Second draft of “Reasons” (verdict)

This “Reasons for Verdict” is nearly identical with the “Reasons” that follow the verdict earlier in this book. However, this is apparently Judge Freisler’s second draft (not handwritten, so therefore not first draft). The “edits” allow insight into the workings of the 1st Council.

While it is unclear who edited what, the changed portions give a rare glimpse into the ‘behind the scenes’ activity. Italicized words refer to handwritten insertions. Words that are struck through were in this draft and then cut. This draft is also pieced together – either written by different persons (ie, not all Freisler), or transcribed by different secretaries. It is not one long continuous document.

Italics in this document denote handwritten additions to the typed text.

If you wish to compare the two drafts for yourself, click here to open the original “Verdict with Reasons” in a new window.

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/Stamp: April 28, 1943/

Reasons for Verdict

This verdict must be considered in the context of the verdict that the People’s Court had to render a few weeks ago. At that time, three persons were sentenced who formed the core of this treasonous aid of our enemies. Two of them, Hans Scholl and Sophie Scholl, were the soul of the highly treasonous organization that sought to aid and abet our enemies and demoralize our armed forces. They hail from a family that was unpatriotic and in which they did not receive the kind of upbringing that would turn them into respectable members of society. At that time, the People’s Court determined with regards to their deeds and guilt:

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 1] 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 Sophiae [Note 2] 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 3].

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. Sophiae 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 [Note 4].

4. On February 18, the Scholl siblings set out 1500 – 1800 [leaflets] at the University of Munich in small parcels [sic], and Sophiae 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”. Sophiae 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 [$8,000.00].

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 [Note 7] 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 §91b 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 than 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. [Note 9]

Everything that the People’s Court was able to establish in the above verdict was likewise a result of discovery in the current proceedings. These results are based upon their testimony – insofar as it affects the accused in this proceeding. Indeed, everything that was established in this trial was based on the statements of the accused, except when some other detail is not expressly pointed up pointed out [Note 10]. The new trial has only presented a different view [of the facts] in the following points:

1. The leaflet “Students” was written by the accused Huber. Scholl and Schmorell slightly altered this leaflet (see below) and then published it.

2. Sophiae Scholl did not mail the leaflets in Stuttgart. The accused Hans Hirzerl did. Sophiae Scholl merely brought the leaflets to him in Ulm and commissioned him to get them ready to mail and then to post them in Stuttgart.

3. The accused Grimminger contributed 500 Marks [$4,000.00] to the expenditures. These inaccuracies in the first trial result from the fact that the accused took the guilt of the current accused (Huber, Hirzerl, and Grimminger) upon themselves.

The People’s Court – which at this trial consists of the same primary m and honorary members as at the last trial – attaches great importance to the fact that even had it known the actual [illegible] deeds facts in these three points, its verdict would not have been different.

Today the People’s Court has been required to pass judgment on an additional portion of the core of this organization:

1. Schmorell, who was essentially involved to the same degree as Scholl.

Graf, who collaborated in nearly the same scope as Schmorell and Scholl in a treasonous manner that aided and abetted the enemy. Both of these had been granted leave from the armed forces to study medicine. Both should have been especially grateful to the Führer, because he allowed these studies to be paid for on their behalf – just as for all soldiers who have been granted leave to study medicine. Including ration allowance [Note 11], they received over 250 Marks [$2,000.00] per month; without this ration allowance but with other allowances, it came to about 200 Marks [$1,600.00]. This is more than most students receive from home. Both were sergeants, both were assigned to Student Companies!!!

In addition there is a man who is supposed to be an instructor of our youth: the one-time Professor Huber, who describes himself as a philosopher and whose scholarly influence on his students is said to have been good. (The court has neither the desire nor the knowledge to pass judgment on that topic.)

But a German college professor is above all an instructor of our youth. As such, he is particularly responsible for using his influence to train our college youth to become worthy younger brothers of the fighters of Langemarck, especially in times of crisis and war; to busy strengthen our youth in absolute faith in our Führer, people, and Reich, so that they become strong fighters for our nation, ready to sacrifice themselves!

But the accused Huber did exactly the opposite! He increased their misgivings instead of stifling them; he gave speeches about the necessity of federalism and multi-party democracies for Germany, instead of teaching and exemplifying iron-willed National Socialism. In a time in which it was more important to strap on the sword instead of tackling problems, he sowed doubt among our youth.

