Lieselotte (Lilo) Ramdohr, the daughter of Richard Ramdohr and Gertrude Ramdohr, was born in Aschersleben, Germany, on 11th October, 1913. Her father was a successful businessman but he died in 1915. She spent most of her childhood in boarding schools. In 1929 moved to England where she worked as a clerk for a family friend. (1)
In 1933 Lilo Ramdohr went to University of Munich to study theatre sciences. She met Falk Harnack, a member of the German underground resistance to Adolf Hitler. (2) She also studied book illustration at the Württembergische Kunstgewerbeschule in Stuttgart in 1935.
Lilo married Otto Berndl, the son of a architect, but he was conscripted into the German Army but he was killed in the Soviet Union in 1941. (3) The following year, Harnack introduced Lilo Ramdohr to Hans Scholl and Alexander Schmorell, of the White Rose group. (4) Lilo became very close to Schmorell and they used to paint together. (5) Schmorell talked about the dangers of being caught but was comforted by his religious beliefs: "I will rejoice in death because I know that life does not end." (6)
Lilo Ramdohr and the White Rose
The White Rose group published anti-Nazi leaflets. The fourth leaflet was published in July 1942. It included detailed of the large number of German soldiers killed during Operation Barbarossa: "Neither Hitler nor Goebbels can have counted the dead. In Russia thousands are lost daily.... Mourning takes up her abode in the country cottages, and there is no one to dry the tears of the mothers. Yet Hitler feeds with lies those people whose most precious belongings he has stolen and whom he has driven to a meaningless death." The ended the leaflet with the words: "We will not be silent. We are your bad conscience. The White Rose will not leave you in peace!" (7) Lilo Ramdohr remembers Christoph Probst criticizing the leaflet as being "too emotional". (8)
Lilo Ramdohr stored White Rose leaflets and other materials in her flat. She also contributed money to help pay for the printing of the leaflets. Most importantly of all she was the main contact with Falk Harnack and the Red Orchestra network. (9)
On 18th February, 1943, Sophie and Hans Scholl went to the University of Munich with a suitcase packed with leaflets. According to Inge Scholl: "They arrived at the university, and since the lecture rooms were to open in a few minutes, they quickly decided to deposit the leaflets in the corridors. Then they disposed of the remainder by letting the sheets fall from the top level of the staircase down into the entrance hall. Relieved, they were about to go, but a pair of eyes had spotted them. It was as if these eyes (they belonged to the building superintendent) had been detached from the being of their owner and turned into automatic spyglasses of the dictatorship. The doors of the building were immediately locked, and the fate of brother and sister was sealed." (10)
Jakob Schmid, 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. He was arrested on 20th February. Following interrogation, they were all charged with treason. (11) Christoph, Sophie and Hans were not allowed to select a defence lawyer. Inge Scholl claimed that the lawyer assigned by the authorities "was little more than a helpless puppet". (12)
Arrests & Executions
Sophie Scholl, Hans Scholl and Christoph Probst were all tried for high treason on 22nd February, 1943. They were all found guilty. Judge Roland Freisler told the court: "The accused have by means of leaflets in a time of war called for the sabotage of the war effort and armaments and for the overthrow of the National Socialist way of life of our people, have propagated defeatist ideas, and have most vulgarly defamed the Führer, thereby giving aid to the enemy of the Reich and weakening the armed security of the nation. On this account they are to be punished by death. Their honour and rights as citizens are forfeited for all time." (13) They were all executed later that day. (14)
The Gestapo began arresting other members of the White Rose group. Alexander Schmorell went to see Lilo who allowed him to stay the night. She was able to get hold of a Yugoslav passport from a friend who was a printer and had the photo replaced with one of Schmorell. His plan was to travel to Switzerland. However, when he arrived at the railway station he discovered that all papers and train tickets were being checked by the police. (15)
Schmorell attempted to get help from people not connected to the White Rose group but when he visited a friend, Marie Luise, she contacted the police. (16) Schmorell made a full confession and admitted duplicating and distributing the leaflets: "Schmorell traveled to Salzburg, Linz, and Vienna and put leaflets addressed to places in those cities in the mails." He also said he was responsible for "defacing walls in many places in Munich" with the words "Down With Hitler", "Hitler the Mass Murderer" and "Freedom". (17)
Lilo Ramdohr was arrested on 2nd March, 1943. However, she was released after a long interrogation. Other members were less successful at convincing the Gestapo that they were not involved in the group. Their trial took place on 19th April, 1943.
