Thursday, October 29, 2020
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Reader’s comment: The White Rose of freedom

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In response to Campbell Campbell-Jack: How dare these posturing luvvies hijack a symbol of incredible courage in the face of evil; D. A. Christianson wrote:

I think more should be made of the demise of Christianity in this. The White Rose was overtly Christian led by Lutherans, Catholics, and at least one Orthodox. In her 2014 paper titled Religion and Resistance: An Analysis on the Influence of Christianity on the White Rose Resistance Movement, Laura Kincaide notes this:

‘As seen in their leaflets, the main grievances the students held against the National Socialists were that they attempted to rob the German people of their free will, were engaged in the murder of Jews, and constantly lied. Each of these criticisms has religious roots and is backed up textually through some reference to Christianity or through direct quotation of religious texts.

‘The members of the White Rose placed a high degree of emphasis on the idea of free will and free expression of ideas in any form, be it verbal, written, or visual, and saw Germany’s situation of having a government for the government’s own sake as “interfering with the progress of the spirit”.

‘This reveals that the White Rose members saw their resistance as a battle for morals and the human spirit rather than political gain. In fact, the White Rose leaflets do not include much political commentary at all, merely a call for freedom. The underlying cause for this passion for freedom comes from the idea that it is “God’s will” that every individual pursue his/her happiness.

‘Although the idea of freedom is something contested in philosophy with regards to the issue of predestination and fate, the interpretation of the White Rose members was that God gives humans the ability to choose everything about their lives, and even to choose whether or not to accept the salvation offered by Jesus’s death. The idea of freedom was so important to the authors that in letters to one another Hans [Scholl] wrote: “I know how limited human freedom is, but . . . it is his freedom that renders him human”.’

This, of course, is the precursor to the Rev Dr Dietrich Bonhoeffer, who found that passive resistance was not enough, that active measures must be taken, and so was implicated in the plot to assassinate Hitler.

Personally I see similar things happening today, and find it disquieting to see the Episcopacy of the CofE attempting to discredit Bishop Bell, the great friend of Bonhoeffer, to whom his last message from prison before his execution was addressed.

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