IBDP IAs and EEs relating to Resistance against the Nazis

What was Sophie Scholl’s Role within the White Rose?

Plan of Investigation (139 Words)
The purpose of this investigation is to examine the question: What was Sophie Scholl’s role within the White Rose? To answer this inquiry I will investigate the flyers written and distributed by the organization during its existence, visit the Ludwig-Maximilians University in Munich where its members had attended and which was the site where Sophoie Scholl and her brother were eventually apprehended; today it is recognised as an official memorial site to the White Rose and which will enhance the spatial understanding of the events. Furthermore I will read books such as Briefe und Aufzeichnungen (Letters and records), by Willi Graf, an active member of the White Rose. Additionally I will examine the flyers distributed by the resistance group as this was part of their main action and will allow insight into the ideas of the group and how they were conveyed, which will show how far Sophie Scholl was involved in these activities.
Summary of Evidence (648 Words)
Sophie Magdalena Scholl, born on the 9th of May, 1921 in Forchtenberg is known as a female resistance fighter against Hitler’s regime from 1941 onwards[1]. Sophie joined the “Bund Deutscher Mädchen” (BDM) in 1936[2], which was the equivalent of the Hitler Youth. Her opinion against Hitler only began to develop years later when she started the study of Biology and Philosophy in the Ludwig-Maximilians Universität in Munich in 1941[3].
Sophie joined the resistance group of the Weiße Rose, against the will of her elder brother who wanted to keep Sophie out of this issue[4]. The White Rose was founded in June, 1942 by Hans Scholl and his friends Christoph Probst and Alexander Schmorell[5]; it was supported by their university professor Kurt Huber[6]. The resistance of the members was of Christian motivation and was furthermore encouraged through their outrage against the deportation and treatment of the Jews and regiment opponents[7].
In June 1942 Alexander Schmorell and Hans Scholl began with the production of flyers against the regime and the events, which they have experienced and encountered at the front. The first four flyers where printed from the end of June until the middle of July and posted to a variety intellectuals in Munich[8]. When the young men returned from their ambulance service from July to October, they gave out the fifth flyer named Ausruf an Alle Deutschen, which was distributed in many south German and Austrian cities. In winter 1942 Sophie Scholl and Willi Graf joined the White Rose[9].
At the end of January 1942 the battle of Stalingrad was lost and the Germans became unsettled. Additionally all women were banned from University and on the 13th there was a student protest against the speech of Paul Giesler, who was the Gauleiter of the Munich NSDAP district[10]. These events encouraged the sixth flyer named Kommilitoninnen! Kommilitonen! that was able to be spread through Skandanavia and Britain, through the help of Helmuth von Moltke[11]. Friends of the White Rose began to distribute flyers in nearby cities and kept contact with the mother organization of Hans Scholl and Alexander Schmorell[12]. On the 3rd, 8th and 15th February “Nieder mit Hitler” and “Freiheit” was written on the walls of the Munich University and many other houses[13]. During the night the three male members had written the slogans with black tar and green oil paints[14].
In the summer of 1942 the Geheime Staats Polizei began to enquire about the flyers of the White Rose which had been rated as regime adverse attempt. These enquiries had been unsuccessful and where soon ended. In January 1943 the Gestapo reopened the case and ordered a special commission against the spread of the flyers in Munich. Additionally the Professor Richard Harder was employed as a specialist of rhetoric and philology to establish a perpetrator profile of the flyers.
The sixth and last flyer ended the opposition of the White Rose. Kurt Hubert had written it with the topic of the war politic against the Third Reich[15]. The Scholl siblings spread the flyers throughout Munich on the night of the 15th February, but as they had leftovers they decided to additionally spread them in their University on the 18th of February[16]. At the end of the tour Sophie Scholl emptied her flyers over the balcony of the second floor in the University Building; she was seen by Jakob Schmid and held there until the Gestapo arrived[17].
Sophie Scholl and her brother where sentenced to death on the 22nd of February[18]. Sophie Scholl’s sentence was fulfilled at five pm through the guillotine by the headsman Johann Reichart[19]. At the end of 1943 British planes spread the flyers of the White Rose over Germany with the new Title “A German flyer – manifest of the Munich Collegians”, showing the legacy which the group had become.

Evaluation of Sources
Leaflets 1-6, Gedenkstätte Deutscher Widerstand ( Memorial Cite of German Resistance)[20] (260 Words)
The flyers written by the White Rose from June 1942 to February 1943 give direct insight on the intentions of the small organization. The flyers found in the “Gedenkstätte” are copies of the originals, which are now made accessible for the public and represented the resistance movement of the White Rose. The intention of the leaflets was to “convince the German nation, that the National Socialist were practicing a ‘Dictatorship of Evil’ and that the public needed to resist through ‘passive resistance’ and sabotage.”[21] Through this the White Rose was attempting to achieve a peaceful boycott of the National Socialist regime.
When looking at the six different flyers today the reader can comprehend their opinion on Hitler’s regime and how the population should rise against it. The copies of the flyers are helpful to understand Sophie Scholl’s role in the White Rose, as the authors are published on the side of the papers: when taking this into consideration it can be identified how far Sophie was involved in the process of writing the flyers, which is important as this was one of the main resistance attempts the White Rose did. The lack of Sophie Scholl’s role is shown as her name is not published on the flyers, which shows that she was not part of the writing process and that the influences came from other members.
Das kurze Leben der Sophie Scholl (The short Life of Sophie Scholl), Hermann Vinke[22]

This historical novel, published in 2007 in Berlin is no classical biography but far more a description of Sophie Scholl’s life period established from letters, interviews, photographic material, reports and witnesses. It is written in a very basic way intending to give thorough but coherent insight in Sophie’s life[23], which is stated by the author in his justification on why he wrote the book[24].
The source is useful to understand the event and the chronically happenings of the resistance but also to establish a connection to Sophie Scholl. It does not only embrace her participation in the White Rose but also gives an insight in her private life such as her relationship to Fritz Hartnagel. Even though it is filled with interviews and sources related to the time it does not go into depth and does not explain how far Sophie’s participation went. However when using it parallel to other sources it supports the understanding of the events through the easily obtained knowledge.

Analysis (708 Words)
This investigation will revise the orthodox view of Sophie Scholl’s role within the White Rose. The Scholl siblings are seen as two of the “real martyrs, whom have shown resistance against the NSDAP and the regime of Hitler”[25]. This is because of them taken action, as one of the first resistance groups and were not part of either a military or political organization. According to Saul Friedländer the siblings knew about the danger of their last flyer distribution and their upcoming death, yet they continued with their resistance, which makes them “the best that Germany had”[26]. As seen at the publication notes of the flyers of the White Rose, Sophie Scholl did not write parts of the publication of the flyers themselves, which already hints she did not play a great role in the resistance movement. As Dietmar Strauch mentions, Hans Scholl came up with the name “The White Rose”, which refers to his opinion of himself being an unwritten sheet of paper and the emotional influence of the “Rosa Blanca” by Brentano[27]. Furthermore Hans Scholl, together with Alexander Schmorrel, founders of the White Rose, did not want his younger sister Sophie to join the resistance movementand was only convinced by Sophie after his return from the front.[28] This shows that the foundation of the highly praised resistance group rests on the political ideas of Hans Scholl and his friend Alexander and was not by Sophie Scholl although she was willing to contribute.
Sophie Scholl and Willi Graf joined the White Rose in winter 1942. This was after four of the six flyers were already produced. Taking this into consideration it can be seen that two-thirds of the work, which is seen as the main resistance, had already been accomplished, which leaves only the remaining two flyers and their distribution that can be accountable for Sophie. However as already mentioned, Sophie Scholl has not been listed as one of the authors of the leaflets. According to Robert Kneschke this is not due to a mistake in the recordings or memories of her sister but simply, because although Sophie Scholl had the courage of distributing them she did not have the political persuading skills and due to this she did not contribute to the composing of the leaflets[29].
As the flyers were produced to convince the public of the wrongdoings of the National Socialists, the publishers try to give the nation an understanding of the happening events. To do so they reference from the experiences encountered at the Eastern Front; the young men observe how haggard Jewish women are forced into heavy labour and hear of mass executions of innocent people[30]. This shows that the main content has been thought of by the male members of the group, as Sophie Scholl was clearly not at the Front. According to Robert Kneschke the main difference between the Scholl Siblings, next to their religious view, was their activity in the White Rose. The difference can be seen due to Hans’ involvement in the publication of the flyers and the nocturnal graffiti activities, in which Sophie did not take part[31]. Sophie however supported the organization through the financial management and in helping with the production and distribution[32]. As the flyers and the nightly graffiti were the main components of the passive resistance this shows that Sophie Scholl did not play a great part in the resistance group.
Yet it took great courage and conviction to take part in the illegal activities of the White Rose. Although Sophie Scholl’s contribution was in the background she joined the distributions and with this extradited herself to the same danger as the other members of the group. When looking at the depth of the White Rose it was not only about contribution but about the strength of the members. On the 22nd of February the guards were impressed by the strength of the three young people, when the execution had ended the headsman reported that she died without a word of regret and with strength in her eye – he had never seen someone die like her before; her brother shouted “Es lebe die Freiheit” (Long live the freedom) – both supported their beliefs up to their death[33].
Conclusion (77 Words)
Although Sophie Scholl did not write the leaflets nor did she take part in the nocturnal graffiti activities she was an important member of the group as she distributed the flyers and organized the activities from the background. In the end, the strength of a chain is its weakest link, and as the White Rose is one of the most important resistance groups, all members although having different assigned activities, they can be seen as being equal.
FOOTNOTES: [1] DiCaprio, Lisa, and Merry E. Wiesner. Lives and Voices: Sources in European Women's History. Boston, MA: Houghton Mifflin, 2000. Print. Page 527. [2] Vinke, Hermann. Das Kurze Leben Der Sophie Scholl: Mit Einem Interview Mit Ilse Aichinger. Otto Maier, 1987. Print. Page 59. [3] Krabbe, Wolfgang R. Kritische Anhänger--unbequeme Störer: Studien Zur Politisierung Deutscher Jugendlicher Im 20. Jahrhundert. Berlin: BWV, Berliner Wissenschafts-Verlag, 2010. Print. Page 123. [4]Dorscheid, Andrea. Die Weisse Rose- Mit Einer Abhandlung über Den Gang Und Stand Der Einschlägigen Forschung. GRIN Verlag, 2011. Print. P.53 [5] Hüttemann, Inge. Das Sechste Flugblatt Der Weißen Rose. GRIN Verlag, 2007. Print. Page 4. [6] Ibidem. [7] Bald, Detlef. Die "Weisse Rose": Von Der Front in Den Widerstand. Berlin: Aufbau-Taschenbuch, 2004. Print. Page 162. [8] Hüttemann, Inge. Das Sechste Flugblatt Der Weißen Rose. GRIN Verlag, 2007. Print. Page 5. [9] Ibidem. [10] Burianek, Irmtraud Eve. München Im Luftkrieg 1942 Bis 1945: Bomben Auf Die Hauptstadt Der Bewegung. GRIN Verlag, 2009. Print. Page 9. [11] Scholl, Inge. Die Weiße Rose. Frankfurt a. M. 1982. Print. Page 30. [12]Blaha, Tatjana. Willi Graf Und Die Weisse Rose: Eine Rezeptionsgeschichte. München: Saur, 2003. Print. Page 45. [13] Hüttemann, Inge. Das Sechste Flugblatt Der Weißen Rose. GRIN Verlag, 2007. Print. Page 6. [14] Ibidem [15] Ibidem [16] Ibidem. [17] Ibidem [18] Dumbach, Annette E., and Jud Newborn. Sophie Scholl and the White Rose. Oxford: Oneworld, 2007. Print.Page 112. [19] Hartnagel, Fritz, Thomas Hartnagel, and Sophie Scholl. Damit Wir Uns Nicht Verlieren: Briefwechsel 1937 - 1943. Frankfurt Am Main: Fischer, 2006. Print. Page 239. [20] White Rose. Erstes - Sechstes Flugblatt Der Weißen Rose. Berlin: White Rose, 1995. Print. [21] Gruss, Theresa. "Die Rede: Sprachliche Mittel Beispiele | Deutsch." Frustfrei-Lernen.de. 11 Feb. 2009. Web. 11 Nov. 2011. . [22] Vinke, Hermann. Das Kurze Leben Der Sophie Scholl. [Ravensburg]: Ravensburger Buchverlag, 2007. Print. [23] Ibidem. Page 2 [24] Ibidem. [25] Friedländer, Saul, Jan Philipp. Reemtsma, Andreas Heldrich, Christian Ude, and Christoph Wild. Gebt Der Erinnerung Namen: Zwei Reden. München: Beck, 1999. Print. Page 27. [26]Ibidem [27] Strauch, Dietmar. Ihr Mut War Grenzenlos: Widerstand Im Dritten Reich. Gulliver, 2006. Print. Page 57. [28] Graf, Willi, Anneliese Knoop-Graf, and Inge Jens. Briefe Und Aufzeichnungen. Frankfurt Am Main: S. Fischer, 1988. Print. Page 210. [29] Kneschke, Robert. Die Weiße Rose- eine Widerstandsgruppe in geschlechtergeschichtlicher Perspektive. GRIN Verlag, 2008. Print. Page 16. [30] Kaufmann, Sabine, and Meike Meyer. "Planet Wissen - Weiße Rose." Planet Wissen - Startseite. WDR, 01 June 2009. Web. 11 Nov. 2011. . [31] Kneschke, Robert. Die Weiße Rose- eine Widerstandsgruppe in geschlechtergeschichtlicher Perspektive. GRIN Verlag, 2008. Print. Page 67. [32] ibidem [33] Vinke, Hermann. Das Kurze Leben Der Sophie Scholl. [Ravensburg]: Ravensburger Buchverlag, 2007. Print. Page 28.

Were the 6 leaflets produced by the members of the White Rose primarily influenced by their Christian beliefs?
Section A – Plan of the Investigation – 145 words
I am going to use the six leaflets that were produced by the White Rose as a primary source to determine, whether the actions by the White Rose were predominantly influenced by their Christian beliefs. I am also going to use the very recent Sophie Scholl - Biographie by Barbara Beuys. Furthermore, I will use historians such as Kershaw, J. Evans and H. Kater to investigate a non-German perspective on the matter. In addition, I will contact the White Rose foundation directly for further information concerning the religious influence. Furthermore, I will be using Die Weiße Rose by Inge Aicher-Scholl, Hans and Sophie’s sister, who offers the siblings’ diary entries and letters. I will be focusing on the Scholls, as well as Christoph Probst, Willy Graf, Professor Kurt Huber and Professor Carl Muth as these are the crucial members and initiators of the resistance group.

Section B – Summary of evidence – 488 words
Hans and Sophie Scholl were baptized as Protestants, and spent their lives as non-practicing Christians.[1] Alexander Schmorell was born into a Russian Orthodox family and received the appropriate baptizing.[2] Christoph Probst was brought up believing in no specific religion. However, throughout the years he had started supporting the Christian belief and on his execution day was baptized and received the Holy Communion.[3] Willi Graf’s family was strictly Catholic and throughout his life he proved his passionate devotion to the Catholic Church by being an altar server and joining a Catholic student group.[4] At University Hans Scholl met Alexander Schmorell, with whom Hans initiated the creation of the student resistance group, the White Rose. This started off as innocent, apolitical discussion groups, and eventually turned into an active resistant movement. After a while, crucial members such as the university students Christopher Probst and Willy Graf, as well as the professor Kurt Huber became a part of the White Rose.[5]
Through Willi Graf, the members of the White Rose were introduced to the German writer and publisher of the religious magazine Hochland, Carl Muth in the fall of 1941.[6] The members of the White Rose, especially Hans spent days at his house; reading his books and listening to him speak. Through him Hans realized “the solution”, he started praying regularly again, and stated that “in this year Christ was reborn for him”.[7] Through Muth the members met Theodor Haecker, a German writer who was a locum of the Catholic existentialism.[8] “Their Christian message became the criteria for their thoughts and actions.”[9]
Between the end of June and the middle of July, 1942, the first four leaflets were created and sent anonymously to addresses in Munich. “Leistet passiven Widerstand, wo immer Ihr auch seid!“[10] was the message of the first leaflet, ordering that passive resistance shall be shown in every situation, a message that was supported in the other three leaflets. The second leaflet focused on the ongoing mass murder of the Poles and the Jews.[11] In the summer of 1942, Sophie Scholl joined the White Rose, and between January 27th and 29th, 1943, the fifth leaflet appeared. Its message:”Hitler kann den Krieg nicht gewinnen, nur noch verlängern.”[12] During January 1943 the group participated in discussion rounds with Christoph Probst’s father-in-law, Harald Dohrn, who strongly spread the idea that National Socialism limits the freedom of the Catholic Church.[13] At night these students produced up to 9000 copies of the leaflets, and sent these to six larger German and Austrian cities.[14]
The events of the German defeat in Stalingrad at the beginning of 1943, as well as the speech given by Gauleiter Gießler on January 13, 1943, in which he publically offended female students, triggered the creation of the sixth leaflet[15]. This leaflet encouraged an uprising against Hitler’s dictatorship by the youth. Between the 3rd and the 16th of February 1943, the members of the White Rose distributed their sixth leaflet.[16]
Section C – Evaluation of Sources – 453 words
6 Leaflets produced by the White Rose[17]
The six leaflets which were composed, printed and distributed between the end of June 1942 and February 18th, 1943 by the members of the White Rose were their method of resisting against the Nazi regime. They were created to encourage passive resistance against Hitler by the public, as well as informing these of events happening on the Eastern Front.[18] The idea for these leaflets originated from personal experiences of the members at the war fronts, of conversations with professors, the individual history of the members, as well as their rebellious personalities. This source is crucial for this research paper, as I am trying to determine if the catholic beliefs had any effect on the origin of these leaflets or the development of the content. This source is extremely valuable, as it is the edited and finalized original of what the White Rose wanted to distribute to the public. This enables us to observe and understand what their aims and thoughts were, what they were based upon and where they were leading to. The German original versions of these leaflets will offer no limitation through distortion of meanings and interpretations through translations. Because this research paper is based on this primary source, it is of great value to it, and can therefore not offer many limitations, apart from personal interpretations. When looking at the Catholic influence however, a limiting factor is that one has to interpret and analyze the leaflets in order to conclude any influential religious aspects, as it is not clearly stated in the texts, but rather suggested in the language of the leaflets.
Sophie Scholl – Die letzten Tage, Fred Breinersdorfer
Published in 2005, Sophie Scholl – Die letzten Tage is more than just a book accompanying a movie. “It describes the settings, the historic environment and the conditions for the creation of the White Rose.”[19] Fred Breinersdorfer himself stated that through this book as well as the movie, he “wanted to inform and educate the German public of the courage shown by young German adults through resistance against the feared Nazi regime.”[20] This source has a great value when attempting to answer this research question, as it contains thorough and detailed bibliographies of all crucial influences and members of the White Rose, including the religious commitments of each person. Another valuable aspect of this source is that it includes many to date unpublished historical documents and recordings, which increases the reliability of the given information. A limitation of this source is that the book is focusing on Sophie’s last days, which does not necessarily include the creation of all leaflets. The source includes a lot of valuable and crucial information on this topic; however the source is not limited to the Christian influence on the 6 White Rose leaflets.
Section D – Analysis – 787 words
Germans today use the White Rose as proof of resistance during their darkest time. Ian Kershaw describes its actions as a “highly courageous act of defiance”[21] aiming to raise awareness about the “criminal inhumanity of the regime”[22], attract new supporters and to resist National Socialism. Richard Evans agrees, adding its aims were "to rouse popular opinion so that the masses would rise up and bring an end to the war by overthrowing Hitler and his regime"[23] out of a hatred towards the regime's "racism and its antisemitism, its restrictions on personal freedom, and above all the extreme violence it unleashed on the Eastern Front.”[24] However, such representations from today's leading historians appear to disregard their main ambition - to preserve and recreate the belief and support for the Church reflected in their actions and specifically in the content and language of their leaflets.
All members of the group either had strong Christian beliefs and background or converted to Christianity before their death. The letters to the Scholl family from the children show that “the religious understanding of the siblings gained, under the influence of Carl Muth, intensity and a concrete reference.[25] This involvement with Muth as well as Haecker can be seen in the first leaflet comparing Hitler to an “insatiable daemon” and an “atheist war machine”[26] written right after encounter with both. However, such biblical references would not have needed any great Catholic background, as such language is now commonplace. This is different in the second leaflet where the murder of the Jews is described as “the most appalling crime to the dignity of a human being”[27], a clear reference to the fifth commandment. The "claim that the Jews might deserve such a fate is a monstrous presumption” [28] also evokes “He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her.”[29] The Second Leaflet also mentions that it is our responsibility to act in “shaking off the yoke which weighs on our world” [30], in order for us to be “cleansed by suffering” [31] which refers to 1 John 1:9[32]. At closer observation, this could serve as a metaphor for the inhumane actions of the Nazis and the devastating impact these are having on the world. It further conveys the religious importance of realizing one's mistakes and rectifying them. This idea of recompensing the wrong is linked to the driving force of the actions of the White Rose. Therefore, whilst the destruction of the NSDAP was a motive, the religious guidelines and ideas were their main intended messages.
The third leaflet is “theologically argumentative.”[33]. It mentions the “dictatorship of the evil” and the “offspring of hell”, relating these to Satan.[34] Blame and God’s will are the main themes, as well as the wish to create a state closely reflecting the “civitas dei”, a Christian theocracy.[35] This highlights the idea that the White Rose wanted to be religiously creational, rather than violently destructive. “The religious relevance in Scholl’s thinking is clearly illustrated in the fourth leaflet”[36] and theology is used as a foundation in their justification of their resistance. Hitler is characterized as “the power of evil, the fallen angel, Satan” and his mouth is described as “the foul-smelling maw of Hell”. The White Rose claims that anyone who previously did not believe in the existence of demonic powers will be convinced through the war which is fought against the “messenger of the Antichrist”.[37] Hitler being the satanic power is an image that extends through most of this leaflet, describing the Germans to be helpless without the aid of the real God. The belief of the White Rose in the power of religion is demonstrated in its declaration that “[o]nly 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.”[38] The members were aware that their group did not have the power to save Europe from the horrors of the Nazi regime; however, they strongly believed that by contacting the public and spreading awareness about the power of religion, they would have made the necessary start of reawakening Earth. Summarized by the German Historians Benz and Pehle, “apocalyptic text passages from the bible were incorporated into the leaflets[39]. According to the Catholic Peace Fellowship, “we can never know how large an impact theology and faith had on the actions of the members of the White Rose, but we can be sure that it was significant.”[40]

