The White Rose exhibit has traveled the world, going from schools and universities to libraries, and last week, Shaker High School had a chance to display it.
The White Rose exhibit commemorates the story of the White Rose student resistance group during World War II, and travels throughout the United States and Germany to schools, universities and libraries. Last week, Shaker High School had the exhibit on display in the art gallery in conjunction with its Holocaust Remembrance Day.
The exhibit tells the story of the White Rose group, which consisted of nearly two dozen students who resisted the Nazi regime during World War II. The University of Munich students distributed thousands of copies of six leaflets speaking out against the Nazi party before the students were caught and executed.
Shaker High German teacher Brenna Muldoon learned of the exhibit’s availability through the American Association of Teachers of German and worked with her students and staff members to install the exhibit over April vacation.
“We felt very fortunate that we were able to get that exhibit in here. It’s like a museum,” said Galina Kats, Shaker High Foreign Language Supervisor. It had previously been on display in Minnesota.
Muldoon taught her students about White Rose, but her German students were the exception. Largely, many Shaker High students were unaware of the role White Rose had on the Nazi resistance movement.
While there are monuments and universities in Germany dedicated to the Munich students, outside of Germany, the group is not well known.
“We learned about it in German class. We didn’t spend much time with it, at least I didn’t, in history. It was brought up maybe once,” said Shaker High student Minnie Shupp.
Muldoon’s German students worked at the exhibit during the school’s Holocaust Remembrance Day, where Ivan Vamos, a Holocaust survivor, and Ralph Enokian, an Armenian Genocide lecturer, spoke. As attendees began to arrive, the students gave information on White Rose.
The Shaker High students said they were surprised at the amount of people who didn’t know about the group.
“One lady that came in told me that she’d never even heard of this group before,” said student Claire Shields. “That kind of surprised me. It was such a big thing, and they were so brave to stand against (the Nazis).”
Shields and her peers said that, in most history classes, teachers only spent time on the end of the war and the Holocaust while hardly touching on, if ever, German resistance movements.
“I feel like (teachers) focus more on how the war was ending and how that was taught to us,” said Shupp. “But we should also focus on resistance groups and how four or five students from the University of Munich did this thing that spread throughout the county. And once they were executed, it didn’t stop.”
The exhibit includes 47 panels of information telling the White Rose students’ stories, along with copies of the leaflets that outlined the atrocities committed by the Nazis. In one section, leaflets are hung from the ceiling.
“That element of the exhibit is the most eye-catching,” said Muldoon. She said it represents the two most significant events of the White Rose group’s story.
Two siblings, Hans and Sophie Scholl, were on the University of Munich campus and pushed a pile of leaflets off a balcony as classes were being let out, which led to them being caught.
After White Rose members were put on trial and executed, their sixth leaflet made its way to England, where copies circulated.
“Then, the Allied Forces, when they flew over Germany, dropped leaflets over various cities,” said Muldoon.
Before the group was caught, the leaflets made their ways around Germany by being left in phone books in public phone booths, and anonymously mailed and distributed. The widespread fervor the leaflets caused led to the eventual public trial and execution of the group’s members, said Muldoon, because the Nazi regime felt threatened.
“It gives a message that no matter how old you are, or where you are, it’s important to stand up for what you believe in,” said Shupp.
The exhibit came down at the end of last week, but more information on it, along with a student-made video, can be found on the district’s website at www.northcolonie.org.
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