The student resistance movement called the White Rose, active in Germany during the Third Reich. The image shows Hans Scholl (left), Sophie Scholl (center), and Christoph Probst (right)(Willi Graf and Alex Schmorell are missing on this picture), Munich, Germany, 1942. Photograph from the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.

The student resistance movement called the White Rose, active in Germany during the Third Reich. The image shows Hans Scholl (left), Sophie Scholl (center), and Christoph Probst (right)(Willi Graf and Alex Schmorell are missing on this picture), Munich, Germany, 1942. Photograph from the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.

In their school days Hans and Sophie Scholl had been fascinated by the Nazi movement. Hans had had a high rank in the Hitler Youth organisation and Sophie a similar position in the League of German Girls. Yet as they grew older and witnessed the progress of the war they became highly critical of the Nazi regime, realising that it ran counter to their most deeply held values.

As a medical student Hans found himself posted to Russia on military service and witnessed the conduct of the German armed forces and the actions against the Jews. On returning to Munich University in 1942 he and a group of fellow students formed the ‘White Rose Resistance Movement’. When Sophie joined the University in 1942 she also joined the group.

Between June 1942 and February 1943 the group distributed six different leaflets denouncing Hitler and the Nazi regime. Readers were urged to”Support the resistance movement!” in the struggle for “Freedom of speech, freedom of religion, and protection of the individual citizen from the arbitrary action of criminal dictator-states”. These were the principles that would form “the foundations of the new Europe”. Thousands of leaflets were produced using a hand cranked printing machine and they reached most of the major cities in Germany.

On the 18th February Hans and Sophie were distributing a suitcase full of leaflets in the University. They were intended to found by students attending lectures the following day. But they were caught in the act by University staff and handed over to the Gestapo.

The People's Court Judge Roland Freisler, sometimes known as 'Raving Roland' for his hysterical outbursts in court.  He sentenced over 2,600 people to death in the last three years of the war.

The People’s Court Judge Roland Freisler, sometimes known as ‘Raving Roland’ for his hysterical outbursts in court. He sentenced over 2,600 people to death in the last three years of the war.

When the came up before the Nazi ‘People’s Court’ chaired by the notorious Roland Freisler on the 22nd February there was not much hope for them. He acted as prosecutor, judge and jury in his own conception of ‘Nazi justice’ and had a record of convicting over 90% of the people appearing in his court and sentencing them to death. Hans and Sophie were treated no differently. They remained defiant to the end, Sophie then aged 22, is recorded as saying “Somebody, after all, had to make a start. What we wrote and said is also believed by many others. They just do not dare express themselves as we did.”

Within hours of their conviction they were beheaded by guillotine at Munich’s Stadelheim Prison. Prison officials emphasized the courage with which Sophie walked to her execution. Her last words were “Die Sonne scheint noch”—”The sun still shines.”

See DW article about modern legacy of the White Rose movement in Germany

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Feb

21

1943

Hitler after Stalingrad

21st February 1943: Hitler after Stalingrad

The attacks of nervous irritation increased. One moment Hitler’s collar was too tight and was stopping his circulation; the next his trousers were too long. He complained that his skin itched. He suspected poison everywhere, in the lavatory cistern, on the soap, in the shaving cream or in the toothpaste, and demanded that these be minutely analysed. The water used for cooking his food had to be investigated as well. Hitler chewed his fingernails and scratched his ears and neck until they bled. Because he suffered from insomnia, he took every possible sleeping pill. His bed was warmed with electric blankets and cushions.

Feb

20

1943

The other casualties of 8th Air Force bomber operations

20th February 1943: The other casualties of bomber operations

On investigation of the accident it was found that the whole tail assembly had fallen off from Bill’s plane while it was three or four thousand feet up and so it was impossible for even Bill to land her safely. Immediately on losing its tail the plane went into a flat spin and dove into the ground at a very high speed killing everyone on impact. After hitting the ground it burst into flames and so was completely demolished. This accident brought our total losses for the week up to six.

Feb

19

1943

Panzers fail in second assault on Kasserine Pass

19th February 1943: Panzers fail in second assault on Kasserine Pass

As we very soon discovered, the Americans had first-class tanks and antitank guns. Behind the front, large supply dumps could quickly replace any deficiency. The fact that they had no combat experience and were at a disadvantage against our “desert foxes,” could not be held against them. In one respect, they seemed to have the edge over their British allies: they were extraordinarily flexible; they adapted immediately to a changed situation and fought with great doggedness.

Feb

18

1943

Nazi propaganda chief Goebbels calls for ‘Total War’

18th February 1943: Nazi propaganda chief Goebbels calls for ‘Total War’

We promise you, we promise the front, we promise the Führer, that we will mold together the homeland into a force on which the Führer and his fighting soldiers can rely on absolutely and blindly. We pledge to do all in our life and work that is necessary for victory. We will fill our hearts with the political passion, with the ever-burning fire that blazed during the great struggles of the party and the state.

Feb

17

1943

American 168th Infantry’s last stand at Kasserine Pass

17th February 1943: American 168th Infantry’s last stand at Kasserine Pass

The Germans brought up several, tanks, all of them with yellow tigers painted on their sides and opened fire. They also set up machine gun positions and supplemented that with rifle fire. While they were doing this their infantry completely encircled the small American force. After three and one-half hours of fighting the American fire power diminished and then practically ceased as the men were out of ammunition or had become casualties. Finally an armored car bearing a white flag came dashing into the American circle.

Feb

16

1943

German retreat continues on Eastern Front

16th February 1943: German retreat continues on Eastern Front

It is -40° C; the snow level is as high as our bodies. The steaming, agitated and exhausted horses can’t even pull the empty sleds anymore. Our small group becomes smaller and smaller, only half of them are still able to fight. Injured soldiers, many with frostbite, load their carbines and shoot. They lumber through the snow; their faces are contorted with pain. In the midst of the blizzard, some fall behind and lose their group, which was supposed to support them.

Feb

15

1943

Bombed by own aircraft as RAF attack Milan

15th February 1943: Bombed by own aircraft as RAF attack Milan

At that point my job was to stand on the step ahead of the main spar and put my head up into the astro hatch to assist the gunners in keeping a look out for fighters. For some inexplicable reason, I did something I had never done before; I looked directly above and got the shock of my life. In the glow from the searchlights and target I saw another Lancaster 30 feet above us on exactly the same heading and, like us, his bomb doors were open! The 4,000lb bomb looked enormous and I knew it could be released at any second.

Feb

14

1943

U.S. Forces confront Germans at Kasserine Pass

14th February 1943: U.S. Forces confront Germans at Kasserine Pass

In their northern thrust the Germans met with initial success. By 0715 hours, 20 of their tanks had reached a point five miles north-east of Sidi Bouzid while the village itself was subjected to dive-bombing. By noon 50 enemy tanks with infantry and artillery had, in spite of a small U.S. counter-attack, reached the north-west slopes of Djebel Lessouda and were advancing south-west to the Faid-Sbeitla road.

Feb

13

1943

Working on the Railway of Death – Hellfire Pass

13th February 1943: Working on the Railway of Death – Hellfire Pass

It was the beginning for us of what would become the most notorious railway construction that the world had ever seen. The japanese engineer came over to inspect our work. He studied the clearing from several angles, using various surveying instruments, before declaring, ‘No gooda! Do again! Deeper!’