SHATTERING THE GERMAN NIGHT by Jud & Annette Eberly Dumbach Newborn


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The story of student resistance within the Third Reich during WW II. It focuses on the activities of the ""White Rose,"" a band of Munich university students who enveighed against the regime and urged the overthrow of the Fuhrer in a campaign that included pamphleteering, letter writing and scrawling political graffiti on public buildings. In the end, their youthful idealism led to the deaths of several of them at the hands of Nazi executioners. The story is a moving one, but unfortunately, Newborn and Dumbach have told it in a curiously stilted style that impinges on the narrative, as if the writers lacked faith in the importance of their material. The main figures are a brother and sister, Hans and Sophie Scholl, and fellow students Willi Graf, Alex Schmorell and Christoph Probst. As witnesses to Hitler's rise to power (allwere in their early twenties in 1942), they and a pitifully small handful of colleagues were determined to awaken their German compatriots to the evils of National Socialism. There was a juvenile daring in their exploits that was probably responsible for their eventual capture. Hans and Sophie, for example, were apprehended foolhardily distributing pamphlets in the crowded inner courtyard of Munich University; Alex was betrayed by a former girlfriend. They took enormous risks--transporting suitcases bulging with their subversive leaflets on trains that were searched repeatedly, creeping forth at night to paint slogans on Munich's Feldherrnhalle, the very building where Hitler launched his 1923 putsch. If there was a vaguely child-like simplicity to their activities, there was dignity in their deaths. Six of the ""traitors"" were beheaded. They remained unintimidated to the end, refusing to implicate their comrades or to repudiate their beliefs. Their ""death house letters"" are written with an understated emotion and unself-conscious power that is lacking in Newborn and Dumbach's overworked text. The courageous members of the ""White Rose"" deserve a less studied memorial than this; their story is dramatic enough not to need the authors' theatrical ""pointing.

Pub Date: Feb. 6th, 1985
Publisher: Little, Brown