February 29, 2008

Language school run by Italian fascist leader

25 Comment (s)
  • BNP leader Nick Griffin's parents do the accounts
  • Students from Africa and far east at London college
A popular language college in London is controlled by the leader of an Italian neo-fascist party who has links to the British National Party, the Guardian has learned

CL English Language, a college in west London that teaches hundreds of foreign students each year, is controlled by Roberto Fiore, leader of Forza Nuova, an extreme right-wing party. Fiore, who once said he was happy to be described as a neo-fascist and who is an old friend and mentor of Nick Griffin, leader of the BNP, was appointed as a director of the college more than two years ago and became sole director in August last year. [Fiore had control of the College of that name based at 170 Westminister Bridge Road. In fact the building was used at least a couple of times as the venue for Fiore's International Fascist gatherings.]

Many of the students, who pay up to £30 an hour for tuition, are Italian, while others are from Africa, the far east and eastern Europe. None of those interviewed outside the college last week were aware of Fiore's involvement. Staff at the college have said there are usually more than 100 students there at any one time. Despite its size, however, its latest accounts show that it recorded a profit of just £2,214 during 2006, and £1,821 the year before.

The accountants for the college are Edgar and Jean Griffin, Nick Griffin's parents, who live in Welshpool, Powys. Edgar Griffin confirmed that the language school was a "substantial business", but declined to say why its reported profits were so small. "You must know that an accountant can't talk about his client's affairs to anyone, leave alone a newspaper," he said.

The BNP's spokesman and deputy leader, Simon Darby, denied the party received funds from the school. Asked about the party's relationship with Fiore he said: "If I did know I wouldn't tell you. I know that he knows Nick [Griffin]. I have never met the man." Fiore and his lawyer have repeatedly declined to answer questions about CL English, or about his relationship with Griffin and his parents. The college principal declined to comment on the college finances, but said: "There is nothing illegal going on."

Fiore arrived in Britain in October 1980 as a 21-year-old fugitive from the Italian police, who wanted to question him about the Bologna train station bombing two months earlier in which 85 people were killed and more than 200 injured.

He was reputed to be a member of the extreme right-wing organisation the Armed Revolutionary Nuclei, several of whose members were subsequently convicted of mass murder. After being arrested by Scotland Yard officers the following year, Fiore was brought before Bow Street court, but the authorities in Rome failed to secure his extradition.

Fiore settled in London and became friendly with Griffin; the two are reported to have shared a flat and are also said to have run a travel agency together.

In Rome, meanwhile, he was cleared of involvement in the bombing, but was convicted of subversive association and jailed for nine years, reduced to five-and-a-half on appeal. The jail term was eventually "timed out" under Italy's statute of limitation laws, and Fiore was able to return to his homeland in April 1999.

He had already founded Forza Nuova, an anti-immigration party committed to revoking laws that ban the recreation of the fascist party. A year after his return he was quoted as saying: "If you call me a neo-fascist I won't kick up a fuss."


Griffin to visit Swansea on Saturday

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The leader of the British National Party is set to visit Swansea tomorrow [Saturday March 1st]. In a cloak and dagger meeting, Nick Griffin will visit the city for a day of action.

Rumours had been circulating that Mr Griffin would be fighting to win the Townhill seat on Swansea Council in the May local elections, but his press office has said that would be an impossibility.

It has not been revealed where the 7pm gathering is to take place, but it is thought to be in a city pub. Anti-BNP demonstrations are expected.

The meeting follows an announcement by the party yesterday that it will be fielding candidates for the May local government elections in areas including Swansea, Carmarthenshire, Blaenau Gwent and Bridgend.

A spokesman for the party said: "We are putting up a lot more candidates across Wales. We cannot say where we are going to stand as yet. We will be revealing that in late March."

This Is South Wales

Anti-BNP activists plan rally at summer event

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Left-wing groups are planning a mass protest against a British National Party festival which could take place in Derbyshire for a second year.

BNP member Alan Warner wants to attract thousands of people to Red, White and Blue - which he plans to hold in early August on his fields in Codnor-Denby Lane, Denby. He sent a licensing application to Amber Valley Borough Council to play music and sell alcohol on the site. But left-wing groups say that, if the festival goes ahead, a mass rally would be organised drawing "thousands of people across the region who oppose the BNP."

The action was advertised on the website http://nobnpfestival.wordpress.com/ which has connections with groups such as Searchlight and Antifa UK. These organisations object, among other things, to the BNP's policies of ending immigration to the UK and sending non-whites to their countries of origin.

The website says: "The RWB festival is intended to draw new recruits into the party and consolidate these disgraceful politics. As such, those who oppose the BNP have begun a campaign to stop this year's event from taking place."

Last year, the Evening Telegraph reported that only one man with a "no to racism" sign turned up to protest.

Among those upset at the lack of action was Rev Ken Horleston, vicar for St Clement's Church, in Horsley. He said he felt guilty about not protesting last year and would back a peaceful rally by the anti-fascist groups.

Mr Horleston said: "We are planning a protest from the church perspective as well. The Bible calls on people to 'love thy neighbour' but the BNP's views are in violation of this."

Amber Valley MP Judy Mallaber said she was not prepared to comment on any protest as it was not yet clear whether the festival would go ahead.

Mr Warner said Red, White and Blue would go ahead despite protests and that it was the left-wing groups who were more likely to cause disturbances. He said: "The festival is a peaceful family event."

This is Derbyshire

February 28, 2008

German police raid homes in far-right Internet probe

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Police in eight German states raided the homes of 23 suspects on Thursday as part of a lengthy probe into the illegal sale of right-wing extremist literature and audio material, the Federal Crime Office (BKA) said.

A further 70 suspects had been identified in the investigation, which began in August 2006 after the German unit of U.S. online auction company eBay Inc (EBAY.O: Quote, Profile, Research) reported the sale via the Internet of far-right material, the BKA said.

Twenty-four computers, around 50 memory devices and some 3,500 right-wing extremist CDs and LPs had been seized in Thursday's raids, it added.

"The measures are a continuation of ... the fight against right-wing extremism on the Internet," the BKA said. "They show that the Internet is not a law-free zone and that online auctions are also checked from incriminating content."

German laws ban Nazi emblems like the swastika but grant public funds to the far-right National Democratic Party (NPD), whose followers implicitly back racist and some Nazi ideas.

The German government follows a so-called "four-pillar" strategy against right-wing extremism that was agreed in 2002. It seeks to educate on human rights, strengthen civil society and promote civil courage, help integrate foreigners and target suspected far-right extremists.


February 27, 2008

Hope not Hate's first 2008 campaign video

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In preparation for this year's Hope not Hate Campaign (which focuses this time on keeping the BNP out of the London Assembly at the forthcoming London elections) Londoners share their thought and feelings for their multi-cultural capital.

Hope not Hate

Time for a quick competition
Watch the video and listen to the great music accompanying it. If you think you know the name of the track and the singer(s), sling us an email (link over on the right) and the first one out of the metaphorical hat gets to win a bright and breezy Hope not Hate T-shirt. Include your size (small-XXL only) and your address and it'll be winging its way to you as soon as we can get to the post office.

UK only, sorry.

Hatewatch for the week of Feb 27th 2008

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Openly Gay Junior High Student Murdered By Classmate
Male classmates bullied 15-year-old Lawrence King after he started wearing make-up and high-heeled boots to school, then one of them shot King to death in what prosecutors are calling a premeditated hate crime...

Neo-Nazi, Wife Die In Murder-Suicide
Police found the body of prolific white supremacist blogger James "Yankee Jim" Leshkevich hanging in the garage of the home he shared with his wife, who was found beaten and strangled to death in the couple's bedroom...

Police Block Protesters From Disrupting Racist Conference
Fairfax County police stopped a crowd of three dozen anti-racist demonstrators from entering a hotel near Dulles International Airport where about 100 white supremacists had gathered for the American Renaissance Conference...

White Supremacist Allegedly Attacked Black Security Guard
According to police, self-professed white supremacist Ryan Lawrence Monfils, 20, yelled racial slurs while repeatedly punching a uniformed black security guard in an apparently random and racially motivated attack...


February 26, 2008

File on Four on the BNP's dodgy finances: transcript now available for download

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For those who missed it, Radio Four's File on Four programme, broadcast on February 12th was well worth a listen, producing such delights as
  • Possible donation fraud via the BNP-run Civil Liberty
  • Potential PAYE fraud with Sadie Graham, Kenny Smith et al
  • Dodgy unreceipted transactions
  • Lies from the BNP's treasurer John Walker
  • Shredded documents
If you never got the opportunity to listen to the programme there is now a transcript available here (as a 57KB pdf file). Our report on the programme is here.

Nick Griffin political extremist and veteran splitter

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The present crisis in the British National Party started over the unacceptable actions and incompetence of two national officers, Mark Collett and Dave Hannam, but quickly centred on Nick Griffin himself. In the light of accusations and denunciations flying around the far right, Dave Williams asks how much we really know about the extremist past of the BNP’s leader.

Nick Griffin factional leader

When the BNP split last month with the Yorkshire, East Midlands and Scottish regions openly siding with the expelled officers, led by Sadie Graham and Kenny Smith, many felt a certain sense of déjà vu. “We’ve been here before” was the heading on one article on the rebels’ blogsite, which stated somewhat ungrammatically: “It seems to be that the common denominator where trouble in Nationalist circles are concerned, is Nick Griffin”.

More than 20 years ago Griffin had been at the centre of the internal bloodletting that had destroyed the National Front. Was this mere coincidence, many asked.

Born in Barnet in 1959 Griffin was introduced to the NF as a teenager by his Conservative father, Edwin. Griffin’s grandfather also showed him some of the more antisemitic literature of Oswald Mosley’s British Union of Fascists.

After attending public school in [Suffolk], Griffin studied at Cambridge University, where he rose through the ranks of the Young NF before being appointed to the main party’s National Directorate in 1980. The early 1980s was a period of decline for the NF and it became embroiled in ferment as its young ruling clique, who had ousted first the NF’s longstanding leader John Tyndall in 1980 and then its national organiser Martin Webster in 1983, cast around for ways of repackaging their ideology. The fruits of this appeared in Nationalism Today, a journal that Griffin helped found and edited for a period.

