For those of you who don’t know, I love to read about things. I call myself an avid researcher, and when asked to put down my list of hobbies, reading and research comes to mind. Most people will probably question: Research? Isn’t that the same thing as reading? To some, yes. To me, no, not really. Reading (to me) is reading one book about a topic, or reading a fiction novel with non-fiction elements and being done with it. Researching is taking that information, becoming fascinated with it, and trying to learn everything imaginable about that said topic. I guess you could say I become “obsessed” with things. I have always been this way, even as a child. This is besides my main point of my post today, so long story short, I am currently very much interested in a certain topic right now, and have been for about a year-and-a-half. I will discuss my earlier obsessions in later posts, perhaps.
In my previous post, I mentioned how I have been “researching” about Nazi Germany on all kinds of different topics: From Adolf Hitler himself, to the composition and ideals behind the concentration camps, to the most horrible medical crimes in human history, and to the resistance groups against the Nazi Regime. Currently I have been particularly interested (or infatuated, perhaps?) with one resistance group in particular: the White Rose. The White Rose (Die Weisse Rose) was a group composed of many young college students and one of their professors who spoke out against the immoral and contradictory practices of National Socialism (but really just Nazis in general…) With a mind of non-violence, the group conducted a number of rebellious acts such as distributing informational, but questioning (toward the German people) leaflets around many parts of the country and even going as far as graffiti work on the walls of buildings and bridges, “Down With Hitler,” “Freiheit.” For those who have read about the White Rose, it is well-known that the two “main members” of the group were Hans and Sophie Scholl. Besides the siblings, other very important members were Christoph Probst, Willi Graf, Kurt Huber (a philosophy professor), Traute Lafrenz, and Alexander Schmorell.
Anyway, with background facts aside, I will now relay to you the constant daydreams that I have involving the White Rose. As much as I shouldn’t, I tend to go into my own little fantasy world as I am driving to and from my classes everyday. It is a bit of a drive, so I like to take that time to think deeply about things as I have the windows rolled down. This morning, I started to consider what kind of person I would be if I were living in 1940s Nazi Germany. Would I be as strong as the White Rose, and take a stand against what I honestly felt was wrong? Would I be idealistic to the notion that Hitler would save my country from the broken past of economical crisis and post-war humiliation? Or would I just sit on the fence and try to weave my ideals around so that no one would criticize or disagree with me, even if I didn’t believe I was being completely honest with myself? I would like to say that I would take a stand against the evils of the Regime, but how do I really know that? How would I know my exact thoughts and feelings if I were placed in a different time period, in a different country, with totally different ideals? How strong would I be in the presence of something seemingly powerful but also with my faith and what I know about God? I am not completely sure, but those are things I constantly think about.
In my dreams, I put myself as a worker in the Reichsarbeitdeinst in the same sector as Sophie Scholl. I imagine myself being in the same room with her as she is ridiculed for her constant reading and perceived unfriendliness by the other young women. As shy as I am myself, I would probably put myself in a similar situation as Sophie did herself. I would probably be even too shy to speak to Sophie herself, and sit in my corner and watch the others as they went about their gossip. However, given that I am not much of a gaggling-gossiper of current events, men, sex, or trivial observations myself, I would want to stand up for Sophie, and say something like, “Well at least she is reading something of substance unlike your nonsensical gabbering of gossip and men!” As a non-biased reader, I appreciate the fact that she was reading the Confessions of St. Augustine (a book I have bought for myself, but I haven’t the chance to read yet.) I would break out of my shyness and ask her questions regarding the book. Maybe we would become friends, and that would be pretty great seeing as she had a pretty lonely and miserable time working in the Reichsarbeitdienst. I would hope our friendship would blossom so that we felt that we had each other in a world so anti-intellectual, hypocritical, and immoral. That is a feeling I have a lot, even in 2013. I feel like I do not have many people to talk to intellectually, and that they would rather put their time reading about celebrity gossip or “little-town” drama.
Then, further on into the summer of 1942, I am working in the same factory where Sophie Scholl first met Gisela Schertling. I stalkishly place myself working right next to Gisela, so I have a two-way shot of both she and Sophie (my visual of this scene comes from 1982′s Die Weisse Rose starring Lena Stolze.) As you can probably tell, I feel a strong connection towards Sophie (not that I don’t feel a connection towards the other members as well, because I very much do) for a number of reasons. I will talk about that in a different entry though. I like to think of myself looking over at the both of them and kind of secretly “joke” with them about things that we find utterly ridiculous about the whole experience. It is always good to surround yourself with friends in situations so demanding and exhausting. It would drive me crazy if I didn’t!
I go into the future and put myself at the train station on July 24th, 1942, before the male members of the White Rose departed to go to Russia. In this situation, I have two daydreams: One where I am another member of the White Rose, and another where I am just an onlooker. In the daydream in which I am a member, I would have a sketchbook with me, so I could draw the faces around me. In the next daydream as an onlooker, I would observe the emotions and actions of the group, smile and laugh to myself when necessary or actually consider with seriousness what each of the members had to hold as an individual person. I know that sounds terribly stange, but I am somewhat of a people-watcher anyway. I like to take in the psychological presence one has to offer, even when they aren’t speaking.
There are other instances in each member’s of the White Rose’s life that I imagine myself in as well: Working with Hans, Christoph, and Alex as they are tending to their practice of medicine to military wounds; drinking, singling, and having a good time with the guys; being the the Ulm division of the Bund Deutscher Madel with Sophie; going to art museums, theater shows, and all kinds of other art-related events with Sophie; or even going to Mass with Willi Graf. If I were to type each daydream out, I would have pages and pages for my wonderful readers to feel bombarded with, so I will spare you guys the pain. In fact, my friend Baylee actually helped proof-read this entry, and she gave me the idea to go further with these daydreams and create them into a story. I feel that it is a wonderful idea! I may dedicate a section of each entry to these White Rose narratives. Do you like this idea too? What do you suggest?
“Isn’t it a riddle . . . and awe-inspiring, that everything is so beautiful? Despite the horror. Lately I’ve noticed something grand and mysterious peering through my sheer joy in all that is beautiful, a sense of its creator . . . Only man can be truly ugly, because he has the free will to estrange himself from this song of praise. It often seems that he’ll manage to drown out this hymn with his cannon thunder, curses and blasphemy. But during this past spring it has dawned upon me that he won’t be able to do this. And so I want to try and throw myself on the side of the victor.” – Sophie Scholl