Alexander Schmorell, Kurt Huber, Willi Graf were all convicted of high treason and were all sentenced to death. Other sentences included Eugen Grimminger, ten years; Heinrich Bollinger and Helmut Bauer, seven years; Hans Hirzel and Franz Müller, five years; Heinrich Guter, eighteen months; Susanne Hirzel, six months; Traute Lafrenz, Gisela Schertling and Katharina Schüddekopf, one year each. (18)
Falk Harnack was surprisingly found not guilty. Judge Roland Freisler commented: "Falk Harnack failed to report his knowledge of treasonous activity. But such unique and special circumstances surround his case that we find ourselves unable to punish his deed of omission. He is accordingly set free." (19)
Harnack grabbed Kurt Huber's hand and said desperately, "It was not in vain." Alexander Schmorell called out to him about Lilo Ramdohr: "Give my best to Lilo, tell her I think about her often." Harnack was ordered to follow the three men walking to death row. They walked through the long corridor. "harnack noticed boxes outside each cell, intended to hold the condemned men's clothing. They were to sleep naked, manacled." (20)
Harnack was released the next day. Richard F. Hanser, the author of A Noble Treason: The Story of Sophie Scholl (1979) has argued that the Gestapo knew he was guilty and also knew he was a member of the Red Orchestra network. His brother, Arvid Harnack, and his wife, Mildred Harnack, had been executed two months earlier. "As it turned out, his acquittal was only a tactic. The Gestapo wanted to watch him after his release, in the hope of linking him to his dead brother's organization." (21)
Huber and Schmorell was executed on 13th July, 1943. However, Graf was kept alive as they hoped he would provide information on other members of the White Rose network. They offered to change the verdict in exchange for information. When he refused they made threats against his family. Graf was executed on 12th October, 1943. (22)
Lilo Ramdohr married Carl Gebhard Fürst in Munich in February 1944. In 1948 fled with her four-year-old daughter, Doma-Ulrike, out of the Soviet occupation zone to West Germany, where she became a sports instructor in boarding schools in Upper Bavaria. (23)
Lilo Ramdohr-Fürst argued that her life was very hard after the war. "Her mother and stepfather really didn’t want to have much to do with her, because they saw her – still! – as a traitor to Germany." Lilo pointed out that much later members of the White Rose become celebrated figures, as German society has searched for positive role models from the Nazi Germany period. However, she claims that "at the time, they’d have had us all executed,” she says of the majority of her fellow Germans in the immediate post-war period. (24)
In 1995 Lilo Ramdohr-Fürst published her memoirs in Germany. (25) In 2013 she gave an interview to the BBC World Service. (26)
Lilo Ramdohr-Fürst died, aged 99 years-old, on 13th May, 2015.
(1) Annette Dumbach & Jud Newborn, Sophie Scholl and the White Rose (1986)
Standing in the throng outside the university was Alexander Schmorell. He watched as the Gestapo took Hans and Sophie away. An escape plan had been devised by the group, and now Alex tried to put it into effect. He went immediately to Willie Graf's room; no one was there, but he left a cryptic message warning Willi. He hoped his friend could get it in time and meet Alex the next day at the Starnberger Bahnhof, a small railroad station adjacent to the Munich Central Station, from which trains went south into the alpine regions of Bavaria.
He had to kill the day somehow; he thought frantically about where in Munich he could hide safely. He called his parents. His mother answered the phone. She said quickly, "Alex! The police are here." He hung up.