In 1986 the NF was torn apart by an extremely bitter feud. The “radicals” grouped around Griffin and Derek Holland proclaimed themselves the “official” NF while the “reactionaries” coalesced around Martin Wingfield and Ian Anderson, who established the NF “Support Group”.

Griffin wrote a particularly vituperative pamphlet entitled Attempted Murder: The State/Reactionary Plot Against the National Front, in which he railed against his opponents accusing them of doing the state’s dirty work.

It also attacked the personal and professional abilities of two colleagues, Martin and Tina Wingfield, both of whom now occupy senior positions in the BNP.

It is a tawdry tale of plots and conspiracies, of disciplinary tribunals and expulsions, of incompetence, financial impropriety, theft and betrayal that sounds very familiar in today’s context. Griffin of course emerges from the story whiter than white, if you can pardon the pun. That is something else today’s BNP rebels might recognise.

If nothing else, reading Attempted Murder is a reminder that, whatever else anyone says about him, Griffin is a master of dissimulation, disruption and destabilisation, a skilled practitioner of using innuendo, smear and outright lie as a political tool. In short Griffin is a champion of the politics of factionalism which he uses to shore up and preserve his own position against those foolhardy enough to challenge his untrammelled authority.

It is ironic that so many of those now bleating about their betrayal, personal and ideological, by Griffin seem so oblivious to the factional role he played during the split and subsequent disintegration of the NF in the 1980s. When Griffin took over the NF had 4,000 to 5,000 members but that dwindled as part of his systematic plan for developing a trained core cadre of activists, which he termed the Political Soldiers.

Having driven the NF into the ground Griffin abandoned it in 1989 for the International Third Position (ITP), a revolutionary “nationalist” sect.

One other point discovered by the BNP dissidents is the lengths to which Griffin will go to win out. Smearing his opponents as “neo-nazis” was pretty hypocritical considering that Griffin perhaps would not even be BNP chairman today were it not for the help of the quite unabashed nazis he today derides. Indeed for all his ideological twists and turns throughout his career Griffin has always remained one thing: a hardline extremist.

Particularly illuminating was the testimony of the Scottish Blood and Honour boss Steve Cartwright who went on record with his memories of Griffin in Wales in the mid-1990s. “Our meeting with Griffin went well,” recalled Cartwright, “he pushed all the right buttons, emphasising militancy as well as paying due respect to the Nationalists and National Socialists of the past. He also spoke of the need to re-package and modernise our beliefs in the hope of reaching the British public.” He went away satisfied that this was the man to succeed the veteran BNP leader, John Tyndall.

Griffin’s trial in 1998 on race hate charges arising from statements denying the Holocaust in The Rune, a magazine that he edited, and his Holocaust denying performance on The Cook Report further impressed this hardline nazi faction within the BNP that “our man had balls”. During the leadership election campaign Griffin used Tony Lecomber, who had served two three-year prison sentences on explosives charges and for assaulting a Jewish teacher, as his hatchet man to circulate the most defamatory personal smears against Tyndall. In September 1999 Griffin was elected chairman.

However Griffin soon let down the hardliners who had backed him and sided with the “modernising” faction led by Lecomber and Eddy Butler, realising that he was more likely to gain political power following their agenda than that of the “neo-nazis”. And for a while all was well.

Under Griffin’s leadership the BNP made an electoral breakthrough to get three members elected to Burnley council in 2002, and went on to win further local elections in the following years. But these gains were largely the result of external factors and Griffin has never managed to deliver the successes he promised his members’ efforts would bring them at each electoral round.

The political baggage he carries with him, not to mention the personal defects which make him so resort to violent factionalism at the first sign of a challenge to his authority, limit the extent of progress the BNP can make with him at the helm. Those in the rebel faction have come to understand this, which is why they have moved on from calling for the dismissal of Collett, Hannam and John Walker, the party treasurer, to understanding that the BNP’s real problem is Griffin himself.

Nick Griffin and Holocaust denial

Griffin became flirting with the BNP in 1993, two years after leaving the International Third Position.

John Tyndall, the BNP leader at the time, overcame his initial distaste for Griffin’s activities and began mentioning him favourably in Spearhead.

Griffin finally joined the BNP in 1995 and soon gravitated towards the hardline Croydon branch, which included a number of the party’s most ardent antisemites. Soon afterwards Griffin began to contribute to The Rune, an antisemitic magazine published by Paul Ballard and his comrades. Ballard was a veteran BNP member and sympathiser of the nazi terror group Combat 18.

Griffin became editor of The Rune in 1995. Tyndall had no problem with this and the following year appointed him editor of his own magazine, Spearhead.

The Rune showed Griffin to be a hardliner par excellence. He used the publication to argue forcefully against modernising the BNP, stating that “the electors of Millwall [who voted in the BNP’s first local councillor in 1993] did not back a post modernist rightist party but what they perceived to be a strong, disciplined organisation with the ability to back up its slogan ‘Defend Rights for Whites’ with well-directed boots and fists. When the crunch comes power is the product of force and will, not of rational debate.”

As editor of The Rune Griffin plumbed new depths in antisemitic invective. It became a platform for glorifying the British Union of Fascists and Hitler’s SS and for describing the Holocaust as the “holohoax”.

Comments such as these led to his house being raided by the police in 1997 and he and Ballard being hauled before the courts for inciting racial hatred. Ballard pleaded guilty but Griffin chose to contest the charges, inviting a number of “expert” witnesses to testify for him at his trial in 1998 including the noted French Holocaust denier Robert Faurisson. The effort was in vain. Griffin was found guilty and handed a nine-month prison sentence suspended for two years.

It was during his defence that Griffin made his notorious statement: “I am well aware that the orthodox opinion is that 6 million Jews were gassed and cremated and turned into lampshades. Orthodox opinion also once held that the Earth was flat … I have reached the conclusion that the ‘extermination’ tale is a mixture of Allied wartime propaganda, extremely profitable lie, and latter witch-hysteria.”

Griffin has also attacked the “revisionist” writer David Irving for admitting that some Jews may have been killed during the “holohoax”, accusing him of “back tracking on the old gas chamber lie”.

In 1997 Griffin wrote the pamphlet, Who Are the Mindbenders? an antisemitic tirade against what he saw as Jewish control of the British media, the means by which, Griffin alleged, Jews were trying to brainwash white people into accepting multiculturalism.

The BNP always rejects accusations that Griffin is antisemitic, claiming it was all in the distant past. This is far from the truth. As recently as April 2007 Griffin told a reporter that he did believe in the Holocaust but only because “European law” required him to do so.

‘We’re all on the same side’ – Nick Griffin and Combat 18

Nick Griffin has always distanced himself from the activities of the wannabe nazi terror machine Combat 18 (C18). Indeed shortly after its formation as a BNP stewards group the BNP proscribed the organisation.

However, as Griffin hastily prepared for his trial on charges of inciting racial hatred in 1997, he decided that one of the planks of his defence would be that C18 had produced far worse and had never been prosecuted for it. Needing some documents he asked Steve Cartwright, head of Blood and Honour, to contact Will Browning, leader of C18, telling Cartwright to reassure Browning that he and C18 were on “the same side”.

Browning later sent Griffin a “bumper pack” of C18 material. Griffin phoned Cartwright asking him to pass on his thanks to Browning. As Cartwright recalled, “Griffin was particularly tickled by the name of the parcel sender – Mr Beast, London”.

Nick Griffin’s ideology, the political soldiers

As leader of the BNP Nick Griffin has put in place a system of voting members who are required to undergo ideological training and has been unconcerned at the departure of officers and members unwilling to follow his every command.

But this is not the first time Griffin has chosen to develop a political elite rather than a mass organisation. In 1986 after a series of purges and splits in the National Front, Griffin gained control of one faction and set about turning it into his “political soldiers”, under the influence of Roberto Fiore, a fugitive from justice in Italy who became Griffin’s mentor, friend and business partner.

The group made contact with all sorts of international political mavericks including Colonel Gaddafi of Libya, Ayatollah Khomeini of Iran, the US black separatist leader Louis Farrakhan and both sides of the divide in Ireland.

A series of booklets outlined their creed under the slogan “Long Live Death” and a policy that aped Fiore’s terrorist agenda of destabilisation in Italy that had produced the bombings of the late 1970s and early 1980s.

Attempts to stir up Welsh nationalists to bomb English second homes in Wales led to protests with placards stating NF = MI5.

Griffin’s NF was far from an ordinary political party. Even some of his own members were worried when they were given advice on resisting police interrogation that experts said was more apposite for political terrorists.

Many of those who fell out with Griffin in those days are now back at Griffin’s side. One of them is Patrick Harrington, who now runs Solidarity, the BNP’s fake trade union. Harrington and Graham Williamson, also involved in Solidarity, lead Third Way, whose political philosophy appears to differ considerably from that of the BNP.

Its website features an equal opportunities statement and it claims to welcome “guest workers … to fill gaps in the country’s infrastructure”.

It seems that Griffin’s desire to build a political elite along the lines of the political soldiers overrides any ideological differences between the BNP and Third Way. Griffin’s obsession with a coming civil war or race war also shows how little his politics have changed in over 20 years.

It is worth remembering that Harrington in an interview for a television exposé of the NF political soldiers refused to condemn IRA bombings and that Griffin, Harrington and Williamson went to Libya to seek funds from a regime that armed both sides in the Northern Ireland conflict.

Griffin is still prepared to work with whomever he thinks can help him get what he wants, the more shadowy they are the better. One of the bones of contention among the rebels is the power Griffin has vested in Lance Stewart, the South African former police officer who heads the BNP’s “intelligence department”, Arthur Kemp, the former South African spook who edits the BNP’s new website and runs ideological training for the voting members, and Lambertus “Bep” Nieuwhof, a convicted pro-apartheid terrorist who provides internet services to the party.