February 4th, 2012 Alexander Schmorell was sainted by the Russian-orthodox Church. Nikolai Artemoff, the Archpriest of the Munich cathedral, states that Alexander Schmorell “did not just take comfort in religion, but furthermore from his belief carried out resistance”.[41]

Section E – Conclusion – 126 words
Concluding from the analysis of the evidence, the Christian beliefs and interests of the members of the White Rose, as well as of their mentors Muth, Haecker and Huber left clear traces in their leaflets. The use of specific Christian terms, as well as the close reference to biblical passages found in the leaflets, demonstrates an evident influence of Christian belief on the actions of the White Rose. The sources offered by family members of the group suggest that their thoughts and actions were based on the Christian ideas. The influence of religion was influential and significant to the creation of the leaflets, however we cannot be certain how large of an impact it had and if it was indeed the primary influence on the members.

 FOOTNOTES: [1] Breinersdorfer, Fred and Ulrich Chaussy. Sophie Scholl – Die letzen Tage. Frankfurt Am Main: Fischer Taschenbuch, 2005. pg. 91 [2] ibid., pg. 98 [3] ibid., pg. 110 [4] ibid., pg. 122 [5] Cussen, Brenna. "CPF - The White Rose Martyrs." Welcome to Catholic Peace Fellowship. Web. 10 Nov. 2011. [6] Kater, Michael H. Hitler Youth, Cambridge, MA: Harvard UP, 2004. pg. 121 [7] Steffahn, Harald. Die Weiße Rose: Mit Selbstzeugnissen und Bilddokumenten. Reinbek bei Hamburg: Rowohlt. 1993. pg. 50 [8] Benz, Wolfgang und Walter H. Pehle, Lexikon des deutschen Widerstandes. Frankfurt am Main: S. Fischer, 1994. pg. 317 [9] Steffahn, op.cit., pg. 59 [10] Steffahn, op.cit., Pg. 74 [11] Herder, Raimund. Wege in den Widerstand gegen Hitler. Freiburg, Br.: Herder, 2009. pg. 53 [12] Beuys, Barbara. Sophie Scholl – Biografie. München: Hanser, 2010. pg. 65 This translates as: ‘Hitler cannot win this war, he can only prolong it.’ [13] Zankel, Söhnke. Mit Flugblättern gegen Hitler: Der Widerstandskreis um Hans Scholl und Alexander Schmorell. Köln: Böhlau, 2008. pg. 348 [14] Hüttl, Sebastian. Widerstand gegen den Nationalsozialismus. Norderstedt, 2011. pg.7 [15] Vinke, Hermann. Das kurze Leben der Sophie Scholl. Ravensburger, 1987. pg. 159 [16] Hildebrandt, Irma. Bin halt ein zähes Luder – 15 Münchener Frauenporträts. München: Piper, 2006. pg. 203 [17] "Shoah Project - Die Weiße Rose - Flugblätter." Shoah Project Titelseite. Web. 8 Nov. 2011. [18] Scholl, Inge. Die Weiße Rose. Copenhagen: Aschehoug, 1995. pg. 97 [19] Breinersdorfer, op.cit., pg.2 [20] Breinersdorfer, loc.cit. [21] Kershaw, Ian. Hitler. New York: W.W. Norton, 1999. pg. 101 [22] idib., pg.101 [23] Idib., pg. 629 [24] Evans, Richard J. The Third Reich at War. New York: Penguin, 2009. pg. 628 [25] ibid., pg. 59 [26] Scholl, op.cit., pg.77 [27] Weiße Rose Stiftung E.V. Web. 10 Nov. 2011. [28] "Shoah Project - Die Weiße Rose - Flugblätter." Shoah Project Titelseite. Web. 8 Nov. 2011. [29] John 7:53-8:11 Bible (King James Version) [30] Steffahn, op.cit., pg. 134 [31] Steffahn, op.cit., pg. 134 [32] 1 John 1:9 Bible (King James Version) [33] Zankel, op.cit., pg. 265 [34] Ruth Bernadette Melon, Journey to the White Rose in Germany, pg. 101 [35] "Shoah Project - Die Weiße Rose - Flugblätter." Shoah Project Titelseite. Web. 8 Nov. 2011. [36] Zankel, op.cit., pg. 265 [37] Michael H. Kater, op.cit., pg. 131 [38] Weiße Rose Stiftung E.V. Web. 10 Nov. 2011. [39] Benz und Walter H.Pehle, op.cit., pg. 316 [40] Cussen, Brenna. "CPF - The White Rose Martyrs." Welcome to Catholic Peace Fellowship. Web. 10 Nov. 2011. [41] Wetzel, Jakob. "Alexander Von München." München: Alexander Schmorell Heilig Gesprochen. Süddeutsche Zeitung, 5 Feb. 2012. Web. 15 Feb. 2012.

An Investigation into the evidence to how Sophie Scholl contributed to the White Rose Residence Group

Section A: Plan of Investigation
This investigation will answer the question: How did Sophie Scholl contribute to the White Rose? In order to answer this question I will visit the Ludwig-Maximilian University which is now seen as the official memorial site for the White Rose as Sophie Scholl and brother attended the LMU in Munich. There I will have access to dedicated archives, which were made available by the White Rose.
I will also focus on literature such as “Sophie Scholl and the White Rose” by Annette Dumbach and Jud Newborn and “Die Weiße Rose” by Inge Scholl. This Source will give me close insight to Sophie’s personal life as the book was written by her older sister. This investigation will also include information from a  biography on Sophie Scholl written by Barbara Beuys, she includes many aspects of her overall personality and character which one can relate to her contribution in the White Rose.

Section B: Summary of Evidence
Sophie Scholl:
·      Sophie Scholl was born on the 9th of May 1921 into a religious Christian family. [1]
·      During her academic career she and her brother, Hans Scholl, believed in the Nazi Ideology. [2]
·      In 1939 she entered the “Bund Deutscher Mädel”, an organization created for the Hitler youth.[3]
·      In 1940 Sophie Scholl began to oppose the Nazi regime. Sophie studied Biology and Philosophy in the Ludwig-Maximilian University.[4]
·      Through her brother, Hans Scholl, who studied Medicine in the LMU, she comes in contact with other students who encouraged the opposition against the Nazi regime. [5]
·      Against her brothers will Sophie Scholl entered the opposition party “Weiße Rose” created by her brother Hans Scholl. [6]
·      Mostly Christian students joined the White Rose because they were against the isolation of Jews.

The White Rose:
·      In 1942 Hans Scholl, Christoph Probst and Alexander Schmorell founded the “White Rose”[7], one of the few German groups that spoke out against the Nazi regime. Later on, Sophie Schroll and Willi Graf also joined the group. [8]
·      Nazi tyranny and the apathy of the Germans in the face of the Nazi crimes outraged idealistic members of the White Rose. They had heard about the mass murder of Polish Jews. “Hans and Sophie Scholl believed differently. They believed that it was the duty of a citizen, even in times of war, to stand up against an evil regime, especially when it is sending hundreds of thousands of its citizens to their deaths.” [9]
·      Between June and July 1942 the White Rose produced four “Flugblätter der Weißen Rose” (Flyers of the White Rose), each printed about 100 times[10], they were send to specific addresses which the members of the white rose knew of. [11]
·      In January 1943 the fifth flyer was created, was printed between 6,000 to 9,000 times[12]  (“Ausruf an alle Deutsche”) it was send to different cities in South Germany and Austria. [13]
·      In February 1943 the White Rose residence group painted on buildings and wrote slogans such as “Nieder mit Hitler”, “Hitler Massenmörder” und “Freiheit”[14] all over town. [15]
·      The sixth flyer focused on the war politics and was also created in February, it focused on the students in universities to stand up against the Nazis. [16]
·      Shortly after the sixth flyer was released the Secret State Police (“Geheime Staats Polizei”) was alarmed and tried to track it down, however with no success.
·      In 1943 Gestapo became aware of the case and reopened it. [17]
·      Sophie and Hans Scholl were seen spreading the flyers in their university, Sophie was seen on the balcony of the university when Gestapo was altered.
·      The Siblings were sentenced to death on the 22nd of February, Sophie Scholl was at the age of 21. [18]· Other members such as Graf, Schmorell and Huber were also sentenced to death on the 19th of April 1943. [19]·      With the help of Helmuth von Molke 1.5 million copies of the sixth flyer were spread by British planes in autumn 1943, which showed the achievement of the opposition group. [20]

Section C: Evaluation of Sources

Source 1: Die Weiße Rose, Inge Scholl
The Orgin of this literature was Inge Scholl, she was born 1917, and was the sister of Sophie and Hans Scholl. After the second world war she wrote the book “Die Weiße Rose” the purpose of this was for a memorial towards her siblings. The novel is significant as it gives close insight to the background of Sophie Scholl and therefore explains the reasons why her and her brother Hans Scholl were so dedicated to the White Rose. Another value of it, is that it explains the aims and actions of the organization and therefore tells the reader what impact Sophie Scholl had on the White Rose. The novel gives the reader a lot of insight into her private life it discusses the relationships she had with the members of the White Rose as well as her life out side of the organization.[21] Even though the book gives a highly amount of detail in Sophie Scholl’s action in the White Rose, one limitation of it is that it does not focus very much on other important members, therefore the source might focus too much on the background she had with her family and not as much on her actual role in the organization. One could also argue that Inge Scholl being the sister of Sophie Scholl would not be able to critize Sophie’s actions, this would therefore a limitation of the source.

Source 2: 1-6 Flyers from the White Rose
The Flyers created by the White Rose showed their perspective and opinion towards the Hitler regime. These Flyers are today still found in the ‘Gedenkstätte’ in Munich, the original Flyers have been copied and are now available for everyone to see.
The purpose of the White Rose members was to convince as many Germans as possible that the aims of the Nazis were wrong and that Hitler was trying to create[22] “Eine böse Diktatur”[23]
When reading the Flyers now, one can see the opinion the White Rose members had on Hitler and for what reasons the country should become one and rise against it. When looking back at the research question: How did Sophie Scholl contribute to the White Rose? The Flyers give a valuable answer. As the Flyers make it easier to understand what impact Sophie Scholl had on the White Rose. On the original Flyers, names had been published of the members of the White Rose that created a specific flyer, however Sophie’s Name was not found in any of the Flyers. This means that she was not responsible for writing and creating the flyers. However Sophie Scholl was still an active and important member as she was part of spreading the flyers around the country as well as painting the walls and building with quotes against Hitler and the Nazi Regime. Therefore she still made a huge impact on the White Rose, as she had been the one searching for new members to join and to influence new potential members.

Section D: Analysis
When analyzing the research question stated above, how did Sophie Scholl impact the White Rose all aspects of the White Rose have to be considered. As stated before Sophie was not part in the publications of the Flyers, which proves that she did not have a great role in the residence movement.[24] It is also known that her brother Hans Scholl came up with the Name “The White Rose” due to his belief and other background information.[25] Therefore his younger sister Sophie also had no part in the foundation of the name. Hans Scholl and Alexander Schmorell were the founders of the White Rose and therefore also came up with the aims and the whole concept idea. [26]Also, Hans Scholl was against his sister Sophie joining the White Rose, it took her almost half a year to convince her brother to be part of the White Rose, and he only let her join after his return from the front. Still, the foundation and creation of the organization were made without Sophie.

Sophie Scholl only joined after the first four flyers were already released, which shows that the main part of the organization was already made before she was a part. Sophie showed her contribution in spreading the flyers around the country. However even when she was part of the White Rose, her name was still not listed on the Flyers, historian Sönke Zankel suspects that Sophie’s brother did not want to put her name up incase it would put her in even more danger. On the other hand it could also mean that she showed no contribution in writing the flyers as it is known that Sophie did not have enough experience to persuade people. To be able to persuade people, experience from the front is needed therefore only male members of the White Rose had that experience.

When comparing Sophie Scholl to her brother Scholl a clear difference can be seen in there actions. While Hans was responsible for the foundation, publication of flyers and graffiti in the city. Whereas Sophie was responsible for the financial management of the White Rose as well as spreading the flyers in universities. [27]Due to the fact that the production of the flyers and the graffiti around the city played the most important role of the White Rose and Sophie Scholl was not part of them shows that the male members of the organization might have had a bigger impact on the White Rose.

However Sophie Scholl still put herself into the exact same danger as any other member of the White Rose, and should therefore be treated with just as much respect. Both Hans and Sophie Scholl supported their belief until their death and are now treated and known with respect and Germany, several schools and streets have been named after Hans and Sophie Scholl. [28] As Sophie Scholl did not contribute in the major activities of the White Rose, she is still known as one of the bravest girls that ever existed in Germany. One could argue that this is because she was a young girl arrested and executed while fighting for what she believed in. Therefore she might stand out more compared to her older brother Hans Scholl, who was the one of founders of the White Rose.

Section E: Conclusion
In conclusion, even though Sophie Scholl did not take part in the main activities of the White Rose and rather worked in the background when handling the financial state of the organization, and her brother Hans Scholl being the founder of the organization, every member put himself in the same danger and can therefore be considered as being equally important even if being assigned into different positions.

FOOTNOTES:[1] Inge Scholl, Die Weiße Rose [2] Jacob G. Hornberger, A Lesson in Dissent [3] Scholl, Hans, and Sophie Scholl, Briefe und Aufzeichnungen [4] Barbara Beuys, Sophie Scholl Biographie [5] Inge Scholl, Die Weiße Rose [6] Axelrod, Toby. Hans and Sophie Scholl: German Resisters of the White Rose. [7] Ulrich Chaussy, Sophie Scholl – Die letzten Tagec [8] Dumbach, Annette E., and Jud Newborn. Shattering the German Night: The Story of the White Rose. [9] Jacob G. Hornberger, A Lesson in Dissent [10] http://www.bpb.de/geschichte/nationalsozialismus/weisse-rose/61008/die-flugblaetter-im-wortlaut 24.08.2014 [11] Marc Rothemund, Sophie Scholl- Die letzten Tage [12] Steffahn Harald, Die Weiße Rose Mit Selbstzeugnissen und Bilddokumenten [13]  Bundes Zentrale für Politische Bildung [14] “Down with Hitler”, “Hitler mass murderer” and “Freedom” [15] Hütteman Inge, Das sechste Flugblatt [16] Hütteman Inge, Das sechste Flugblatt [17] Vinke Herrman, Das kurze Leben der Sophie Scholl [18] Marc Rothemund, Sophie Scholl, die letzten Tage [19] Dumbach, Annette E., and Jud Newborn. Shattering the German Night: The Story of the White Rose. [20] http://www.antifa-buendnis-ka.de/weisse-rose/wrose_flugis.html, accessed 23.09.2014 [21] Inge Scholl, Die Weiße Rose [22] Bundes Zentrale für Politische Bildung, Flugblatt II, accessed 24.08.2014 [23] “An evil Dictatorship” [24] Annete Dumbach, Sophie Scholl and the White Rose [25] Chaussy, Ulrich, The White Rose: The Resistance by Students against Hitler 1942/43 [26] Hanser Richard, The Revolt of the Munich Students against Hitler [27] Inge Scholl, Die Weiße Rose [28] Schulzentrum Geschwister Scholl

Was the Gestapo involved in Georg Elser’s attempt to assassinate Adolf Hitler on the 8th of November 1939?

A: Plan of Investigation

The exact motivations and planning of the bomb plot on the 8th of November 1939, are still today unclear. The following investigation will answer the question “Was the Gestapo involved in Georg Elser’s attempt to assassinate Adolf Hitler on the 8th of November 1939?”  by taking into two contrasting views. With the view of Best, who argues that the Gestapo was indeed behind the plot, , and contemporary newspaper articles offering a completely different stance, the investigation will be able to holistically analyze all perspectives of the plot.  Supplementary to this, sources like the Official Gestapo Protocol of 1939 will be used. Additionally, being fluent in both English and German, the investigation will have access to a larger quantity and variety of sources, allowing a more nuanced conclusion to be reached.

B: Summary of Evidence

Evening of 8th of November
On the 8th of November, the sixteenth anniversary of the 1923 Beer Hall Putsch, Hitler traveled to Munich in order to hold a speech at the „Bürgerbräukeller“. Arriving at 20:00 with a group of 3000 supporters, Hitler began his speech at exactly 20:08. Hitler’s previous speeches had lasted two hours on average, however on this evening his speech was cut short due to a note addressed from Göring, in which it stated that Hitler should “shorten his speech” and return to Berlin “by the quickest means possible”[1]. Finishing his speech at 20:58 and leaving at 21:09 in order to catch a 21:31 train to Berlin, Hitler managed to get out of the Bürgerbräukeller prior to the powerful bomb detonation at 21:20. Apparently placed by carpenter Georg Elser, the bomb was hidden inside a “pillar that was a main support for the roof”[2].  The explosion lead to the death of eight individuals and the injury of sixty-three[3]. On the next day two British Agents operating for Germany in Holland, Agent Payne Best and Agent Stevens, were kidnapped by an SS-Officer called Walther Schellenberg who had been working with them undercover in Venlo. They were arrested under suspicions OF BEING INVOLVED WITH of the bomb plot, and ON at the same day Elser was arrested trying to cross the boarder Switzerland. Officials found evidence including plans and leaflets from FROM the Red Front Fighters[4], EXPLAIN MAYBE FOOTNOTE and “confessed to setting the bomb but refused to implicate anyone else”.[5]

Days after the Assassination Attempt and Joseph Goebbels.
On the days following the assassination attempt, rumors about the involvement of the British Secret Service[6], Communist Party[7] and even the Gestapo themselves began to surface. Writing in his personal journal following the Attentat, Joseph Goebbels stated “like the Reichstag fire, London and Paris is trying to blame this on us”[8].  Goebbels, with a noticeable increase of suspicion, noted  that the “real assassin behind the attack is a creature of Otto Strasser”[9] and that “Otto Strasser and the secret service are behind everything”[10].

