Nothing is so unworthy of a civilized nation as allowing itself to be governed without opposition by an irresponsible clique that has yielded to base instinct. It is certain that today every honest German is ashamed of his government. Who among us has any conception of the dimensions of shame that will befall us and our children when one day the veil has fallen from our eyes and the most horrible of crimes - crimes that infinitely outdistance every human measure - reach the light of day? If the German people are already so corrupted and spiritually crushed that they do not raise a hand, frivolously trusting in a questionable faith in lawful order of history; if they surrender man's highest principle, that which raises him above all other God's creatures, his free will; if they abandon the will to take decisive action and turn the wheel of history and thus subject it to their own rational decision; if they are so devoid of all individuality, have already gone so far along the road toward turning into a spiritless and cowardly mass - then, yes, they deserve their downfall.
- from the first leaflet of the White Rose
Barry climbing the stairs of the light court in Friedrich von Gärtner's 1840 main building of Munich's Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität*
The German film "Sophie Scholl-The Final Days" will be at the Film Forum at least through next Thursday. I don't have to draw too much of an analogy here (it will come naturally enough to anyone who sees the movie), but it should not be missed by anyone sensitive to what is going on around us today.
Sure, we don't yet have a provocation equal to that which created the White Rose inside wartime Nazi Germany, but today the almost non-existent opposition to the current regime in Washington is still embarassingly out of proportion to the evil it represents.
Even without official government controls our press is dead, and even though they haven't been put in a camp as a threat to the state, the Democrats have been voting Republican for years. Both "estates" have been doing the work of the regime unbidden, giving it an apparance of legitimacy it would otherwise lack entirely.
In Germany sixty-three years ago political opposition was punishable with death. At the university in Munich a handful of courageous students and one professor decided that even the record of their resistance was worth such a sentence. They had few illusions that their work might bring down the governement or impact it in any significant way.
Today in the U.S. we haven't yet been complicit in the death of millions, although such big numbers are totally irrelevant to a single grieving mother or child. Our own political murders are real enough already. But are any of us be able to match the morality and the courage of Sophie Scholl and her friends? The overwhelming evidence of the extraordinary extent of our cooperation with this deadly, pathological White House gang, or at best our indifference, lethargy and even our incompetence as its opponents on any level, appears to give us an answer.
In 2002 Barry and I visited the university, where I had spent some time in the early 60's. I lived on Willi-Graf-Straße. This image shows the central hall where Hans and Sophie Scholl stacked most of their leaflets and strew the remainder over the railing onto the floor below.
[the text at the top was taken from The Shoah Education Project]