February 25, 2008

Sticky: Hope not Hate organising meeting

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HOPE not Hate
London organising meeting
6pm Monday February 25th
TUC Congress House, Russell Street, London

Just a quick reminder that the next London Hope not Hate organising meeting is being held at 6pm on 25 February at the TUC headquarters at Congress House, Russell Street. A map is available by clicking here.

With the election only 11 weeks away it is vital we begin to organise. Over the next few months Searchlight and its partners are organising a rolling programme of activity.

We are also pleased to announce the support of the Daily Mirror newspaper. The Mirror is producing 750,000 copies of a special London edition and these will be distributed both within the main newspaper but also at dozens of activities over our Weekend of Hope (14-16 March). The final week of the campaign will see the Hope not Hate bus in the capital.

We hope you can make the meeting. The nearest tube stations are Tottenham Court Road and Holborn.

Jewish life in Britain is thriving

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As representatives from around the world converge on Jerusalem this week for the Global Forum on Anti-Semitism to assess the prevalence of what Robert Wistrich calls "the longest hatred," Britain, like every other country in the Diaspora, has its own account of how its Jewish community is faring.

The Global Forum comes less than a fortnight after the Community Security Trust (CST) issued its Report on Antisemitic Incidents for 2007, and its conclusions are disturbing. It shows the second highest number of incidents - 547, down 8 per cent from 2006 - since CST began keeping such records in 1984. Moreover, unlike previous years, where "trigger events" such as Israel's war against Hizbullah in 2006 have shown a spike in incident levels, analysts had expected that the absence of such events in 2007 would result in a far larger drop. Overall there has been a general increase in the base-line level of anti-Semitic incidents since the outbreak of the second intifada in 2000.

However, data such as these cry out for context. The figures also included many unacceptable, but nevertheless more minor, incidents and with a Jewish population in excess of 300,000, most are unaffected by such incidents. Jewish life in Britain is thriving. Communal leaders and activists agree that it would be self-defeating to allow such figures to define us existentially.

One erstwhile British-Jewish critical commentator, Rabbi Jeremy Rosen, to his own apparent surprise recently attested to the resurgence of the community. As any reader of the local Jewish media will attest, Jewish life in the UK is teeming with vibrant educational and cultural activity, robust political involvement and demonstrable pride in Jewish identity, with plans this summer for New York-style Salute to Israel Parades (replete with floats and marching bands) weaving their way through central London and Manchester, culminating in the Capital with a 60th birthday extravaganza in Trafalgar Square. This hardly sits with the "head below the parapet" stereotype of British Jews. Kippa wearers abound on the London Tube and elsewhere in the country, and all of England cheered Israel on in its battle with Russia on the football field.

Britain remains a good and comfortable place for Jews to live and British Jews have scored several major successes in mounting unified responses to challenges that affects us all as Jews and as citizens of democracies around the world.

While statistics don't lie, in any battle you need to know who your allies are. Part of the larger picture is the fact that the Jewish community in general and the CST in particular enjoy an unprecedented degree of cooperation and respect from law enforcement authorities up and down the country with whom they liaise and work collaboratively. The level to which we can securely go about our business as Jews in public and in Jewish public places is taken for granted.

Similarly, on the political front, it is important to underscore the work of the All-Party Parliamentary Inquiry into Anti-Semitism and the formal government response. As a result, key Jewish communal representatives sit together with nine government departments and multiple other agencies on the government's cross-departmental task-force, set up to implement the report's key recommendations.

Of course we would rather that there was no need for an inquiry of this nature, but as we know, anti-Semitism exists and the dedication shown by so many parliamentarians and civil servants in addressing this issue is hugely encouraging. This marks something of a watershed on the political map and even among the Great British football watching public, a formidable force, which reacted with indignation to the anti-Semitic threats to Israeli Chelsea Football Club manager Avraham Grant.

Certainly, the UK is not immune to episodes that resonate around the world; such as the Oxford Union's circus style events when publicity-hungry undergraduates invited Holocaust-denier David Irving, the British National Party's Nick Griffin to discuss free speech, or a pantheon of anti-Zionists to debate Israel's right to exist. UK campuses, like their counterparts in other liberal democratic societies (Columbia University's recent decision to host Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad comes to mind) can provide platforms in the name of free speech to those who would deny that right to others. Thankfully, we have a Union of Jewish Students adept at combating these and other instances of Israel and Jew-bashing, always allied with non-Jewish groups. Beyond campus firm alliances have been built and nurtured with Hindu, Sikh and Christian groups with whom we often lobby government on matters of joint concern.

Equally important was the outcome of the so-called much publicized University and College Union "boycott" (actually a motion to "consider" a boycott) that both the academic community (again, Jews and non-Jews alike) and the organized Jewish community (through the "Stop The Boycott" campaign) took on. Significantly it was the Union itself, and the British discrimination laws that brought about the demise of the boycott campaign.

There are more battles on the horizon. A cross-communal Durban Review task-force, Jewish Human Rights Coalition UK, spearheaded by the Board of Deputies and CST, will be meeting similar groups from around the world at the Israeli Foreign Ministry on Tuesday and heading to Geneva in April highlight the dangers of allowing the next UN Conference on Racism from devolving into an entropy of anti-Zionism and Jew hatred that characterized its predecessor in 2001.

Is UK Jewry facing problems and challenges? Without a doubt. But the community is now organized in such a way that we are better prepared to face and meet those challenges.

When I address the Global Forum on Monday I am proud to be in a position to offer models of best practice from the successful experiences of UK communal institutions for adoption elsewhere in the Jewish world. Like many of our British boxing heroes: we not only talk a good talk, but we also fight our corner.

Jerusalem Post

February 24, 2008

Black Britain's darkest hour

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In 1968, in one of the most controversial speeches of Britain's political history, Tory MP Enoch Powell warned the nation against opening the 'floodgates' to black immigrants. It caused a storm of protest. Sarfraz Manzoor recalls the impact on his family and, 40 years on, returns to Powell's constituency to meet those Powell wanted to 'send home'

It is a bright, blowy Saturday afternoon in Birmingham city centre and I am standing outside the Burlington Hotel, trying to turn back time. Hooded teenagers huddle in groups, shoppers weighed down with bags hurry past the busking saxophonist mournfully playing 'What a Wonderful World'. How must it all have looked 40 years ago when Harold Wilson was Prime Minister, Louis Armstrong had just had a No 1 single and the Burlington was called the Midland Hotel? It was here on another Saturday afternoon, 20 April 1968, 16 days after the assassination of Martin Luther King, that local Conservative MP Enoch Powell delivered a lecture to an audience of 85 Conservatives in a second-floor meeting room.

Powell was 55 and shadow defence spokesman under Edward Heath. As Health Minister eight years earlier, he had been encouraging immigrants from the Commonwealth to work in the understaffed NHS. Now, he was about to make a speech warning in the most apocalyptic terms of the consequences of rising immigration. The speech remains the most controversial in British political history. In its most notorious passage, Powell, classicist as well as politician, quoted the Roman poet Virgil, warning: 'As I look ahead, I am filled with foreboding; like the Roman, I seem to see "the River Tiber foaming with much blood".'

The 'Rivers of Blood' speech destroyed Powell's political ambitions, but 40 years later, it remains a toxic cloud floating above all political debate on race relations. The teenagers and shoppers on New Street may not recognise the significance of what happened in Birmingham, but in Wolverhampton, which Powell represented in Parliament for 24 years, there are many for whom the past is not so easily forgotten. In Wolverhampton I meet Lance Bunkley, one of the first black immigrants to arrive. He is 70, a tall man with a rich, musical voice who now lives in a four-bedroom home with three cars in the driveway. We walk through the living room where paintings of African women hang. He points out a framed photograph of himself with Muhammad Ali.

'If Britain's present boom is to be maintained,' declared Wolverhampton's local newspaper in 1956, 'more workers must be found. Where? The new recruits to British industry must come, it would seem, from abroad, from the colonies.'

Lance had arrived in Britain a year earlier as a 17-year-old after a three-week journey by ship from Jamaica. 'I came to Wolverhampton because they called it the Black Country,' he explained. 'I thought there would be black people living there.'

In the spring of 1968, he lived on the same road as Enoch Powell. 'I remember his military moustache and his brigadier walk,' he recalls. 'He had to walk past my house to get to town - but he always walked on his side of the road, never on my side.' What did he make of Powell? 'He was a psychotic escapist with megalomaniac tendencies,' he replies. 'Nobody knew who he was, he was just an MP - until he made that speech.'

The day before the speech, Powell confided to a friend that it would go up 'like a rocket and stay up'. It was not the first time he had talked about immigration. He had given a similar speech only two months earlier in Walsall, but it failed to make an impact. This time, he sent out advance copies to ensure that the media would be present and chose to illustrate his opinions with the raw views of his Wolverhampton constituents.

Dressed in a dark, pinstripe suit, Powell, grim-faced and thin-lipped, recounted how one man had told him: 'In this country in 15 or 20 years' time, the black man will have the whip hand over the white man.' To prevent future calamity, Britain had to encourage voluntary repatriation and end new immigration. 'We must be mad, literally mad,' Powell declared, voice rising and eyes glowering, 'as a nation to be permitting the annual inflow of some 50,000 dependants. It is like watching a nation busily engaged in heaping up its own funeral pyre.'

The significance of Powell's words was not instantly obvious to those in the audience. John Mellor, a superintendent in the West Midlands constabulary at the time, recalls: 'It wasn't his finest moment. There were lots of press men gathered, but I didn't find the speech electrifying.' When news of the speech reached London, it was condemned by the press and Powell's colleagues. 'An evil speech,' declared the Times, claiming: 'This is the first time that a serious British politician has appealed to racial hatred in this direct way in our postwar history.'

