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Wednesday, June 24, 2009

History: January through December 2002

December 31, 2002
Finally, the last entry of a most difficult year. Wrote my response to the task force in Crailsheim. The crux of their general argument is that we are not allowed to actually talk about the true White Rose story and portray anyone in it (but especially Hans and Sophie Scholl) with flaws, because they are symbols of "good" in Germany. I think this is an issue that will have to be addressed in white paper articles, not here in this journal.

The end of the year is always a good time to take stock of ourselves, to see what we like and don't like. Even incidents as completely unpleasant as the last few weeks wrangling with dishonesty in Crailsheim ~ even that can make me stronger. I have to believe that.

December 20, 2002
Well, the people in Crailsheim found another new low. I received an official task-force email, copied to every member. Hannes' new tactic is to insinuate that I wrote that Hans and Sophie Scholl had an incestuous relationship. To "prove" his point, he translated portions of my book, leaving out critical passages that would have disproved his accusation. What offended me even more was that he alleged this, while: 1) Not having asked me what I meant by those passages before making his presentation; and 2) Without having read the book (which he admitted in front of the task force).

It's even more irresponsible that the task force did not ask him to take his seat and stop talking the moment he admitted to them that he had not read my book before reporting on it! And he's a teacher? His "apology" was a joke, more self-justification.

Is it just me, or is this beginning to sound like a soap opera? (Maybe the Crailsheimer will make a great screenplay one day.)

December 13, 2002
Whenever I think that the people in Crailsheim have reached their nadir, they prove me wrong. Where is the bottom of their barrel?

Now Hannes is trying to claim that I am being "super-sensitive" about his accusations that I am interested only in "sex and crime", and not in the real White Rose story. He points to an August 2001 email in which he had written that he liked my approach (!) even though I attributed "sex and crime" to "his hero, Hans Scholl." Wednesday he said that since I didn't protest that label in August 2001, he didn't understand why I didn't find it offensive now.

His attempt to excuse himself is offensive on so many levels, not least of which is that Hans Scholl does not equate with the White Rose. I did not protest in August 2001, because Hans Scholl did have problems with sex and crime. He was a regular Robert Downey Jr., complete with Downey's unbelievable talents, and Achilles heel.

The Arbeitskreis (task force) was supposed to meet again last night to consider a very strong email that I wrote to the Hohenloher Tagblatt, the local newspaper that published parts of Hannes' slander. It should be interesting to see if Hannes apologized.

December 6, 2002
The Mission Statement and White Rose Projects are now posted on the Center's site. If you wish to make a tax-deductible contribution to our work, please note that in a comment here and someone will contact you.

And yes, I am writing such mundane things because I am trying to keep my mind off the ugliness in Crailsheim. It has not improved, only worsened.

November 29, 2002
Tomorrow is my birthday. But any anticipation of that usually happy event was ruined by an unexpected turn of events in Crailsheim.

Following a week of extremely enjoyable email exchange on the topic described below (Nov. 22), Hannes Hartleitner took that discussion and misquoted the two of us involved in the conversation. His presentation of my book at the annual meeting of the Arbeitskreis in Crailsheim took the approach of personal vilification. He accused me of Gestapo-like tactics in my White Rose research, claiming that I am only interested in "sex and crime" (ergo, not the truth).

It was devastating seeing positive words that we had written, now mangled beyond all recognition. I have asked for a public apology. We'll see if I get one.

November 22, 2002
The poet C.K. Williams has recently posited that perhaps Germany has become the 20th century's "symbol" for evil and that it will be difficult for the country to ever shake that association.

While Williams' prose is admirable and even thought-provoking on the topic, I disagree. That perpetuates the notion that the current administration in Washington DC seeks to put forward, that the world is black and white. I think I understand ~ more than ever before ~ that not all heroes are good, and not all good people are heroes; and that not all villains are mean, and not all mean people are villains.