Time at Dachau and Evolution of “Mythos Elser”
 Following his statement and confession of guilt, Elser was sent directly to the Concentration Camp “Sachsenhausen”. According to Best, he was treated in a “friendly manner” and was even allowed to smoke and see friends. Elser remained imprisoned in Sachsenhausen and was eventually transferred to the Dachau KZ. Elser, known in the camp under the name “Eller”, was supposed to be executed following the “Endsieg”[11] with Admiral Wilhelm Canaris in a show trial. With the Allied front moving in in 1945, Elser was sentenced to death with “Liquidierungsbefehl”[12] on the 5th of April, 1945. Executed on the 9th by SS-Oberscharführer Theodor Bongartz[13] only 20 days before the liberation of the camp. The fact that Elser was kept alive for six years following the Attentat and not executed in 1939 contributed to the suspicions of Gestapo involvement.

C: Evaluation of Sources
Captain Sigismund Payne Best’s book “The Venlo Incident”(1950)
A recollection of events, the book bases on Best’s memories of his time and eventual arrest  as an MI6 agent in Germany during World War II. With the aim to describe a “true story of double-dealing, captivity and a murderous Nazi Plot”, Best acts as a link to the conspiracy theory that the British Secret Service was behind the plot while at the same time hinting at the Gestapo’s involvement. Best was arrested and put into 5 years of solitary confinement due to the suspect that he was involved in the bomb plot. The Deutsche Allgemeine Zeitung’s article in 1939 called Best the “criminal mastermind” of the Georg Elser plot.

  A large section of the book includes a description of his relationship with Resistance-Fighter Elser and his observation of incidents in KZ-Sachsenhausen. In his writing, Best describes his observation of Elser and their dialogues.. Furthermore, a major limitation of the book is the shortage of evidence to support claims, such as the latter, made. Best admits in his book that he and Elser ““never met or spoke to each other.” The events in the book are described in great detail, which has lead to reviews calling the book “a fascinating story.”[14] These reviews that call the book a “story” indicate that Best may have exaggerated . In some reviews, he is even accused of “fabricating intelligence”[15] and his explanations consisting “anecdotes[16]”. Another major limitation lies within the fact, that the book is not about Elser, and that Best is a highly skilled diplomat, rather than a historian.

 As the book was published in 1950, Best was not able to use the files published in 2009 by the British Foreign Ministry on the Venlo Incident. With a large controversy with Best’s publication of names of British Intelligence officers, Best was given permission to publish his book by the had of the SIS, Steward Graham Menzies.  Initially planned to be published in 2015, Document “FO 371/23107” is considered one of the vital official files outside the Gestapo.

Front Page Newspaper, Berlin 22nd November 1939,  Deutsche Allgemeine Zeitung  titled“Georg Elser the Murderer, Intelligence Service the commanders, Otto Strasser the Organiser”
In April 1945, the Deutsche Allgemeine Zeitung was the last German newspaper to still print daily papers. Known for its changing political stances over time, it was initially established by Heinrich Brockhaus with a conservative national/liberal perspective. With Hitler’s usurp of power, complete newspapers and articles oft he „DAZ“  were censored.  After being forced to hire national-socialistic editors and writers from Das Reich newspaper, “DAZ”[17] evolved to become a right-wing paper.  The aim of the newspaper article is to explain the events of the 8th of November and to offer an clarification to the public as to what who was responsible for the bomb plot.

 The newspaper article’s value lies with the fact that it reflects the spirit of the time and was a direct contemporary response to the explosion.  It is the information that the public received, and furthermore, one can identify a clear limitation with the restrictive nature of the NSDAP-controlled newspaper. The chief-editor in 1939, Karl Silex, was fired in 1943 as he was blamed for being be friends with Resistance-fighter  and plotter of the 20th of July Plot, Henning von Tresckow. Another obvious limitation of the article is the condition, under which it was published. Fourteen days after the bomb plot, and just having both the suspect Georg Elser, as well as two intelligence officers, the NSDAP was trying to figure how Elser could have gotten through with his plot. Furthermore, the article is trying to divert the focus from Elser’s  to the two British Officers, distorting the reader’s impression. It states that “the true criminals are those who plotted rather than those who planted the bomb”.

The statements made in the article involving the third-party involvement in the bomb plot were assumed to be  valid until 1969,  and the article is very useful for the study of Elser’s plot as it represents the knowledge and beliefs of the public until Anton Hoch’s  published the official Gestapo protocol in 1969, 30 years after the Attentat.

D: Analysis

As the Deutsche Allgemeine Zeitung portrays the plot of Georg Elser as the work of the “criminal masterminds” of the British Intelligence, the increase in information and files available have been vital to the entire investigation.

One of the principal points of evidence that suggests the Gestapo involvement is Sigismund Payne Best’s article in which he gives first hand evidence of Elser’s treatment and relationship with the Gestapo in the KZ Sachsenhausen and Dachau. Even though “never directly talking with Elser” Best claims that he was able to “establish relations with Elser” and that Elser told him through “many letters” his story. It is interesting how Best explains how Elser “admitted to planting the bomb in the pillar” but “denied that he had any accomplices.”[18] William Shirer supports Best’s beliefs by stating that Elser was told by the Nazis that it is “necessary to eliminate traitor’s of the party”. Hans Rothfels, ironically the publisher of Anton Hoch’s seminal article about Elser’s plot without third-party involvement, explains that without the Gestapo’s involvement “an installation as such would have never been possible.[19]”

Indeed, Elser’s unspectacular background as a carpenter has been the source of skepticism for his statement denying third-party involvement.  Best quotes in Sigmund Rascher, who after explaining the unlikelihood of Elser outsmarting the security of the SS, exclaims, “Everyone knew that it was a Gestapo fake”[20]. Best claims that the Gestapo arranged the Attentat on Hitler, and that he had been arrested after he had been “mixed up with a band of communists”[21]. Allan Bullock, agreeing to Rascher’s statement saying that  “the assassination on Hitler was organized by the Gestapo”[22] argues that its entire purpose was to “raise the Führer’s popularity[23]”. Roger Moorhouse agrees to the Bullock’s statement by saying that the DAZ-article specifically was aimed to “boost Hitler’s popularity.”[24]

The turning point of the theories involving the plot was the moment when Lothar Gruchmann was enabled access to 203 pages Gestapo Protocol files on the bomb plot of the 8th of November. Anton Hoch, who was the first to publish Gruchmann’s findings in his article in the “Viertelsjahrsheft für Deutsche Zeitgeschichte“in 1969. The information given in Hoch’s article is the source of modern-day historians’ knowledge on the Elser Attentat, making it, after the DAZ-article and Best’s book, one of the most valuable sources in the entire investigation.  Considering the limitations of both Best’s book, with the possibility of personal exaggeration in order to glorify personal experiences, and the censorship and conditions of the publication of the DAZ-article, the validity of the statements made in each can be questioned. With the personal examination of the official Gestapo Files in the Museum of German Resistance in Berlin, Georg Elser’s plotting without the Gestapo was proven by the documentation of his ability to completely reconstruct during interrogative conditions. Personally explaining in a step-by-step methodology, the Gestapo Protocol assures of Elser’s “solitary working[25]” backed up with James Duffy’s explanation of Elser “accomplishing the task by himself[26]”. After conducting a personal interview with controversial historian David Irving, he believes that “Elser was a lone assassin”, referring back to Anton Hoch’s 1969 article. Furthermore, with the 2009 publication of National Archives file “ FO 371/23107” in London on the case of Elser, reassurance that Elser worked by himself is ensured.

E: Conclusion

After carefully taking into perspective the reasoning for why the Gestapo may have been involved in the assassination attempt on the 8th of November 1939, the investigation will conclude with the acknowledgement of Elser’s working without the involvement of any third-parties. With the two conflicting views involving the plot, it can be observed that the argument, that Elser worked alone, can be supported by official documents and files. All other accounts rely, such as that of Best, rely on personal interpretations, speculations and do not have hard evidence as backing. The conducting of interviews and personal evaluation of documents that were not available to some historians, has avoided a nuanced result of the investigation.

With the careful analysis of sources and the consideration of current files and evidence, it has become apparent that Elser alone was capable of almost assassinating Adolf Hitler. Considering that the importance of Elser’s Attentat, it could not have only changed the lives of those falsely convicted, but could have also changed the entire German history.

1.  Allen, Martin. “Hidden Agenda” : Rowman and Littlefield, Print  2.  Best, Sigismund Payne. “The Venlo Incident”. 2009 ed. London: Pen & Sword, 1950. Print    3.  Bullock, Alan “Hitler; a Study in Tyranny” London: Odhams, 1952. Print.    4.  Duffy, James P., and Vincent L. Ricci. “Target Hitler: The Plots to Kill Adolf Hitler” Print. Page 36    5.  Gisevius, Hans Bernd. “Bis Zum Bittern Ende” Zürich: Fretz Und Wasmuth, 1946. Print    6. Goebbels, Joseph. "Er Steht Doch Unter Dem Schutz Des Allmächtigen." Letter. 9 Nov. 1939. Http://www.georg-elser-arbeitskreis.de Web.      7. Good, Meaghan. "ExecutedToday.com." ExecutedToday.com. Web. .    8. Haasis, Hellmuth G. "Georg Elsers Ende Im KZ Dachau." Georg Elsers Ende- The Man Who Killed Elser.. .    9.  Hoch, Anton. "Das Attentat Auf Hitler Im Münchner Bürgerbräukeller 1939." Ed. Hans Rothfels and Theodor Eschenburg. Viertelsjahrsheft Für Zeitgeschichte [Stuttgart] Oct. 1969: 1-34. Print    10. Kershaw, Ian, Gerhard Von Spörl, and Klaus Wiegrefe. "Dem Führer Entgegen Arbeiten." DER SPIEGEL.. Web. 21 Aug. 2000. .    11. MacDonald, Callum. The Venlo Affair. Vol. 8. London: European Studies Review, 1978. Print    12. Malzahn, Claus Christian. "A German Hero: The Carpenter Elser Versus the Führer Hitler." SPIEGEL ONLINE. Web. .    13. Moorhouse, Roger. “Killing Hitler: The Third Reich and the Plots against the Führer” London: Jonathan Cape, 2006. Print.    14.  National Archives, “ Doc. No. FO 371/23107” Kew, London http://discovery.nationalarchives.gov.uk/SearchUI/details/C6429165?descriptiontype=Full&ref=FO+371/23107/item    15.  Official Rep. No. 19 November-22/3100 at 230 (1939). Print.Verhörprotokoll Gestapo (Gestapo Documents from the Reichsjustizministerum)    16.  Rothfels, Hans. “Die Deutsche Opposition Gegen Hitler. Eine Würdigung”. Frankfurt: 1949. 58-84. Print    17. Sicherheitspolizei, Deutsche. "Liquidierungsbefehl Georg Elser." 1945. TS. Berlin. Web. .    18.  Shirer, William L. “The rise and fall of the Third Reich; a history of Nazi Germany” New York: Simon and Schuster, 1960. Print.    19. West, Nigel. "Slightly Less Secret." International Journal of Intelligence and Counterintelligence (2011). Web     [1] (Page 143)  Allen, Martin. Hidden Agenda. N.p.: Rowman and Littlefield, n.d. 142. Web.  [2] (Page 28) Duffyy2, James P., and Vincent L. Ricci. Target Hitler: The Plots to Kill Adolf Hitler. N.p Print.  [3]  (Page 31) Duffy, James P., and Vincent L. Ricci. Target Hitler: The Plots to Kill Adolf Hitler. N.p Print.  [4] „Roter Frontkämpfer-Bund RFB“, Kommunist Group established in 1924  [5] (Page 32) Duffy, James P., and Vincent L. Ricci. Target Hitler: The Plots to Kill Adolf Hitler. N.p Print.  [6] Mentioned in Best, Sigismund Payne. The Venlo Incident.  [7]  Argued by Malzahn, Claus Christian in "A German Hero: The Carpenter Elser Versus the Führer Hitler.", he states that for an individual like Elser, external political motivation must have been vital  [8] Goebbels, Joseph. "Er Steht Doch Unter Dem Schutz Des Allmächtigen." Letter. 9th  Nov. 1939.  [9]   Ibid  (Letter. 17th  Nov. 1939)  [10]   Ibid  (Letter. 19th  Nov. 1939)  [11] Term used by Adolf Hitler to describe the German victory of WWII  [12] Sicherheitspolizei, Deutsche. "Liquidierungsbefehl Georg Elser."  [13] Haasis, Hellmuth G. "Georg Elsers Ende Im KZ Dachau."  [14] Soldier Magazine Comment  "Pen and Sword Books: The Venlo Incident by Captain Sigismund Payne Best, Nigel Jones." Pen and Sword Books: The Venlo Incident by Captain Sigismund Payne Best, Nigel Jones. http://www.pen-and-sword.co.uk/The-Venlo-Incident/p/2027/    [15] West, Nigel. "Slightly Less Secret." International Journal of Intelligence and Counterintelligence (2011). Web    [16] I MacDonald, Callum. The Venlo Affair. Vol. 8. London: European Studies Review, 1978. Print  http://www.mythoselser.de/texts/macdonald.htm    [17] Abbreviation “DAZ”  frequently used to call the Deutsche Allgemeine Zeitung  [18] “  (P128) Best, Sigismund Payne. The Venlo Incident. 2009  London: Pen & Sword, 1950. Print.  [19] (Page 58) Rothfels, Hans. Die Deutsche Opposition Gegen Hitler. Eine Würdigung. 58-84. Print  [20] . (Page 187) Best, Sigismund Payne. The Venlo Incident. 2009 ed. London: Pen & Sword, 1950. Print.  [21] .  (Page 127) Page Best, Sigismund Payne. The Venlo Incident. 2009 ed. London: Pen & Sword, 1950. Print.  [22] (Page 572) Bullock, Alan. Hitler; a Study in Tyranny. London: Odhams, 1952. Print.  [23] Ibid  [24] (Page 53) Moorhouse, Roger. Killing Hitler: The Third Reich and the Plots against the Führer. London: Jonathan Cape, 2006. Print.  [25] Official Rep. No. 19 November-22/3100 at 230 (1939). Print.Verhörprotokoll Gestapo (Gestapo Documents from the Reichsjustizministerum)  [26] Duffy, James P., and Vincent L. Ricci. Target Hitler: The Plots to Kill Adolf Hitler. N Print.

How enthusiastic was Erwin Rommel about “Operation Walküre” in July 1944?

 Section A – Plan of Investigation              
 In October 1944, General Rommel was charged with supposed involvement in the Stauffenberg coup and given a choice: to be found guilty and executed through trial, or to take his own life; Rommel chose the latter.[1] But How Far did Rommel Support the Plot? To determine this, three aspects will be examined: an examination of the possible military involvement Rommel may have provided, his attitude towards the idea of assassinating Hitler, and the motives of his possible involvement or rejection of the Stauffenberg’s plans. A variety of sources will be examined. As a German, I have access to German-language articles, such as “Der Spiegel” to determine the latest controversy, as well as a British biography of Rommel, which includes interviews with Rommel’s son, and a variety of other accounts from letters to recordings of conversations from the time.  (138)

 Section B – Summary of Evidence 
Political and Public Standing  
Rommel,  regarded as  Hitler’s “favourite General,”[2] enjoyed great popularity within the National-Socialist government and the German people. [3] Göbbels used him for propaganda purposes, re-writing his life story as an early member of this Nazi party.[4]  In fact, considered politically unengaged, Rommel never joined the NSDAP, focussing solely on the military. He refused to allow his son Manfred to join the Waffen-SS, referring to rumours of mass-shootings and murders committed by the SS in the East. Rommel’s primary concern was to maintain or implement the honour, safety and success of his troops.[5] 
Clashes with Hitler  
In 1942, Rommel had defied Hitler’s orders concerning the battle of El Alamein of the Western Desert Campaign during the Second World War, in which his tank division fought against British General Montgomery’s troops, concerned that Hitler’s orders would worsen the situation for his troops in Egypt[6].  By 1944, Rommel was actively engaged against Hitler concerning the battle proceedings at the Western front.[7] In the same year, Rommel was made responsible for the prevention of the landing of allied forces as well as the Army Group B on the Western Front.[8] After D-Day Germany’s military situation changed drastically. Rommel desired peace negotiations with the enemy to end the war, and considered opening the front to let enemy forces trigger the overthrow of Hitler’s regime.[9] Speaking with Karl Strölin, mayor of Stuttgart at the time, Rommel declared he had to act in support of a “German rescue”.[10] This clashed severely with Hitler’s orders.[11] Operation Walküre  
Rommel was introduced to the plans of Operation Walküre and the following coup which aimed to bring about revolution[12] and hopefully end the war through negotiations with the enemy,[13] presenting an alternative to war for Rommel.[14]  During Colonel Lattman’s visit to Rommel in hospital, Rommel stated that war had to be ended under whatever circumstances,[15] leading Rommel to agree to meetings and talks with Stauffenberg’s men,[16] who required a popular face to represent the coup.[17] During a meeting with conspirator Caesar von Hofacker, Rommel stated that “Germany had made enough sacrifices” agreeing to collaborate with the plan and give support, according to the men Hofacker conversed with after the meeting.[18] Finally, the Eberbach Protocol supposedly records Rommel’s clear desire for the assassination of the Führer, reporting him as having said “there is no other opportunity for Germany other than to kill the Führer and his clanship as quickly as possible.”[19]  According to his son, Rommel was always strictly against an assassination[20], but supportive of a coup.[21] After the assassination failed, Rommel wrote to his wife expressing his shock at hearing about the attempt.[22] Rommel preferred the idea of putting Hitler on trial[23] as the General remained loyal to the dictator, owing him the success of his career.[24]  

 Section C – Evaluation of Sources   
Rommel – David Fraser, 1993, Original: Knight’s Cross: A life of Field Marshall Erwin Rommel   
Fraser, a British Army Officer who had served between 1940 and 1980 intended to investigate Rommel, with focus on his standpoint to Hitler. He aimed to determine to what extent he was a national-socialist and to what extent he was involved with the resistance against Hitler. The majority of the credentials are interrogations from during and after Hitler’s regime, testimonies as well as witness reports from several accused Generals and of those who knew Rommel and worked with him. Fraser also used interviews and explanations from Manfred Rommel, Rommel’s son, adding to the analysis. Peter Badastelli, describes Fraser’s work as "outstanding", tackling the myths through primary sources and accounts of those at the time.[25]  However, Fraser leaves the portrait of Rommel somewhat incomplete, by dedicating many chapters to general history of the time (although this is helpful in providing context). Fraser also does not write objectively, describing statements by Rommel to suggest active engagement in the resistance as weak or not giving similar attention to statements that imply otherwise. Most of his evidence relies only on the memories of people involved as well as second-hand translations from the original German which could affect nuance.

“Die Kraft des Bösen” (The Power of the Evil), Spiegel Edition Nr. 44/29.10.12, Jan Fleischhauer, Jan Friedmann   
Der Spiegel is a renowned German news magazine, which is sold worldwide and has become famous for having fought for freedom of the press in the late 1940’s, not unnecessarily embellishing important information, and for the unveiling of political affairs[26]. The purpose of the article is to inform the public about the General, who, although he was Hitler’s favourite, is never directly associated with being a Nazi and discusses the debate about his character - whether he should be considered a Nazi-criminal, or as the General who tried to end the war, defying Hitler’s orders in the process. The value of the article is the criticism with which the authors approach the myth of Rommel, as they do not make him a hero, but neither do they consider him a firm Nazi-General. Furthermore, it is vital to see how the propaganda figure during WWII is presented in the media today to understand his reputation then and now, as this can cloud perceptions of his involvement. Additionally, the article writes in hindsight, allowing for new evidence, in particular the Eberbach Protocol, which is missing from all other sources.  However, this article cannot be compared to an actual history book, as it is directed at a broad audience who may have limited understanding of history. By its nature, its investigation is much less in depth, presenting a broader view. 