Three members of the shadow cabinet threatened to resign unless Powell was sacked. Heath dismissed him, but even as Powell was being cast into political exile, his supporters were taking to the streets. 'There were public demonstrations in Wolverhampton and London,' says Robert Shepherd, Powell's biographer and producer of a forthcoming BBC Radio 4 documentary on the 'Rivers of Blood' speech. 'One thousand dockers went on strike to protest at his dismissal, marching to Westminster carrying placards saying "Back Britain, not Black Britain".' On the Tuesday after the speech, 23,000 letters arrived at Powell's home and the Post Office had to provide a van solely for Powell's mail. During the next 10 days, there were 700 telegrams and 100,000 letters. Only 800 were in disagreement.

Although Powell claimed he was speaking out on behalf of concerned constituents, there was little evidence of racial tension in the city. As far back as 1955, the managing director of a rubber firm that employed black workers had told the Wolverhampton newspaper: 'There is not antipathy of any kind between white employees and the coloured men.' As a policeman in 1968, Mellor recalls little tension between the communities. Lance remembers: 'Before the speech, a lone black man could walk home at night, but after that there was fear. I remember trying to help an elderly person on the bus and being told, "Take your black hands off me." If you were a black man dating a white woman, the police would track you, then they'd beat you.'

Gulam Haider Ellam was working as a machine-tool fitter in the spring of 1968. 'In the afternoon after work, I would be cycling home and I would see a gang of skinheads waiting for me. I would have to pedal so fast to try and get away from them.' The police were not trusted to offer protection, so Gulam would carry a metal chain for defence, while Asian bus drivers would keep hockey sticks with them on their routes.

The speech radicalised those who opposed Powell. Blacks, whites and Asians met in church halls and planned protests against the damage being done to their town's reputation. (The Rock Against Racism movement also owed its creation to Powell after a drunken comment from Eric Clapton during a concert in Birmingham in 1976, when the musician told an audience to vote for Powell to stop Britain becoming 'a black colony' inspired the founding of the anti-racism movement.)

The speech also implied that ethnic minorities would never be truly British. In 1968, my father had been in Britain for five years and Powell occupies a surprisingly significant place in my teenage psyche. My mental image of him was of a glacial man, always dressed in pinstripe suits, with unsmiling eyes, a face in a fixed scowl, shivering with racial fury. When I learnt that he was a poet and a brilliant scholar, double-starred first in Latin and Greek from Cambridge, it served as a reminder that bigotry was not the sole dominion of the ignorant. Powell's name was regularly cited whenever my father wanted to remind me how easily Britain could turn against us. It sometimes seemed that he and my father were bound together in a conspiracy to force me to accept that I was not and never would be British.

More than Norman Tebbit, Powell frightened me. Tebbit wanted me to support England, but Powell wanted me to support England while living in Pakistan. Repatriation was a most terrifying word for a young boy who knew nothing but Britain and who feared what might happen should Powell and his supporters ever gain power. He taught my family the importance of always having a suitcase packed and a Pakistani passport.

For Powell, immigration was a threat to social cohesion. He believed the native population was in danger of being swamped by an alien culture. It was this fear, encapsulated in the potent image of a white woman living in fear of her black neighbours, which made the 'Rivers of Blood' speech so powerful.

Powell told his Birmingham audience of a letter he had received about a widowed pensioner who had seen all her white neighbours moving out of her street. She had lost her husband and both sons in the war and was now, it was claimed, being woken every morning by West Indian neighbours demanding to use her telephone. 'She is becoming afraid to go out,' Powell said. 'Windows are broken. She finds excreta pushed through her letterbox. When she goes to the shops, she is followed by children, charming wide-eyed piccaninnies.'

Powell refused to name the woman, but last year a BBC Radio 4 documentary claimed to have identified her as Druscilla Cotterill, who died 30 years ago. She lived in Brighton Place, minutes from Powell's Wolverhampton home on Merridale Road. Today, the house where Enoch lived is immaculately maintained, white-painted with neatly trimmed hedges. Powell, the man who had complained of living 'within the proverbial stone's throw of streets which went black', had later sold his home to a West Indian couple.

On my way to Brighton Place, I pass a young Asian man washing his car. Has he heard of Enoch Powell? 'Tory MP? BNP views?' he says.

Brighton Place was torn down 20 years ago. Now it has been renovated and renamed Brighton Mews. Forty years ago, Mrs Cotterill lived there on her own and she rented out rooms to West Indian lodgers. Those who knew her are divided on whether she was the woman referred to in the speech. John Mellor tells me he was shown a specimen box kept in a storeroom in the police station that contained the excrement pushed through her letterbox. 'The idea that she was invented is absolute rubbish,' he says. Lance Bunkley retorts: 'That letter [the anonymous letter read out by Powell] is a total invention. Not only was Druscilla not racist, she had a black male friend who lived next door.'

The parents of Colleen Moore, now 71, lived in Brighton Place. She remembers Druscilla as a tiny woman who liked a drink. 'She was the sort of woman who young children might mistake for a witch,' she tells me. 'She eventually had to be sectioned.' Moore does not believe Druscilla is the woman Powell was referring to. 'The letter says the woman had two children, but Druscilla didn't have any children so it couldn't have been her.'

Even if such incidents were true, they were the exception rather than the rule: in the main, it was black and Asian people who were being abused. In his excellent biography of Powell, the late Paul Foot described how he spent 1964-65 travelling and talking to people who held anti-immigrant views. 'In Southall, Birmingham and Bradford, I was told that "an old lady of 68" had been accosted by a coloured man,' he writes. 'Other familiar themes were the carefree scattering of excrement... the same stories and the same language before 20 April 1968 had been used almost exclusively by extremists and racialists... those who sought scapegoats had found a champion.' In a sense, whether the letter was authentic is immaterial; the very fact it attracted such a response demonstrates that Powell had struck a chord.

In the Quarterhouse pub, only minutes from Powell's old constituency home, Geoff Bangham, a friend of Powell's and Wolverhampton's longest serving landlord, is preparing to open. Outside, the flag of St George flutters in the beer garden. Inside, photographs of Winston Churchill and Margaret Thatcher jostle for space with Eric Morecambe, Tommy Cooper and Norman Wisdom. 'Do you recognise this chap?' says Bangham, pointing to a framed photograph of Powell given to him by the politician.

In 1968, Geoff managed the Alexander pub. Was there a colour bar? He says that no official bar existed but: 'I suppose if you're in a pub and all of a sudden 20 Muslims come in, some people might wonder what was going on.' How does he feel about Britain today? 'It has come true, what Powell said,' Bangham Geoff me sadly. 'This is not the country I thought I would grow old in. I feel society is changing just by the sheer numbers coming in and it does seem we are reaching a boiling point. I have an Indian doctor and he's good as gold, but over the last few years there are too many people coming from Europe.'

Arten Llazari, 35, came to Wolverhampton from Albania as a refugee nine years ago. He is co-founder of the city's refugee and migrant centre. 'I am fully aware that I am living in Powell's former constituency,' he says when we meet in his office in a bland building in the city's Waterloo Road. 'I know about his speech. In meetings, whenever we talk about community cohesion, his name crops up.'

In the waiting room outside sit young men with anxious eyes. 'There is no doubt that refugees are the latest targets,' Llazari tells me. 'The established immigrant communities can fight back, and they have votes, but people see refugees as the lowest of the low.'

Among those who work in the centre are two young Asian women. Tanveer Khuja, a hijab-wearing, British-Pakistani woman, describes how friends reacted when she revealed she was helping asylum seekers: 'My Asian friends would say, "Why are you helping refugees when they are coming into this country and taking our jobs?" Her co-worker Parminder Gill says: 'It's almost like they think they are more British than the British and the refugees remind them of what they used to be like.'

Maybe abusing the next wave of immigrants is how earlier waves believe they earn their citizenship. Perhaps they think that by criticising Poles, Romanians and Albanians, they will be spared. I want to know whether these two Asian women feel British. 'I love my fish and chips,' laughs Parminder. 'That's as British as you can get.' 'Define British,' says Khuja. Define it yourself, I say. 'To me, being British is being able to speak your mind,' she suggests, 'and to have a system that won't let you down.' Does she mean a system of government? 'Yeah.' And what about those who might see her hijab and think she poses a challenge to the British way of doing things? 'I live by Islam but it doesn't contradict being in this country. My faith says: wherever you live, treat your neighbours with respect and that includes the country you are living in. '

I leave the refugee centre with her words still turning around in my mind. Being a good neighbour was something my parents instilled in their children. On Eid, my mother would give my sisters and me plates of pilau rice covered in silver foil which we would offer to neighbours and friends. We didn't do it to be ambassadors for our religion, but in a way I suppose we were. I had arranged to meet Mirza Baig, a community worker with memories of Enoch Powell. I arrive at his door only to learn from his wife that I am a whole day early. 'Just come in and wait and I will pick up my husband and bring him home,' his wife tells me in Urdu. I explain that I have a photographer with me. 'Is he a Muslim?' No, she's white and she's a woman. 'That's not a problem, ask her in.' Within minutes, Karen and I are in the living room and being offered tea, cakes and savouries. 'You are being extraordinarily kind,' I tell her. 'Not at all, son, this is a Muslim house,' she says.

And so we sit, in the house of strangers I have only spoken to once on the phone, in a room where the television is set to a channel broadcasting a young boy reciting the Koran from memory, and we wait for Mr Baig. Forty-five minutes later, they return and I explain to the surprised Baig what I want to talk to him about. In the event, what he has to say about Powell is not especially illuminating; far more interesting is when he starts discussing poetry. He pulls out an old folder bulging with looseleaf paper containing his poems, some dating back to the early Fifties.

'I came to Wolverhampton in 1967 and I remember sitting with English friends reciting my favourite lines from Tennyson and Longfellow,' he tells me, 'and they would be stunned. You know, they would say, "We are English and we don't know these poems." And I would think: you silly people - you have no taste for poetry?'

And then he is off again, reciting fragments of poetry learnt in his youth.

When Mirza Baig walks down the street, his white neighbours probably see a squat, bulky old Asian man, shuffling along unsteadily. They are unlikely to see a man more aware of poetry than most British people. When I ask him about Enoch Powell, Baig says he thought he was a madman. But I did wonder what could have occurred if Powell, himself a published poet, had met Baig and seen not an Asian man who represented a threat to British culture, but a fellow poetry lover who enriched the country he had chosen to make his home.