In the confusion and terror, he suddenly came on the thought his friend Lilo Ramdohr. He could trust her, and, most important she had no direct connection with the White Rose. He would go to hit and stay in her flat overnight.
(2) Sabine Bader, Survivors of the White Rose (9th May, 2011)
It is late autumn 1942. Alexander Schmorell - Alex, how Lilo calls him - she knows at this time more than a year. You can learn it in October 1941 to know in the private studio of Heinrich König Munich characters. Alex is the New. Tall, radiant look, slightly embarrassed smile. "Such eyes can forget the war," Lilo will note later, this first encounter. They become friends. About him learn Lilo also know Hans Scholl, Christoph Probst and Willi Graf.
Today Lilo Fürst-Ramdohr 96 years old. She lives in a small apartment in Starnberg, for 50 years. On the side table in the living room, which is almost occupied entirely by an enormous wing, is Alex's photo in a silver frame. "I'll make you some coffee first," she says and rises. "You know, 96, it is nothing more. The legs make trouble and the eyes diminish. At least everything is with the Spirit so far clear." Until her 86th year of life she has given private gym hours, is like to swim in Lake Starnberg. "And I've written almost always": poems, fairy tales and a still unpublished novel. On the mini chaise longue are stacks of manuscripts - on top of their out-which for many years book "friendships in the White Rose", which will be released shortly edition, with a preface and explanations of her grandson. Also the painting has never given up Lilo Fürst-Ramdohr. Close to the walls hang on tight watercolor and oil paintings.
"Even Alexander loved art," she says, "and he was enthusiastic about life." His medical degree is the then 25-year-old anyway only continue so as not to have the same to the front. He wants to become a sculptor. It is February 1942, when Alexander in Lilo's apartment for the first time and very quiet, as it is itself not safe, speaks of passive resistance and the fact that the start was made.
Lilo gets to do it with the fear. "Stay out of this," she tells him. But Alexander does not want to be idle. Although he feels because at this time more than ever, his Russian mother belonged to him of Nazi terror has become as unbearable as his friends.
In July 1942 he was drafted, must as a medic together with Hans Scholl to the Eastern Front. "I'm going to Russia reunion, Lilo," he says goodbye. In the winter semester he wants to be back in Munich. During his absence Lilo visited the director Falk Harnack, their friend from his youth, which in Berlin is also involved in the resistance, told him of the Munich friends and the White Rose, so builds the bond between the two groups. Scholl and Schmorell be several times later meet with Harnack and coordinate actions.
(3) Lucy Burns, BBC World Service (22nd February 2013)
Seventy years ago today, three German students were executed in Munich for leading a resistance movement against Hitler. Since then, the members of the White Rose group have become German national heroes - Lilo Furst-Ramdohr was one of them.
In 1943, World War II was at its height - but in Munich, the centre of Nazi power, a group of students had started a campaign of passive resistance.
Liselotte Furst-Ramdohr, already a widow at the age of 29 following her husband's death on the Russian front, was introduced to the White Rose group by her friend, Alexander Schmorell.
"I can still see Alex today as he told me about it," says Furst-Ramdohr, now a spry 99-year-old. "He never said the word 'resistance', he just said that the war was dreadful, with the battles and so many people dying, and that Hitler was a megalomaniac, and so they had to do something."
Schmorell and his friends Christoph Probst and Hans Scholl had started writing leaflets encouraging Germans to join them in resisting the Nazi regime.
With the help of a small group of collaborators, they distributed the leaflets to addresses selected at random from the phone book.
Furst-Ramdohr says the group couldn't understand how the German people had been so easily led into supporting the Nazi Party and its ideology.
"They must have been able to tell how bad things were, it was ridiculous," she says.
The White Rose delivered the leaflets by hand to addresses in the Munich area, and sent them to other cities through trusted couriers.
Furst-Ramdohr never delivered the leaflets herself but hid them in a broom cupboard in her flat.
She also helped Schmorell make stencils in her flat saying "Down with Hitler", and on the nights of 8 and 15 February, the White Rose graffitied the slogan on walls across Munich.
