Formal verdict (first trial)
In the Name
Of the German People
In the criminal case against
1. Hans Fritz Scholl from Munich, born in Ingersheim on September 22, 1918,
2. Sophia Magdalena Scholl from Munich, born May 9, 1921 in Forchtenberg,
3. Christoph Hermann Probst from Aldrans near Innsbruck, born November 6, 1919 in Murnau,
currently in interrogative custody with regards to the matter of traitorous aiding and abetting of the enemy, preparations for high treason, and demoralization of the armed forces –
The First Council of the People’s Court, pursuant to the trial of February 22, 1943, in which the following participated:
President of the People’s Court, Dr. Freisler, presiding
Director of the Regional Court Stier
SA- Gruppenführer Bunge
Deputy Secretary of State and SA- Gruppenführer Köglmaier
As Representative of the Chief Prosecutor of the Reich:
Reich Attorney Weyersberg
The above have acknowledged as just:
That during a time of war, the accused used leaflets to call for sabotage of armaments and for the overthrow of the National Socialist way of life; they have propagated defeatist thinking and vilified the Führer in a most vulgar manner, thereby aiding and abetting the enemies of the Reich and demoralizing our armed forces.
They are therefore to be punished by death.
They have forfeited their honor as citizens for ever. [Note 1]
Reasons [Note 2]
The accused Hans Scholl has been studying medicine since Spring 1939 and – thanks to the solicitude of the National Socialist government – is now in his eighth semester! In between, he has seen active duty in the French campaign working in a field hospital; from July to November 1942, he was on the Eastern Front as a medic.
As a student, he has the duty of exemplary community effort. As a soldier – and it is in this capacity that he has been ordered to study – he has a special duty of loyalty to the Führer. That and the solicitude that the Reich has bestowed especially on him was not enough to stop him from writing leaflets “of the White Rose” in the first half of the summer semester of 1942, from duplicating and disseminating them. These leaflets pessimistically prophesy Germany’s defeat, they call for passive resistance in the form of sabotage of the armaments industry and in general at every opportunity [Note 3] call for taking the National Socialist lifestyle away from the German people and therefore the government as well.
That, because he has deluded himself to believe that this is the only way the German people can survive the war!!
After he returned from Russia in November 1942, Scholl challenged his friend – the accused Probst – to give him a manuscript that would open the eyes of the German people! And Probst actually delivered a draft of a leaflet to Scholl as requested at the end of January 1943.
In conversations with his sister Sophia Scholl, the two of them decided to pursue leaflet propaganda in the sense of an effort against the war and in favor of cooperation with hostile plutocracies against National Socialism. The two siblings who had rooms with the same landlady co-wrote a leaflet [entitled] “To All Germans”. In this leaflet, Germany’s defeat in the war was prophesied, a War Of Independence against “National Socialist subhumanity” was announced, and demands in the sense of a liberal formal democracy were advanced. In addition, the siblings wrote a leaflet “German Students” (called “Fellow Students” in a later edition). They declared war on the Party, said that the day of reckoning were come, and were not embarrassed to compare their call for a battle against the Führer and the National Socialist lifestyle of our people with the war of independence against Napoleon (1813) and to associate the soldier’s song “awake my people, the beacons are burning” with it [Note 4].
The accused Scholls duplicated the leaflets partially with the assistance of a friend, the medical student Schmorell. The leaflets were distributed with mutual agreement:
1. Schmorell traveled to Salzburg, Linz, Vienna and mailed 200, 200, 1200 leaflets addressed for these cities and in Vienna, he mailed another 400 that were addressed to Frankfurt am Main;
2. Sophia Scholl mailed 200 in Augsburg and on another occasion 600 in Stuttgart.
3. At night, Hans Scholl and Schmorell scattered thousands [of the leaflets] in the streets of Munich.
4. On February 18, the Scholl siblings set out 1500 – 1800 [leaflets] at the University of Munich in small parcels [sic], and Sophia Scholl threw a pile from the third floor down to the Lichthof.