He edited a seditious leaflet of the “Resistance Movement”, and he himself wrote another one entitled “Students”. To be sure, there was one sentence he had inserted that he badly wanted to keep in [Note 12] the leaflet. In that sentence, he challenged the student body to make themselves fully available to the armed forces. But the insertion of that single sentence in no way excuses him, because he tried to turn the armed forces against the Führer and the NSDAP. This leaflet vilified them most despicably and called for opposition to them!

The fact that the condemned students wished to strike this sentence against his will in no way excuses him. He who calls on the armed forces to go up against National Socialism, that person wishes to rob it of its strength. For it is based on the National Socialist ideology of our soldiers. That is the basis of the invincibility of our National Socialist Revolutionary Army!

According to Fichte and Kant – the great drummers for the concept of duty among professors – such a “professor” is a blot [Note 13] on the face of German scholarship, and that blot rightfully has been purged a few days ago in connection with this trial: He was ignominiously stripped of his high office. [Note 14]

<Schmorell babbled out some kind of an excuse that because his mother was Russian, and he was half-Russian, he somehow wanted to unify Germans and Russians. This led to such an abysmal aberration, which can be seen from his statement during the trial that he had decided that – as a German soldier – he would “fire upon neither Germans nor Russians”!!!

National Socialist jurisprudence of course requires us to consider the personality of the perpetrator. But that same jurisprudence it can not and will not allow us to consider misguided and unpatriotic attitudes. Especially the People’s Court must take care that no other schism intrudes upon our nation in this time of war. Schmorell is a German student soldier. He swore an oath of loyalty to the Führer. He is was able to continue his education at the expense of the national community. He has no right to mental reservations about being half-Russian. The ethics of [illegible] reservatio mentalis cannot happen has no place in a German courtroom.

<In addition, Huber says he believed he was doing something good. However, we will not revert to the same mistake that the interim Weimar government made, wherein they deemed traitors to be men of honor and sent them to minimum security fortresses as “conscientious objectors”. The days wherein anyone could  run around promoting his own political “beliefs” are past! For us, there is but one standard, and that is the National Socialist. We measure every man thereby!>

At least Graf had the courage to admit at the end of the trial that there could be was no excuse for his crimes. But his deeds are so terrible that he this insight – which came much too late – does not change the verdict.

The details of the deeds of these three accused are as follows:

1. Smorell Schmorell conferred with Scholl about everything (except for the leaflets of the “White Rose” and the draft of the leaflet written by “Probst”, which play no role in this verdict have no bearing on this trial).

He participated in the decision to write leaflets and to disseminate them. He actively participated in their productions, was partially responsible for procurement of the materials needed for the production, knew and approved of their content, especially the content of the leaflet of the “Resistance Movement” and the inflammatory leaflet “Students”.

He also participated in disseminating the leaflets outside of Munich. He himself traveled to Salzburg, Linz, and Vienna and mailed the leaflets intended for those locations, as well as for Frankfurt am Main, in those places. He also took part in the nightly distribution operations, as well as in the graffiti operations and the dissemination of leaflets by mail within Munich.

He participated in a going-away party for himself and Graf in Kreitmayer’s Eickemayer’s studio (as they were being transferred to the front in the Summer of 1942). He was also present at other meetings with Huber and female students, in which they discussed political topics especially with regards to their treasonous philosophies and plans. He accompanied Scholl to meet with Grimminger to pry money from his fingers. He also traveled with Scholl to meet with Harnack for propagandistic reasons.

2. The same things can be said about Graf as were said about Schmorell, except that he did not participate in any way in the travels to other cities. He also did not procure the technical materials needed to duplicate leaflets. Instead, he went on a trip to gather information and spread propaganda, a trip which led him to Bollinger among others, whom he tried to recruit.-[illegible]

[Note 15] 3.) Huber knew about Scholl’s activities, who had told him of his thoughts, plans, and activities. He participated in meetings, edited the leaflet “to all Germans” of the resistance movement, and delivered the draft of the leaflet “Students” himself (see above).

During the political meetings, he made known his “political” thoughts in the sense of the necessity of federalism of the allegedly “southern German democracy” in contrast to the allegedly Prussian-Bolshevist wing of National Socialism. He therefore strengthened the students in their high treason. The leaflet he wrote is irrefutable evidence of the spirit in which he did so.