 Section D – Analysis   The initial sources of conflict in answering this investigation lie in Goebbels's use of Rommel to create the perfect example of a Nazi-General, describing him in his diary as an “almost mythical figure.”[27] This makes it difficult to analyse Rommel, given his persona was increasingly manipulated for public purposes. As Fraser relies on opinions from the time, the article from Der Spiegel becomes all the more important, as it recognises this limitation and attempts to overcome it.  The plan itself had two intentions, a coup, and an assassination. The idea that Rommel saw the coup as his chance to end the war (which had been his intention since D-Day) is strongly debated [28]. The “Der Spiegel” article concludes that he was faithful to Hitler’s regime,[29] however concur that Rommel was never a member of the NSDAP, and therefore both the article and Fraser make it clear that Rommel never was and is still not seen as a real Nazi. His defiance of Hitler’s orders during the battle of El Alamein in 1942, and similar rejection of Hitler’s plans in 1944 on the Western Front could work with this to suggest his attitude towards the plans were positive.  Primarily, the conspirators saw the perfect face of the coup in Rommel, suggesting they tried to persuade him extensively. Several talks between the conspirators and Rommel took place,[30] in one of which he told Colonel Lattmann that the war had to be ended, under whatever circumstances.[31] Whether with “circumstances” Rommel simply meant a coup or the assassination is not clear, yet the word “whatever” implies that Rommel was capable of going to extreme lengths to end WWII. There had also been meetings in May, earlier that year between several resistors, in which Rommel agreed to collaborate, as “Germany had made enough sacrifices.”[32] Another meeting with conspirator Ceasar von Hofacker was held on the 9th of July[33]. According to the men Hofacker spoke to after the meeting, he informed Rommel about Stauffenberg’s assassination plans, the plans for the coup and revolution in Berlin. These men later stated that Rommel replied that the “war was lost anyway”, and gave his support.[34] This evidence, however, can be considered weak, as the content of the meeting between Hofacker and Rommel was never officially divulged by either participant. However, as this evidence was provided after 1945, fear of speaking out in support of Rommel should have been eradicated, lending slightly more weight to these allegations.   
For Rommel therefore, the Operation meant the end of the war and the possibility to save the last of German honour. This did not mean, according to Lieutenant Speidel, assassination of Hitler.[35] Clearly, Rommel experienced a clash between the two significant components of Stauffenberg’s operation. Most evidence presented in the sources agree Rommel was not anti-Hitler and did not support assassination. On July 21 Rommel was first informed about the attempted assassination by his adjutant Hellmuth Lang, who later described Rommel's clear shocked;[36] indeed, in a July 24 letter to his wife he declared “thank God that the assassination attempt failed”.[37] Although Fraser argues that Rommel had no choice but to speak out against the assassination in a letter that could be screened, Rommel appeared to prefer the idea of a trial for Hitler.[38]. Manfred Rommel has always maintained that his father had been strictly against an assassination[39] although whether his view on his father is objective is arguable as at the time of his father’s death he was only a teenager.  Further evidence for the General’s belief in the man to whom he owed his career were seen in his final days, where Rommel told the men in charge of his forced suicide that he “loved the Führer and still does”.[40] Whether it was an act of helpless self-defence, or to ensure the protection of his family, the truth cannot be known - but when Rommel was accused of holding back his tank division to support the coup, those who knew him, including Lieutenant Speidel, gave passionate testimonies in Rommel’s defence, stating these claims were incorrect.[41] This suggests that Rommel’s final testimony to his love of Hitler was not unsubstantiated, and he knew that there would be support to back up these words.  The only evidence that outright declares Rommel’s support of an assassination is referenced in Der Spiegel, discovered in 2005; the “Eberbach Protocol.” This record of his desire for an assassination of Hitler is based solely on what a British General overheard whilst listening in on a German officer in the autumn of 1944. [42] Although the Spiegel writes in hindsight, with access to evidence Fraser was not privy to, the tone of this statement and clear antipathy towards Rommel’s  “beloved” Hitler are not in accordance with the General’s normal manner.  Therefore it is not in line with the rest of the evidence provided by the bulk of sources. 

 Section E – Conclusion   
Rommel was clearly unhappy with Germany’s situation by 1944, especially after D-Day, and sought an end to the war. Appearing unwilling to participate in talks with resistors, one could say that he saw “Operation Walküre” as the opportunity to realize this. Clearly, one must determine his enthusiasm for such a plot by considering differentiate between its two components: the coup and the assassination. There is no clear evidence that suggests Rommel was strictly against a coup; several sources state that he saw it as a way to end war. The only evidence that suggests he supported an assassination is the “Eberbach Protocol”, which contradicts other pieces of evidence which otherwise agree that Rommel had always spoken out against an assassination. One can come to the conclusion that Rommel was enthusiastic about “Operation Walküre” in terms of the coup it would result in, and the positive consequences this would have on the army but less so about assassinating Hitler, and almost always made this point clear. 

 Section F – Works Cited   
Battistelli, Pier Paolo. Erwin Rommel: Leadership, Strategy, Conflict. Oxford: Osprey,  2010. Print.  Carell, Paul. Die Wüstenfüchse - Mit Rommel in Afrika. Berlin: Ulstein Buchverlage GmbH &              Ko. KG, 1971. Print.  Charles, Marshall F. Discovering the Rommel Murder: The Life and Death of the Desert Fox.              Mechanicsburg, PA: Stackpole, 2002. Print.  "Der Spiegel." Süddeutsche Der Spiegel RSS. Sueddeutsche Zeitung Digitale Medien GmbH,              n.d. Web. 11 Nov. 2013.               Dimbleby, Jonathan. Destiny in the Desert: The Road to El Alamein : The Battle That Turned              the Tide. London: Profile, 2012. Print.  Fleischhauer, Jan, and Jan Friedmann. "Die Kraft Des Bösen." Der Spiegel 44 (2012): 60-69.              Print.  Fraser, David. Rommel: Die Biographie. Berlin: Siedler, 1995. Print.  Horstmann, Harry. Walküre: Claus Schenk Graf Von Stauffenberg Der 20. Juli 1944.              Norderstedt: on Demand, 2008. Print.  Lieb, Peter. Konventioneller Krieg oder NS-Weltanschauungskrieg?: Kriegführung und  Partisanenbekämpfung in Frankreich 1943/44. München: Oldenbourg Wissenschaftsverlag GmbH, 2007  Mitcham, Samuel W. Retreat to the Reich: The German Defeat in France, 1944. Westport, CT:              Praeger, 2000. Print.  Remy, Maurice Philip. Mythos Rommel. München: List, 2002. Print.  Ueberschär, Gerd R. Stauffenberg – und das Attentat vom 20. Juli 1944. Frankfurt am              Main: S. Fischer Verlag, 2006  Watson, Bruce. Exit Rommel: The Tunisian Campaign, 1942-43. Mechanicsburg, PA:              Stackpole, 2007. Print.

Extended Essay:  
What were Stauffenberg’s aims for the Plot of the 20th of July 1944?

1.1 Introduction to Stauffenberg (410/500 Words)

The attempt by Colonel Claus Schenk von Stauffenberg to assassinate Adolf Hitler in 1944 is unquestionably one of the most significant in the entire history of military resistance during the Second World War. In popular culture today, Stauffenberg’s intentions are glorified as he portrayed as a hero and a courageous man who fought against Tyranny for a democratic Germany.  Claus Schenk Stauffenberg’s life has been portrayed in various forms of media, ranging from books to movies. Stauffenberg is portrayed in films such as the “Valkyrie” by director Brian Singer, as a freedom-fighting, “chiseled jaw”[1] hero. Historian Richard J Evans believes however that this portrayal is a common misconception, and his words have lead to the following question: “What were Stauffenberg’s motivations for the Plot of the 20th of July 1944?”.

Before Stauffenberg’s Attentat (The German word “Attentat” translates into the English word “Assassination”) there had been various different attempts on Hitler’s life, ranging from that of Beppo Römer in 1934 to Georg Elser’s „Bürgerbräuattentat“ in 1939. Whilst each of the individuals had their own specific aims and reasons, almost all attempts to assassinate “the Führer” (Adolf Hitler was called this by the German Population) had one aim in common: removal of Hitler’s tyranny and his the military dictatorship.

1.2 Assassination Event 
            On the 20th of July 1944, at six in the morning, Colonel Claus Schenk von Stauffenberg is picked up from his Villa in Berlin-Wannsee and is driven to Flugplatz Rangsdorf. From there he would continue to travel to a location in East Prussia that was known as “Wolfsschanze”, which can be directly translated into English as: “Wolfs-lair”. Stauffenberg is carrying the bomb in his briefcase with him on that day. According to “Der Spiegel”[2], the bomb-plot was planned for the 15th, not the 20th of July.  After arriving in Wolfsschanze, the planned meeting with Hitler is moved forwards from 13:00 to 12:30- just another item that was not planned or calculated by Stauffenberg.  The last-minute change of accommodation of the meeting from the Bunker to a room in one of the barracks would lead to the decrease of the effectiveness of the bomb. Originally placed direct beneath Hitler, the kicking over and moving of the brief case by an officer would lead to its displacement to the other side opposite side of the table. The action of the officer would lead to the survival of Hitler, and his survival is primarily due to the fact that he was protected a heavy oak table[3] that decreased the pressure. Unknowing of the fact that the Führer had only sustained minor injuries, Stauffenberg and those involved in the plot continued their plan, took control of Berlin by 17:00 and broadcasted that Hitler had been assassinated by a group of conspirators of Nazis. Shortly after the attack on Hitler’s life however, Joseph Goebbels managed to contact the Führer and confirmed his survival. At 23:00 o’clock Stauffenberg in addition to all his help were arrested, and Stauffenberg, Werner von Haeften as well as Albrecht Mertz von Quirnheim were executed shortly after, without Trial. This event was the last attempt on Hitler’s life before the end of the war.

1.3 Significance of Assassination Attempt

There are only few moments in the history of the German Resistance, that have gained more attention than Stauffenberg’s attempt to kill Adolf Hitler. Looking at the event in retrospective, one is able to recognize various different aspects of the Attenat with information that was not available in the past. Reason for this would be the division of East-and West Germany, and many files were only discovered when the Archives were opened and the Wall had come down. It is extremely fascinating to observe how views of a man have changed over time, and how Stauffenberg is greatly idolized by the population due to popular culture and the influence of Hollywood movies. One is not allowed to overlook the fact that every assassination attempt on Hitler showed signs of his weakness, and that his totalitarian regime was failing by allowing Resistance to blossom. Stauffenberg, as a character of the German Resistance against Hitler has been scrutinized for what was called his “aristocratic principle”.[4] There has been a development in the way that contemporaries of today view the Resistance fighters of the Nazi-Era, many who solely attaining their information from one source. Giving a contemporary example would be the Hollywood Action Movie Valkyrie[5] with Tom Cruise: the audience of this movie, if uneducated about the backgrounds of the Assassination attempt and German Resistance, will get the impression that Stauffenberg was a heroic man who fought for freedom and democracy in Germany. This significant misconception is however, what has lead to in depth research and analysis of the question: What were Stauffenberg’s aims for the Plot of the 20th of July 1944?

1.5   Methodology

Being able to understand both English and German, the investigation will benefit from the variety of sources in both the English and German Language. Comparing and contrasting sources from both languages, whilst trying to avoid the limitations that translating brings with itself, will help establish a holistic perspective upon each area of focus of the investigation and will allow deeper insights into the topic of Stauffenberg’s assassination attempt. The investigation will begin with the analysis of English-historians such as Richard J. Evans and will then proceed to German historians’ perspective on the assassination. Awareness must be established that, even though both English and German sources will have similar, if not the same claims, the language in which each source portrays their message is of upmost importance. The reason for this is that some words, if directly translated into German might have completely different meanings, and that, especially regarding the description of Stauffenberg’s aims, the word choice of the sources is vital to the understanding of their stance. The two historians, whose views will be directly compared in this study, are Richard J Evans and Karl Hein Bohrer. The analysis of Hans Bernd Gisevius  book “Bis zum bittren Ende” [6] will argue to what extent Stauffenbergs aims were related to liberalism and democracy, and on the aims that, according to Gisevius, Stauffenberg had.  In addition, a personal telephone interview will be conducted with Claus Stauffenberg’s youngest daughter, Konstanze Gräfin von Schultheiss. Konstanze herself published a bibliography[7] of her mother, in which it tells the story oft he assassination attempt and it’s effects through the eyes of the wife of Stauffenberg. The interview is valuable because it offer’s a personal perspective to a topic that has been scrutinized by the historians. Furthermore, the investigation will conclude with a statement that incorporates and merges both schools of thought that circle around Stauffenberg’s aims.

Discussion and Findings (1000-1300 Words)

2.1 Contradictory Perspective on Stauffenberg’s Aims (Evans)

“His intention in setting it off was to rescue the honor of the German people”
                                                                                    Richard J Evans

Looking at the assassination attempt of the 20th of July, 1942, it is obvious that its purpose was to kill and end the rule of Germany’s “Führer“, Adolf Hitler. The aim, furthermore, is seen to be that of stopping the leadership of one and establishing that of another. It is important, when analyzing an assassination attempt, to not  be consumed the search for its aims, and those committing the act, but rather to search for their motivations. The words “aim” and “motivation”, seem to be synonyms, but the strong difference in meaning often remains undistinguished. While “aim” is defined simply to be a “desired outcome”, “motivation” is the “reasons one has for acting”, and touches upon the personal aims and reasons rather than the outcome as a whole.

According to Evans, an important factor that lead to Stauffenbergs “Attentat”[8] was his own personal “moral imperative” which was based on “a mixture of Catholic religious precepts, an aristocratic sense of honor, Ancient Greek ethics, and German Romantic poetry.”[9] Stauffenberg’s sense of responsibility towards Germany, which will explained in context of the war, was something, that can be considered a motivation for his act against Hitler. German historian Guido Knopp repeats and therefore also agrees Evans’ argument, that Stauffenberg’s motivations were based in his sense of moral commitment and his affection for romantic German poetry. Stauffenberg, according to Evans, wanted to end the suffering and hardship in Germany and out of that, create a “idealized medieval Reich”[10]. One can tell by this, that Stauffenberg’s motivations for the assassination attempt, were far deeper
than poet “Stefan George”[11] and his poems are named to be the source of influence for Stauffenberg’s “Utopianism”[12].  George’s role in Stauffenberg’s motivation has been grossly underestimated, and the Hollywood film “Valkyrie” does not even care to mention this figure of importance. As claimed by Evans, it was George and his “ambition to revive a “secret Germany” that would sweep away the materialism of the Weimar Republic” whose inspiraton and was the true origin for Stauffenberg’s formation of morals and ideologies. With the mixture of aristocratic codes of honor and his religious belief, the character of Stauffenberg can be portrayed as that one of high moral principles, and moreover, he “knew therefore that his bomb was important above all as a moral gesture”[13].

As mentioned in previously, the war and its effect on Germany had an immense effect on Stauffenberg’s motivations and aims behind planting the bomb. As the quotation at the beginning of this section of investigation states, it was extremely important to Stauffenberg to try and retain the honor, which Germany was losing, defeat by defeat. One questions however, why a man of aristocratic and high standing, would sacrifice everything, simply in order to retain the dignity of a country. Evan’s answer to this is that with his “beliefs, combined with his energetic personality” Stauffenberg was able to commit to an action “where many other members of the military-aristocratic resistance still hesitated”. Germany’s pulling out of the was the priority, and according to Evans, the saving of lives through this action would simply be a “consequence”[14]. In the month of June in 1942 alone, 46 000[15] soldiers had been killed, and from the start of the war up until July 1942, over one million soldiers had lost their lives in the war. Germany, even though not yet having experienced its worst moments of the war, and it was becoming “clear to Stauffenberg that (…) failure was becoming inevitable”[16] due to the “overstretching of Germany’s resources”[17]. Nonetheless, Stauffenberg’s motivations were not to create a democratic parliamentary system, which he supposedly called the “lie of equality”, but rather wanted to retain the reputation of the German military, since he himself had dedicated himself to it and did not want to see it fall.

In summary, Stauffenberg’s motivations, according to Evans, were not that to establish a democratic and liberal German state, but rather his obligations to his moral imperatives. Stauffenberg did not plant the bomb out of outrage of the National socialistic principles[18], on the contrary, his motivations were much more his loyalty and respect towards the German military and its reputation.

2.2 Alternative/Contemporary Perspective on Stauffenberg’s motivations
Contemporary Perspective on Stauffenberg’s Aim’s (800 words needed)

“Die Verzerrungen sind selbst mehr oder weniger die in der bundesrepublikanischen Intelligenz geläufige Ansicht zum 20. Juli“[19]
                                                                                    Karl Heinz Bohrer

There are many reasons why Claus Schenk Stauffenberg’s actions can be considered honorable and heroic. He did, after all, sacrifice his privileged aristocratic lifestyle for the Germany’s freedom of the autocratic rule that had been in place since 1933.  The following part of the investigation will look at contemporary portrayal of Stauffenberg and will focus on Karl Heinz Bohrer’s contradiction to Richard J Evan’s perspective on Stauffenberg’s aims and will point its attention towards the perception of the Stauffenberg Attentat by Germans today.

With the 2009 publication of the Hollywood movie “Valkyrie”, awareness for the subject of German Resistance was raised exponentially. As Roger Moorhouse argues, few of those exposed to the film about of Stauffenberg had any existing knowledge on the man, and  “many of them”[20] had heard of the plot on the 20th of July “for the first time”[21]. Moorhouse claims that the image of Stauffenberg for the contemporary generation is increasingly moving towards the image of a “chiseled-jaw action hero. With this being said, one can, to an extent agree that the public image of Stauffenberg has been influenced by the film industry, and that by this, the belief has been created that Stauffenberg’s aims were the creation of “the democratic Germany that we know today”.[22]  Moorhouse however offers a rather simplistic view upon this, claiming that the German public considers Stauffenberg to be a “good German” who did “the right thing” . Of course, the German public has a natural respect towards those Resistance fighters during the Nazi Regime, and it would be naïve to claim that German Resistance fighters’ actions are not portrayed as positive, however taking into consideration the assumptions made by Moorhouse, one must question the validity of him as a source for this investigation.

            Historian Hans Bernd Gisevius agrees to Evan’s claim, that Stauffenberg was driven by reasons that had little to do with repugnance of Nazi ideology and “wanted to retain all the totalitarian, militaristic and socialistic elements of National Socialism”. He also argues that Stauffenberg’s motivation to save Germany’s honor only “shifted to the rebel side after Stalingrad”[23]. Before this, he lacked the motivation to interfere, and this is evidence that Stauffenberg, who is portrayed by media as hero, did not have the murder of the Jews in mind, but instead cared about the army and the reputation that Germany would attain.
Evans states, in his newspaper article, that Stauffenberg followed a sort of codex of morals, and that his motivations were buried within that codex. Bohrer however, identifies and states that Evan’s claims are heavily flawed and that they sound as if  Evans attained and “was prompted to write this out of academic-west German circles”[24] . Evans indeed makes many claims, some of which contradict each other. Bohrer takes an offensive against these claims by stating already in the beginning of his article that the work of Evans is flawed and consists of “historical half-truths, contradictory Thesis. Bohrer published his article one year after Evans, in the same newspaper, the “Süddeutsche Zeitung“, and especially focuses on two points on which he felt, that Evans misrepresented Stauffenberg. Firstly, he argues that Evans misinterprets Stauffenbergs “moral Motivations”[25] and his “Role-Model Representation”[26]. Bohrer, instead of presenting his own opinion on the matter, bases his arguments on the disagreements he has with Evans’ “historical fantasies”. However, the problem with this is, that in doing that, Bohrer himself does not offer his own perspective, but instead only offers counter-claims to Evans’ article. Furthermore, Bohrer questions the statement that Stauffenberg supposebly had “moral Motivation” for his acts is questioned and looks at the figure Fritz Dietlof von der Schulenburg. Schulenburg was Stauffenbergs mento, when it came to the topic of political resistance, and this man had already plans in mind for Hitler’s assassination in 1939, not only after Stalingrad in 1943, as Evans claims.