In Bloody Foreigners, Robert Winder's superlative study of British immigration, he suggests: '"Englishness" is by definition a foreign idea - a silhouette visible only from afar... national identity is often a statement of opposition to outside forces; a form of protest.' Powell's speech was a definitive statement of opposition, an anguished howl of protest.

Watch the scratchy black-and-white archive footage today and 20 April 1968 seems a world away. For someone like me, born three years after, it barely needs to be stated that today's Britain is a more tolerant nation than 40 years ago. Racist language that was considered permissible even 20 years ago is now not tolerated. Today's second- and third-generation children of immigrants can contemplate opportunities unthinkable when I was a teenager.

So when I ask Lance Bunkley whether he would rather have been a young black man in 1968 or 2008, his answer surprises me. '1968,' he says instantly. 'In those days, we were a community. We looked after one another; we paid each other's debts; blacks and Asians worked together. Today, there is no sense of community and everyone is an individual.'

'I don't think Britain is very different from 40 years ago,' says Gulam Haider Ellam. 'Some white people are still against blacks and Asians because we have become successful. They don't like that, so they say things like, "They're taking over." At the end of the day, we work hard for our lives. I don't want to say most white people are lazy, but they don't want to work. They depend on government handouts, we don't. We want to work.'

Just as Lance and Gulam remain sceptical of the progress achieved, so these days Britain seems both comfortable with, and weary of, its established and emerging immigrant communities. Powell lived to see Brixton, Toxteth and Handsworth riot in the early Eighties, which for some amounted to proof that his prophesied rivers of blood had come to pass. But he died, in 1998, just as European refugees began to arrive in Wolverhampton and across the country; he also did not live to witness the rise of Muslim radicalisation in the aftermath of 11 September 2001.

The anxieties that Powell articulated 40 years ago of 'homes and neighbourhoods changed beyond recognition' are anxieties which have only escalated over time. The concern Powell expressed about Sikhs demanding special treatment is today a widespread apprehension that everyone is accorded special treatment - Muslims, Hindus, Sikhs, Afro-Caribbeans and asylum seekers - everyone except the native white population. It is that apprehension which has led to the onslaught against multiculturalism and this is why, after all these years, some continue to venerate Enoch Powell as a prophet. John Mellor calls him 'the best Prime Minister we never had': 'If he had been elected, he would have run this country like he was planning an attack in the desert.'

The words 'Enoch was right' can still spell political suicide, as prospective Conservative candidate Nigel Hastilow learnt to his cost last year when he said as much in a Wolverhampton newspaper column. And yet whether it is Gordon Brown speaking about 'British jobs for British workers', Hazel Blears saying that learning English must be 'an absolute top priority' or the uproar sparked by the Archbishop of Canterbury's comments on sharia law, some of Powell's ideas are now in the mainstream of political debate. Next month, BBC2 will broadcast a television documentary that is broadly sympathetic to Powell. Once, this would have been unthinkable; today, it is inevitable. These days, it is not only white people who feel able to voice concern at rising levels of immigration. 'I think we need to control immigration better,' Parminder Gill tells me. 'After all, there are only so many houses...'

'If you come here, then you should become a citizen,' says Celeste Amina, who left Portugal to study in Britain in the early Sixties and has been married to Gulam Haider Ellam for 45 years. 'But there are many people who are living here but they don't want to become citizens. They let too many people in and they are still doing that today - not from India, but from Europe.'

Enoch Powell was right, it seems to me, to highlight the danger of communities failing to integrate and right to say that the sheer number of immigrants coming into a country can have a serious impact on its culture. But having met those who suffered as a consequence of his Birmingham speech, and as someone whose childhood yearning to belong was haunted by his toxic legacy, it is hard to forgive him. This was a man who spoke fluent Urdu and would ask his Asian constituents if they preferred to talk to him in English or their mother tongue, a politician who did not speak out against immigration throughout the years that West Indians and Asians were arriving in this country and his constituency, who in October 1964 said: 'I have set and always will set my face like flint against making any difference between one citizen of this country and another on grounds of his origin.'

In trying to explain why he decided to raise the subject of immigration when he did, it's hard to escape the conclusion that it was politically motivated. The explicit purpose of the speech was to attack the Labour government's plans to pass a Race Relations Act which would have outlawed racial discrimination in employment and housing. But there was also, some suggest, an intention to destabilise the position of Conservative leader Edward Heath. In July 1965, Powell came a distant third in the Conservative party leadership contest. After the speech, Powell was transformed into a national public figure with a realistic prospect of leading the party. For that prize, Enoch Powell was prepared to pay in blood.

'I could not understand why people looked at me as if I should not be here,' Gulam Haider Ellam tells me, recalling the aftermath of the Birmingham speech. 'It made me angry because I was a British citizen, born in the British Raj.'

For an imperialist such as Powell, whose greatest ambition had been to be viceroy of India, being a British citizen was only useful so long as it served the empire. When those same citizens began to arrive in Britain, their claims to citizenship were less appealing. Powell concluded his speech at the Midland Hotel by declaring: 'To see, and not to speak, would be the great betrayal.'

But it was not his white constituents whom Powell was betraying. He was betraying men like Lance Bunkley, who tells me that the speech 'made me feel like I was a stranger in a strange land'. He was betraying Tanveer Khuja's father, who worked at the Goodyear tyre factory, and Parminder Gill's father, who toiled in a metal factory. He was betraying the Commonwealth doctors and nurses whom he had invited to come to Britain. He was betraying my father and every immigrant who suffered and saved doing work the whites thought was beneath them. And he was betraying everyone, of every colour, who believed that diversity could enrich as well as threaten a nation.

Powell's beloved empire and precious England had relied on the efforts of these immigrants, the very men and women he was happy to castigate for political gain.

Leaving Wolverhampton, I felt humbled to have met some of those who lived through 20 April 1968. It is they, and all those who supported them, who are the true Great British heroes. The men and women who, unheard and unheralded, proved their devotion to this country through hard labour. Enoch Powell might have been predicting rivers of blood, but today's Britain was built because of their rivers of sweat.


February 23, 2008

65 years ago today: remembering the White Rose

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Exactly 65 years ago today three young Germans went to their deaths following a perfunctory Nazi show trial prosecuted by the notorious Roland Freisler. The three were members of the White Rose, a war-time anti-Nazi resistance group little known outside Germany, even today. In the months and years following those first executions other members of the group, most of them young, idealistic and patriotic, also lost their lives to the vengeful Nazi state.

This article is reproduced to commemorate the deaths of those brave young people and to bring their sacrifice to the attention of British anti-fascists. It hardly does the members of the White Rose justice, but we hope it will serve to ignite an interest in their activities and their lives, and cause their memory to be kept by all who value freedom.

The six leaflets which cost the White Rose so dear are reproduced in full in this article. The translations are not ours, nor is the source text for the leaflets, and any errors have been preserved.

* * *

The resistance movement - if such it can be called - in Nazi Germany remains something of a mystery to all but the most informed. We are all familiar with the so nearly successful attempt by Claus von Stauffenberg to assassinate Adolf Hitler in July 1944, and of its bloody aftermath. That plot ultimately had a pre-war genesis, among the very General Staff officers upon which Hitler relied to plan and effect his conquests. But that nucleus of German General Staff officers and their mostly conservative allies were motivated not so much by anti-Nazism (though many despised the creed) as a desire not to allow Hitler to plunge Germany into military adventures that might ultimately lead to the destruction of the Reich.

Time and again before the war concerned German officers passed information to Britain and France, urging the governments of those countries to stand up to Hitler’s territorial demands, and time and again their concerns and their plans (to stage a coup against Hitler) were never addressed, if they were ever taken seriously at all.

So it was that this strand of German opposition turned in on itself, seemingly to disappear until the spectacular disaster of July 20th, 1944. But there were many plots on the part of the military opposition, which, as the war progressed, came to realise that staging a coup against Hitler was out of the question, and that only his death would create the conditions in which the Nazi Party could be deprived of power and the war brought to an end. Each of these plots fell victim to chance.

Opposition to the regime was always fragmented in Nazi Germany. Outside of the military and the aristocracy, most of the existing groups had their antecedants in pre-1933 political parties and religious groups, and operated largely in isolation.

Apart from later attempts by the military opposition to kill their own chief, the only other known determined attempt to bring about the death of Hitler was that of Georg Elser. Elser, a carpenter, was a devout Lutheran with tenuous connections to the German Communist Party, who appears to have acted entirely of his own volition when he set a bomb to explode during a Hitler speech in Munich’s Bürgerbräukeller. In the event, Hitler gave a shorter than expected speech and left the Bürgerbräukeller several minutes before Elser’s bomb detonated. Eight Nazis were killed, and Elser was soon under arrest. Curiously he remained alive until just before the end of the war, when the regime, in the madness of its death throes, took care of much unfinished business. Elser was executed at Dachau on April 9th, 1945.

The more famous opponents of the regime we are largely familiar with - pastors Dietrich Bonhoeffer (hanged on April 9th, 1945) and Martin Niemöller (author of “First They Came…”), the Catholic Bishop Clemens August Graf von Galen, and other brave men and women who stood against the all-powerful state.

Less well known are the young members of a group centred around the Ludwig Maximilians University in Munich.

What this group attempted seems to us born of a breathtaking naivety, given the time and the place of its occurence - and also astonishingly brave. Incomprehensibly brave.

Among their number were students Hans Scholl (25), Christoph Probst (23), Willi Graf (25), and Alexander Schmorell (25). All four had seen military service in the Soviet Union, where they had witnessed atrocities and the casual ill-treatment of captured enemy soldiers and civilians. Their experiences left them resolutely anti-Nazi and determined to bring the regime down. Also part of the group were Professor Kurt Huber (49), Hans Leipelt (24) and Hans Scholl’s sister, Sophie (22).

