Christoph Probst

Christoph Probst : Nazi Germany

Christoph Probst was born in Germany on 6th November, 1919. While at secondary school he met Alexander Schmorell and the two friends both enrolled as medical students at the University of Munich. While a student Probst married Herta Dohrn and over the next couple of years the couple had three children.

In 1941 Probst joined with with Hans Scholl, Sophie Scholl, Christoph Probst, Kurt Huber, Alexander Schmorell, Willi Graf and Jugen Wittenstein to form the White Rose. The group decided to adopt the strategy of passive resistance that was being used by students fighting against racial discrimination in the United States. This included publishing leaflets calling for the restoration of democracy and social justice.

The leaflets were at first sent anonymously to people all over Germany. Taking the addresses from telephone directories, they tended to concentrate on mailing university lecturers and the owners of bars.

In Passive Resistance to National Socialism , published in 1943 the group explained the reasons why they had formed the White Rose group: "We want to try and show that everyone is in a position to contribute to the overthrow of the system. It can be done only by the cooperation of many convinced, energetic people - people who are agreed as to the means they must use. We have no great number of choices as to the means. The meaning and goal of passive resistance is to topple National Socialism, and in this struggle we must not recoil from our course, any action, whatever its nature. A victory of fascist Germany in this war would have immeasurable, frightful consequences."

The White Rose group believed that the young people of Germany had the potential to overthrow Adolf Hitler and the Nazi government. In one leaflet, Fellow Fighters in the Resistance , they wrote: "The name of Germany is dishonoured for all time if German youth does not finally rise, take revenge, smash its tormentors. Students! The German people look to us."

The White Rose group also began painting anti-Nazi slogans on the sides of houses. This included "Down With Hitler", "Hitler Mass Murderer" and "Freedom". They also painted crossed-out swastikas.

Members also began leaving piles of leaflets in public places. On 18th February, Hans Scholl and Sophie Scholl began distributing the sixth leaflet produced by the White Rose group. Jakob Schmidt, a member of the Nazi Party, saw them at the University of Munich, throwing leaflets from a window of the third floor into the courtyard below. He immediately told the Gestapo and they were both arrested. They were searched and the police found a handwritten draft of another leaflet. This they matched to a letter in Scholl's flat that had been signed by Probst.

The three members of the White Rose group appeared before the People's Court judge, Roland Friesler, on 20th February. Found guilty of sedition they were executed by guillotine a few hours later.

Primary Sources

(1) Extract from the second leaflet published by White Rose (1942)

It is impossible to engage in intellectual discourse with National Socialism because it is not an intellectually defensible program. It is false to speak of a National Socialist philosophy, for if there were such an entity, one would have to try by means of analysis and discussion either to prove its validity or to combat it. In actuality, however, we face a totally different situation. At its very inception this movement depended on the deception and betrayal of one's fellow man; even at that time it was inwardly corrupt and could support itself only by constant lies. After all, Hitler states in an early edition of "his" book (a book written in the worst German I have ever read, in spite of the fact that it has been elevated to the position of the Bible in this nation of poets and thinkers); "It is unbelievable, to what extent one must betray a people in order to rule."

We do not want to discuss here the question of the Jews, no do we want in this leaflet to compose a defence or apology. No, only by way of example do we want to cite the fact that since the conquest of Poland three hundred thousand Jews have been murdered in this country in the most bestial way. Here we see the most frightful crime against human dignity, a crime that is unparalleled in the whole of history.

(2) The fifth White Rose leaflet was entitled, Leaflet of the Resistance (February, 1943)

Germans! Do you and your children want to suffer the same fate that befell the Jews? Do you want to be judged by the same standards as your traducers? Are we do be forever the nation which is hated and rejected by all mankind? No. Dissociate yourselves from National Socialist gangsterism. Prove by your deeds that you think otherwise. A new war of liberation is about to begin. The better part of the nation will fight on our side. Cast off the cloak of indifference you have wrapped around you. Make the decision before it is too late! Do not believe the National Socialist propaganda which has driven the fear of Bolshevism into your bones. Do not believe that Germany's welfare is linked to the victory of National Socialism for good or ill. A criminal regime cannot achieve a victory. Separate yourself in time from everything connected with National Socialism. In the aftermath a terrible but just judgment will be meted out to those who stayed in hiding, who were cowardly and hesitant.

(3) The sixth White Rose leaflet was entitled, Fellow Fighters in the Resistance (February, 1943)

The day of reckoning has come - the reckoning of German youth with the most abominable tyrant our people have ever been forced to endure. We grew up in a state in which all free expression of opinion is ruthlessly suppressed. The Hitler Youth, the SA, the SS, have tried to drug us, to regiment us in the most promising years of our lives. For us there is but one slogan: fight against the party!

The name of Germany is dishonoured for all time if German youth does not finally rise, take revenge, smash its tormentors. Students! The German people look to us.

(4) Munchener Neuete Nachrichten (22nd February, 1943)

On February 22, 1943, the People's Court, convened in the Court of Assizes Chamber of the Palace of Justice, sentenced to death the following persons: Hans Scholl, aged 24, and Sophia Scholl, aged 21, both of Munich, and Chrstoph Probst, aged 23, of Innsbruck, for their preparations to commit treason and their aid to the enemy. The sentence was carried out on the same day.

Typical outsiders, the condemned persons shamelessly committed offences against the armed security of the nation and the will to fight of the German people by defacing houses with slogans attacking the state and by distributing treasonous leaflets. At this time of heroic struggle on the part of the German people, these despicable criminals deserve a speedy and dishonorable death.

(5) Inge Scholl was one of the members of the White Rose who was not executed. She wrote about the group in her book, Students Against Tyranny (1952)

What the circle of the White Rose strove for was increasing public consciousness of the real nature and actual situation of National Socialism. They wanted to encourage passive resistance among wide circles of the populace. In the circumstances, a tight, closely knit organization would not have succeeded. The panicked fear of the people in the face of the constant threat of Gestapo intervention and the ubiquity and thoroughness of the surveillance system were the strongest obstacles. On the other hand, it still seemed possible, by means of anonymous dissemination of information, to create the impression that the Führer no longer enjoyed solid support and that there was general ferment.