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Last member of White Rose Nazi resistance group dies

March 10, 2023 12:33 AM


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The last surviving member of the White Rose resistance movement which distributed leaflets in Germany during World War II urging people to stand up against Nazi tyranny, has died, the group's historical foundation said Thursday.

Traute Lafrenz died at her home in South Carolina on Monday at the age of 103, the group said in a statement, paying tribute to her "courageous resistance and lasting testimony".

One of the most famous groups to resist the Nazis in Germany, the White Rose distributed anti-war pamphlets at Munich university in 1942-43, calling on the people to rise up against the regime.

According to the foundation, Lafrenz met Hans Scholl, one of the founders of the group along with his sister Sophie Scholl and Christoph Probst, in the summer of 1941.

A year later, Lafrenz, a medical student, came across a flyer and realised Hans Scholl's involvement from the literary quotations used in the text.

She carried flyers to Hamburg where they were distributed by friends.

When Hans and Sophie Scholl were arrested in February 1943, Lafrenz drove to the city of Ulm to inform their family.

Following a summary trial, the original White Rose leaders -- the Scholl siblings and Probst -- were beheaded at the Stadelheim prison in Bavaria, along with others including their philosophy professor Kurt Huber.

 

- 'Hero of freedom and humanity' -
 

In April 1943, Lafrenz also fell into the hands of the Gestapo, the Nazi secret police, and was sentenced to a year in prison for "complicity".

Shortly after her release, she was arrested again by the Gestapo in Hamburg. Lafrenz spent time in four Nazi prisons before her liberation from the Bayreuth penitentiary in April 1945.

She emigrated to the United States in 1947, where she completed her medical studies.

On her 100th birthday in 2019, German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier praised her as a "hero of freedom and humanity".

Lafrenz was one of few people who, "faced with the crimes of the Nazis, had the courage to listen to the voice of her conscience and to rebel against the dictatorship and the genocide of the Jews," he said at the time.

Lafrenz's contemporary Sophie Scholl, born on May 9, 1921, has become the most famous face of the resistance movement, with surviving photos showing her distinctive cropped hair and determined smile.

Hundreds of schools and streets now bear her name, and in 2003 she was named the nation's fourth favourite German behind Konrad Adenauer, Martin Luther and Karl Marx.



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