The white rose movement was a non-violent resistance group operating in Nazi-Germany from June 1942 till February 1943. The movement used propaganda in an attempt to change the views of Germans and Austrians against Adolf Hitler. The movement received a lot of support from German youths who had been conscripted into Hitler’s Youth Armies. However, the support received was not enough to create successful uprising. There was a strong opposition to the group, especially from the radical Adolf Hitler enforcers such as the Gestapo.
The group stuck to non-violent methods, but the reaction from the opposition was brutal, with the core members being executed by decapitation. Ultimately, The White Rose Movement’s campaign was unsuccessful and failed to change Hitler’s regime because the opposition was far greater than the support the movement could muster. During World War 2 Adolf Hitler’s oppression affected millions of people. From Jewish, to Gypsies, to native Germans, people were tortured, killed and conscripted to join the German Army and its supporting groups. It was this controlling injustice that sparked many Germans to rebel towards Hitler.
The White Rose Movement was formed by five students and a professor, from the University of Munich, to fight against Hitler’s regime. The core founders had been forced to become members of Hitler’s many different youth groups such as the ‘German Youth Movement’ and the ‘Bund Deutscher Madel’ (The League of German Girls). Members of the group posed the question “Isn’t it true that every honest German is ashamed of his government these days? ” The group wanted the public to realise that change was possible if they stood up to the Nazis. However, the group’s lack of numbers and open supporters lead to their ultimate downfall.
Though the idea remained and it was this motivation that the change to how propaganda was used throughout the world for decades to come. The first four out of six leaflets appeared in the summer of 1942. Randomly appearing in phonebooks, corridors and other highly publicly accessed places, they were widely read and discussed. However, out of the original one hundred produced over thirty were taken to the Gestapo and destroyed. This severely damaged the amount of people who read them as each one was printed by a manual hand printer and took time to make. It was even printed n the leaflets “pleas make as many copies of this leaflet as possible and pass them on, ” to bolster the amount circulation the university. The White Rose seemed unaffected by a large amount of the leaflets being obtained by the Gestapo and continued day and night to produce many more leaflets. They were distributed anonymously to other universities, but this was no easy task. The only efficient way to travel was by train and that made it very risky as luggage searches were very common at the time. The members would leave the leaflets in other carriages and pick them up as they got off the trains.
Another fact that made the campaign very risky is that paper was scarce in Germany. Once the word got around about the campaign, anyone who purchased a large quantity of paper or stamps was treated with suspicion and most likely pulled in for questioning. These factors made it very hard for the members of the White Rose to get their message out. A lack of members meant that more leaflets had to be carried per person which increased the chances of being caught. The plan was entirely non-violent with the writers urging the readers to “adopt passive resistance, wherever you are…before it is too late. The grand scheme failed to successfully change Hitler’s regime mainly due to the opposition the movement faced. The opposition to the white rose movement made the lives of all members a living nightmare. The Gestapo and other German police powers hunted the White Rose movement all over Germany. They confiscated leaflets and made paper and other writing materials hard to come by. A lack of open supporters made life very hard for the members of the white rose. Sophie claimed at her trail, 22/2/1943 “What we wrote and said is also believed by many others. They just did not dare express themselves as we did. This style of thought was expressed be all members of the White Rose. They all believed that the German citizens were on their side, when in fact, they had little support. Most of the supporters were young German university students who had been conscripted. The plan was slightly successful in some areas but not in others. The sixth leaflet was smuggled out of Germany and taken to England where it was copied and reproduced. The British then proceeded to drop the leaflets out of planes over German towns and cities. Hans and Sophie however, never witnessed their legacy being spread in such an effective manner.
They were captured after becoming over-confident and taking risks. Tried guilty of treason in June 1943 they were scheduled to be executed alongside with Christopher Porbst, another core member. Thomas Mann cried out at the trail “Good splendid young people! You shall not have died in vain; you shall not be forgotten. ” They were all beheaded and thus marked the end of the movement. Ultimately, the White Rose movement attempt at changing Hitler’s regime through the use of propaganda failed. The group didn’t receive enough open public supporters to cause a successful change.
The amount of people willing to take a risk to help them was minuscule, and many of those who did help were apprehended and interrogated. This restricted normal operations as the core members had to take part themselves in moving the leaflets. The opposing forces to the movement were very organised and had a lot of public support. Whilst the White Rose movement was a slight success, cost of lives was regarded as too high a cost to continue and the group was disbanded. They remain one of the few groups who publicly defied Hitler’s power, and sought to cause an uprising.