FOOTNOTES: 1.     Roorhouse, Roger. "A Good German? von Stauffenberg and the July Plot." History Today. 2009. 21 Nov. 2013 http://www.historytoday.com/roger-moorhouse/good-german-von stauffenberg-and-july-plot [2]  20. Juli 1944, Der Morgen: Bomben Im Handgepäck." SPIEGEL ONLINE. N.p., n.d. Web. 20 Nov. 2013. http://www.spiegel.de/panorama/20-juli-1944-der-morgen-bomben-im-handgepaeck-a-309270.html [3]  Page 164, Wohlgut, Bernd. Jäger Und Gejagte, “Als die Bombe um 12:44 hochging, schützte der schwere Tisch Hitler, der nur leicht verletzt wurde” Translated:“When the bomb went up at 12:44 PM, the heavy table protected Hitler“ [5] Valkyrie. Dir. Bryan Singer. Perf. Tom Cruise. United Artists, n.d. DVD. [6] Translated to English: “Until the bitter End” Gisevius, Hans Bernd. Bis Zum Bittren Ende. N.p.: Rütten & Loening, 1960. 30 July 2007. Web. [7] Schulthess, Konstanze Von. Nina Schenk Gräfin Von Stauffenberg: Ein Porträt. München: Pendo, 2008. Print. [8] German Terminology for „Assasination Attempt“ [9] Evans, Richard J. "Why Did Stauffenberg Plant the Bomb?" Süddeutsche Zeitung(2009): n. pag. www.signandsight.com. 23 Jan. 2009. Web. [10] Ibid. [11] Poem from Stefan George: An Melchior Lechter Deinem Sinn frei und stolz gegen unbill gefeit Erz im tiegel des heils aller schlacken befreit! Deiner Seele die hoch überm Traumland regiert · Uns · der welt jahr um jahr neue wunder gebiert! Deinem Sein allen einsamen trost und geleit - Turm von bleibendem strahl in der flutnacht der zeit! [12] Evans, Richard J. "Why Did Stauffenberg Plant the Bomb?" Süddeutsche Zeitung(2009): n. pag. www.signandsight.com. 23 Jan. 2009. Web [13] Ibid. [14] Ibid, “There is little doubt, however, that this would have brought huge military advantages to the Allies,  and that the war would have come to an end several months sooner than it did, with the consequence of saving millions of lives” [15] German Casualties in World War II." Wikipedia .  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/German_casualties_in_World_War_II Wikimedia Foundation, 28 Oct. 2013. Web. 20 Nov. 2013. [16] Evans, Richard J. "Why Did Stauffenberg Plant the Bomb?" Süddeutsche Zeitung(2009): n. pag. www.signandsight.com. 23 Jan. 2009. Web. [17] Ibid. [18] “Stauffenberg hat dem Dritten Reich sehr lange und mit Überzeugung gedient und hat sich bereits bei der Reichspräsidentenwahl in 1932 für Hitler ausgesprochen. Nach Hitlers Machtübernahme hat er als nationalsozialistischer Offizier Karriere gemacht“ Translation: „Stauffenberg was loyal and worked for the Third Reich for a long time, and that proclaimed his support for Hitler  in the Presidential Election for the Reich in 1932. After Hitler’s coming to power, he had a successful career as a national socialistic Officer.” Kohlmaier, Matthias. "Stauffenberg Wollte Keine Parlamentarische Demokratie."Süddeutsche Zeitung. N.p., 21 July 2012. Web. 08 Oct. 2013. [19] Transl. „These distortions are more or less the common belief and Intelligence that the German Republic has on the 20th of July” Bohrer, Karl Heinz. "Die Entlarvung Des 20. Juli." Www.süddeutsche.de. N.p., 17 May 2010. Web. [20]   Moorhouse, Roger. "A Good German? von Stauffenberg and the July Plot." History Today. 2009. 21 Nov. 2013 http://www.historytoday.com/roger-moorhouse/good-german-von stauffenberg-and-july-plot [21] Ibid. [22] Ibid. [23] (Page 512)  Gisevius, Hans Bernd. Bis Zum Bittren Ende. N.p.: Rütten & Loening, 1960. 30 July 2007. Web. [24] “den Eindruck, er sei ihm aus diesem zum Teil akademisch-westdeutschen Kreisen souffliert worden” Bohrer, Karl Heinz. "Die Entlarvung Des 20. Juli." Www.süddeutsche.de. N.p., 17 May 2010. Web. [25] Ibid. [26] Ibid.

History Extended Essay

Was Johann Georg Elser working alone in his attempt to assassinate Hitler in November 1939?

“Ich habe den Krieg verhindern wollen” – “I wanted to prevent War”

- Johann Georg Elser

Johann Georg Elser was a simple carpenter that attempted to murder the infamous Adolf Hitler. Although, he is seemingly unknown Historians and several other studies speculate the motives of his actions, as they were so unseen. When one looks towards even now, in modern times where perpetrators like Elser have received a considerably large amount of recognition, Georg Elser curiously has not received any, particularly to the same extent as many of the other Anti-Nazi’s of the time. As Der Spiegel puts it, “The bomb that nearly changed the course of history had been put there by an unassuming Swabian carpenter named Georg Elser. It took decades, though, for Elser to get proper recognition.”[1]

This essay will investigate whether Johann Georg Elser was really working alone in his attempt to assassinate Hitler in November 1939. This will be carried out through considering a large array of sources of information (Elser’s memorial sites of Germany, web articles and historical books) and analysing their view point of Elser’s act and possible accomplices. Initially, this essay will outline the details of Elser and his assassination attempt.  These will be divided into five segments; Elser’s background, the significance of the date (8th of November 1939) the bomb plot, the bomb blast, and the aftermath. This essay will then concentrate on a variety of accounts and interpretations of Elser’s assassination attempt. These include the historical writings of, William L. Shirer, Alan Bullock, Ernest R. Pope, David Irving, Cpt. Sigismund Payne Best and many other sources. The essay will then conclude with the definite knowledge that Johann Georg Elser was in fact not a lone perpetrator, and outline the limitations encountered when carrying out the investigation.

Word Count: 299


The case of Johann Georg Elser remains unsolved till this very day.  Elser was a simple Swabian carpenter that tried to assassinate the infamous Nazi German führer Adolf Hitler. Germany today – as many have - has accepted the conclusion that Elser was a lone perpetrator. However, in the times before today there was no clear deduction as to what Elser’s true motives were, whether there were existent associate perpetrators. The case posed to be much too ambiguous. In fact even today, despite the modern acceptance for drawn conclusions, there still lies uncertainty as to if Elser was working alone. Elser is the perfect manifestation of the limitations and defaults historical studies include. The case of Elser has caused for many Historians to express weakness in their interpretation, and additionally Elser’s recognition and emplacement of memorials has been debated. Germany has long struggled deciding the actual heroism of Elser due to the curiosities of his case. This essay will investigate whether Johann Georg Elser was really working alone in his attempt to assassinate Hitler in November 1939.[2]


“His name was Georg Elser. He was a joiner from Königsbronn in Württemberg, thirty-six years old, a loner with few friends.”[3] Prior to 1933 he had supported the Communist Party of Germany (German: Kommunistische Partei Deutschlands, KPD).  He admired them, in the strict belief that they “stood for improving the lot of the working classes”. [4]

For a period in Elser’s life, he was beginning to pay strict attention to what he perceived to be deterioration in the living standards of the working class. He was beginning to feel robbed of life with restrictions on freedom, poor work conditions, and growing speculations of another war.  Furthermore, he did not suppress his views. He openly discussed the issues with his workmates. He had to some extent developed an obsession with the quality of life and implementing a change. Elser formed the conclusion that the only way to prevent war and improve the working class qualities was by eliminating the regime’s leadership – Adolf Hitler, Hermann Göring, and Josef Goebbels.[5]

Die Neunte Elfte

Every year on the 8th to 9th of November during the Nazi Regime, Germany would celebrate “Die Neunte Elfte” (The Ninth of the Eleventh).  It was a day of remembrance for Hitler’s failed putsch - the Munich, or Beer Hall Putsch. It had developed into a day of great national importance under the Third Reich. Hitler would express his own personal condolences and respects to the Putsch with a public anniversary speech in the Bürgerbräukeller in Munich every year on the 8th. The speech was always directed towards the old guard, although it had always included many of his personal ideals and vendettas.[6] For instance, on the very night of Elser’s attempt, Hitler’s speech was a “pure tirade of abuse against Britain”. [7] Hitler’s speech had always lasted about two hours; it would always be longwinded, yet powerful and exhilarating, curiously on the 8th of November 1939 the speech had been significantly reduced – Hitler was under serious time constraints.[8]

The Bomb Plot

On the 8th of November 1938 Elser travelled to Munich to attend Hitler’s anniversary speech at the Bürgerbräukeller. Elser assumedly judged the occasion to be a rather favourable opportunity to act on his distrust for the regime. Noticing how poorly guarded the event was, and furthermore witnessing the upsurges of Anti-Semitic violence during Kristallnacht of the very same night, Elser concluded from his experiences in Munich that he would begin plotting an attempt to assassinate the leaders of the Nazi regime. The plot would be initiated in the following year, during Hitler’s anniversary speech at the Bürgerbräukeller.[9]

Elser believed a time bomb would do him the justice of terminating his targets. It would be placed directly behind the dais where Hitler would stand to give his anniversary speech. In the months prior to the event, Elser gathered the appropriate materials from an armaments factory whereby he was currently working, and crafted his own time bomb. In early August 1939 Elser returned to Munich to further develop his plot. Throughout the entirety of over 30 nights Elser would hide in the Bürgerbräukeller, “working on hollowing out a cavity in the selected pillar and leaving by a side-door early next morning.” [10] By the 6th of November the bomb was set and in place. On the night of the 7th Elser returned to the beer hall to assure the bomb was still functioning accordingly. He placed his ear against the pillar and heard the timer ticking. Everything was precisely taking place according to this well orchestrated plan. On the morning of the 8th Elser fled towards Switzerland, where he presumed he would be safe.[11]

The Bomb Blast

It was a Wednesday on the 8th November when the Führer disembarked upon Munich for the anniversary celebration. This anniversary speech lasted just about under an hour. His speech was concise; it commemorated the old guard, and briefly preached hatred towards the British. After the speech, Hitler had often stayed and enjoyed socializing with the members of the event, curiously though he was rushed out of the Bürgerbräukeller “due to leave from the main railway station in nineteen minutes” Berlin bound.[12]

Shortly after Hitler’s departure from the event (at exactly 9:20 p.m.) Elser’s time bomb detonated. The explosion killed seven of those present and sixty-three sustained serious injuries. Elser’s prime targets had all escaped the harm and devastation of the blast. [13]

The Aftermath

The assassination attempt instigated uproar of interest and outrage within the population of Munich. Reports on the occurrence seemed to suggest the assistance and involvement of foreign entities. A reward was set “for the apprehension of the culprit... set at 500,000 Marks, a sum raised to 600,000 Marks by the voluntary contribution of a private individual.”[14]

The news of the event was reported the following day of the blast.  Newspapers had expressed several curiosities towards the event, particularly concerning the involvement of possible other perpetrators. Rumors and suspicions were formed and barely allayed by the officially published Police Chief’s official position on the occurrence in a certain Deutsches Nachrichtenbüro (DNB) article released on the 21st of November 1939.[15]

The position had informed the public of Elser’s details, the particulars of the assassination attempt, and its results and impacts. The position had furthermore spoken of Elser’s arrest. Elser had fled Munich and headed towards the border for Switzerland. During his escape, the Nazi authorities had managed to apprehend him. [16]

Elser faced nothing but the simplistic cold walls of confinement within the Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp, then after the Dachau Concentration Camp for the remaining five and a half years of his life. In his imprisonment Elser made several extraordinary encounters.  These included a variety of different characters - for instance, Cpt. Sigismund Payne Best, Dr. Sigismund Rascher,[17] and even the chief commander of the Kripo (criminal police) Arthur Nebe – whom also further in time attempted to assassinate the Führer Adolf Hitler. Elser’s life in penitentiary thus tells somewhat many intriguing stories. [18]

Johann Georg Elser was executed on the 9th of April 1945 in the Dachau Concentration Camp. It was assumedly part of a nationwide Schutzstaffel (SS) orchestrated butchering of well-known opponents to the regime. Curiously the execution of the supposedly lone perpetrator was blamed on an Allied bombing raid. Furthermore and even more curiously, the execution orders of prisoners came from the RSHA (Reich Security Main Office) in Berlin, which would have been directed to the head of the Gestapo branch office at Dachau, Johann Kick. In the majority of the cases Kick would have emplaced an order to the SS officer in charge of executions at Dachau, Wilhelm Ruppert. Ruppert would have then given the order to the executioners at Dachau, Frenz Trenkle or Theodor Bongartz, who would carry out the execution. In the case of Georg Elser, this did not take place. [19]

Acting Alone

Historians of the days since November 8th 1939 have speculated about Elser and whether he had other accomplices. Many for instance William L. Shirer and Alan Bullock made personal convictions that Elser was not acting alone, and had actually been working with the Gestapo. The one huge and consistent issue with making these claims of Elser not entirely acting alone is that they aren’t based on entirely justified and conclusive facts, just certain facts which have been interpreted in the strangest and most illogical of ways. Alternative history sources would prove more conclusively that Elser was acting alone. If one considers the revolutionary article written by Anton Hoch in the Vierteljahreshefte für Zeitgeschichte, which “conclusively proved” that Elser was acting entirely alone in his attempt. The publication of the transcripts of Elser’s interrogation the following year, further concluded the fact that Elser had no partners in his plan to kill Hitler. Every publication briefly explaining the attempt carried out by Elser since then has clarified that Elser’s seclusion in his act of treason.[20]
William L. Shirer

William L. Shirer claims initially within The Berlin Diary that the case seemed or “[sounded] fishy”, and that “it [smelled] of another Reichstag Fire“.  After learning more of the case, and taking more of the facts into consideration, Shirer states his view as how “one German” expressed their views, “Now I know Himmler Planted that bomb.” Shirer showed significant interest into this one perpetrator, he stressed his suspicion of “another Reichstag Fire”. Shirer even outlined the facts that evidenced the right to his suspicions concerning the case. They were as follows: on all other years whereby Hitler attended the anniversary speech, “Hitler and all the other bigwigs [had] remained after the speech to talk over old times with the comrades of the Putsch and guzzle beer”; Hitler’s speech had often too lasted substantially longer and as Shirer put it, “Had [Hitler] remained twelve minutes and one second longer he surely would have been killed”; then additionally the event was surprisingly spontaneous, “Neither the radio nor the press hinted that he would be  speaking tonight, and officials in the Wilhelmstraße  learned about it only an hour before it took place.” Shire’s initial case as shown in his journal was significantly justified, perhaps not to the strongest of extents. Although his speculations seem very vague, unspecific, and too judgement based, they can’t be scrapped as evidence, the validity and utility must still be put under great considerations. [21]

Shirer’s case is further developed in his book, The Nightmare Years: 1930 – 1940. Shire further evidences the curiosity of Elser’s case in describing his discovered treatment in the Sachsenhausen and Dachau Concentration Camp. He describes the abnormality of Elser’s so called punishment and then continues to describe his execution; “But Himmler kept his eye on him. It would never do to let the carpenter survive, if the war were lost, to tell his tale. When it (the war) became irretrievably lost, the Gestapo chief (Müller) acted. On April 16, 1945, as the end of the Third Reich neared, it was announced that Elser had been killed in an Allied bombing attack. Actually, Himmler had him murdered by the Gestapo.” “Curiously, Himmler had allowed Captain S. Payne Best and Major Richard H. Stevens to live to tell their tale.”[22]

Within Shirer’s more known work, The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich, there is yet even more presented evidence to indicate the likes of Elser working with another accomplice, more specifically as part of a propagandist’s plan. Shirer includes the viewpoint of the Reverend Martin Niemöller, who formed the personal conviction that Elser was a mere puppet in a plot to stir up war spirits against Britain while it was in lacking. [23]

In the case of Shirer here, the evidence provided and suppositions made by him would look too inconclusive and unjustified. It is most definitely right for Shirer to have speculated the occurrence he believes to have taken place, however he is but a man drawing mere conclusions from pieces of evidence that could possibly indicate otherwise to his own arguments. Shirer was additionally an American journalist writing a personal account of Germans, [24] understanding completely the German viewpoint would have to seem difficult, he would also thus be writing more creatively than informatively – a common criticism of Shirer’s works. One cannot draw very simply from the likes of Shirer’s texts that Elser’s attempt was a plan orchestrated by the Himmler and the Gestapo. One would have to look far deeper into the case, and further explore other works of evidence.[25]
Alan Bullock

One must therefore consider the works of Alan Bullock, yet another historian who ponders upon the strangeness of Elser’s attempt. Bullock remains till this day for somewhat sixty years, one of the most credited and acclaimed sources concerning the life of Hitler.  In 1952, Hitler: A Study in Tyranny was published and successfully communicated aspects of Hitler’s life that were never truly known. Based on the transcripts of the Nuremberg Trials, and first hand accounts of the occurrences in the Nazi Regime, Bullock characterised and explained Hitler’s opportunistic machtpolitik, (“power politics”).[26]

In terms of Elser, Bullock too indicates the seeming of another “Reichstag fire” within, “Hitler A Study in Tyranny”.  It is stated, “in fact the attempt on Hitler's life was organized by the Gestapo as a means of raising the Fiihrer's popularity in the country. Elser, a skilled cabinet-maker, who had drifted into the company of a group of Communists, had been picked up by the Gestapo in the concentration camp at Dachau, where he had been sent for 're-education'. He was offered his freedom if he would do what he was told, and was taken twice by night to the Biirgerbraukeller in Munich. There he was ordered to build an explosive charge into one of the pillars close to the spot where Hitler would be standing during his speech.”[27]

Bullock however reconsidered his initial suspicions. Alan Bullock in his book, Hitler and Stalin: Parallel Lives, literally writes the words “acting alone”[28], when describing Elser’s attempt. One would have to thus draw the simple conclusion that based on the evidence and claims that even acclaimed historians have made, one cannot simply assume correctness and validity in their evidence and claims. One would have to look further into other sources of information for even a slight hint that Elser was not acting alone. Furthermore Bullock was born, raised and studied in Britain, his viewpoint thus tended to be lenient more toward the British side and more so saw the life of Hitler from the outside.[29]

Ernest R. Pope

Furthermore Ernest R. Pope writes in his book, “They Were There, My own opinion is that the Bürgerbräu explosion was a job inspired by Goebbels and executed by Himmler in order to make the Germans hate the British. The jubilation over the Polish conquest had expired, there was a dismal stalemate on the western front, and the disgruntled Germans were beginning to grumble more audibly about the blackout, the rationed food, and the freezing temperatures in their homes. They were still angry with Hitler for plunging their country into war, and had not yet been seriously bombed or attacked by the Allies, so had no reason to hate England. The Munichers especially remembered Chamberlain vividly as their angel of peace. Goebbels thought that six dead, petty Brown Shirts and one Munich waitress was a bargain price to pay for getting obstinate Germans to curse the British Prime Minister.” [30]

The fault in Pope’s work lies within it’s content. Pope is seen to be rather anecdotal instead of factual. His points are well conveyed, yet do not imply a high level of investigative research. Pope is furthermore yet another English source that fails to take into account the German view, the language barrier would certainly question the subjectivity of his work.[31]
David Irving