With that in mind, I would also say to C.K. Williams that his hypothesis opens the door for those who would say that, for example, the White Rose is the symbol for goodness. What they did was good, and excellent, and noble. Their actions were praiseworthy, and should never be minimized. But their actions do not remove their warts and flaws and blemishes, nor should they.

Not all heroes are good, and not all good people are heroes.

November 15, 2002
Oh sigh. We are late with the production of our next book too, the Gestapo interrogation transcripts for Hans and Sophie Scholl, Willi Graf, and Alexander Schmorell. It will be the most wonderful thing in the world when we can afford to hire assistants and not do everything ourselves.

I'm realizing that the Hamburg "branch" of the White Rose has its own fascinating story to tell, completely separate and apart from the people in Munich. They were not so much a branch (as the legend has been told) as they were a viable, functioning resistance movement in their own right.

The post-White Rose resistance in Munich is similarly intriguing. This is the group that centered around Hans Leipelt (who was essentially a Hamburger). It is really a crying shame that the names of Leipelt's friends have not been honored and respected along with him. Since Leipelt and his friends were largely so-called "halb Juden" (half-Jews), it's interesting to see how they were treated differently. For example, one of Leipelt's friends (who was 'more Jewish' than the rest) was sent to a concentration camp long before her trial.

So many stories, so little time to tell them all in. One thing is for certain, the Chemistry Department at the University of Munich and Professor Heinrich Wieland come off looking awfully good. A few more Wielands and Hubers, and history easily could have been written differently.

August 23, 2002
Yea! It shipped! A back-breaking week of shared pizza and running up and downstairs and all that goes into getting a book like this out the door and in your mailbox. One exhausting day after another, and we felt like saying, "Yes, we do windows too." All in all, a good feeling.

July 26, 2002
Juggling multiple projects is challenging, but necessary. Finishing up production of White Rose History, Volume I, and it seems like the headaches never go away. We're all on the phone all the time. Well, that may be an exaggeration, but not much of one. This didn't print right, that's not right, and we've blown by our first deadline. Again, the joys of being a small company...

We'll savor warm champagne fuzzies (or is it fizzies?) when the book finally ships. Right now, we're wondering when that will be. [Note: If you want to order it, and it's not available in your favorite book store, you can buy the volume directly from the publisher

(We're also curious as to how our unique format for this book will be received. We looked at it this way and that, and opted for a three-ring binder that can support annual updates as additional archives are opened ~ specifically the Scholl Archives that have long been off limits to serious scholars. If you've bought or read the book (it's in better libraries the world over), please let us know how you like the 'different' concept. Your opinion will make a difference in how we handle Volume II in 2003. Please post comments here!

June 28, 2002
The local newspaper carried a very nice article about our work. But I'm going to have to get used to not being quoted 100% accurately. Oh well. The publicity is nice? Yes, it is.

May 9, 2002
We need more time! We need more time! We can't go home just yet. Aaahh!!

One more conversation (telephone) with Lilo Fuerst-Ramdohr, and a surprisingly delightful meeting with the Probst family and with Dr. Wolfgang Huber. The Probsts have traditionally been the "quiet" White Rose wheel, much like Christl himself all those years ago. Adored Herta Probst! She lost so much ~ her husband, her father, and a brother. She told us that just a few days before the war ended, the SS showed up at her door with orders to execute her and her babies. Luckily, one of her brothers knew that they were coming and gave her the heads-up. She escaped with just the clothes on her back.

And Dr. Wolfgang Huber... These entries will definitely contain more about him in the future. One of those bizarre quirks of fate: There was a visiting professor in Houston in 1981/82. I hit it off great with him, since I knew just enough of the Swabian dialect to be dangerous, and he was from Tuebingen. Of course, twenty years later I discover that Dr. Kreuzer is a good friend of Dr. Huber.

And I also understand why Professor Kurt Huber was so beloved, if not revered, in 1943.