The fact that he – as he says – tried (in vain) to hinder publication of the leaflet after his sentence about the students body and the armed forces had been stricken, changes nothing about his disposition and deeds. For if the leaflet had been published just as he had written it, his conduct in that regards would be condemned exactly the same way.

Professors or students who vilify the Führer in such a manner are no longer one of us. Those who slander National Socialism in such a manner no longer have a place among us.  Those who, in a time of war, seek to rend our unity and our resolution to wage war with their treasonous spawn of a seditious brain, they corrode our armed forces. They aid and abet the enemy in this war (§91b StGB). Men like Huber, Schmorell, and Graf know that too.

Those who behave in such a manner deserve death. Services rendered (Huber alluded to such) cannot [Note 16] make amends for such conduct.

This first group of those condemned form the core of the Dagger Organization of the “Resistance Movement”, along with the Scholl siblings and Probst, who were likewise punished by the People’s Court in its first verdict. In  close second place with regards to the significance of his activities is the accused Grimminger.

In fact, a petition that was very close throughout. Scholl and Schmorell visited him in Stuttgart. They told him about their treasonous agitation, plans to disseminate leaflets, and trips to universities to recruit like-minded persons. And they told him that they would like to receive money from him. He responded evasively, but then told Scholl that he should come see him again a few weeks later. Scholl did so.

And then Grimminger gave him 500 Marks! He should have been aware that this money would be used to undermine the unity of our homeland, and even more to undermine the soldiers on the front and our military forces, thereby aiding and abetting our enemies. But he obviously did not make this connection.

Such a grievous case of high treason would have been punished differently had the case not been made at the very end of the trial (by the witness Miss Hahn) – even after the punishment recommendations had been made by the Chief Prosecutor of the Reich – that he does a great deal for his employees who are soldiers. He even enables one of them, who is badly wounded, to continue his studies. This made his assertions (that he did not believe the enemies of the Reich would be aided) more believable to us in the eyes of the court. It allowed him to be viewed in a somewhat more favorable light by us. Therefore the People’s Court has decided to consider his deed (§83 StGB) expiated through ten years in the penitentiary, whereby the security of the Reich will be completely guaranteed with regards to him.

The next group of accused – Bollinger and Bauer – knew about treasonous activities and yet did not report them. In addition, they lent their ears to the enemy.

Bollinger had gotten to know Graf through a Catholic youth organization “New Germany” (in the Saar region before it returned to the Reich). Scholl also belonged to this organization, and Bollinger had likewise met him through it.

When upon counsel from Scholl, Graf decided to use a trip to the Rhineland to sound out the mood among his acquaintances in university cities – Bonn and [Note 17]Freiburg – and to try to recruit them for their treasonous plans, he wished to speak with Bollinger in Freiburg. However he learned that Bollinger had traveled to Ulm.

There he caught up with him there and together with Bollinger, visited Bollinger’s acquaintances. They did not touch on politics during that visit.

Late that evening when Bollinger accompanied Graf to the train station, he told him about the thoughts and plans of the Scholl circle in Munich. His attempts at recruitment were unsuccessful. But he left behind a leaflet. Soon thereafter, Bollinger showed the leaflet to his friend, the accused Bauer, incidentally also an acquaintance from “New Germany”! Not to recruit him, but rather to tell him about his conversation with Graf. Bollinger and Bauer were united in their rejection of the leaflet and the entire Scholl operation.

For the sake of the security of the Reich, a verdict like this must show that when mature men with college educations, such as these two are, fail to report such activity, they will be sent to the penitentiary. The police cannot be everywhere. The national community is hereby advised that everyone who considers himself a respectable German will support the Party, the State, and the authorities. When he hears of such treasonous activities, he will report them.

In addition, both of them disobeyed the Führer and that disobedience must be punished. Although they knew that the Führer has forbidden it, they listened to foreign broadcasts about military and internal political events. They did this namely on several occasions when they were together in a ski hut on weekends. They tried to excuse this by saying that they merely wished to be advised regarding alleged student unrest in Munich. What a stupid excuse! A decent German does not get his news about such things from Radio Beromünster or London!