The ages given are those at which each individual was executed.

The White Rose was actually founded in June 1942, and distributed a series of six leaflets, mostly in Munich but also in other German and Austrian cities. Intended for clandestine and hand-to-hand distribution, The White Rose hoped that recipients would copy and further re-distribute its message.

Copies of each White Rose leaflet still exist. These unique historical documents make for fascinating reading, and before continuing we reproduce the text of each of them below.

* * *
Leaflet 1
Nothing is so unworthy of a civilized nation as allowing itself to be “governed” without opposition by an irresponsible clique that has yielded to base instinct. It is certain that today every honest German is ashamed of his government. Who among us has any conception of the dimensions of shame that will befall us and our children when one day the veil has fallen from our eyes and the most horrible of crimes - crimes that infinitely outdistance every human measure - reach the light of day? If the German people are already so corrupted and spiritually crushed that they do not raise a hand, frivolously trusting in a questionable faith in lawful order of history; if they surrender man’s highest principle, that which raises him above all other God’s creatures, his free will; if they abandon the will to take decisive action and turn the wheel of history and thus subject it to their own rational decision; if they are so devoid of all individuality, have already gone so far along the road toward turning into a spiritless and cowardly mass - then, yes, they deserve their downfall.

Goethe speaks of the Germans as a tragic people, like the Jews and the Greeks, but today it would appear rather that they are a spineless, will-less herd of hangers-on, who now - the marrow sucked out of their bones, robbed of their center of stability - are waiting to be hounded to their destruction. So it seems - but it is not so. Rather, by means of gradual, treacherous, systematic abuse, the system has put every man into a spiritual prison. Only now, finding himself lying in fetters, has he become aware of his fate. Only a few recognized the threat of ruin, and the reward for their heroic warning was death. We will have more to say about the fate of these persons.

If everyone waits until the other man makes a start, the messengers of avenging Nemesis will come steadily closer; then even the last victim will have been cast senselessly into the maw of the insatiable demon. Therefore every individual, conscious of his responsibility as a member of Christian and Western civilization, must defend himself as best he can at this late hour, he must work against the scourges of mankind, against fascism and any similar system of totalitarianism. Offer passive resistance - resistance - wherever you may be, forestall the spread of this atheistic war machine before it is too late, before the last cities, like Cologne, have been reduced to rubble, and before the nation’s last young man has given his blood on some battlefield for the hubris of a sub-human. Do not forget that every people deserves the regime it is willing to endure!

From Freidrich Schiller’s The Lawgiving of Lycurgus and Solon:

“…..Viewed in relation to its purposes, the law code of Lycurgus is a masterpiece of political science and knowledge of human nature. He desired a powerful, unassailable start, firmly established on its own principles. Political effectiveness and permanence were the goal toward which he strove, and he attained this goal to the full extent possible under possible under the circumstances. But if one compares the purpose Lycurgus had in view with the purposes of mankind, then a deep abhorrence takes the place of the approbation which we felt at first glance. Anything may be sacrificed to the good of the state except that end for which the State serves as a means. The state is never an end in itself; it is important only as a condition under which the purpose of mankind can be attained, and this purpose is none other than the development of all man’s power, his progress and improvement. If a state prevents the development of the capacities which reside in man, if it interferes with the progress of the human spirit, then it is reprehensible and injurious, no matter how excellently devised, how perfect in its own way. Its very permanence in that case amounts more to a reproach than to a basis for fame; it be comes a prolonged evil, and the longer it endures, the more harmful it is.

…..At the price of all moral feeling a political system was set up, and the resources of the state were mobilized to that end. In Sparta there was no conjugal love, no mother love, no filial devotion, no friendship; all men were citizens only, and all virtue was civic virtue.

…..A law of the state made it the duty of Spartans to be inhumane to their slaves; in these unhappy victims of war humanity itself was insulted and mistreated. In the Spartan code of law the dangerous principle was promulgated that men are to be looked upon as means and not as ends - and the foundation of natural law and of morality were destroyed by that law.

…..What an admirable sight is afforded, by contrast, by the rough soldier Gaius Marcius in his camp before Rome, when he renounced vengeance and victory because he could not endure to see a mother’s tears!

The state (of Lycurgus) could endure only under the one condition: that the spirit of the people remained quiescent. Hence it could be maintained only if it failed to achieve the highest, the sole purpose of a state.”

From Goethe’s The Awakening of Epimenides, Act II, Scene 4.

Though he who has boldly risen from the abyss
Through an iron will and cunning
May conquer half the world,
Yet to the abyss he mustreturn.
Already a terrible fear has seized him;
In vain he will resist!
And all who still stand with him
Must perish in his fall.


Now I find my good men
Are gathered in the night,
To wait in silence, not to sleep.
And the glorious word of liberty
They whisper and murmur,
Till in unaccustomed strangeness,
On the steps of our temple
Once again in delight they cry:
(convincingly loud)
(more fully)
(from all sides and ends Echo!)

Please make as many copies of this leaflet as you can and distribute them.
Leaflet 2
It is impossible to engage in intellectual discourse with National Socialist Philosophy, for if there were such an entity, one would have to try by means of analysis and discussion either to prove its validity or to combat it. In actuality, however, we face a totally different situation. At its very inception this movement depended on the deception and betrayal of one’s fellow man; even at that time it was inwardly corrupt and could support itself only by constant lies. After all, Hitler states in an early edition of “his” book (a book written in the worst German I have ever read, in spite of the fact that it has been elevated to the position of the Bible in this nation of poets and thinkers): “It is unbelievable, to what extent one must betray a people in order to rule it.” If at the start this cancerous growth in the nation was not particularly noticeable, it was only because there were still enough forces at work that operated for the good, so that it was kept under control. As it grew larger, however, and finally in an ultimate spurt of growth attained ruling power, the tumor broke open, as it were, and infected the whole body. The greater part of its former opponents went into hiding. The German intellectuals fled to their cellars, there, like plants struggling in the dark, away from light and sun, gradually to choke to death. Now the end is at hand. Now it is our task to find one another again, to spread information from person to person, to keep a steady purpose, and to allow ourselves no rest until the last man is persuaded of the urgent need of his struggle against this system. When thus a wave of unrest goes through the land, when “it is in the air,” when many join the cause, then in a great final effort this system can be shaken off. After all, an end in terror is preferable to terror without end.

We are not in a position to draw up a final judgment about the meaning of our history. But if this catastrophe can be used to further the public welfare, it will be only by virtue of the fact that we are cleansed by suffering; that we yearn for the light in the midst of deepest night, summon our strength, and finally help in shaking off the yoke which weighs on our world.

We do not want to discuss here the question of the Jews, nor do we want in this leaflet to compose a defense or apology. No, only by way of example do we want to cite the fact that since the conquest of Poland three hundred thousand Jews have been murdered in this country in the most bestial way. Here we see the most frightful crime against human dignity, a crime that is unparalleled in the whole of history. For Jews, too, are human beings - no matter what position we take with respect to the Jewish question - and a crime of this dimension has been perpetrated against human beings. Someone may say that the Jews deserve their fate. This assertion would be a monstrous impertinence; but let us assume that someone said this - what position has he then taken toward the fact that the entire Polish aristocratic youth is being annihilated? (May God grant that this program has not yet fully achieved its aim as yet!) All male offspring of the houses of the nobility between the ages of fifteen and twenty were transported to concentration camps in Germany and sentenced to forced labor, and all the girls of this age group were sent to Norway, into the bordellos of the SS! Why tell you these things, since you are fully aware of them - or if not of these, then of other equally grave crimes committed by this frightful sub- humanity? Because here we touch on a problem which involves us deeply and forces us all to take thought. Why do German people behave so apathetically in the face of all these abominable crimes, crimes so unworthy of the human race? Hardly anyone thinks about that. It is accepted as fact and put out of mind. The German people slumber on in their dull, stupid sleep and encourage these fascist criminals; they give them the opportunity to carry on their depredations; and of course they do so. Is this a sign that the Germans are brutalized in their simplest human feelings, that no chord within them cries out at the sight of such deeds, that they have sunk into a fatal consciencelessness from which they will never, never awake? It seems to be so, and will certainly be so, if the German does not at last start up out of his stupor, if he does not protest wherever and whenever he can against this clique of criminal, if he shows no sympathy for these hundreds of thousands of victims. He must evidence not only sympathy; no, much more: a sense of complicity in guilt. For through his apathetic behavior he gives these evil men the opportunity to act as they do; he tolerates this “government” which has taken upon itself such an infinitely great burden of guilt; indeed, he himself is to blame for the fact that it came about at all! 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! It is not too late, however, to do away with this most reprehensible of all miscarriages of government, so as to avoid being burdened with even greater guilt. Now, when in recent years our eyes have been opened, when we know exactly who our adversary is, it is high time to root out this brown horde. Up until the outbreak of the war the larger part of the German people was blinded; the Nazis did not show themselves in their true aspect. But now, now that we have recognized them for what they are, it must be the sole and first duty, the holiest duty of every German to destroy these beasts.

If the people are barely aware that the government exists, they are happy. When the government is felt to be oppressive they are broken. Good fortune, alas! builds itself upon misery. Good fortune, alas! is the mask of misery. What will come of this? We cannot foresee the end. Order is upset and turns to disorder, good becomes evil. The people are confused. Is it not so, day in, day out, from the beginning? The wise man is therefore angular, though he does not injure others; he has sharp corners, though he does not harm; he is upright but not gruff. He is clearminded, but he does not try to be brilliant. Lao-Tzu

. . . . . Whoever undertakes to rule the kingdom and to shape it according to his whim - I foresee that he will fail to reach his goal. That is all.

The kingdom is a living being. It cannot be constructed, in truth! He who tries to manipulate it will spoil it, he who tries to put it under his power will lose it.

Therefore: Some creatures go out in front, others follow, some have warm breath, others cold, some are strong, some weak, some attain abundance, others succumb.