May 5, 2002
Berlin is one of the most amazing cities ever. I still cannot believe how much it has changed since the "Wende". So glad now that my brother and I "did" Berlin in 1987, staying on the East side. Having that contrast is the only way to genuinely appreciate the city's rebirth.

We stayed at the
Hotel Gendarm, about four blocks from the Brandenburger Gate. Something you never see in a German hotel (and I cannot think when I've seen this in an American hotel): We had a washing machine in our kitchen! Sad to admit that clean underwear is something to get excited about.

The Bundesarchiv did not have the order ready as promised, but the archive director worked out a great compromise that will be beneficial in the long run. They are sending us the entire White Rose documentation on microfilm. The additional time with the director made the whole long south-to-north trip worthwhile. He clarified what may and may not be published, making a point of advising me that Inge Scholl and her children do not qualify as "Nachkommen" of Hans and Sophie Scholl. They therefore have no legal standing with regards to anything in the archives and ~ despite Inge's dire warnings in 1995 ~ can do nothing to hinder publication of these papers.

May 1, 2002
I could talk on and on about yesterday evening in Crailsheim with the White Rose task force. They basically coordinate activities between schools named for the White Rose students, especially at times when these schools work together to combat racism and anti-Semitism in Germany.

Delightful people! And a delightful place. We met in the local school's choir room. By the end of the evening, everyone was singing. Great fun, and we got it all on video.

This morning, we met Susanne Hirzel, a far too short conversation with a fascinating lady. She is so direct and frank that you don't have to worry about whether she's spinning or telling the truth. I like people like that, even when I don't always agree with them.

Afternoon, to Ulm to meet up with Dr. Silvester Lechner. He heads up the DZOK, a permanent exhibit located in the Fort Oberer Kuhberg, one of the first concentration camps in Germany. Dr. Lechner was a pioneer in the accurate telling of the White Rose story. He had the guts to dispute the fictional aspects of the legend long before I ever heard the name Scholl. In 1995, he taught me how to navigate treacherous shoals, and where to look for truth.

April 29, 2002
Full days behind us, full days ahead. Dinner with the Schmorells ~ early asparagus! Few people realize that Herta Schmorell's father was the C.O. of the Student Company that many in the White Rose belonged to. Because he was not afraid to take on the Gestapo (he felt the guys should be tried in military courts, where they would not have been executed), several fellows survived the war. After Hans Scholl's quickie trial and beheading, her father wrote transfer papers for anyone else who knew about or participated in the resistance. For example, Otmar Hammerstein was sent to Holland. More on this topic in my White Rose History, Volume II.

On Sunday, we traveled to Munich to search for some kind of a plaque or remembrance for those who participated in Freiheitsaktion Bayern. Harald Dohrn (Christoph Probst's father-in-law) was one of the people killed in that final act of resistance. As far as we could tell, there is nothing to remember them by.

Monday, on to Stuttgart. Stayed in my favorite hotel in that area,
Hotel Rieth. Been staying there for the past twenty years. Nothing fancy, it's just another family-owned hotel that gives consistently good service. And has one of the best breakfasts!

Finally met Armin Ziegler and his lovely wife. Dr. Ziegler has been a patient and trustworthy sounding board as I've worked through some difficult White Rose topics. After a hearty Chinese dinner, we retired to his study. I do think the four of us could have talked all night. Have you read this, did you see that? He had the rare opportunity to thoroughly explore Gisela Schertling's papers shortly after her death. This provided insights I never expected. We will never know it all.

April 26, 2002
We'd missed interviewing Lilo Fuerst-Ramdohr in 1995. The Schmorells told us about her, but our schedule never worked out so that we could meet her then. What a treat to finally meet this grand lady! Schurik came alive for us through her eyes. She also explained a few things that had been 'bugging' me for nearly eight years, such as why he would say "Du, mein bester Freund" (masculine) when taking his final leave from her. (You have to read the book to find out why!)

