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Thursday, June 25, 2009

History: January through December 2006

October 12, 2006
This time, I won't even try to say "I'll do better in the months ahead." It wouldn't do any good to pretend I can go back to the near-weekly entries of five years past.

Life is simply far more complicated now.

But that hardly means life is bad. Or that we are throwing in the towel with regards to White Rose work. Or even that we're "alone" in our efforts. Just that some days, things are tougher than usual.

We all (except for Jason) moved to New Jersey this past spring and summer. Not everyone moved at once, and Exclamation! Publishers still officially operates out of Pennsylvania. We hope that will change soon! Overall, it's been a positive change. We love being closer to the shore, and surrounded by Jersey's bountiful pinelands. And for the most part, the people here have been wonderful, not at all the stereotype of "Jersey" that you get growing up in Texas.

But the state shares it bureaucracy with Germany (that's why Exclamation! Publishers is still in Pennsylvania, pending the clarification of Jersey rules regarding "foreign" corporations). Every time we think we've got all our paperwork in order, another Beamter points to one-more-reg and says it's gotta be notarized. Getting legal here can wear a body down.

On the positive side ~ and so positive we occasionally have to pinch ourselves to make sure it's true ~ this year, some anonymous friend presented us with a copy of Franz Josef Mueller's Gestapo interrogation transcripts. If you go to the Bundesarchiv in Berlin and ask for a complete list of all documents related to the White Rose, the folder for FJM's transcripts is mysteriously empty.

We've always known the transcripts had to exist, because Mueller himself alluded to holding them in his hands and wondering at the black grease pencil markings made by the Gestapo agents who interrogated him. But where the transcripts had landed? I personally had begun to think they had been destroyed as a favor to Mueller. Because it's clear from Hans Hirzel's transcripts that Mueller was anything but a 'freedom fighter.'

We obtained the file in a perfectly legal manner. We just don't know whom to thank for giving it to us. Whoever you are, please accept our deepest gratitude for the gift.

So now we need good (pro bono) legal counsel to tell us if we can publish the English translation of these documents. We think we may, but would like a definitive answer before we undertake something this... explosive.

Another precious gift this year: Alex Schmorell's Moscow archives. Igor Chramow, "the" Schmorell biographer, sent us a copy of the bound transcripts. They are in the original German together with Russian translation. He did something quite cool ~ he bound in samples of the envelopes they used to mail the leaflets. Made the documents 'feel' more authentic, almost like you could reach across the decades and touch their handiwork. To order a copy from him,
send him an inquiry by email. You can also check out their work in Orenburg, Russia at I hope to go to their conference in September 2007!

Finally ("finally" at least for today): Over the course of our tough summer of 2006, we've learned more about the advances made in Web archiving of documents. By this, we don't mean merely transcriptions posted to the Internet. We mean posting of scanned documents to a secure location, accessible by those who subscribe to the service. (Odds are that your family doctor uses some sort of Web archiving for your medical records.)

Set-up costs are expensive, especially in a case like this where we'd also have to pay royalties to the Bundesarchiv to scan the actual documents. But it's a technology whose time has come, and we see it as an avenue we'd like to explore.

If this is a technology and a project you or your company would like to support, please let us know! It's not something we can do alone.

And no matter what I said at the top, of course I hereby humbly resolve to do better in future.

PS: It's too bad that February 22 tends to be "the" date for White Rose memorials. Willi Graf was executed 63 years ago today (October 12). And Hans Leipelt was arrested on October 13 (no connection between Willi's execution and Hans Leipelt's arrest, as they did not know one another).

Both dates are significant, in some ways more significant than February 22. Because Willi's resistance ~ like that of almost everyone but Scholls ~ was for all the right reasons. And he apparently had been offered clemency if only he would recant (his parents were influential Nazis). But he chose death over dishonor.

And Hans Leipelt's arrest reminds us that "resistance" extended beyond the limited scope of the White Rose. He was not ever part of the group, but he and his chemistry major friends risked everything for the same principles. Our work takes on ever greater significance as we examine the lives of unsung heroes who may not have their life stories turned into silver screen works, but who did whatever they could to bring about justice and honor to a country that had lost both.

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