I’m having a busy day today, so I haven’t had time to post before now, but it happens to be the 68th anniversary of the execution of Christoph Probst and Hans and Sophie Scholl, leaders of the White Rose resistance in Nazi Germany, and I didn’t want to let that pass without mention.

“Resistance” is perhaps too big a word here. Hans and Sophie were twenty-four and twenty-one when they died, and Probst was twenty-three. None of them ever got any further than printing up and distributing anti-Nazi leaflets and painting a few slogans on walls.

In the summer of 1942 the White Rose began writing anti-Nazi essays and distributing them anonymously any way they could. On February 18, 1943, the Scholls and Probst dropped stacks of leaflets in the corridors of the University of Munich for students to find when they left their classes. Impulsively, they decided to fling the last few in their possession from the top floor of the university’s atrium. They were observed in that act by a janitor who turned them in to the Gestapo.

Four days later the three were tried. Found guilty, they were sentenced to death and beheaded that same day.

I’ve been thinking about the White Rose a lot recently, in the context of the recent youth uprisings in the Arab world. The Scholls, Probst, and their friends and allies were young people willing to risk death to attempt to bring freedom to their country.

More about this tomorrow.

Update | I’ve posted part two of this essay here.