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Though nowadays it looms large in the mythology of anti-Nazi resistance, the Weisse Rose (White Rose) was from beginning to end a modest affair, the initiative of a small group of students – most of whom were studying medicine – and others from their wider circle of friends; the only older member of the group was the Swiss-born philosophy professor Kurt Huber. The core of the group, which came together in 1942, consisted of the devoutly Christian Hans Scholl – a former Hitler Youth group leader who had become vehemently opposed to Nazi ideology – and the Russian-born medical student Alexander Schmorell; Hans’s sister Sophie also subsequently became involved. At night, the group daubed walls with slogans such as “Hitler, mass murderer” or “freedom”, but it is for the six leaflets it produced and distributed – including one that made public the murder of the Jews – that the Weisse Rose is remembered. The last of these proved fateful. On February 18, 1943, Hans and Sophie deposited copies in the atrium of the university, but were spotted by the janitor and subsequently arrested by the Gestapo. Hans and Sophie were tried before the notorious Nazi judge Roland Freisler; they, along with other members of the group, were sentenced to death by guillotine.

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