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Fascism and The White Rose

Over the last several years, certain self-described “progressives” have portrayed themselves as “the resistance,” or the “anti-fascists.” Ironically, their ideology and behavior has much in common with fascism. This includes: a willingness to use intimidation and violence to achieve their goals; the desire for a huge and intrusive central government; the belief that our rights and liberties come not from God, but from “the people,” or the state; the belief that the state, not parents, should control education of their children; that the family exists for the state; a disbelief in the sanctity of human life; a hatred of Christianity, and a willingness to scapegoat identifiable groups, such as Christians and “whites” for society’s ills.

We might compare their thinking and their behavior with an actual anti-fascist group that existed in Nazi Germany, called The White Rose. The White Rose was a student led group, from the University in Munich, which sought to oppose Nazism through non-violent means. From June 1942 until February 1943, they secretly wrote, printed and distributed a series of leaflets condemning the National Socialists for their crimes and oppression, and specifically for their mass-murder of Jews. The five core members, ranging in age from 21-25, were caught in 1943 and executed by beheading. On the same day on which three of them were beheaded, February 22, students at their university officially assembled and denounced them as traitors.

The core members of The White Rose included: Alexander Schmorell, born 1917, Russian Orthodox; Willi Graf, born 1918, Catholic; Hans Scholl, born 1918, Lutheran; Christoph Probst, born 1919, non-denominational; Sophie Scholl, born 1921, sister of Hans, Lutheran.

What is fascinating is the role Christianity, and specifically Catholicism, played in shaping their beliefs. After Hans read a copy of a sermon given by Bishop Von Galen of Münster which exposed and denounced the taking of innocent human life in the Nazi euthanasia program, he exclaimed, “Finally a man has had the courage to speak out!” Sophie, his sister, had copies made of the sermon and distributed them at the university.

The group read Pascal’s Pensées, Augustine’s Confessions, and Bernanos’ Diary of a Country Priest. They had discussions with Carl Muth, born 1867, editor of what had been the largest Catholic magazine in Germany, until it was banned by the Nazis in 1941. Sophie Scholl rented a room in Carl Muth’s home. Her brother Hans wrote Muth about his growing attraction to Catholicism.

Members met Theodor Haecker, born 1879, who had converted to Catholicism in 1921 after reading a book by Cardinal Newman. Haecker had been prohibited from writing and public speaking by the Nazis in 1935. The White Rose met clandestinely with Haecker during which he read from his anti-fascist book Journal in the Night. Often they would discuss how a citizen should behave under a totalitarian regime. Of particular interest was Newman’s sermon “Testimony of Conscience.” When Sophie’s boyfriend went off to war, she gave him a collection of sermons by Cardinal Newman. And Christoph Probst, just prior to his execution, asked to see a Catholic priest and was baptized, after which he said, “Now my death will be easy and joyful.”

Below are a few quotes from the leaflets of The White Rose:

“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.

“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 (City of God, ed.), is the model which in the end it should approximate.”

“…whoever today still doubts 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.

“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 will not be silent. We are your bad conscience. The White Rose will not leave you in peace!

“Support the resistance. Distribute the leaflets!”

St. Michael Broadcasting exists to bring these same messages of resistance and freedom into our lives and into our culture. We hope you will continue to support the station through your prayers, by offering to volunteer, by telling others and, if possible, with a financial contribution.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Michael Bird, President and volunteer

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