The People’s Court is punishing them each with seven years in the penitentiary for this grievous case of not reporting high treason (§139 StGB.) and for hearing listening to foreign broadcasts (§1 of the order regarding extraordinary radio broadcast measures). Indeed, both [illegible] of them [illegible] asked that their career opportunities not be ruined. They should have thought about that beforehand!

Huber, Schmorell, and Graf have acted treacherously as traitors who aided and abetted the enemy in time of war and demoralized our armed forces. They have brought shame upon our German youth – especially the youth of Langemarck [Note 18]. Through their treason, they have lost their honor forever. But Grimminger, Bollinger, and Bauer have likewise caused the loss of their honor through their treachery. The People’s Court has determined that this loss of honor shall equal the length of their punishment.

The third group among today’s accused consists of dumb boys and dumb girls. The security of the Reich is not greatly endangered by them.

At the head of this group are the pupils and fellow classmates Hans Hirzel and Franz Müller. Hirzel often conversed with Scholl when he was in Ulm. The People’s Court was able to observe directly that Scholl exerts a strongly suggestive influence that is only heightened by his one-dimensional intellectualism. He is truly able to exert this influence on such an immature scatterbrain as Hirzel. Scholl played Hirzel for his purposes. He advised him to continue his political education so that when Germany fell, he could be employed as a public speaker along the lines of Scholl’s ideas of a federalist, individualistic, multi-party democracy!!!

Sophie Scholl made him Hans Hirzel disseminate leaflets along these lines. On one occasion, and then on another, she proclaimed announced her arrival and demanded that he meet her at the train station. But he wanted to avoid this meeting with her and did not show up. So she came to him. She brought him about 500 leaflets and demanded that he address them to persons in Stuttgart – names and addresses that he would copy out of telephone or address books – then get them ready to mail, and then mail them in mailboxes in Stuttgart.

He promised to do so and in fact did it, though when he later skimmed the leaflets, he knew that he could not agree with it its contents! To show just how the Scholl siblings had poisoned him – he had accepted 90 80 Marks from them for the purchase of a duplicating machine and accessories. He had in fact done so and had attempted to produce a treasonous placard ([illegible] swastika with the caption, He who wears this symbol is an enemy of the people”). But indeed, he has not been able to produce such a placard to date. Also, even before Sophie Scholl brought him the leaflets, he threw the duplicating machine into the Danube.

It occurs to the People’s Court that three pupils (including Heinrich Guter) from the same class appear before this court in this matter, and that others have been implicated! Something must not be right in the spirit of this class. We This Council cannot [Note 19] lay all the blame at the feet of these boys. One should be ashamed that such a class exists at a German humanistic Gymnasium!! The details behind this fact must be researched. But that is not the duty of the People’s Court.

His family wished to raise young Hirzel to be a respectable German. He is clearly sickly. He has endured a series of grave illnesses and leans to an intellectual preoccupation which in reality is nothing more than word play and a passion for experimentation. Barely even aware of what he was doing, this boy came under the influence of a vulgar girl – Sophie Scholl – and allowed her to take such advantage of him. His confused quasi-philosophical attempts to explain his actions – although he was not in agreement with the leaflet – indeed appear not to be dishonest.

But they do testify to his eccentricity. The court assumes that he will divest himself of these deeds upon his moral awakening to manhood. Just as his eccentric – but in this context, telling – attempts to inject himself for the sake of chemical experiments, or when he allowed himself to be locked inside a cement mixer so he could observe the mixing process of gravel and cement from inside! One must judge him differently than students or especially college teachers [Note 20]

The same holds true for Franz Müller. Of course he does not give the impression of being a sick person. And he did less his offense is also lesser. He fell prey to the imaginary intellectualism of Hirzel. His deed and guilt consist of helping Hirzel type addresses on two occasions and helping him get the leaflets ready to mail in Stuttgart.

The court has appraised both of these cases equally. Neither of them wished to aid or abet the enemy. But both were aware that their actions aided traitors (§§83, 49 StGB.). Neither of them is forever lost to the national community. Therefore, neither of them needs to be sent to the penitentiary. But both of them require heavy prison sentences, first so that they can gain the needed insight and receive a tough education; second, so that others could not possibly think that they can be excused on the basis of immaturity. The court deems five years in prison for each as appropriate and sufficient.