For one within Hitler’s very speech on the night he was referring negatively to the British. As, David Irving in Hitler’s War put it, “Hitler's speech was undistinguished, a pure tirade of abuse against Britain, whose "true motives" for this new crusade Hitler identified as jealousy and hatred of the new Germany, which had achieved in six years more than Britain had in centuries.” Furthermore, Hitler had Julius Schaub (Hitler’s chief aide and adjutant), “nervously passed him cards on which he had scrawled increasingly urgent admonitions: "Ten minutes!" then "Five!" and finally a peremptory "Stop!"- A method he had previously had to use to remind his Führer, who never used a watch, of the passage of mortal time."[32]

Captain Sigismund Payne Best

This essay will thus now look towards an alternative source; this is the supposed close friend of Elser preceding to his execution, in Dachau, the famous Captain Sigismund Payne Best. Best wrote about his encounters with Elser during his imprisonment in Dachau in his book, The Venlo Incident. As it seems, Best was a close and trustworthy pen pal of Elser during their confinement, Elser had communicated with him largely through letters that they were permitted to write to each other. In these not so close encounters Best had with Elser, Elser had spoken rather openly and truthfully to Best, communicating not only his thoughts and feelings, but also his experiences and certain truths about the assassination attempt incident he had encountered. [33]

Throughout his book, Best never properly recognises the aims of Elser, and whether he truly was acting alone or not. He does however include in his writings, the view of Dr Sigmund Rascher whom he came across in one of the camps he was emplaced in. Rascher “From all that he had heard…believed that Goebbels had been at the back of it and that the intention had been to arouse public enthusiasm in Munich, where there was a sad lack of war-like spirit, by the pretence that British agents had attempted to assassinate the Führer.” Best additionally happens to have provided a significant amount of details about Elser, which would allow for the indication that he was not acting alone.[34]

Best puts a quantitative amount of stress on the comfort Elser was permitted to in the Concentration Camps. Elser had apparently been, in one instance “put in a comfortable cell in a building used to house important political prisoners. Here, instead of his striped prison garb, he was given civilian clothes, and he was also brought good food and as many cigarettes as he wished. Next day, as he expressed a desire to finish some work which he had on hand, a carpenters' bench was brought to a large cell in the building and he was given his tools.” In very few cases were Prisoners given the same privileges Elser was given. What possible reasons are there for this treatment? One certainly apparent one is that he was acting not just with any partner, but with the Gestapo.[35]

Sigismund Best additionally provided valid information concerning Elser’s execution. How Elser died was a real mystery until Best had published The Venlo Incident, even now his death remains a curious case. The story of Georg Elser’s execution is as follows: Heinrich Himmler had ordered the head of the Gestapo, the SS - Gruppenführer Heinrich Müller, to deliver a letter that placed the order to execute Johann Georg Elser (who was given the code name, “special prisoner Georg Eller”). The execution was to take place when the next allied air raid occurred. The Commandant of the Dachau concentration camp, Obersturmbannführer Eduard Weiter was to carry out the execution. This had indicated that there was a certain want for the German Authorities to kill Elser, and then furthermore to disguise this execution. His assassination attempt and death would be pinned on the British. Could one therefore not draw the conclusion after all of this strange suspicion that Elser was clearly not acting alone. What other secret did Himmler have to hide from the world? One would relate this event straight to the execution of Dr Sigmund Rascher. Himmler Had ordered Rascher’s death much like he had done so with Elser, this had been done supposedly due to the fear that Rascher would announce the Nazi’s actions in the immoral medical experiments for the Luftwaffe at Dachau. Rascher had been one of the head doctors conducting the experiments, and following what he would consider his a particularly unfair imprisonment, he had no reason to turn against the Nazi’s once the Allies had completely claimed victory over Germany under the Third Reich. [36]

There are therefore many different claims of suspicion that Elser was only acting under the influence or allowance of Goebbels and or Himmler with the Gestapo.  The mere fact that these are historians all indifferent to each other, drawing similar initial conclusions emphasises some truth to the fact that Elser was not acting alone. One would have to over look into further pure facts however to rectify these judgements as reasonably valid, which was overlooked in this essay. One could certainly then issue the conclusion that Elser was not acting alone, as Bullock, Shirer and Pope have all noticed, he was in fact working with the allowance of the Nazi authorities. The case of Hitler having criticised the British during the speech only further emphasises all three of the historians’ view on Elser’s attempt being a weapon of propaganda. The fact that Schaub was urgent and noticeably nervous during Hitler’s speech would indicate some form of knowledge of the incident about to occur. And lastly, as shown previously in Shirer’s writings, the treatment of Georg Elser certainly differed to many of the other prisoners of the concentration camps in which he was based prior to his death. Surely, the SS had something to hide in their strange care for the political opponent/prisoner – perhaps the fact that he was just a weapon for them to boost the German enthusiasm for the war effort they so apparently desperately needed. There are nevertheless many limitations one would encounter in carrying out this investigation. One definitely prominent issue is the language barrier. Several sources that were German would have had to be translated, which firstly does not portray the original message – as the intent can be lost in the language. Secondly this would indicate many possibly sources were not taken into account for the investigation, the difference in language made it rather difficult to identify appropriate sources that were in German. Furthermore another default encountered in historical investigations is that not all of the required information is currently existent. For this particular case very little information was provided concerning Elser’s attempt, historians have no official way of knowing additionally that the available information is necessarily true. Judgements have to be constantly made in cases, which offer subjectivity.

Footnotes:   [1] "Remembering Georg Elser: Berlin Debates Memorial for Would-Be Hitler Assassin."SPIEGEL ONLINE. Der Spiegel, n.d. Web. 26 Nov. 2013. .     [2] Grenville, Anthony. "AJR." AJR. N.p., n.d. Web. 26 Nov. 2013. .     [3] Kershaw, Ian.  (327-28).     [4] Kershaw, Ian.  (327-28).     [5]Kershaw, Ian.  (327-28).     [6] "ExecutedToday.com." » Munich. WordPress, n.d. Web. 24 Nov. 2013. .     [7] Irving, David John Cawdell. (54).     [8] Irving, David John Cawdell. (54).     [9] Housden, Martyn.  (174).     [10] Kershaw, Ian.  (327-28).  [11] Kershaw, Ian.  (327-28).  [12] Irving, David John Cawdell. (54).     [13] Domarus, Max. (1877).     [14] Domarus, Max. (1877).     [15] Domarus, Max. (1877).     [16] Domarus, Max. (1877).     [17] "Georg Elser - Allegedly Executed at Dachau during a Bombing Raid." Georg Elser - Allegedly Executed at Dachau during a Bombing Raid. N.p., n.d. Web. 25 Nov. 2013.  .     [18] Lumsden, Robin.  (84-85).        [19] "Who Killed Georg Elser, the Man Who Tried to Kill Hitler?" Scrapbookpages Blog. WordPress, n.d. Web. 25 Nov. 2013. .     [20] Grenville, Anthony. "AJR." AJR. N.p., n.d. Web. 26 Nov. 2013. .     [21] Shirer, William. 1941. (251-52).     [22] Shirer, William L 1984. (468).     [23] Shirer, William L. 1960. (473-500).     [24] "William Shirer Obituary." William Shirer Obituary. Traces, n.d. Web. 26 Nov. 2013. .     [25] "The New Republic." New Republic. N.p., n.d. Web. 26 Nov. 2013. .     [26] Bullock, Alan.1962. (567+).     [27] Bullock, Alan. 1962. (567+).  [28] Bullock, Alan. 1992. (642).     [29] "Alan Louis Charles Bullock (British Historian)." Encyclopedia Britannica Online. Encyclopedia Britannica, n.d. Web. 26 Nov. 2013. .     [30] Pope, Ernest R. (68-70).     [31] "Ill-advised." Ill-advised. N.p., n.d. Web. 26 Nov. 2013. .     [32] Irving, David John Cawdell. (54).  [33] Best, S. Payne. (94-127).     [34] Best, S. Payne. (94-127).  [35] Best, S. Payne. (94-127).  [36] Best, S. Payne. (94-127).

History Internal Assessment

Did Georg Elser work alone in his attempt to assassinate Adolf Hitler on the 8th of November 1939?

Section 1: Identification and Evaluation of Sources 

            This investigation will investigate whether Georg Elser worked alone in his attempt to assassinate Hitler, or had assistance from the Gestapo or British Secret Intelligence Service. Sources chosen for the analysis are based within the time period of the event, as well as after the Second World War, adding an element of reflection. 

“The Venlo Incident” by Sigismund Payne Best, published 1950
            Best and Elser were both held at Sachenhausen concentration camp in 1941, and interactions with Elser were leading him to believe the Nazis themselves were involved in the incident.[1] The origin of this source is valuable as the author was able to witness events that surrounded Elser’s imprisonment, as he was personally involved in allegations and held in the same concentration camp. Best believed the bomb had been planned to explode after Hitler left as a method of eradicating Nazi opposition, and could be used as propaganda against the British. A limitation of the source is that The Georg Elser Arbeitskreis believes that Best offers a “purely speculative” account of the events as he was glamorizing his own involvement in the war, as well as due to position in the British Secret Service and thus resulting perception of Nazi Germany. Several of his first-hand witness accounts could not be substantiated.[2] Furthermore, the memoir was published in 1950, meaning that his recollection of events may have been altered by the time that had passed between the actual occurrence and his recollection. Additionally, the reliability is also questioned by the content, where he himself adds that “we never met or spoke to each other”, showing that the communication with Elser, being the basis for his claims, loses validity.[3]

Gestapo Interrogation Protocols, 19.11.1939 pages 200 to 201 and 23.11.1939 pages 92 to 94, published by the Bundesarchiv Koblenz
            The Historian Lother Gruchmann discovered the Gestapo’s interrogation protocol in 1964 in Berlin, which represents the counter-claim. It was published in 1969 by Anton Hoch. In an interview that was recorded in the same year, Gruchmann expresses the belief that these findings eradicate all previous doubts, and that Elser had “no helpers” and deserves “the same recognition” as any other resistance towards the Nazis.[4] The protocol’s origin is from the 19th to 23rd November 1939 in Berlin, which is valuable because it stems from time of the event, revealing Elser’s standpoint and reaction to the Gestapo’s inquiries. The purpose of the protocol was to document the interrogation, and the content shows Elser’s ability to work alone as he was capable of explaining his process and actions as well as his persistence in insisting he acted to “prevent further bloodshed”.[5] The Gestapo conducted an interrogation that lasted for five days and included over 200 pages of protocol. Not using any of this information for propaganda purposes and needing the interrogation in itself questions their own involvement. The value of the source is also increased by the fact that other Gestapo interrogations were destroyed.[6] The limitation of the interrogation is that the truth may be compromised by the perhaps threatening circumstances Elser was in.

Word count: 481 

Section 2: Investigation

At 9:20pm on November 8th 1939, a bomb exploded at the Bürgerbräukeller in Munich with the intent to kill Adolf Hitler who held a speech before leaving 13 minutes early.[7] Johann Georg Elser was arrested while trying to cross the border into Switzerland, and was transferred to Munich the next day for questioning. On the 13th of November he admitted to the crime.[8] Many found it hard to believe this confession, and speculations developed about the involvement of others. This investigation will consider how, writing in 1952 after “The Venlo Incident” had been published, Alan Bullock in his biography of Hitler, stated how the incident had been motivated by the Gestapo, yet retracted this claim in his 1991 book about Hitler and Stalin; here portraying Elser as a man who worked alone. What information led to this change of perspective, and was this the right alteration?
Goebbels himself speculated in his diary on the 17th of November that it is “quite clear” that the criminals are Otto Strasser collaborating with the British Secret Intelligence Service to eliminate Hitler and the threat Germany posed. On the 11th of November he wrote that “London and Paris” were trying to blame the Nazis, just as they had for the Reichstagfire but that this was being fought.[9] When considering Goebbels, it’s important to remember that he was the propaganda minister and a manipulative liar.[10] As Hitler shared his belief, there was much media speculation regarding the involvement of the British here in Germany. On the 10th of November the “Deutscher Dienst” broadcasted how the only ones “capable” of such a “vile” act were the British.[11] A poster published by the Reichsverwaltung des Nationalsozialistischen Lehrbundes called “The English Assassination” in 1940 and depicted Elser alongside Agent Sigismund Payne Best and Richard Henry Stevens, agents of the British Secret Service.[12] This theory was reexamined in 1991 when Henri A. Bulhof published a biography about Payne Best, in which he describes how Best met with Otto Strasser and Georg Elser in December 1938 and paid him 4,000 Reichsmark to assassinate Hitler.[13] However, evidence towards Elser’s collaboration with the British was mainly based on propaganda and speculation, and substantial evidence could never be provided.
            Nonetheless the questioning of the attempted assassination being the work of a single man continued. William Shirer who lived in Germany from 1934 to 1940 wrote in his diary on November 21st 1939 : “what Himmler and his gang are up to, obviously, is to convince the gullible German people that the British government tried to win the war by murdering Hitler and his chief aides.”[14] Shirer believed that the Gestapo orchestrated the assassination attempt in order to use Elser and the British Secret Intelligence Service to create propaganda aimed to villainize Great Britain and unify Germany in its war effort.[15] The Gestapo’s role is also referred to in Sigismund Payne Best’s memoir “The Venlo Incident”, published in 1950. Due to his association with the assassination attempt, Payne was in the Sachsenhausen Concentration camp at the same time as Georg Elser in 1940. In his memoir he describes how he was in a cell close to Elser and showed an interest in him due to their names being “coupled” in the media and used the guards to access information about him.[16] He describes that Elser had a comfortable bed and was allowed to smoke, all of which raised suspicion, considering that Elser was believed to have killed the Führer. Due to these privileges Best describes how he came to the conclusion the Nazis themselves were involved. Best writes that he was able to get “as close to the true facts as we shall ever be able to get”, as he claims to have written letters with Elser that were sent back and forth by a guard, in which he allegedly told him that he had been sent to Dachau as a punishment for his behavior and was approached by the SS and offered his freedom in Switzerland if he obeyed certain orders.[17] According to Best, Elser said, “what else could I do but say yes. If I had refused, I should certainly have gone up the chimney that evening”. He was asked to make a bomb that would explode after Hitler left to “liquidate the traitors”.[18] As Best was personally involved in the incident and did have ways to contact Elser, he can offer an insight an outside observer may never have. This can also be said about Niemöller, who made similar claims about Elser being instructed by the Gestapo in his endeavor and was therefore treated exceptionally well in captivity. He said he gained this information when he was also in the same concentration camp. Elser’s death was an attempt to cover up the evidence.[19] In an article in the Sueddeutsche Zeitung in 1946, a member of the Newspaper was able to contact a guard from Sachsenhausen named Lothar Rhode. Rhode had interacted with Elser, and had apparently told him that he had a leading position in the SA and was fulfilling a job “for the good of Germany” [20]. An assassination attempt had to be faked so that the “German Volk” would experience a “united hatred” towards England, which was necessary for the war.[21] Accounts such as these influenced historian Alan Bullock to become convinced of the Gestapo being involved, to increase “the Führer’s popularity”, and publishing this view in his book A Study In Tyranny in 1952.[22]
            However, in 1991, Bullock published “Hitler and Stalin: Parallel Lives” and presented Elser as an individual who had worked alone on the assassination attempt. This was affected by various sources released after his first biography of Hitler was published, such as the finding of the Gestapo Protocol of Elser’s Interrogation of November 1939 and its analysis by historians Lother Gruchmann and Anton Hoch in 1964. In a recording, Gruchmann explains how he found the Protocol and believes it is the final evidence Elser worked alone.[23] The reason they believe it contradicts all other evidence is because it is the only source that corresponds with all other official documents as well as statements made by witnesses, family members and friends.[24] In the protocol Elser admits to the crime saying he wanted to save Germany from “bloodshed and war”[25]. The Gestapo’s involvement is also questioned by the existence as well as thoroughness of the interrogation, which would not have been necessary if they had been personally involved. Furthermore, this piece of evidence has a more extensive reliability than the other sources considered. Anton Hoch himself revealed that in 1951 Rhode told a different story to the coroner at the Landgericht München, thereby challenging his statement in the Sueddeutsche Zeitung.[26] Niemöllers claims, too, were never supported by physical evidence, and while this does not disprove his claims it means they cannot be considered with the same validity as Gruchmann and Hoch’s work. Payne Best’s memoir is questioned by the Georg Elser Arbeitskreis Gemeinde, which published a copy of the original book with annotations highlighting facts that can be disproven by evidence. Consequently, while nothing disproves Elser’s collaboration with the Gestapo completely, the false details undermine the validity of the sources.[27]
            Therefore, despite abundant witness accounts, news reports and propaganda, evidence connecting Elser to the Gestapo or the British Secret Service often lacks physical proof or its validity can be questioned. This results in the fact that these sources cannot be regarded with the same validity as official protocols analyzed by recognized historians that impacted the representation of Elser in literature as seen by Bullock, or corrections and annotations made by institutions dedicated entirely to Elser. This leads to believe that although these theories may always be present, it can be said with confidence that Elser did in fact work alone when he attempted to assassinate Hitler on the 9th of November 1939, and Bullock was right to change his stance in his newer publication.
Wordcount: 1,318

Section 3: Reflection

            Many sources in this investigation were stored in archives and therefore difficult to access. At first I found myself with a lack of evidence. I was able to contact the Dachau Concentration Camp Memorial, as I am German and my school is close to Dachau. I got a response from Ulrich Unseld, who works for the “Archivpädagogik”, and referred me to the Georg Elser Gedenkstätte.[28] There I spoke to Hans Ulrich Koch, who gave me access to the Georg Elser Arbeitskreis archive, containing a folder titled “False Rumors”. It contains scans of the Gestapo protocol, Newspaper articles published in 1939, letters, diary entries, radio transmissions and annotated books. This supplied me with an abundance of sources and highlighted the importance of historians contacting experts. While I had begun this investigation with the conclusion that Elser had worked alone, I was now confronted with copious evidence that countered this. 
            The biggest issue I faced was that most of the sources could not be proven wrong, however their reliability was questionable. This can be seen in Best’s “The Venlo Incident”: while it cannot be proven that he is lying, the annotations of the book reveal his mistakes which challenge its validity. Therefore, it was difficult for me to decide with how much gravity certain sources should affect my investigation.
It can also be challenging to decide what the origin of a source says about its value or limitation. For example, within propaganda: when is it manipulation, and when does it have informative purposes? The bias in witness accounts is also challenging to evaluate, as it is often influenced by self-interest. Therefore, deciding which sources were valid enough and which had to be disregarded was a challenge.
In conclusion, this investigation emphasised the importance of valid sources in history, especially concerning an event that took place in 1939. Not only does this therefore require access and connections to a good source or archives that contains official documents, but also a strict analysis of value and limitation to investigate which sources can be regarded with more or less importance and weight, and how the work of a historian that is being used as evidence may have been impacted by these sources, as seen by the analysis of Bullock in this particular investigation. 

