What is an ideal death sentence

75 years agoExecution of members of the "White Rose" resistance group

"There were people who were obviously full of their ideals, their answers to the sometimes outrageous questions were calm, composed, clear and brave."

For example, Leo Samberger, as a court trainee, witnessed the trial of the student resistance group "White Rose", which opened on February 22, 1943. Ten years later, in February 1953, the journalist Axel Eggebrecht summarized the events succinctly and seized it:

"On February 22, 1943, a Monday, they were sentenced to death. Only three hours later they died for their convictions, for freedom, for us. Sophie Scholl, 21 years old, Hans Scholl, 24, Christoph Probst, 23. "

Day of judgment and death

Roland Freisler, notorious President of the People's Court, had traveled from Berlin the day before to take over the chairmanship. This staged courtroom should also be the day of death of the accused - that was already agreed. Together with Alexander Schmorell and Willi Graf - as well as Hans Scholl and Christoph Probst prospective physicians - the three resisters formed the inner circle of the "White Rose". The political scientist and peace researcher Detlef Bald:

"The White Rose, as it is called today, was not an organization that one could join, but a group of friends who had the same interests and who, in addition to their medical lectures, attended a lot of philosophical lectures at the university itself."

At Munich University they also met the extraordinary philosophy professor Kurt Huber, who became a friend and mentor of the resistance group. Especially within the student core group, the originally positive attitude towards the Nazi regime changed at the latest with the beginning of the war. Above all, the experiences that Willi Graf, Hans Scholl and Alexander Schmorell had to make as paramedics and auxiliary doctors on the Eastern Front were disturbing: They were touched by the suffering of the Russian prisoners of war as well as the sight of the Jewish ghetto in German-occupied Warsaw.

Call for active resistance

Of course, none of this played a role in the Munich show trial.

"The outrageous overall tendency of the chairman Freisler was to portray the accused again and again as a mixture of dumbbells and criminals. Any suspicion that the perpetrators might be honorable had to be destroyed, with the great aim of giving the people duty and freedom to shake up. "

Because that is what the three students wanted above all: freedom! "Freedom" was also one of the slogans that they put on the nights of February 3rd, 8th and 15th in oversized letters on the walls of Munich houses with tar paint. "Down with Hitler" and "Hitler the mass murderer" were other inscriptions discovered by the Gestapo. Since the summer of 1942, the "White Rose" had put a total of six leaflets into circulation from Munich. Initially in the smallest edition and limited to Munich, the editions rose to 12,000 copies in the end and found distribution in southern Germany and Austria. They initially called for refusal and passive resistance, but finally called for active resistance against the Nazi regime. The crimes were already mentioned in the first pamphlet:

"Who of us suspects the extent of the shame that will come upon us and our children when the veil has fallen from our eyes and the most horrific crimes, which go beyond measure, come to light?"

Sacrificed yourself to shake up

Axel Eggebrecht characterized the group's resistance as follows:

"They wanted to wake up - that's why they sacrificed themselves. Because this sacrifice is particularly poignant because it was made very consciously. Stalingrad came to an end, the bloodiest of all amateurs had madly abandoned hundreds of thousands. They wanted their example to suppress silent, hesitant displeasure stir up too open resistance before it is too late. "

At 12:45 p.m., Freisler read out the death sentence. In its justification, it referred primarily to a German myth: the alleged "stab in the back" of the homeland in the rear of the fighting army, which in 1918 would have cost Germany victory in the First World War. Less than four hours after the verdict was pronounced, the murder ordered by the unjust state was carried out in the Munich-Stadelheim prison. The "entire execution process", as the minutes said, lasted a little over three minutes.