The wise man will accordingly forswear excess, he will avoid arrogance and not overreach. Lao-Tzu
. . . . .
Please make as many copies as possible of this leaflet and distribute them.
Leaflet 3
“Salus publica suprema lex”

All ideal forms of government are utopias. A state cannot be constructed on a purely theoretical basis; rather, it must grow and ripen in the way an individual human being matures. But we must not forget that at the starting point of every civilization the state was already there in rudimentary form. The family is as old as man himself, and out of this initial bond man, endowed with reason, created for himself a state founded on justice, whose highest law was the common good. The state should exist as a parallel to the divine order, and the highest of all utopias, the civitas dei, is the model which in the end it should approximate. Here we will not pass judgment on the many possible forms of the state - democracy, constitutional monarchy, and so on. But one matter needs to be brought out clearly and unambiguously. Every individual human being has a claim to a useful and just state, a state which secures freedom of the individual as well as the good of the whole. For, according to God’s will, man is intended to pursue his natural goal, his earthly happiness, in self-reliance and self-chosen activity, freely and independently within the community of life and work of the nation.

But our present “state” is the dictatorship of evil. “Oh, we’ve known that for a long time,” I hear you object, “and it isn’t necessary to bring that to our attention again.” But, I ask you, if you know that, why do you not bestir yourselves, why do you allow these men who are in power to rob you step by step, openly and in secret, of one domain of your rights after another, until one day nothing, nothing at all will be left but a mechanized state system presided over by criminals and drunks? Is your spirit already so crushed by abuse that you forget it is your right - or rather, your moral duty - to eliminate this system? But is a man no longer can summon the strength to demand his right, then it is absolutely certain that he will perish. We would deserve to be dispersed through the earth like dust before the wind if we do not muster our powers at this late hour and finally find the courage which up to now we have lacked. Do not hide your cowardice behind a cloak of expediency, for with every new day that you hesitate, failing to oppose this offspring of Hell, your guilt, as in a parabolic curve, grows higher and higher.

Many, perhaps most, of the readers of these leaflets do not see clearly how they can practice an effective opposition. They do not see any avenues open to them. We want to try to show them that everyone is in a position to contribute to the overthrow of this system. It is not possible through solitary withdrawal, in the manner of embittered hermits, to prepare the ground for the overturn of this “government” or bring about the revolution at the earliest possible moment. No, it can be done only by the cooperation of many convinced, energetic people - people who are agreed as to the means they must use to attain their goal. We have no great number of choices as to these means. The only one available is passive resistance.

The meaning and the goal of passive resistance is to topple National Socialism, and in this struggle we must not recoil from any course, any action, whatever its nature. At all points we must oppose National Socialism, wherever it is open to attack. We must soon bring this monster of a state to an end. A victory of fascist Germany in this war would have immeasurable, frightful consequences. The military victory over Bolshevism dare not become the primary concern of the Germans. The defeat of the Nazis must unconditionally be the first order of business, the greater necessity of this latter requirement will be discussed in one of our forthcoming leaflets.

And now every convinced opponent of National Socialism must ask himself how he can fight against the present “state” in the most effective way, how he can strike it the most telling blows. Through passive resistance, without a doubt. We cannot provide each man with the blueprint for his acts, we can only suggest them in general terms, and he alone will find the way of achieving this end.

Sabotage in armament plants and war industries, sabotage at all gatherings, rallies, public ceremonies, and organizations of the National Socialist Party. Obstruction of the smooth functioning of the war machine (a machine for war that goes on solely to shore up and perpetuate the National Socialist Party and its dictatorship). Sabotage in all the areas of science and scholarship which further the continuation of the war - whether in universities, technical schools, laboratories, research institutes, or technical bureaus. Sabotage in all cultural institutions which could potentially enhance the “prestige” of the fascists among the people. Sabotage in all branches of the arts which have even the slightest dependence on National Socialism or render it service. Sabotage in all publications, all newspapers, that are in the pay of the “government” and that defend its ideology and aid in disseminating the brown lie. Do not give a penny to public drives (even when they are conducted under the pretense of charity). For this is only a disguise. In reality the proceeds aid neither the Red Cross nor the needy. The government does not need this money; it is not financially interested in these money drives. After all, the presses run continuously to manufacture any desired amount of paper currency. But the populace must be kept constantly under tension, the pressure of the bit must not be allowed to slacken! Do not contribute to the collections of metal, textiles, and the like. Try to convince all your acquaintances, including those in the lower social classes, of the senselessness of continuing, of the hopelessness of this war; of our spiritual and economic enslavement at the hands of the National Socialists; of the destruction of all moral and religious values; and urge them to passive resistance!

Aristotle, Politics: “… and further, it is part [of the nature of tyranny] to strive to see to it that nothing is kept hidden of that which any subject says or does, but that everywhere he will be spied upon, … and further, to set man against the privileged and the wealthy. Also it is part of these tyrannical measures, to keep the subjects poor, in order to pay the guards and soldiers, and so that they will be occupied with earning their livelihood and will have neither leisure nor opportunity to engage in conspiratorial acts…. Further, [to levy] such taxes on income as were imposed in Syracuse, for under Dionysius the citizens gladly paid out their whole fortunes in taxes within five years. Also, the tyrant is inclined constantly to forment wars.”

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Leaflet 4
There is an ancient maxim that we repeat to our children: “He who won’t listen will have to feel.” But a wise child will not burn his fingers the second time on a hot stove. In the past weeks Hitler has choked up successes in Africa and in Russia. In consequence, optimism on the one hand and distress and pessimism on the other have grown within the German people with a rapidity quite inconsistent with traditional German apathy. On all sides one hears among Hitler’s opponents - the better segments of the population - exclamations of despair, words of disappointment and discouragement, often ending with the question: “Will Hitler now, after all…?”

Meanwhile, the German offensive against Egypt has ground to a halt. Rommel has to bide his time in a dangerously exposed position. But the push into the East proceeds. This apparent success has been purchased at the most horrible expense of human life, and so it can no longer be counted an advantage. Therefore we must warn against all optimism.

Neither Hitler nor Goebbels can have counted the dead. In Russia thousands are lost daily. It is the time of the harvest, and the reaper cuts into the ripe grain with wide strokes. Mourning takes up her abode in the country cottages, and there is no one to dry the tears of the mothers. Yet Hitler feeds with lies those people whose most precious belongings he has stolen and whom he has driven to a meaningless death.

Every word that comes from Hitler’s mouth is a lie. When he says peace, he means war, and when he blasphemously uses the name of the Almighty, he means the power of evil, the fallen angel, Satan. His mouth is the foul-smelling maw of Hell, and his might is at bottom accursed. True, we must conduct a struggle against the National Socialist terrorist state with rational means; but whoever today still doublts the reality, the existence of demonic powers, has failed by a wide margin to understand the metaphysical background of this war. Behind the concrete, the visible events, behind all objective, logical considerations, we find the irrational element: The struggle against the demon, against the servants of the Antichrist. Everywhere and at all times demons have been lurking in the dark, waiting for the moment when man is weak; when of his own volition he leaves his place in the order of Creation as founded for him by God in freedom; when he yields to the force of evil, separates himself from the powers of a higher order; and after voluntarily taking the first step, he is driven on to the next and the next at a furiously accelerating rate. Everywhere and at all times of greatest trial men have appeared, prophets and saints who cherished their freedom, who preached the One God and who His help brought the people to a reversal of their downward course. Man is free, to be sure, but without the true God he is defenseless against the principle of evil. He is a like rudderless ship, at the mercy of the storm, an infant without his mother, a cloud dissolving into thin air.

I ask you, you as a Christian wrestling for the preservation of your greatest treasure, whether you hesitate, whether you incline toward intrigue, calculation, or procrastination in the hope that someone else will raise his arm in your defense? Has God not given you the strength, the will to fight? We must attack evil where it is strongest, and it is strongest in the power of Hitler.

So I returned, and considered all the oppressions that are done under the sun: and behold the tears of such as were oppressed, and they had no comforter; and on the side of their oppressors there was power; but they had no comforter. Wherefore I praised the dead which are already dead than the living which are yet alive. Ecclesiastes 4

Novalis: True anarchy is the generative element of religion. Out of the annihilation of every positive element she lifts her gloriously radiant countenance as the founder of a new world… If Europe were about to awaken again, if a state of states, a teaching of political science were at hand! Should hierarchy then… be the principle of the union of states? Blood will stream over Europe until the nations become aware of the frightful madness which drives them in circles. And then, struck by celestial music and made gentle, the approach their former altars all together, hear about the works of peace, and hold a great celebration of peace with fervent tears before the smoking altars. Only religion can reawaken Europe, establish the rights of the peoples, and install Christianity in new splendor visibly on earth in its office as guarantor of peace. We wish expressly to point out that the White Rose is not in the pay of any foreign power. Though we know that National Socialist power must be broken by military means, we are trying to achieve a renewal from within of the severely wounded German spirit. This rebirth must be preceded, however, by the clear recognition of all the guilt with which the German people have burdened themselves, and by an uncompromising battle against Hitler and his all too many minions, party members, Quislings, and the like. With total brutality the chasm that separates the better portion of the nation from everything that is opened wide. For Hitler and his followers there is no punishment on this Earth commensurate with their crimes. But out of love for coming generations we must make an example after the conclusion of the war, so that no one will ever again have the slightest urge to try a similar action. And do not forget the petty scoundrels in this regime; note their names, so that none will go free! They should not find it possible, having had their part in these abominable crimes, at the last minute to rally to another flag and then act as if nothing had happened!

To set you at rest, we add that the addresses of the readers of the White Rose are not recorded in writing. They were picked at random from directories.

We will not be silent. We are your bad conscience. The White Rose will not leave you in peace!
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Leaflet 5
A Call to All Germans!

The war is approaching its destined end. As in the year 1918, the German government is trying to focus attention exclusively on the growing threat of submarine warfare, while in the East the armies are constantly in retreat and invasion in imminent in the West. Mobiliation in the United States has not yet reached its climax, but already it exceeds anything that the world has ever seen. It has become a mathematical certainty that Hitler is leading the German people into the abyss. Hitler cannot win the war; he can only prolong it. The guilt of Hitler and his minions goes beyond all measure. Retribution comes closer and closer.