Word count: 378

Footnotes: [1] Best, 93-205 [2] The Georg Elser Arbeitskreis is an online archive associated with the Dachau Concentration Camp Memorial and the Georg Elser Gedenkstätte. It contains categorized files regarding Georg Elser and his attempt to kill Hitler. One section on the online archive is called “False Rumors”, and is then subcategorized towards different claims that question whether Elser worked alone.  [3] Best, 93-205 [4] Lothar Gruchmann MP3 [5] Vernehmungsprotokolls der Gestapo 23.11.1939, 92 - 201 [6] "Die Entdeckung Des Berliner Verhörprotokolls." [7] Gruchmann 7 - 159 [8] Hoch 10 - 14 [9] Stern 153 - 200 [10] Additionally, he was planning on publishing his diaries as he recognized their historical value. He was “devoting hours to each day’s entry” and in 1941 he even got a stenographer to type them for him (Thacker 234) [11] It is worth mentioning that especially after the Gleichschaltung in 1933, any form of media was forced to self-censor and essentially agree with Nazi ideology. On February 3, 1933 Goebbels noted in his diary that: “Radio and press are out our disposal. We shall stage a masterpiece of propaganda” showing the Nazis weren’t new to manipulating information to their own advantage (Adena).  [12] Kessler 121-129, “Der Englische Mordanschlag” [13] Bulhof’s memoir is not considered valid as there is no further evidence besides the author’s own claims and Best’s wife’s diary. His claims are regarded as interpretations of the entries rather than actual fact. (Bulhof 66) [14] The “gang” Shirer is referring to here is the Gestapo, under the control of Heinrich Himmler (Shirer 294 – 297) [15] Shirer 294 – 297 [16] Best 93 - 205 [17] However, despite following these alleged orders, he was stopped as he was about to cross the border and sent back to Munich to the Gestapo (Hoch 10 - 14) [18] Best 93 - 205 [19] He shared this information in a speech in front of the Evangelic “Studentengemeinde” on the 17th of January in 1946 in Göttingen ("Georg Elser War Ein SS-Unterscharführer.") [20] Günther [21] Günther [22] Bullock, 732 – 850 [23] Gruchmann explains that no one had been looking for the Protocol because everyone assumed it was destroyed with the rest of the documents in 1945. Together with Hoch, who had been dedicating his research to Elser and his attempt to kill Hitler since 1962, they analyzed their findings. (Hoch 10 – 14) [24] Eloy [25] Page 92 to 94 of the protocol 23.11.39 [26] Hoch, 10 - 14 [27] For example, Best got a lot of the details wrong that Elser supposedly told him himself about his own life. He writes that Elser said his mother died giving birth when he was still young, but in reality she died in 1960. He also claims that Elser was contacted by the SS while he was in Dachau, however research has proven there isn’t a time frame in which this would have been possible. ("Übersetzter Und Kommentierter Auszug Aus "The Venlo Incident") [28] Georg Elser Memorial

History Internal Assessment

 “To what extent is the portrayal of Sophie Scholls’ interrogation by Robert Mohr in the film “Sophie Scholl- The Final Days” (2005) historically accurate?”

May 2022
Word Count: 2196

Section A: Identification and Evaluation of Two Sources
This historical investigation will examine the question “To what extent is the portrayal of the interrogation in the film “Sophie Scholl- The Final Days” (2005) historically accurate?” Sophie Scholl was a member of The White Rose, a nonviolent Nazi resistance group in Munich, whose members distributed leaflets to oppose the German war effort. 1 The 2005 film portrays Sophie’s last days prior to her execution for treason, with a heavy focus on the interrogation by criminal secretary Robert Mohr. To evaluate to what degree this reenactment of Sophie's interrogation is based on historical truth, original excerpts from Sophie Scholl’s examination protocols from February 1943 will be compared.

Source I: “Sophie Scholl: The Final Days” directed by Marc Rothemund produced in 2005
This film has numerous values, for instance that it was produced in the year 2005. This being 62 years after the demise of The White Rose provides the director Marc Rothermund and the screenwriter Fred Breinersdorfer with hindsight, allowing them to create a well informed film adaptation. Furthermore, the filmmakers had access to documents and interrogation transcripts hidden in East German archives until Germany was reunified in 19902, allowing them to draw on a source that supplied them with accurate historical information and served as a basis for the movie’s interrogation scenes.
However, since this film is a historical drama3, a limitation is that the movie’s purpose is to entertain, which has resulted in Rothermund making the film more dramatic and exaggerated using fictional elements. Finally, it is a limitation that the movie encompasses Sophie’s final 6 days, in 117 minutes of film. This led to selective use of information, as it is impossible to shrink anyone’s last days into just under two hours, which may result in a less accurate representation of the past.

Source II: “Auszüge aus den Verhör Protokollen von Sophie Scholl, Februar 1943” (“Excerpts from the interrogation protocols of Sophie Scholl, February 1943”) published by Kirsten Schulz for the Bundeszentrale für politische Bildung in 2005.
 This source is valuable for the historical investigation as it is Sophie Scholl’s original questioning by the chief criminal secretary Robert Mohr on which the interrogation scenes (within 00:18-01:11) in the film are based. The protocol's purpose was to serve as possible evidence for the trial, granting insight into the NS legal system. Additionally, as the interrogation took place at the Wittelsbacher Palais (“Staatspolizeistelle”)4 in Munich, the producers of the film could accurately recreate the setting. Hence, as the origin and content of the source provide an extensive account of the discussion between Mohr and Sophie Scholl, a comparison to the film can reveal whether the reenactment of the interrogation is historically accurate.
On the other hand, since these documents were produced by the Gestapo, they withhold information about the way Scholl was treated, possibly making Sophie’s statements in the documents less reliable. Furthermore, Sophie Scholl’s answers to Mohr’s questions could have been manipulated as there was no lawyer present and the identity of the person who recorded the questioning is unknown. Thus, there is no external witness to prove that the document wasn’t altered to ensure Scholl’s conviction, making it biased in favor of the Gestapo, who wanted to discover and eliminate any oppposition to the Nazi regime.

Section B: Investigation

The motion picture from 2005 tells the story of the anti- Nazi resistance group “The White Rose”, with particular focus on its only female member: Sophie Scholl. Specifically, the film follows Sophie’s final days leading up to her execution on the 22nd of February in 1943. In the opening scenes of the film, the text: “This film is based on historical facts, so far unpublished interrogation transcripts and recent interviews with eyewitnesses” (00:47) is displayed, to support the movie’s historical credibility. However, as a director, Marc Rothermund had the creative license to include fictional scenes that do not adhere to the interrogation transcripts, yet are vital to the movie for entertainment purposes.
Sophie Scholl’s interrogation protocol was written by an unknown member of the Gestapo and gives an account of her questioning by the chief criminal secretary Robert Mohr for the impending trial with the judge Roland Freisler, a staunch Nazi known frequent death penalty verdicts.5 Throughout the interrogation, specific details of Sophie Scholl’s responses to Mohr’s specific questions, which were aimed to expose further members of the resistance group, were recorded. For example, after Sophie Scholl is asked to explain exactly when, where and how many leaflets she distributed in cities other than Munich, Sophie gives a comprehensive response that is recorded in the protocol. This becomes evident in a reply to Mohr: “On January 25, 1943, at 3 PM in the afternoon I took an express train to Augsburg... In a briefcase I carried around 250 letters to addresses living in Augsburg. Since about 100 of these letters were not franked, I bought 100 8 Pfennig stamps from the railway post office”. 6 However, Mohr did not believe that the Scholl siblings carried out all of the acts of resistance by themselves as well as financing the materials alone7, which resulted in further questioning.
Whilst the interrogation transcript serves as evidence for Scholl’s trial, the interrogation in the historical film has a distinctly different purpose. Besides excessively cutting down on detail, juridistical language and suspect information, the reenacted questioning is both simplified for the film’s time restraint of two hours, as well as aiming to highlight the differing political views of Mohr and Scholl. In contrast to the original protocol, all Sophie states in the film about the pamphlets she distributed in Augsburg was: “The defamatory leaflet was sent to a number of recipients in Augsburg and Munich!” This underlines that not only was detail without entertainment value or relevance to the plot omitted, but the screenwriter also used an exclamation mark to create more emotion in Scholl’s dialogue adding temperament to the interrogation scene. Moreover, the interrogation scenes strongly aim to convey the dichotomy between Scholl’s and Mohr’s core ideologies. For instance, Mohr explains why he stands behind Nazi ideology and he and Sophie begin a political and philosophical discussion. At one point, Mohr praises Hitler and exclaims: “That disgusting Treaty of Versailles, inflation, unemployment, poverty. Our Fuehrer eliminated all that!”, conveying his strong beliefs (01:04). Sophie retaliates by saying: “and he lead Germany into a bloody war where every victim dies in vain!”, underlining the clear contrast between the principles of the opposing characters. Additionally, Sophie asks Mohr why he doesn't think the Fuehrer is “insane” because of the “racial hatred” and the Jews being forced into “Extermination camps”. 8 However, Mohr says she speaks “nonsense” and the “Jews are emigrating” which highlights the effect brainwashing Nazi ideologies had on him. These contrasting political viewpoints are essential for the movie as they don’t only show the viewer what Nazi Germany was like, but also present a thought- provoking and entertaining ideological conflict for the viewer. Hence, these narrative components which are not present in the original interrogation, detract from the historical accuracy yet give the movie more entertainment value.

 Although the scriptwriter Fred Breinersdorfer was able to use the newly available interrogation protocol for his screenplay, he explained that it “only served as a common thread”.9 Therefore, he created fictional scenes that help characterize Scholl and Mohr, and make the film more dramatic as a whole. This becomes evident in the scene where Sophie recognizes that Mohr has gathered sufficient evidence to declare her guilty (00:43). Namely, after a search of her apartment, the Gestapo found 140 postage stamps and drafts of the anti- nazi propaganda leaflets. Therefore, when Sophie realizes she’s been caught, director Rothermund and scriptwriter Breinersdorfer create a fictional scene that reminds the audience, despite being a resistance fighter, Sophie is also a scared young girl. Here, Sophie asks Mohr to go to the bathroom, which allows the audience to witness her last moments of “freedom” (00:44-00:45). Through an eye level camera angle, the viewer then observes Sophie confronting herself with her newly learned destiny, taking a good last look in the mirror whilst taking frenzied deep breaths and revealing her emotional and panic stricken side- a side she purposely makes unavailable to Mohr. As there is no record of Sophie’s introspection in the bathroom, the scene is likely to be fictional and included for entertainment purposes, as it evokes empathy within the viewer.
However, since the film is based on the protocol, but also documents that were released later, there are many parts of the interrogation that were truthfully reenacted. In a report by Mohr in 1951, he claims that he wanted to save Sophie from the death penalty10, however this could have not been literally recorded in the original protocol as the regime prohibited any sympathy to Nazi opposition. Nonetheless, Mohrs attempt to lessen Scholl’s sentence can still faintly be deduced from the protocols as Mohr asks whether her actions “must find the harshest condemnation?” to which Sophie answers: “I want to accept the consequences that arise from my way of acting.” 11 Contrarily, although the film makes Mohr's attempt to lessen Sophie’s sentence more obvious, it still adheres well to the historical truth. This becomes evident, as Mohr reminds Sophie that her “life is at stake” and attempts to mitigate her punishment by asking her to acknowledge that her actions were a “mistake”.12 Hence, he asks Sophie if he should record within the protocol that “Following our talks, have you come to the conclusion that your action...must be harshly condemned?" (01:09). This signifies that by signing that confession and admitting that opposing the regime was a mistake, i.e. “betraying the idea” of the resistance group’s ideology, Sophie would presumably not face the harshest punishment. However, just like in February 1943, Sophie showcases her moral strength and stands by her actions by responding “I don't regret it and I'll accept the consequences.”13, which fundamentally seals her fate. Overall, this shows that the film considered historical documents such as Mohr’s report from 1951, to highlight significant parts of the original protocol that were recorded vaguely due to the inhumane nature of the Nazi regime, and bring them out more strongly in the film, to most closely represent the historical truth.
In conclusion, although the interrogation in the film was largely compressed, it was still fairly historically accurate. It is evident that the original protocol was greatly used as an inspiration for the script, however the purpose of the questioning in the film was mainly to highlight the core differences between Mohr’s deep rooted nazi ideologies and the pioneering beliefs of the 21 year old LMU student. Furthermore, the use of fictional scenes, entirely fabricated from imagination, were used to characterize the protagonist and create a dramatic climax, necessary for a cinematic movie with entertainment value. Moreover, whilst the original protocol aimed to find Scholl guilty, the filmmakers, with hindsight, also used the interrogation to symbolically exonerate her, by portraying her as a hero in an unjust regime. Ultimately, although there are key differences between the original documents and the interrogation scenes, the filmmakers clearly intended to truthfully retell Scholl’s tragic story.

Section C: Reflection

Initially, I was interested in Sophie Scholl because like her, I live in Munich and am only 4 years younger than when she was arrested by the Gestapo. Specifically, I wanted to look at her court case, due to my interest in Roland Freisler, the judge who sentenced Sophie and 5000 others to death.14 However, after reaching out to the “Munich Documentation Centre for the History of National Socialism” for the original trial documents, I was informed that they do not have a copy in possession, the document is not fully digitalised and the original file is in the Federal Archives in Berlin. This showed me that historians often are not always able to access documents that are vital to their research. However, the Documentation Center did make me aware of the fact that excerpts of Sophie Scholl’s interrogation transcripts were published online by the Federal Agency for Civic Education. After reading what was available to me, I was similarly intrigued about her interrogation and its portrayal in the 2005 film by Rothermund. This showed me that historians work with what they can, but this may mean shifting the focus of their study or revising their question to better reflect the documents available to them.
My German proficiency was an advantage, since I was able to examine the primary source documents in their original form, without any alteration that a translation may have generated. However, a challenge I faced was knowing one of my sources comes from a totalitarian regime where no one is allowed due process. Although the interrogation protocol record seems reliable due to it being from an official criminal investigation, it was written by an NS officer and as all opposition to the regime was meant to be punished in 1943 Germany, the document was likely deliberately manipulated to ensure a harsh sentence for Scholl. Likewise, as the film also draws on documents like the 1951 report by Mohr, mentioning his rescue attempt for Sophie, I was faced with a similar challenge. Mohr’s claims may not be reliable as Germany was going through a time of denazification, where many people wanted to distance themselves from the regime. Ultimately, this allows me to understand the difficulty of historians working with primary sources from regimes where people don’t have freedoms or are expected to dissociate with certain political parties.

Bühler, Philipp. “Filmheft Zu Sophie Scholl - Die Letzten Tage. .” Bundeszentrale Für Politische Bildung,
11 Feb. 2005, www.bpb.de/shop/lernen/filmhefte/34099/sophie-scholl-die-letzten-tage.
Die Dienststellen DER Geheimen STAATSPOLIZEI Im Deutschen Reich.” Geschichtsort Hotel Silber, Haus Der Geschichte Baden-Württemberg, 2018, virtuell.geschichtsort-hotel-silber.de/das-netz-der-gestapo/deutsches-reich/.
“Film Info: Sophie Scholl - Die Letzten Tage.” German Films: Archive, Federal Government Commissioner for Culture and Media, 2020 www.german-films.de/film-archive/browse-archive/view/detail/film/sophie-scholl-the-final-days/i ndex.html.
Holden, Stephen. “The Quiet Resolve of a German Anti-Nazi Martyr.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 17 Feb. 2006,
Lankheit, Klaus. “Roland Freisler: Todesurteile Am Laufenden Band.” FAZ.NET, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, 23 Mar. 2015,
www.faz.net/aktuell/politik/politische-buecher/roland-freisler-todesurteile-am-laufenden-band-13 486709.html.
Ray, Michael. “White Rose.” Encyclopædia Britannica, Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc., 24 June 2019, www.britannica.com/topic/White-Rose.
Schulz, Kirsten. “Auszüge Aus Den Verhörprotokollen Von Sophie Scholl.” Bpb.de, Bundeszentrale Für Politische Bildung, 19 Apr. 2005, www.bpb.de/geschichte/nationalsozialismus/weisse-rose/61044/verhoerprotokoll-sophie-scholl?p =all.
Rothermund, Marc. “Sophie Scholl: Die Letzten Tage.” 2005. Germany: Goldkind Filmproduktion.

  To what extent does “The White Rose” (1982) accurately represent the ideologies of the group?
Word Count: 1995

 Section A: Identification and Evaluation of Two Sources:
The White Rose was a non-violent resistance group to the National Socialists that called for the denunciation of the regime through the distribution of pamphlets from 1942 to 1943 in Munich1. In this historical investigation I will examine the question “To what extent does “The White Rose” (1982) accurately represent the ideologies of the group?”.
The movie “The White Rose” zooms in on the individual members of the group and encapsulates their core ideologies through an observation of their actions and motivations. However, in order to assess their ideologies in comparison to historical facts, analysis of the 5th pamphlet written by the group will serve as a verification to the investigation.
Source I : “The White Rose” by Micheal Verhoeven produced in 1982
The movie tells the story of the group from the perspective of Sophie Scholl from her arrival in Munich to her death in 1943, on the group’s actions and the motivation behind them. This contributes to this investigation as it delivers us a better understanding of the ideologies of the group. The value of the origin is that the movie was produced in 1982, providing Michael Verhoeven with hindsight and therefore the ability to portray the group objectively. Another value is that Verhoeven is known for his predilection to political and historical movies, which suggests his objectivity in making a historically accurate movie as well as his access to many diverse sources such as family members of the members of the group and the diaries of the Scholls.2
However, a limitation of the purpose could be that the movie is produced as a drama3 with entertainment purposes in mind, leading to a potential exaggeration of conversations and events in order to capture the viewer emotionally and heighten the tension throughout the movie. Thus the ideology of the group could be misrepresented by Verhoeven in order to create a dramatic movie-experience for the audience, leading to the fact that an accurate representation of the ideology isn’t possible under those circumstances.
Source II: Leaflet V “Call to all Germans!” , written by Hans Scholl and Kurt Huber, 1943
The source is of significant value to this investigation as it is the most revealing piece of writing when examining the organizations ideology due to the fact that it was written by the group themselves, thus this is the primary source that I used to examine the accuracy of the portrayal of ideologies in the movie by Verhoeven. One of the values of the origin of the source is that it was written by Hans Scholl, Sophie's brother as well as Kurt Huber. This gives more value to the origin of the source as they were both part of the group. However, although the leaflet is a direct portrayal of the group’s ideology, it was written for the masses, therefore potentially influencing the amount of detail the group wrote their opinions and beliefs with in order to gain a larger audience rather than just certain groups.

