Two side notes that have to do with the reading of this book: First, I have a very simple definition of heroism. It is when an individual has a choice to turn his back and safely walk away, but instead goes to the help of innocent, victimized, and disabled individuals, putting his/her self in danger and possibly death, to unburdened those individuals and hopefully bring them to safety.

The death of twelve service personnel at the Afghanistan airport wasn’t so much acts of heroism, but tragedy. The choice they made to put themselves in the middle of such a dangerous and humanitarian mission is heroic.

Secondly, Even though the characters in this book often talk about how much better it would be to see and talk to each other together in a house or room, the fact that they wrote so many letters gives us one of the truest accounts of the two most prominent heroes in this amazing account of heroism and humanity.

“At The Heart of the WHITE ROSE: Letters and Diaries of Hans and Sophie Scholl,” is an intimate portrayal of two young Germans (Hans on his way to being a doctor) and (Sophie studying philosophy and art at the University in hope of becoming a teacher). They were raised in a loving German family with three other sisters and brothers. Politics nor class were not the reasons for their dissent. Their dissent is the product of a childhood and youth that were deeply rooted in the humane with religious manifestations.

In both their letters to friends and family there is almost always mention of the beauty of nature. Sophie dreams of becoming part of a Birch tree and Hans talks about the beauty of the Russian landscape when he is fulfilling his military service at the front as a doctor. They marble at God’s creation, and how each spring it brings forth new life. They love people, and don’t discriminate against any one race. Hans talks about the friendliness of the Russian peasants and how they shared food and drinks and sang together.

The ‘White Rose Organization’ put out pamphlets and bulletins describing the Nazi atrocious against Jews, against Germans, against humanity in every country they invaded. They did not blow up buildings or assassinate political or military leaders. For this terrible crime of uncovering the truth with words, Hans and Sophie Scholl and their friend Christoph Probst were sent to the guillotine a few days after they were arrested for distributing handbills at Munich university. Many of the remaining members of “The White Rose Organization,” were eventually arrested and put to death.

Thomas Mann, Nobel Laureate remarked:

“Good, splendid young people! You shall not have died in vain; you shall not be forgotten. The Nazis have raised monuments to indecent rowdies and common killers in Germany—but the German revolution, the real revolution, will tear them down and in their place will memorialize these people, who, at the time when Germany and Europe were still enveloped in the dark of night, knew and publicly declared: ‘A new faith in freedom and honor is dawning.”
Thomas Mann, Nobel Laureate (Broadcasting from exile to Germany on the radio series “German Listeners”

On a personal note: For most of my life I have refused to visit three countries, Germany, Japan, and Italy. Their atrocious against humanity, especially the Germans and Japanese, I cannot find it in my heart to every forgive them. Despite, what one might read, only a small pocket…a tiny pocket…of Germans resisted the Nazis and Hitler. In fact, Sophie and Hans Scholl were arrested because a janitor who supported the Nazis went to the Gestapo and informed on them.


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