The next group consists of those boys and girls who declined to participate themselves, but who did not report the high treason. Above all the other accused, Guter belongs to this group. His classmate Hirzel told him about his plans and deeds. He refused [Hirzel’s] request to help. But he knew that Hirzel was going to Stuttgart to mail leaflets from there. The day he returned [from so doing], Hirzel told him what he had done. Guter attempts to excuse his failure to report on the basis of camaraderie. <== [Note 21] > As a boy, Guter had a greater responsibility in such matter than did the girls.

However, the girls too must be punished because they did not report high treason. These are Katharina Schüddekopf, Gisela Schertling, and Traute Lafrenz. They have all admitted that they knew of the crimes committed by Scholl and Schmorell, even if they did not know the details. But they did not report it (§139 StGB.). Therefore they each receive one year in prison.

Schertling had the closest personal relationship to Scholl. Of course he tried to hide his treasonous activities from her. But one time she inadvertently came to visit when leaflets – hot off the press – were lying around in great quantities (she said: “3 soldier’s rucksacks full”!!).

So now they had to let her in on the secret. And she did not report it. One time she assisted with the distribution of leaflets, but the People’s Court does not charge her particularly with that crime. That It happened as follows: She was going out with the Scholl sister, who was carrying a briefcase. She stopped at a mailbox, opened the briefcase, and began putting letters in the mailbox. Schertling helped her by raising the lid of the mailbox. This happened so suddenly and unexpectedly, that she did not think at that time that she was helping to undermine the State.

Even the manner in which she portrayed this incident for the court speaks to the fact that the only thing she was conscious of at the time was a common courtesy. However, since she did not report Scholl’s writings activities, she must be punished. She may not be is not excused by the fact that she had something other than treason in mind in her relationship with Scholl.

Käte Schüddekopf and Traute Lafrenz – like Schertling, they too are students – also belonged to the circle around Schmoll – Schmorell – Huber. They took part in their [Note 22] meetings, e.g. the going-away party at Eikemayer’s (sic) studio.

They also went to an evening lecture during which much was discussed along the lines of the ideas promoted by these three primary enemies of the people. That is, National Socialism was vilified and there was talk of the necessity of undertaking some activity in opposition to it. The mere existence of such a circle is a treasonous threat to the Reich. But they did not report it.

Schüddekopf, who has made an open impression and who chanced upon this circle, also passed along one of the leaflets, namely to Lafrenz. But not in the sense to recruit on behalf of the leaflets. On the contrary, she was certain that [Lafrenz] would reject its content. Lafrenz did not pass the leaflet along, rather she destroyed it. Under these circumstances, the People’s Court believes that with regards to passing the leaflet along, the matter of failure to report cannot be overlooked, even though we do not see that it comprised a treasonous activity. <== >

Incidentally, all three girls have credibly stated that they have liberated themselves from the influences of these treasonous goings-on and that they now affirm the National Socialist way of life of our people with all their heart. The People’s Court has taken this into account when determining their punishment.

< And indeed, we wish to raise our youth [to value] camaraderie, but in this case, it is uncalled for. One cannot grant camaraderie to people who exclude themselves from camaraderie with their treasonous actions. There are higher duties to the entire community at stake here.

Guter’s defense counsel said he believed that the boy did not know what high treason was. No commentary is required. High treason is the same within the People’s Court as it is for every fellow German, namely a threat to the National Socialist way of life of the German nation. One does not need to know any more than that. A sixth-form boy knows that much. He also knows that one must warn the public about such seditious activities. He must therefore be punished and has therefore received one-and-one-half years in prison.> [Note 23]

The only one left is Susanne Hirzel. She was a good, hard-working student at the academy of music in Stuttgart. She was always a decent girl. At home she was raised to be supportive of the State. She had a decent education, commensurate with one that a woman should receive.

Her favorite brother Hans called her unexpectedly one day. He made arrangements to meet her in the city. He told her that he had sneaked away from home, that he had “letters” he had to mail. He told her he did not agree with the content of those letters, but he did not think it would hurt anything to mail them. Of course she suspected that something was not quite right. But she did not take care to check out the contents for herself. She helped mail the “letters” – these were the “Students” leaflets. And then when her brother had to leave, she took over mailing the rest of the “letters” that had not yet been posted.