Furst-Ramdohr remembers the activists - who were risking their lives for their beliefs - as young and naive.
One of the best-known members of the group today is Hans Scholl's younger sister Sophie, later the subject of an Oscar-nominated film, Sophie Scholl: The Final Days. Furst-Ramdohr remembers that Sophie was so scared that she used to sleep in her brother's bed.
"Hans was very afraid too, but they wanted to keep going for Germany - they loved their country," she says.
On 18 February, Hans and Sophie Scholl set off on their most daring expedition yet. They planned to distribute copies of their sixth - and as it would turn out, final - leaflet at the University of Munich, where students would find them as they came out of lectures.
The siblings left piles of the leaflets around the central stairwell. But as they reached the top of the stairs, Sophie still had a number of leaflets left over - so she threw them over the balcony, to float down to the students below.
She was seen by a caretaker, who called the Gestapo. Hans Scholl had a draft for another leaflet in his pocket, which he attempted to swallow, but the Gestapo were too quick.
The Scholl siblings were arrested and tried in front of an emergency session of the People's Court. They were found guilty and executed by guillotine, along with their friend and collaborator Christoph Probst, on 22 February 1943.
Hans Scholl's last words before he was executed were: "Long live freedom!"
(4) White Rose: a Retrospective Look (8th April, 2014)
Since the end of the war, the members of the White Rose have become celebrated figures, as German society has searched for positive role models from the Nazi period. But Fürst-Ramdohr doesn’t like it. “At the time, they’d have had us all executed,” she says of the majority of her compatriots.
Lilo described how hard her life had been after the war. Her mother and stepfather really didn’t want to have much to do with her, because they saw her – still! – as a traitor to Germany.
And what the Nazis hadn’t stolen, the East German government took. So she was left with little income, raising a family by herself, feeling terribly alone and forsaken. All she would have had to do to regain her family after the war: Tell her mother she had been wrong to oppose Hitler. But she could not do that.
Joyce asked her, “Have you ever regretted then what you did, wished you could undo it, knowing what you know now about how much it would cost you?”
And in all the time we talked to Lilo, that is the only moment she ever hesitated with an answer. Her eyes watered, she looked away, then she stared straight in Joyce’s eyes. "No. I would do it all over again, even knowing what it would cost me."
Her conscience would allow her to do nothing else. Eternity demands righteousness. Hell is satisfied with conformity.
She died two months after the BBC article last year. She has gone to rest in peace. The attitudes she encountered among her fellow Germans, which cost her so much personal loss and suffering, have lived on. We, the members of the Twelve Tribes in Germany, can testify to this. Those same attitudes have cost us so much, too.
(4) Obituary, Lilo Ramdohr (May, 2013)
Lilo Ramdohr came from the Ascherslebener branch of the Central German family Ramdohr. After living in England (1931) and one-year visit to the boarding Dr. Fritz White in Weimar (spring 1932 - spring 1933 ), she moved in the summer of 1934 for the first time to Munich and began training as a stage designer at Emil Preetorius. From March 1935 to February 1936 she studied book illustration at the Württemberg Art and Crafts School with Prof. Schneidler in Stuttgart. In 1936, she began training as a dance teacher at the school for modern dance of Mary Wigman in Dresden. After visiting the Günther-Schule in Munich and completion of an examination as Gymnastikleherin in Stuttgart in April 1938 Lilo Ramdohr took over on their own responsibility a school in Heilbronn and gave lessons in operating sports until it was retired in the summer of 1939 for harvest service to wooden churches and then to the hospital service by the end of 1941 again came to Munich. In addition, they visited from April 1941, now married, again the Günther School to complete a supplementary examination in dance- body formation, and was doing some engagements at Munich stages, including the Hercules Hall of the residence, along with Benno Kusche and Maja Lex.
