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Friday, June 19, 2009

History: April through June 2001

June 28, 2001
Great fun when all the hard work on White Rose detail begins to pay off. Involved this week in an ongoing discussion with Armin Ziegler, who has devoted quite a bit of time and energy to researching Eugen and Jenny Grimminger. We have been comparing notes on a vague date -- when Hans and Schurik went to Chemnitz to meet Falk Harnack.

Since the date is never specifically stated, we both have made assumptions that led to our separate conclusions. Interesting now to take those assumptions and the facts that support them, to see if we can arrive at a date that really makes sense. So far, no luck. But puzzles like this are worth the effort.

June 21, 2001
First day of summer. Such a glorious time of year. Energy to create, to think, to be. Sometimes, words are too much.

June 14, 2001
Beginning to think that the most critical issue for White Rose research at this point is to get as much of the primary source documentation available to the public as possible. Inge Jens seems to be working on this with her recent Puls issue. There must be a way to get Scholl archives unblocked so the truth can start to be known. Not merely for me, but for anyone interested in knowing what really happened 58 years ago.

May 31, 2001
It has been interesting, asking young people how they think they would respond to Nazi pressure to join Hitler Youth. Whether they think they would cave and join to be part of the "in" crowd, or whether they would do like the White Rose and take a stand for justice.

I think what impresses me so much is the honesty I encounter. I expected them to say, "Oh no, not me, I would never have been part of something like that." But many, many say, "I probably would have gone along with all my friends and joined Hitler Youth."

This honesty means a lot. It actually provides a springboard for real discussion, perceptive thinking. This is a legacy of the White Rose that has lasting value.

May 18, 2001
Speaking tonight at the Fulbright dinner. It's always intriguing to plan for these events, not knowing what people know, wondering about questions. For those who have never heard the White Rose account, it's generally a moving experience to watch them hear it for the first time. The bigger challenge is speaking to a group that knows the legend and not the real story. We'll see how this goes tonight!

May 10, 2001
Fritz Hartnagel died last week. I cherish every single one of the survivors of the White Rose (including "survivors" like him who were not technically part of the movement). But especially Fritz Hartnagel.

Sophie Scholl appeared to have reconciled herself to marrying a man content to raise chickens. She was not happy that Fritz did not like to read or study, that he seemed to duck issues important to her. Reading the published excerpts of her letters to him, you almost wonder what she saw in him.

Till you meet Fritz Hartnagel and sense his great goodness, eyes that burn, quiet passion for justice simmering beneath the surface. He talked little and never sought the spotlight.

I wish he had talked more, had shared all the Sophie stories he knew, that he lived. The little he did tell me, opened her up as a person like I had never seen her before. I could hear her giggling on his arm, and see his eyes smiling as he watched her dance. He and Elisabeth Hartnagel nee Scholl genuinely loved Sophie -- as a person, not as a historical relic of a distant past. How they knew her, how deep their affection!

And Fritz did not become a farmer, he did not raise chickens. He became a judge, one who tried to uphold the rule of law in Germany, during post-war years when Nazi judges still held sway. He fought for conscientious objectors and against nuclear weapons. He stood up for his friend Walter Jens, and in it all claimed, "I am only doing my job -- nothing special about me."

Rest in peace, Fritz Hartnagel. Your memory truly is for a blessing.

May 3, 2001
There is an issue with the White Rose that I cannot seem to get past. Revisionism. Not the revisionism of Holocaust deniers, for no one telling the White Rose story has so far claimed that the Shoah did not happen.

In some ways, this revisionism is more insidious. Some of the story-tellers have created a legend that simply is not true. They tell their tales as if they were present when they walked along the Isar, when they printed leaflets late at night, when they debated political issues that impacted their actions. And they were not.

Sadly, the revisionism blurs the view of the real story. The whole basis of the White Rose revolved around the need for people of all political and religious persuasions -- socialists, federalists, monarchists, communists, Catholics, Lutherans, Russian Orthodox, anthroposophists, secularists, and atheists -- to do whatever it took to overthrow Hitler and restore justice to German soil. That was not a premise many agreed with in 1943, though it was as valid then as it is now. It's a shame when brick walls are erected to blot the view of the full ~ and richly beautiful ~ tale.

I feel sometimes like I am beating my head against a brick wall. Some of the revisionists have the money, the political clout, to perpetuate their half-truths. The few survivors who have had the guts to stand up to these two have traditionally wound up ignored, unwelcomed.

It is easy to see why. It is far more comfortable to have a larger pool of "good guys", to ignore evidence that indicts people who now say the right thing.

Wonder on occasion if I am crazy to tackle this project, to stand up for the truth of the matter. To nail down evidence that delineates what happened when and who was there. It is not a case of wanting to "bring down" anyone. Only to set the record straight and do what I can to write history in its proper words. Ironically, that is what Hans Scholl swore he would do if he survived the war...

All I can do is keep putting facts into that database, so that in the end, Truth can once again win.

April 26, 2001
Invitation this week to speak at my local Fulbright chapter's banquet, on the subject of the White Rose. Question was, would I mind talking about them instead of addressing the matter of international education. As much as I believe in international education, it's second priority to "my" White Rose kids. Hope they are planning on a three-day weekend.

Finding a couple of voices who are on the same path, looking for ways to bring German and Jewish communities together to talk in peace. Since emotions are hard to argue with, this road is not easy to travel. I am thankful for each person who comes to the table with an open mind. And heart.

April 19, 2001
Eight days and counting till the release of Changing Seasons, my first poetry book! Hope that when it's the 100th book about to be released, I'll be as excited as I am about this second one. It is a gift all its own, to be thrilled by intangibles and made happy by privileges.

Holocaust Remembrance is celebrated today. In the middle of gorgeous Spring, I hope we can all take a moment to remember those who died ~ not in a war, or for principles they held dear, or because they represented the opposition. Remember those who died simply because they were Jewish, at the hands of some who knew how to hate. As we remember, we can pray that it will never ever happen again. That nie wieder ~ never again ~ is in our hands.

April 5, 2001
Hope that by this time next week, I can write in this journal about all the wonderful dialog I've put down on paper, or the translations finished and "in the book." But at least I can look back on the last seven days and know they have been good, they have hardly been wasted. Tax returns and the like keep me out of trouble ... that's the prevailing theory.

And it is finally, gloriously springtime. From last night to this morning, it's like the earth exhaled and trees greened. Forsythia's showing faintly yellow. Before long, there will be such a dazzle of color! Perfect time to be a writer. Cannot imagine being anything else.

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