February 18, 1943: Members of the “White Rose” are arrested. Six of them are later executed.

Today, the White Rose (die Weiße Rose) is probably the most well-known group of organized opponents of the Nazi regime. Made up of mostly young students from the University of Munich, its members, between June 1942 and February 1943, anonymously distributed leaflets in opposition of the oppression of Hitler’s government and the increasingly costly war. In their leaflets, they attempted to call upon their fellow Germans to act immediately, with indictments like:

"The German people slumber on in their dull, stupid sleep and encourage these fascist criminals … Each man wants to be exonerated of a guilt of this kind, each one continues on his way with the most placid, the calmest conscience. But he cannot be exonerated; he is guilty, guilty, guilty!"

On February 18, 1943, as Nazi Germany officially entered “total war” as a result of its defeat at Stalingrad, the Gestapo arrested Hans and Sophie Scholl, who had been spotted at school distributing anti-Nazi material. The Scholls, along with fellow member Christoph Probst, were speedily put on trial and sentenced to death. On the same day of the sentence (February 22), they were executed by guillotine. After several more trials, Saint Alexander Schmorell, Willi Graf, and Kurt Huber were also sentenced to death. 

Although their martyrdom did not spur the German public to action as they might have anticipated, their leaflets eventually found their way into Allied hands and were distributed by the millions over Germany, under the title “The Manifesto of the Students of Munich”. 

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