In addition to this Lilo Ramdohr attended the private art school in Hein King, where she the German - Russian medical student Alexander Schmorell met in the fall of 1941. From this friendship are also their contact with Hans Scholl, Christoph Probst and later Sophie Scholl and other members of the White Rose revealed. Maybe Lilo Ramdohr was instrumental in the naming, since they Schmorell and Scholl in November 1941, a field post card of Max Baur with a picture of a white rose and an associated letter from a friend, the soldier Fritz Rook, with a text about what a white rose in the face of the reality of war expressed for him, left.
After Lilo Ramdohr's then husband Otto Berndl, the son of the Munich architect Richard Berndl in Russia had fallen, she approached the circle of White Rose on stronger. While Schmorell was in August 1942 with his student company in the medical use on the Eastern Front, they exchanged several letters. Schmorell then hid in her apartment in Neuhausen- Nymphenburg leaflets, a mimeograph machine and stencils for wall slogan "Down with Hitler".
From their Weimar period Lilo also knew the erstwhile fiancé and later film director Falk Harnack and mediated a secret meeting between this and Schmorell and Hans Scholl in November 1942 in Chemnitz. Falk Harnack stood over his brother Arvid Harnack and resistance and espionage cells in the Armed Forces, such as the Red Chapel and the Kreisauer circle, but also through family connections (via his deceased uncle Adolf von Harnack ) for church resistance Dietrich Bonhoeffer, already in connection to resistance groups against the National Socialist regime and the contact to the group of Munich students was very open-minded. Alexander also Schmorell and Hans Scholl were strongly interested in a secret cooperation. On 8 and 9 February 1943, she invited therefore, again by Lilo's mediation, Falk Harnack to meetings in Munich and planned for 25 February 1943, a follow-up meeting in Berlin.
According to the leaflet - dropping in the stairwell of the Munich University on 18 February 1943 and the subsequent arrest and execution of the Scholl siblings Lilo Ramdohr still trying to support Alexander Schmorell to escape from the Gestapo. She hid him in her apartment and helped to burn Schmorells uniform to forge a Bulgarian passport and find hiding places in rural Upper Bavaria. Since Schmorell but was caught by his futile attempts to escape on 24 February in a Munich air raid shelter at the Habsburg court, came on March 2, Lilo Ramdohr in the custody of the Gestapo. Ramdohr was dismissed for lack of evidence. Harnack was indicted, but acquitted.
Harnack succeeded in winter 1943, the flight of his army unit in Greece. Lilo Ramdohr retired to a renewed war marriage, namely, a native of Brazil medical sergeant Carl Gebhard Fürst (nephew of Margaret of Reinken, from 1985 winner of the Federal Cross of Merit), in February 1944 in Munich under the new name Lieselotte Fürst in their home town of Aschersleben back. There she also saw the end of the war.
In 1948 she fled along with their then four- year-old daughter Doma - Ulrike from the Soviet occupation zone back to Bavaria, where, partly through the mediation of the Chiemsee painter Willibald Demmel, until the 1950s and 1960s, as a teacher at boarding schools in Upper Bavaria. From 1949 she was transferred to the Lake Starnberg to the youth leaders and school Niederpöcking sent in April as part of a BJR delegation for three months to Detroit. After the school was closed in Niederpöcking for financial reasons and sold to the DGB, Lilo Prince Ramdohr was in 1955 at the Institute Dr. Greite Feldafing and on school camp Schier active in mountain. Since then she has lived in Percha (Starnberg). Since about 1980, she was friends with the sculptor Claus, also based in Percha Nageler. In 1995, she published her memoirs in the book friendships in the White Rose, some further works are as yet unpublished. By 1999 they were in gymnastics classes and clubs in Percha Söcking. Lilo Ramdohr was active until her death in May 2013, almost exactly five months before her hundredth birthday, artistic as a painter and writer.
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Kristallnacht (Answer Commentary)
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Heinrich Himmler and the SS (Answer Commentary)
Trade Unions in Nazi Germany (Answer Commentary)
Adolf Hitler v John Heartfield (Answer Commentary)
Hitler's Volkswagen (The People's Car) (Answer Commentary)
Women in Nazi Germany (Answer Commentary)
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The Assassination of Reinhard Heydrich (Answer Commentary)