Greta stepped from the curb, tugging her coat tightly around her. Harsh chills coursed through her body as she thought about the events of the past few days. Eyes darted left, then right and back again. There was none she could trust; none who would understand her fear. For years instructors meticulously drilled her with patriotism and honor. She was taught to love her country and support it wholeheartedly.
Some girls looked forward to meeting their partner who would be the father of their child. “For the Fatherland” they were told. None disagreed. At least not publicly did they resist. Any sign of resistance was certain death or concentration camp, so opinions were kept silent.
However, there were those few who dared to go against the grain and take the risk. Many of them disappeared.
Greta knew of many who had denounced their own parents for speaking derogatory remarks against Hitler or the Nazi ideology. Friends were turned into enemies. Neighbors, who once shared meals and gossip, became suspicious; all for the greater good. “Blockwarts” or party functionaries were strategically placed in neighborhoods to watch out for the well-being of the residence. At least that was the story. These people were Nazi spies or collaborators recording conversations, activities, or comments made by the residence and reporting to the SS.
Greta watched horrified as a young man was arrested at the cinema after the first reel. He no doubt said something, and was overheard.
Fear and distrust enveloped her soul. She dared not talk to even her parents. Fear in itself was considered a weakness. Her instructors admonished regularly, “Our nation’s only as strong as its weakest link.” So she kept to herself, burying the turmoil deep within so no one could see.
It was at the University in Munich when she met Sophie Scholl. The woman was passionate about life and Greta admired Sophie’s plucky attitudes. They became friends, having coffee, and studying together.
Sophie’s brother Hans met them a few times; Greta mused that they might have been twins had they not been born in separate years. Their thinking was so identical. She then began going with them to study with a group of men and women who called themselves “White Rose”.
No one knew why it got the name, but they all went with it. Together they enjoyed conversation in philosophy, the arts, or attending concerts and plays. They must have sensed her fear or perhaps decided she was not to be trusted, for she never knew of their secret projects.
On occasion she would find leaflets outlining atrocities allegedly done by the Reich. Greta took one to a Gestapo agent, and asked him about it. She could not believe her country could do such things. Their response to the leaflet was to laugh and tell her it was all propaganda and not to listen, but not before extensive questioning.
They demanded to know the exact location of the leaflet. If she saw anyone place it in the phone book. On and on the questioning went. She was strangely happy that she had no answers for them.
It was not until the other day, when she saw Sophie and Hans walking from the University hall and Sophie turned quickly around and ran back into the building that she began to learn the answers. Sophie and Hans were distributing those leaflets.
They were arrested, and a few days later tried in Volksgerichtshof (People’s Court), then executed by beheading.
Greta knew it was only a matter of time before they placed her with Sophie and Hans. Associating with them would be enough to assume her guilt of treason. Life as she knew it was over.
How could she now love her country without fear? Soaking up tears from her eyes and neck with her handkerchief Sophie pulled herself together, willing her mind to be unafraid and find the truth. She would not allow her friends to lose their lives in vein.
White Rose was a non-violent resistance group, made up of college students at the University of Munich. Many of them were executed as traitors in 1943.
Today, the members of the “White Rose” are hailed in Germany as heroes.
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