That was yesterday. Today we got out in this wonderful Spring weather and searched for places that were on their map in 1943, but places we were not able to find in 1995. All three remain a mystery. We are no closer to knowing where Drei-Burschen-Huette/Lenggries, The Bridge (British?) Museum/Starnberg, and Am Kalvarienberg 1/Bad Toelz are located. We have eliminated a few logical guesses, and in that sense are closer. But no photographs to show for it.

Still, a lovely day to be out and about in the mountains, breathing fresh air, and reveling in indescribable beauty. The late evening thunderstorm only added to the magic.

April 23, 2002
Well, I remember why I don't like to fly USAir. Terrible flight, and mediocre service. Still the best price from Philly...

Took the long way from the airport to Starnberger See, driving through Munich. Such a good place to be. Even better when we wended our way to
Hotel Lidl in Tutzing. I've found my new favorite place to stay. Right on the lake ~ you can touch the Alps from the balcony. Highly recommend this place, especially for anyone who likes freshly caught trout.

April 19, 2002
Final "Rundbrief" to White Rose friends in Germany, letting them know where we'll be staying and what our tentative itinerary looks like. A million things to do ~ in three days! What I forget here, I can buy there.

April 5, 2002
Mom is on her way to visit little bro' in Oxford, and all that's left is putting together the final details for the Germany leg of the trip. Where to stay in Berlin? Can we afford anything there?

At least the National Archives (Bundesarchiv) will have everything waiting for me. All I have to do is show up, sign the wire transfer order, and we will own a complete set of White Rose Gestapo transcripts. No more relying on handwritten notes, hoping I got it right.

March 31, 2002
Plans for a trip to Munich next month ~ to talk to people, visit archives, shoot more video and take more photographs ~ are being firmed up. By June, the White Rose section of the Center for White Rose Studies Web site should be fleshed out and provide even more information for interested readers. This will likely be the last "journal entry" until late May, giving time for travel prep in advance, and catch-up work upon return.

March 21, 2002
White Rose stationery (available through Exclamation! Publishers, with profits going to the White Rose scholarship fund) is looking good. It is an indescribable feeling to see years ~ years! ~ of work making sense and taking shape. The best is yet to come!

February 28, 2002
All right, now I can admit it out loud. In December, I had nearly gotten to the point of walking away from the White Rose. On occasion, it has felt hopeless. I work my tail off, nailing down facts, ferreting out details that yield significant insight into the dynamics of the friends who called themselves the White Rose. And it seems like it does no good. On days like those in December, it seems that only people who are willing to perpetuate lies and half-truths are the ones who get to talk out loud, who get to be designated "experts" on this remarkable story.

But now, as progress becomes more visible, I find it easier to stick to my task at hand: Documenting the true story with irrefutable evidence, then telling it in a form that is accessible to young and old alike.

"Progress" says to me that there are people out there who want Truth to be told, to be documented. Hopefully, Truth will outlast the Lie. Ironically, that's what Hans and Sophie and Christl and Dr. Huber and Willi and Schurik gave their lives for.

February 14, 2002
Center for White Rose Studies finally has been founded, chartered as a nonprofit in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Long time coming. It's got to be worth the effort.

February 7, 2002
Back to basics! By now, a little over a year after beginning this online journal, the White Rose Access database has grown to 2,440 individual records (approximately 500,000 words). The substantial part of extant documents is in the database. But there's another 200,000 words or so that still needs to be added, and it will take a while yet. These are the things collected here and there, letters that contain a fascinating tidbit or morsel. Individually, these facts are not "important", but they certainly add up to a larger whole.

In addition, I need to get Ziegler's excellent work about Eugen Grimminger into the database. Grimminger is hardly an incidental character, though he is treated as such. Ziegler's book fleshes out the Grimminger relationship to the Scholl family, and adds an intriguing woman ~ Tilly Hahn ~ to the White Rose story.

I truly have my work cut out for me!

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