Hans Scholl and Schmorell also carried out a graffiti operation on the nights of February 3, 8, and 15, 1943 [Note 5] in many places in Munich, especially at the university. These read “Down with Hitler”, “Hitler the Mass Murderer”, “Freedom”. Sophia Scholl found out about this after the first occasion, agreed with it and asked – unsuccessfully, to be sure – to participate in the future!
The accused have themselves disputed [Note 6] the expenditures, which totaled approximately 1000 Marks [Note 7].
Probst also began his medical studies in Spring 1939 and is now in his eighth semester as a soldier ordered to study [at the university]. He is married and has 3 children ages 2-1/2 years, 1-1/4 years, and 4 weeks old. He is an “unpolitical person”, which means he is not a man at all! Neither the solicitude of the National Socialist Reich for his vocational education, nor the fact that the National Socialist population policy enabled him to have a family while still a student, prevented him from completing a manuscript at Scholl’s request, in cowardly defeatism. The manuscript used the heroic battle in Stalingrad as an occasion to vilify the Führer as a militaristic swindler, and that – devolving into the form of an exhortation calls for action in the sense of what he presents as honorable surrender as assumption of a position against National Socialism. He supports the promises contained in his leaflet with reference to – Roosevelt! And he obtained his knowledge of this by listening to English broadcasts!
All the accused have confessed to the above. Probst tries to excuse himself with “psychotic depression” during composition; his reasons for this are Stalingrad and the puerperal fever of his wife. But that alone cannot excuse such a reaction.
Whoever does as the accused have done, that is treasonously demoralized the home front and therefore in time of war our armed forces and therefore aids and abets the enemy (§ 5 of the Special Wartime Crimes VO and § 91 StrGB), raises the dagger in order to knife the Front in the back. This applies as well to Probst, who may claim that his manuscript was never to have become a leaflet, because the manner of expression used in the manuscript demonstrates otherwise. He who acts in this manner is attempting to start a rift in the unbroken unity of our front line, especially now when it matters most that we stand strong together. And this was done by German students, whose honor has always called for self-sacrifice for nation [Note 8] and fatherland!
If this action were punished with anything other than death, it would create the beginning of a chain of developments whose end was once 1918. Therefore there was for the People’s Court only one just punishment that would protect our warring people and Reich: the death penalty. The People’s Court knows that in this matter it is of one mind with our soldiers!
The accused have forfeited their honor as citizens for ever by their [acts of] treason against our people.
As condemned persons, the accused must also bear the costs of the trial.
Signed by Dr. Freisler
Berlin, February 23, 1943.
Chief Administrative Officer
Acting as Court Clerk for the Bureau
To: [Note 9]
Chief Prosecutor of the Reich
Of the People’s Court
With 17 copies
And the file.
Note 1: The original German places the blame for the loss directly on the accused, ie, the courts did not take it from them, they voluntarily gave it up. Note also difference between handwritten draft: Honor as citizens, not civil rights.
Note 2: The final draft of the verdict, together with the justification for the verdict (“Reasons”), is in the ZC13267 file twice. With the first copy, the reasons are handwritten, presumably in Freisler’s hand. It is nearly illegible, therefore no attempt was made to compare the two documents to verify accuracy of the 1943 transcription. Verdict + “Reasons” only included in this translation once. I have also not attempted to make the English translation read better than the original German document, where the grammar and vocabulary are decidedly poor.
Note 3: The syntax in this sentence contains an error, left “as is”. ‘At every opportunity’ modifies ‘call’, not ‘taking away.’
Note 4: It = the war of independence.
Note 5: In the original document, if the reader did not know the dates in question, one would assume that the writer had said “August 3” instead of Feb 3 & 8, because of incorrect punctuation.
Note 6: Could also mean ‘paid for’. In a legal document, usually ‘dispute’, but throughout Freisler’s writing, always paid.
Note 7: Approx. $8000 as of January 2003.
Note 8: Volk.
Note 9: There are numerous handwritten notes between the Clerk’s signature and the addressee. All in different hands, and mostly illegible.
Note 10: Unless the text provides new information, I have not inserted the information from this verdict into the chronological database. For example, I have not added anything about the graffiti operation based on this verdict, since it is covered in detail by the interrogations, and since the text in this document agrees with the interrogation responses.-Ed.
Source: ZC13267 (73 – 77)