But what are the German people doing? They will not see and will not listen. Blindly they follow their seducers into ruin. Victory at any price! is inscribed on their banner. “I will fight to the last man,” says Hitler-but in the meantime the war has already been lost.

Germans! Do you and your children want to suffer the same fate that befell the Jews? Do you want to be judged by the same standards are your seducers? Are we to be forever a nation which is hated and rejected by all mankind? No. Dissociate yourselves from National Socialist gangsterism. Prove by your deeds that you think otherwise. A new war of liberation is about to begin. The better part of the nation will fight on our side. Cast off the cloak of indifference you have wrapped around you. Make the decision before it is too late.

Do not believe the National Socialist propoganda which has driven the fear of Bolshevism into your bones. Do not believe that Germany’s welfare is linked to the victory of National Socialism for good or ill. A criminal regime cannot achieve a German victory. Separate yourselves in time from everything connected with National Socialism. In the aftermath a terrible but just judgment will be meted out to those who stayed in hiding, who were cowardly and hesitant.

What can we learn from the outcome of this war-this war that never was a national war?

The imperialist ideology of force, from whatever side it comes, must be shattered for all time. A one sided Prussian militarism must never again be allowed to assume power. Only in large-scale cooperation among the nations of Europe can the ground be prepared for reconstruction. Centralized hegemony, such as the Prussian state has tried to excercise in Germany and in Europe, must be cut down at its inception. The Germany of the future must be a federal state. At this juncture only a sound federal system can inbue a weakened Europe with a new life. The workers must be liberated from their condition of down trodden slavery under National Socialism. The illusory structure of autonomous national industry must disappear. Every nation and each man have a right to the goods of the whole world!

Freedom of speech, freedom of religion, the protection of individual citizens from the abritrary will of criminal regimes of violence-these will be the bases of the New Europe.

Support the resistance, distribute the leaflets!
Leaflet 6
Fellow Fighters in the Resistance!

Shaken and broken, our people behold the loss of the men of Stalingrad. Three hundred and thirty thousand German men have been senselessly and irresponsibly driven to death and destruction by the inspired strategy of our World War I Private First Class. Fuhrer, we thank you!

The German people are in ferment. Will we continue to entrust the fate of our armies to a dilettante? Do we want to sacrifice the rest of German youth to the base ambitions of a Party clique? No, never!

The day of reckoning has come - the reckoning of German youth with the most abominable tyrant our people have ever been forced to endure. In the name of German youth we demand restitution by Adolf Hitler’s state of our personal freedom, the most precious treasure we have, out of which he has swindled us in the most miserable way.

We grew up in a state in which all free expression of opinion is unscrupulously suppressed. The Hitler Youth, the SA, the SS have tried to drug us, to revolutionize us, to regiment us in the most promising young years of our lives. “Philosophical training” is the name given to the despicable method by which our budding intellectual development is muffled in a fog of empty phrases. A system of selection of leaders at once unimaginably devilish and narrow-minded trains up its future party bigwigs in the “Castles of the Knightly Order” to become Godless, impudent, and conscienceless exploiters and executioners - blind, stupid hangers-on of the Fuhrer. We “Intellectual Workers” are the ones who should put obstacles in the path of this caste of overlords. Soldiers at the front are regimented like schoolboys by student leaders and trainees for the post of Gauleiter, and the lewd jokes of the Gauleiters insult the honor of the women students. German women students at the university in Munich have given a dignified reply to the besmirching of their honor, and German students have defended the women in the universities and have stood firm…. That is a beginning of the struggle for our free self- determination - without which intellectual and spiritual values cannot be created. We thank the brave comrades, both men and women, who have set us brilliant examples.

For us there is but one slogan: fight against the party! Get out of the party organization, which are used to keep our mouths sealed and hold us in political bondage! Get out of the lecture rooms of the SS corporals and sergeants and the party bootlickers! We want genuine learning and real freedom of opinion. No threat can terrorize us, not even the shutting down of the institutions of higher learning. This is the struggle of each and every one of us for our future, our freedom, and our honor under a regime conscious of its moral responsibility.

Freedom and honor! For ten long years Hitler and his coadjutor have manhandled, squeezed, twisted, and debased these two splendid German words to the point of nausea, as only dilettantes can, casting the highest values of a nation before swine. They have sufficiently demonstrated in the ten years of destruction of all material and intellectual freedom, of all moral substance among the German people, what they understand by freedom and honor. The frightful bloodbath has opened the eyes of even the stupidest German - it is a slaughter which they arranged in the name of “freedom and honor of the German nation” throughout Europe, and which they daily start anew. The name of Germany is dishonored for all time if German youth does not finally rise, take revenge, and atone, smash its tormentors, and set up a new Europe of the spirit.

Students! The German people look to us. As in 1813 the people expected us to shake off the Napoleonic yoke, so in 1943 they look to us to break the National Socialist terror through the power of the spirit. Beresina and Stalingrad are burning in the East. The dead of Stalingrad implore us to take action. “Up, up, my people, let smoke and flame be our sign!”

Our people stand ready to rebel against the National Socialist enslavement of Europe in a fervent new breakthrough of freedom and honor.
* * *
Sophie Scholl only became aware of brother Hans’s White Rose activities after the group had been founded, and insisted on joining. She quickly became an invaluable member, though she appears to have had little to do with the writing of the leaflets.

Christoph Probst joined The White Rose late on, and was responsible for the design (but not the text) of the sixth and final leaflet. Christoph was half-Jewish (as was Hans Leipelt), and understandably critical of the Nazis. Due to his (in Nazi eyes) suspect status, and the fact that he was a married man with very young children, Christoph attempted to stay in the background.

Willi Graf came of a Catholic family and had already been in trouble with the Nazi authorities for his activities with the banned Catholic group, the Grauer Orden (the Grey Order), while Alexander Schmorell was half-Russian and held to his mother’s Russian Orthodox faith.

The White Rose’s first four leaflets were written by Schmorell and Hans Scholl, and the last by Kurt Huber. This final leaflet was taken by Hans Leipelt and Marie-Luise Jahn, who intended to make copies for distribution in Hamburg.

The Scholl siblings had - rather incredibly - taken part in a Munich student demonstration against the Nazi regime (the only known occurence of its kind), and on February 18th, 1943, recklessly flung copies of the final leaflet from an upper storey of the university’s main block. Their arrests, along with that of Christoph Probst, quickly followed.

The Nazi authorities could not send the three young people to their deaths quickly enough. Following torture at the hands of the Gestapo, they found themselves on trial on February 21st - just three days after their arrest.

The prosecutor was the notorious Roland Freisler, but neither Freisler nor the certainty of their own deaths broke the dignity or the convictions of the defendants, which won them much respect. “Somebody, after all, had to make a start,” said Sophie Scholl to the court. “What we wrote and said is also believed by many others. They just do not dare express themselves as we did.”

The next day, February 23rd, the three were found guilty of treason and sentenced to death. A few hours later, at Munich’s Stadelheim prison, they were beheaded. Those present recorded the courage with which they went to their deaths, Sophie’s last words as she approached the guillotine being “Die Sonne scheint noch” (”The sun still shines”).

Willi Graf, along with sister Anneliese (who survived the war), had also been arrested on the 18th, but he did not stand trial until April 19th, when he was sentenced to death.

February 24th (the day following the execution of Probst and the Scholl siblings) saw the arrest of Alexander Schmorell, who had attempted to escape, and on February 27th Professor Huber was taken by the Gestapo. Both came before the Nazi People’s Court and Freisler, and were sentenced to death on April 19th. They were beheaded at Stadelheim on July 13th.

Willi Graf, after enduring months of torture, was finally beheaded at Stadelheim on October 12th. He gave nothing away to the Gestapo.

That was not the end of the White Rose affair. Hans Leipelt and Marie-Luise Jahn were arrested after being denounced for collecting funds for the executed Kurt Huber’s widow. On October 13th they came before the People’s Court at Donauwörth, Leipelt receiving a death sentence, Jahn twelve years at labour. Hans Leipelt was beheaded at Stadelheim on January 29th, 1945.

* * *

At the behest of Alexander Schmorell’s father, an uncle and Nazi Party member petitioned Heinrich Himmler for the young man’s life. Himmler’s lack of human compassion is clear in his reply, reproduced here:

Esteemed Party Member Hoffmann!

I have received the petition for clemency you sent on 17.3.1943, and which was signed by both your brothers concerning the student Alexander Schmorell.

I find it a very decent thing that you, as long-time members of the Party, wish to intercede on behalf of your sister and your brother-in-law. For that reason, I am terribly sorry to have to tell you that I cannot support any such pardon. I would gladly let you have a look into the investigation files, so that you could also see that the reprehensible deeds of Alexander Schmorell, which assuredly can be traced back, in large part, to the Russian part of his blood, have earned him a fitting punishment.

At a time when thousands of worthy German people are putting their lives on the line for the Fatherland, it would be irresponsible not to carry out the the fullness of the death penalty. It is possible for there to be a singular unworthy person in any family - however, it is then necessary that this person be eliminated from the family and greater community.

Heil Hitler!


H. Himmler
(Note that this letter is dated several days before Schmorrel’s trial.)

* * *

The White Rose is not forgotten in Germany. There are several monuments to the members of the group, and many German towns and cities have streets, plazas and even schools named for them. Memorial services and other commemoration ceremonies will be taking place throughout the country today - and we join them in spirit.

Our article has given only a bare outline of the story of the White Rose, but greater detail can be found using these links:

The White Rose - by "Jenna"

The White Rose - author unknown

The White Rose on Wikipedia

The White Rose: Munich, 1942-1943 - an account by Hans and Sophie Scholl's younger sister and White Rose member Inge Scholl (more here on Inge)

Sophie Scholl and the White Rose
- biography by Jud Newborn and Annette Dumbach

Sophie Scholl - the Final Days, DVD. A trailer for the film can be viewed here.