saint by the Russian Orthodox Church last year, and squares and schools in Germany are named for the resisters—but in the BBC interview Furst-Ramdohr curtly dismissed the adulation of the group.
“At the time, they’d have had us all executed,” she said in speaking of most Germans’ hatred of resisters during the war.
Although history has vindicated resistance groups such as the White Rose and plotters such as von dem Bussche, they were desperately alone, reviled by the wider public and forced to defy the law, their oaths of national allegiance, and public opinion. The resisters, once exposed, were condemned in vitriolic terms by most of the German public, and their lopsided trials were state-choreographed lynchings. Von dem Bussche said that even after the war he was spat upon as he walked down a city street. He and those like him who made a moral choice to physically defy evil teach us something extremely important about rebellion. It is, when it begins, not safe, comfortable or popular. Those rare individuals who have the moral and physical courage to resist must accept that they will be pariahs. They must live outside the law. And they must be prepared to be condemned.”