Section B: Investigation
In spite of the Nazi regime’s great control over the German public throughout their rule, there were those who did not conform to the Nazi’s ideologys and challenged the system. An example of this was the peaceful anti- Nazi group The White Rose, an intellectual group of students in Munich who distributed pamphlets advocating for the active opposition to the regime and the end to the war.
One of the White Rose’s main ideologies was calling for collective rebellion against the regime. Both the movie and the leaflet highlight the same ideology that action speaks louder than words. In the movie by Verhoeven, the idea of collective rebellion is picked up in minutes (17:25), when the member Hans Scholl states: “Talking about it is not enough”. This quote refers to the father of the Scholls who in the movie is jailed for speaking up against the Nazis. Hence, the group's wish for a more active rebellion against the regime becomes clear, thus highlighting one of the core ideas of the group to insight change in the masses through more than just words. This type of ideology is one that can be found in the 5th leaflet as well as it states: “When such a wave of turmoil goes through the country, when 'it lies in the air’, if many participate, then this system can be shaken off in a final, enormous effort.” Here, the group indirectly calls for action as they present the only way in which the “system can be shaken off” is through “a final, enormous effort”, thus making it clear that words alone aren't enough anymore. In the pamphlet it also states: “Prove by your actions that you think differently!”. The use of the word “actions” is key as it states the group's ideology of words alone not being enough to bring down the regime. Also, by using words such as “asleep” or “blindly” when talking about the German peoples support for the Nazi’s, the group aims to underline passiveness in regards to the actions taken by the German people against Hitler so far. This portrayal of ideologies in the movie in comparison to the leaflet showcase the similarities of the two and underline that in this instance the movie has succeeded in portraying one of the main ideologies stated in the 5th pamphlet that actions speak louder than words.
Another one of the main ideologies presented in the leaflet is the groups anti-war mindset as they write: “Hitler cannot win the war, he can only prolong it” as well as “It has become a mathematical certainty that Hitler is leading the German people into the abyss”. By exposing to the masses that Hitler is losing the war, the group tries to expose the regime for their lies surrounding its success in the war and therefore insight mistrust with the people, suggesting high hopes for losing the war. Especially the use of the word “abyss” presents the future under Hitlers regime as something cataclysmic and irreversible for the German people. In addition to this, the leaflet displays the end of the war as the only way in which the world will be free from Hitler. Therefore, one can characterise the group’s ideologies and motivations as pacifistic. This anti-war mindset of the group is also to be found in the movie as Sophie states “Only when the war is lost will we be free of Hitler” in minute (1:04:15). This statement characterises the group as pacifist as well as makes it clear that the group believes how only without the war, peace is possible, clearly linking the end of the war to the end of Hitlers regime. Through a comparison of this ideology in both the movie and the leaflet it becomes evident that they both align in their message and idea of the end of the war being necessary for the German people to be freed from Hitler , thus making the movie successful in portraying the ideologie of the White Rose as stated in the pamphlet.
One of the other main ideologies that the leaflet highlights is the strong suggestion for a federal system in Germany as well as a cooperation between European nations for the goods of all citizens in Europe. The group writes: “The Germany of the future must be a federal state.”, clearly stating their ideology concerning the need for a political reform. The quote: ”The illusory structure of autonomous national industry must disappear.”, underlines the White Rose’s wish for a united Europe as the phrase “illusory structure” presents the current national socialist system as something false and misleading. However, this ideology remains uncaptured in the movie as political aspirations for Germany and Europe after the war aren’t touched upon at all in the movie. Throughout the film, the viewer gets an understanding of the groups ideologies concerning current affairs within Germany under the National Socialist regime as well as their ideas on how to bring down the Nazis rather than actual ideas and plans for Germany once the Nazis are gone. Therefore, when comparing this specific ideology of hopes for a federalist state of the group as presented in the 5th leaflet to the film by Verhoeven, it becomes clear that the movie doesn’t succeed at incorporating it into its plot.
Furthermore, although both the movie and the leaflet touch on the treatment of the Jews by the Nazis, the movie doesn’t state a particular belief surrounding the anti-semitism in Germany. In the leaflet, the group asks the questions: “Do you and your children want to suffer the same fate that befell the Jews?”. By foreshadowing to the German people that the future which awaits them can be compared to the treatment of the Jews, the White Rose not only acknowledges the mistreatment of the Jews by the Nazis but presents this treatment as horrible and something threatening to the German people. However, in the movie, although the treatment of the Jews is shown as Hans Scholl sees Jews being shot in concentration camps, the entire group doesn’t take a stand on the problem from an ideological point of view as they don’t talk about it collectively in the group once throughout the movie. Therefore, when comparing the movie with the pamphlet in regards to the ideology on anti-semitism, it is very apparent that the movie fails to encapsulate the White Rose’s negative opinion about the treatment of the Jews, thus failing to encapsulate the Groups ideology as stated in the leaflet.

In conclusion, the movie “The White Rose” (1982) by Michael Verhoeven does a historically accurate job in portraying the ideologies of the group. The ideologies as stated in the 5th leaflet such as their call for collective action, as well as their negative stance on the war are well encapsulated in the movie in order to highlight their core ideologies. However, some of their other beliefs as mentioned in the pamphlet like their negative stance on anti-semitism as well as their suggestion for a federal system in Germany cannot be found anywhere throughout the movie and therefore fails to encapsulate some of the groups ideologies. Nonetheless, as their call for action is arguably their most important ideological belief in regards to the Nazi system, the movie does do a good job in portaying the White Rose’s ideology in an historically accurate manner.

Section C: Reflection
The White Rose was the most famous German resistance group to the Nazis during the Second World War, protesting against the regime's oppression. Due to their political standpoint at the time, their pamphlets were censored in Germany and they were executed or imprisoned in order to be silenced, illustrating how history can be manipulated or influenced by public opinions or certain individuals.
This made the investigation rather challenging as the censored information about the group was later replaced with books and movies of the group based around this scarce information at the time didn’t allow the historians to investigate the group objectively, therefore creating a lot of biased information for me to work with. In addition to this, identifying relevant sources within the archive-based material was a challenge as it was quite hard to find important information relevant to the ideology of the group rather than the actions of the group. In terms of reliability, as the movie is made with entertainment purposes first and foremost, the movie is not 100 percent historically accurate, making it harder for me to use it as a reliable source when assessing the ideology of White Rose. Furthermore, my attempts in assessing the ideological claims made in the movie were often hindered by the film’s narrative as it was shot from Sophie Scholls perspective, making an evaluation of the entire group's ideology rather challenging.

History – Internal Assessment: The Historical Investigation

From an outstanding former student who received a 7 in the course before being accepted into Oxford:

Did Admiral Wilhelm Canaris actively undermine Hitler?

   Word Count: 2,199

Section A: Identification and Evaluation of Sources –
The controversy around Admiral Wilhelm Canaris remains unresolved to this day.1
Described as case of double personality á la Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, the question arises – did Canaris actively undermine Hitler? To examine this, two German sources will be consulted that divergently assess Canaris’ actions. While one represents the orthodox stance of the public majority through a popular movie, the other biographically displays the post- revisionist viewpoint of German journalist and historian.

Source A – Movie “Admiral Wilhelm Canaris – Ein Leben für Deutschland”, directed by Alfred Weidenmann and first published in 1954 by the FAMA- FILM production company in Hanover, West Germany:
Following its publication in December, the movie was awarded the Bambi2 and received the Bundespreis3 and Darstellerpreis4.5 The value of the origin is that the source was the most financially successful movie in Germany in 1955, indicating its popularity.6 Yet, Weidenmann is not an historian himself, although consulting experts for his filming.7 As one of the classics of the Vergangenheitsbewältigung8, the source ought to be considered for this investigation by being the prime example of how Germany interrogated its National Socialist past.9 The value of the content is that Canaris’ involvement in events from 193510 to 1945 is shown, condensing ten years of history into two hours. However, many of Canaris’ efforts are not acknowledged, possibly due to the unavailability of information as shortly after the war. As the Aufarbeitung der Geschichte11 extends to today, many intrigues were not yet known, such as Canaris’ involvement in Francoist Spain.12 As suggested by the title, the movie provided “Ein Leben für Deutschland.”13 Therefore, its purpose was to narrate a heroic story with famous actors14 that emits hope through a figure supposedly detached from Nazism and conspiring against the regime. Released during a time in which war criminals were prosecuted, the movie intends to illustrate the tragedy of a morally conscious German that valued God and principles above any fascist leader – allegedly mirroring the dilemma of many Germans.15 Therefore, the origin and purpose obscure an objective stance to the topic.

Source B – Biography “Canaris. Patriot im Zwielicht”, first published in 1976 by German historian and journalist Heinz Höhne under the C. Bertelsmann publishing house in Munich:
Specializing on Nazi and intelligence history, Höhne was the first to academically question Canaris’ active resistance.16 This reignited the discussion about Germany’s desperate search for national heroes due to an infamous history.17 Therefore, Höhne ought to be considered for this investigation.18 Criticizing works that claim differently, Höhne argues that Canaris did not actively undermine Hitler.19 The value of the origin is that Höhne served the Wehrmacht during the Second World War himself and dedicated his life to respective academia.20 Regarding the value of the content, Höhne elaborately reconstructs Canaris’ life following six years of research.21 This is evident when considering the six hundred pages of text, thousands of footnotes and the five pages of references that include unpublished papers from archives and private owners.22 Yet limiting the content, the biography reads like a novel, influenced by the author’s journalistic career and potential exaggerations.23 A natural bias of the origin may also be Höhne experiencing the Nazi regime, war and its repercussions. Moreover, Höhne could have purposefully intended to polarise with his work, especially considering the attention it received and turmoil it caused.24

Section B – Investigation:
In 1976 German historian Heinz Höhne published a biography on the head of the Abwehr – Admiral Wilhelm Canaris.25 Who had since been forgotten was now at the center of attention again. In his work, Höhne condemns Canaris and criticizes those that display him as heroic.26 Yet two decades earlier, Canaris was nationally celebrated for actively impeding Hitler. The successful movie “Ein Leben für Deutschland” from 1955 remembers Canaris as an essential conspirator.27 Therefore, Höhne’s opposition reignited the discussion about Germany’s desperate search for heroes to guiltlessly associate oneself with national history and erase a lack of identity. In 1954 this was discussed by Der Spiegel28 in “Erdachte Verschwörung”29 upon hearing about Weidenmann’s upcoming production. Indeed, Canaris still troubles historians nowadays.30 On the one hand he was an esteemed member of the party31 and chief of Hitler’s secret service that worked alongside the SS.32 Moreover, Canaris himself proposed the labelling of Jews in 193533 and concealed the murders of Rosa Luxemburg and Karl Liebknecht.34 On the other hand, Canaris rescued over 500 Jews in 194135 by employing these as spies in the Abwehr and sending these abroad.36 Furthermore, Canaris was nakedly hung after being convicted of treason one week before the war ended.37 Due to the unavailability of personal writings, Canaris is especially challenging to investigate. His diary, on which he was convicted, was last possessed by the Gestapo and is missing to this day.38 The difficulty for an historian approaching this topic is that resistance to Nazism is versatile and indefinable on a permeable spectrum. As everyone may weigh resistance differently, this investigation will focus on Canaris’ role in obstructing Nazi agenda. Considering the Munich Agreement in 1938 and Operation Felix in 1944 this essay will argue that Admiral Wilhelm Canaris actively undermined Hitler.
On 18th August 1938, Ewald von Kleist travelled to London. Canaris had ordered him to visit Neville Chamberlain and assert that the UK needed to declare war if Germany marched on Prague.39 Predicting the annexation of Czechoslovakia, Canaris intended to alter British foreign policy of appeasement.40 Shortly before, Abwehr deputy Hans Oster had plead Canaris to join the Septemberverschwörung that included others such as Generaloberst Ludwig Beck and planned to storm the Reichskanzlei.41 For this, Canaris deemed British involvement as crucial, therefore commanding von Kleist’s visit. On the planned day of the coup however, Chamberlain announced his visit to Munich. Facing the opposition of all, Canaris ordered to terminate the plot.42 Hereby, Höhne argues that Canaris was not only unsuccessful in influencing British foreign policy of appeasement, but also prevented a possible overthrow in 1938.43 Without the involvement of Canaris, the Oster- Conspiracy may have succeeded by remaining independent of the British. Herewith, Canaris appeased Hitler himself. Höhne goes as far as arguing that Canaris promoted Hitler’s seizure of Czechoslovakia by weakening the opposition. This is underlined by Canaris being the only to object to an assassination of Hitler during a coup.44 Weidenmann acknowledges these arguments in portraying Canaris as initially repelled by the motion of a coup. Although agreeing to contribute, Canaris is strictly against an assassination of Hitler and immediately gives up once receiving news of Chamberlain’s visit.45 Höhne recognizes that Canaris joined the Septemberverschwörung, but ultimately remarks that Canaris belonged to the collective of Wehrmacht officers that supported the “deeply soldierly”46 NSDAP, but feared an early war.47 Höhne attributes Canaris’ “conspiration” to the mere belief of Finis Germaniae – that a war in 1939 would lead to the destruction of the German Reich through its unpreparedness to fight a “large European war.”48 Considering Canaris’ reputation in 1938, von Kleist’s visit may have purposefully promoted appeasement through a double game. This questions Canaris’ genuine intentions in the Septemberverschwörung. British historian Ian Colvin comments on the initial mistrust between Canaris and the British government and MI6.49 Worldwide, Canaris was known as the “most dangerous intelligence man.”50 In 1935, headlines arose when Canaris had seized confidential submarine construction plans from inside the British ministry.51 Therefore, Canaris’ intentions in 1938 remain obscure. Overall and judging from the outcome of the Septemberverschwörung and Munich Agreement, Canaris did not actively obstruct Hitler’s aims before the war.
Hitler’s capture of Gibraltar through Operation Felix in 1944 was a focal war aim for Germany.52 In possession of the British and being a naval base, Gibraltar was the sluice to the Mediterranean and India through the Suez Canal – vital for British trade routes and oil transports. Churchill himself remarked that “Hitler knows he will have to break us in this island or lose the war,” indicating the importance of the peninsula.53 Wanting to persuade Spain to join the Axis to seize Gibraltar, Hitler ordered Canaris to visit General Franco.54 On one hand this emphasises the trust laid in Canaris by Hitler himself. However, Canaris advised Spain not to collaborate, expressing that Germany was unlikely to win the war. Although Franco feared an aggressive invasion of Spain if not cooperating, Canaris assured that Hitler had no intentions of doing so.55 He further noted that a successful seizure of Gibraltar was highly unlikely and faced further confrontations in Morocco and French West Africa. Having persuaded Franco, both devised demanding terms to provoke the termination of negotiations. These included the promising of Gibraltar and French Morocco to Spain, and a German invasion of British mainland beforehand.56 Through his involvement, Canaris directly hampered Hitler’s aims in Spain. Although German historian Michael Müller paradoxically rejects Canaris as an active resistor, he nevertheless argues that Spain would have joined the war without Canaris and that Gibraltar “lost [Hitler] the war.”57 Therefore, and with words of British historian and Cambridge alumni Richard Bassett, Canaris’ “secret work changed the course of the Second World War.”58 Interestingly, both Höhne and Weidenmann fail to acknowledge Canaris’ efforts in Francoist Spain. Höhne claims Canaris to have dissuaded a Spanish involvement to remove Hitler in case of defeat, similar to post- revisionist approaches concerning Claus von Stauffenberg’s intentions in Operation Valkyrie.59 This is unintentionally supported by Weidenmann when illustrating Canaris’ meeting with Swedish industrialists in 1944 to discuss possible armistice negotiations with the Allies.60 Yet, Höhne does not consider that Canaris did not attain to overthrow or assassinate Hitler by keeping Spain out of the war, but rather to hinder Hitler at Gibraltar and prevent an expansion of war. Consequently, Franco himself offered an asylum and pension payment to Canaris’ wife after the execution of her husband to express his sincere gratitude.61 This is crucial when discussing Canaris’ influence in directly obstructing Nazi agenda in Spain.
On 22nd July 1945, Georg Hansen was interrogated for his involvement in the 20th July Plot.62 Upon confession, Hansen implied Canaris’ involvement in conspiracies.63 Although no association was found, Canaris was imprisoned.64 Following the confiscation of his diary, Canaris’ guilt was allegedly proven.65 After being charged with treason, the Abwehr chief admitted to knowing about circulating conspiracies.66 Although this does not prove Canaris’ active undermining, it suggests that he had been an accomplice. Even though Höhne argues that Canaris did not actively impede Hitler’s ambitions with reference to 1938, he acknowledges that Canaris’ approach intensified with the outbreak of war.67 In particular, Operation Felix was actively obstructed by Canaris and contributed to a German defeat. While the Abwehr continued its practises through procuring British Petroleum Warfare strategies in 1940 and conducting the reconnaissance in Russia in 1945, it served as a decoy for Canaris to continue with his endeavors while risking his life.68 As Weidenmann expresses in his work, Canaris was “loyal to an older Germany, not the belligerent, racist regime of Adolf Hitler.”69 In conclusion, Admiral Wilhelm Canaris actively undermined Hitler for which he was degradingly executed. Suffocating alongside his former deputy, Canaris is remembered as a man of honour. Engraved as a resistor to Nazism in KZ Flossenbürg, a street was named after Canaris in his home town.

Section C: Reflection –
Historians face rigorous challenges when gathering sources. I experienced this when visiting the NS- Dokumentationszentrum in Munich. By comprising unpublished and archaic sources70 the borrowing of books was prohibited, significantly hindering my research and anecdotally opposing freedom of information in Germany. Another difficultly arises when contextualizing information. Specifically, the exact role of the Abwehr remains indistinct as it was the only espionage agency, with project budgets exceeding 40 million RM71, but was not paid due respect towards the end of the war.72 Further challenges mark the selection of arguments. This demands thorough reflection as every historian regards different events as essential to the discussion when arguing a certain stance. Therefore, a source’s bias needs constant evaluation. This is noticeable when considering that both German historians, Höhne and Müller, argue that Canaris did not actively undermine Hitler. Contrastingly, both British historians, Bassett and Colvin argue that Canaris did hinder Hitler in his aims. This investigation was particularly troubling for me as a German by feeling the need to confront the history of my country. This self- criticism imprinted itself within German mentality due to the past. Inner conflicts particularly arose as Canaris is remembered as a resistor to Nazism in the concentration camp he was murdered, while being condemned in German academic literature. This conflict is seen in the purpose of Weidenmann’s movie itself – to ease German guilt and reunite the people. On the one hand there is more to German history than the purposeful slaughter of millions innocent. On the other hand, it is crucial to remind, not downplay and show remorse over the most inhumane crimes perpetrated by Germany. Considering biographies, it is especially difficult to remain impartial towards the investigated person as seen with Weidenmann, Höhne and encountering this myself by scrutinizing the life of someone else. The movie especially sparked my empathy towards Canaris by displaying him as a humorous, forgiving and helpful gentleman who loved his two dachshunds. 73 Moreover, the grudge between Abwehr and SS portray Canaris as a morally receptive and sympathetic man.74 Yet, one has to question how far art shapes and manipulates our historical understanding through emotion. By reviving the historical character through film, the factual chronology is made tangible and associated with the movie. Therefore, one constantly has to consider the patriotic purpose of the movie while watching. Overall, ethical implications should always be considered by an historian especially considering the sensitivity of our time.

Works Cited:
1. Beurteilungsbericht zum 1. November 1934: Aus den Personalakten von Canaris, Institut für Zeitgeschichte, 1934.
2. Bryan Mark Rigg, Rescued from the Reich: How One of Hitler's Soldiers Saved the Lubavitcher Rebbe, Yale University Press, 2006.
3. Denis Smyth, Diplomacy and Strategy of Survival: British Policy and Franco’s Spain, 1940 – 41, Cambridge University Press, 1986.
4. Erdachte Verschwörung, Der Spiegel, 1954, 26.
5. Gunter Pirntke, Das wahre Gesicht des Wilhelm Franz Canaris: Undurchsichtiger
Abwehrchef von Hitler, Hans- Peter Bungert, 2009.
6. Harry Carl Schaub, Abwehr-General Erwin Lahousen: Der erste Zeuge beim
Nürnberger Prozess, Böhlau Verlag, 2015.
7. Heinz Höhne, Canaris. Patriot im Zwielicht, C. Bertelsmann Verlag, 1990.
8. Ian Colvin, Admiral Canaris - Chief of Intelligence, Colvin Press, 2008.
9. Joachim Fest, Plotting Hitler's Death: The German Resistance to Hitler 1933–1945, Phoenix, 1996.
10. John Waller, The Unseen War in Europe, Tauris, 1996.
11. Josef Müller, Bis zur letzten Konsequenz: ein Leben für Frieden und Freiheit, Süddeutscher Verlag, 1983.
12. Klaus- Jürgen Müller, Das Heer und Hitler, Walter de Gruyter, 2009.
13. Mark Wolfgram, Getting History Right: East and West German Collective Memories of the Holocaust and War, Bucknell Univserity Press, 2011.
14. Michael Müller, Canaris: The Life and Death of Hitler’s Spymaster, Frontline Books, 2017.
15. Nicholas Rankin, Defending the Rock: How Gibraltar Defeated Hitler, Faber & Faber, 2017.
16. Paul Cooke, Screening War: Perspectives on German Suffering, Camden House, 2010.
17. Richard Bassett, Canaris: Hitler’s Master Spy, Cooper Square Press, 2005.
18. Roland Mörchen, Das Booklet zum Film, Filmjuwelen, 2018.
19. Sabine Hake, Screen Nazis: Cinema, History and Democracy, University of Wisconsin Press, 2012.
20. Spiegel Geschichte - Register: Gestorben, Der Spiegel, 14/ 2010.
21. Spiegel Verlag/ Hausmitteilung, Der Spiegel, 10. October 1966.
22. Tobias Temming, Widerstand im deutschen und niederländischen Spielfilm Geschichtsbilder und Erinnerungskultur (1943-1963), Walter de Gruyter, 2016.
23. Weidenmann, Alfred, director. 1955. Admiral Canaris - Ein Leben für Deutschland. FAMA- FILM.
24. Will Grosse, Der Judenstern - eine Idee von Canaris, Institut für Zeitgeschichte, 1950.