Susanne Hirzel makes an open and good impression. This court believes her statement, that she did not know that her brother was involved in treasonous activities. But it is unforgivable that she did not look to see  what actually was contained in that package of 500 (!) several hundred “letters” with allegedly harmless internal-political content. That would have been expected of her. Since she did not do so, she is sentenced to six months in prison (§85 St.GB.).

For all the accused who received sentences in the penitentiary or in prison, their sentences are to be lessened by the time served while they were in police or interrogative custody. They did not incur additional guilt during that time that would extend their sentences.

The accused Harnack came upon this matter solely by chance as he himself said: Like a virgin upon a baby. He was a soldier in Chemnitz. One day, two strange men visited him, Scholl and Schmorell. They had been sent to him by his fiancée in Munich. Initially he was happy to hear from his fiancée from them through their visit. But then they began to unload their seditious thoughts and plans. They tried to recruit him for these plans. He refused them and they left.

Shortly thereafter, he visited his fiancée in Munich. At her request, he once again met with Scholl and Schmorell on two successive days. In opposition to their democratic-individualistic thoughts, he championed the National Socialist call for a planned economy; Scholl and [Note 24] Schmorell explained that that were possibly was a Communist idea. The second time, Huber was also there and took the side of Scholl and Schmorell. They went their separate ways without coming to an agreement.

He Harnack was obligated to report this (§139 StGB.). But shortly before this, he had gone through a very difficult human experience with his brother and sister-in-law, who were had been court-martialed and sentenced to death for high treason by the Reich. He himself had no part in these activities. He was still suffering from the effects that such a sentence had on his family, one that is well-known among the entire German people as scholars.

It That It is a singular case – one that certainly occurs not even once in every 100 years – that shortly after one’s brother has been sentenced to death for high treason, the accused would himself learn of treasonous activities. The judge must measure actions upon by the standard of what would be normal for a strong man. When this measure is applied, the People’s Court believes that Harnack may not be punished criminally in this peculiar case, because he is suffering from such a difficult family experience.

As the only adult male member of his family, he must also take care of the minor children of his brother! He was simply incapable of recognizing and fulfilling his duty to report the activities. As the grades for his theater major testify, he is diligent and very talented.

What is even more important: He is also an artist who enthusiastically embraces National Socialism, as proven by his accomplishments at the National Theater in Weimar, his productions for soldiers on the front, and the recognition he has received for both. Therefore the People’s Court deemed it appropriate not to punish his [crime of] omission. The Reich is not endangered thereby; and the man is treated justly, as called for by his singular case. He is therefore acquitted.

– – – – –

The accused who have been found guilty must also bear the costs of these court proceedings.

The costs that are solely allocable to Harnack will however be born by the Reich treasury, since he was acquitted.

/Signature: Stier/

/Signature: Freisler/


Note 1: The syntax in this sentence contains an error, left “as is”. ‘At every opportunity’ modifies ‘call’, not ‘taking away.’

Note 2: From this it is clear that the decision to change Sophia to Sophie in the “copy” included in the “Reasons” for the second trial was conscious and not inadvertent.

Note 3: It = the war of independence.

Note 4: “Munich” crossed out and re-written.

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’.

Note 7: Illegible handwritten note before this word. It was not included in the final “Reasons” document.

Note 8: Volk.

Note 9: They added a “b” to the legal code (in the sentence about stabbing the Front in the back) and underlined it.

Note 10: That is, a piece of evidence that conflicts with the testimony given. Very bad German.

Note 11: For food.

Note 12: Edited out a contraction – “drinbleibe” changed to “darinbleibe”.

Note 13: Corrected “Schadfleck” to read “Schandfleck”.

Note 14: Handwritten note in margin instructs as follows: Start new paragraph with Schmorell, and add later paragraph about Huber to this paragraph.

Note 15: This paragraph has a large, handwritten X in the margin next to it.

Note 16: Corrected grammar from singular to plural. In German (though not in English), conduct was made plural so it reflected the conduct of all three men.

Note 17: Corrected a typo.

Note 18: The syntax of this sentence was corrected.

Note 19: Corrected from plural to singular tense of verb.

Note 20: A large, handwritten X follows this paragraph.

Note 21: A major section of this paragraph was added later.

Note 22: Corrected a typo.

Note 23: The section set off in < > was added to the Guter paragraph above.

Note 24: Corrected a typo.


Source: NJ1704 (88 – 102)

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