We Will Not Be Silent: The White Rose Stu­dent Resis­tance Move­ment That Defied Adolf Hitler

Rus­sell Freedman
  • Review
By – December 21, 2016

All the oth­er teenagers in Hans and Sophie Scholl’s neigh­bor­hood in Ulm, Ger­many in 1935 were join­ing a fas­cist youth group, so the Scholl sib­lings did, too. It gave them focus and a sense of belong­ing. But Hans, Sophie and their par­ents start­ed to feel unset­tled by the con­formist and even vio­lent ways the orga­ni­za­tion and their soci­ety were head­ed. Their dis­gust with the rise of the Nazi par­ty moti­vat­ed Hans, Sophie, and a group of their friends to found a resis­tance group called the White Rose Stu­dent Resis­tance Movement.

We Will Not Be Silent is stark­ly and solid­ly researched account of their sto­ry, told with a clear and unflinch­ing nar­ra­tive. The Ger­man, non-Jew­ish per­spec­tive on World War II, por­tray­ing non-Jews as both resis­tors to Nazism and vic­tims as well, is unique. Jew­ish char­ac­ters are not this story’s pro­tag­o­nists; instead, the book tells of the lit­tle-known devel­op­ment and oper­a­tions of resis­tance by Aryan” Ger­mans who fought fas­cism and con­for­mi­ty in dan­ger­ous and sub­tle ways, fol­low­ing the Scholl fam­i­ly through their painful wartime experience.

Mere­ly print­ing a resis­tance pam­phlet, stat­ing one’s unhap­pi­ness or stark truths about abu­sive lead­er­ship, can accom­plish a lot, but there are con­se­quences for the Scholls’ and the oth­er resis­tance mem­bers’ actions in chal­leng­ing the Nazis. The nar­ra­tive does not avoid the actu­al vio­lent pun­ish­ments the Nazis inflict­ed on those who spoke up or were con­sid­ered ene­mies of the regime. Appro­pri­ate for read­ers from mid­dle school age and up, the book is chock full of black-and-white his­tor­i­cal pho­tographs that fur­ther human­ize the Scholl fam­i­ly and por­trays the stark real­i­ty of events, includ­ing the dis­crim­i­na­to­ry Nurem­berg laws, Kristall­nacht, large Nazi demon­stra­tions, the depor­ta­tion of Jews to death camps, the War­saw Ghet­to upris­ing, ter­ror by the Gestapo, and the Resis­tance Move­ment torch­ing Nazi tanks and mil­i­tary installations.

With nine chap­ters and addi­tion­al mate­ri­als includ­ing a bib­li­og­ra­phy, the book can be read through as a nar­ra­tive or in selec­tive parts. The White Rose Stu­dent Resis­tance Move­ment has not been for­got­ten: per­ma­nent leaflets remain scat­tered as pavers at Munich Uni­ver­si­ty as a con­stant reminder of the peo­ple who com­mit­ted small but mean­ing­ful acts of resistance.

Rec­om­mend­ed for ages 11 – 16.

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