If the Hanukkah story reminds us of the power of resistance, then Russell Freedman’s We Will Not Be Silent fits with the #Readukkah! spirit of the Association of Jewish Libraries and with perhaps our own thoughts this season. This nonfiction book nominally for older children (but with a topic suited for teens and adults) follows the White Rose student resistance movement in Nazi Germany from its rise through the execution of its leaders shortly before the fall of the Third Reich.
The “we” in We Will Not Be Silent began with a handful of high school and college students, led in part by Hans Scholl and his sister Sophie, both former members of the Hitler youth movement. They and others wrote, mimeographed, and distributed leaflets denouncing their nation’s treatment of Jewish citizens and other “undesirables.”
The leaflets soon flooded all parts of Germany and called for the overthrow of the Nazi regime. “We are your bad conscience,” the leaflets read. “The White Rose will not leave you in peace.”
Freedman was a journalist before writing his award winning nonfiction books, and We Will Not Be Silent shows his commitment to solid research. The book features photographs of White Rose members and life under the Nazis, as well as a bibliography and other reference material.
One careless act led the Gestapo to Hans and Sophie, and later to others in the White Rose network. The leaflets stopped, the leaders died, but the White Rose spirit has remained. In 1987, the movement’s remaining members founded the White Rose Museum in Munich. Now White Rose leaflets cast in ceramic cover cobblestones at the main entrance to Munich University. The White Rose Museum offers a traveling display available across the United States.
Redukkah! Resistance. Read and remember.
We Will Not Be Silent: The White Rose Student Resistance Movement That Defied Adolf Hitler, by Russell Freedman. Clarion Books, 2016. For older children and adults.
P.S. And, for lighter reading, follow this link to a Redukkah! post from last year. Enjoy.