Hans Scholl

Hans Scholl : Nazi Germany

Hans Scholl, the son of Robert Scholl, the mayor of Forchtenberg, was born on 22nd September, 1918. Hans studied at the secondary school in Kunzelsau before the family moved to Ulm in 1932.

In 1933 Scholl joined the Hitler Youth. At first he was enthusiastic but, influenced by the views of his father, he became increasingly critical of Adolf Hitler and his Nazi government. In 1937 Scholl was arrested and briefly jailed after being accused of subversive activities.

After leaving school Scholl was forced to join the German Labour Service before entering the German Army. In the spring of 1939 he was allowed to begin his medical studies at the University of Munich. While at university he became interested in philosophy and was greatly influenced by one of his teachers, Kurt Huber.

In the summer of 1940 Scholl was sent as a member of the medical corps that went with the German Army invading France. Later than year he returned to Munich where he joined with Sophie Scholl, Inge 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.

In June, 1942, Scholl, was called up as a medic during Operation Barbarossa. Scholl was accompanied by three fellow students from the University of Munich, Alexander Schmorell, Willi Graf and Jugen Wittenstein. While on duty Scholl and his friends witnessed Jews being murdered by the Schutz Staffeinel (SS) in Poland and the Soviet Union.

When Scholl returned to Germany in October, 1943, he and the White Rose began publishing leaflets about what he had seen while in duty. 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 Christoph 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. Just before he was executed Hans Scholl shouted out: "Long live freedom!"

Primary Sources

(1) Indictment against Hans Scholl drawn up by the Reich Attorney General (21st February, 1943)

The accused Hans Scholl occupied his thoughts for a long time with the political situation. He arrived at the conclusion that just as in 1918, so also after the seizure of power by the National Socialists in 1933, it was not the majority of the German masses but the intellectuals in particular who had failed politically.

He therefore decided to prepare and distribute leaflets intended to carry his ideas to the broad masses of the people. He therefore decided to prepare and distribute leaflets intended to carry his ideas to the broad masses of people. He bought a duplicating machine, and with the help of a friend, Alexander Schmorell, with whom he had often discussed his political views, he acquired a typewriter. He then drafted the first leaflet of the White Rose and claims singlehandedly to have prepared about a hundred copies and to have mailed them to addresses chosen from the Munich telephone directory. In doing so, he selected people in academic circles particularly, but also restaurant owners, who, he hoped, would spread the contents of the leaflets by word of mouth.

These seditious pamphlets contain attacks on National Socialism and on its cultural-political parties in particular; further, they contain statements concerning the alleged atrocities of National Socialism, namely the alleged murder of the Jews and the alleged forced deportation of the Poles.

(2) Extract from the first leaflet published by White Rose (1942)

Nothing is so unworthy of a civilized nation as allowing itself to be "governed" without opposition by an irresponsible clique that has yielded to base instinct. It is certain that today every honest is ashamed of his government. Who among us have any conception of the dimensions of shame that will befall us and our children when one day the veil has fallen from our eyes and the most horrible of crimes - crimes that infinitely outdistance every human measure - reach the light of day?

(3) 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.

(4) 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.

(5) 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.