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The Kreisau Circle
and The White Rose
Opposition to the Nazi Regime
Origins of the Kreisau Circle
• Founded in the wake of Hitler’s ascension to power
• Founder members were …
Helmuth James Graf von Moltke
Peter Yorck von Wartenburg
• German gentry and aristocracy – von Moltke was a
descendent of the famous military family
• Named after the location of von Moltke’s estate in Silesia
Ideas and Actions
• The Circle had members from across society – about 20
prominent members
• They were concerned with building a liberal and humanist
society post Nazi era
• They were influenced by the church and had Christian values
at their core
• They met for three big conferences at the villa in Kreisau
between September 1942 and Spring 1943
• They created a manifesto called ‘Basic Principles for the New
Order’ in August 1943
• Von Moltke was against assassinating Hitler for fear he would
become a martyr
• von Moltke was arrested in January 1944 by the Gestapo
• Other members were arrested after the von Stauffenberg
Bomb Plot of July 1944
• Some were executed in the immediate aftermath of the Bomb
• von Moltke was executed in January 1945, having been found
guilty of treason. He had no role in the bomb plot and wrote to
his wife he was being killed merely for thinking
Origins of the White Rose
• Non-violent, intellectual resistance group
• Founded by a Philosophy Professor and students at the
University of Munich
• Their activities started during WW2 but they did have contact
with the Kreisau Circle
Willi Graf
Kurt Huber
Sophie and Hans Scholl
Actions and Ideas
• The came from a variety of religious backgrounds and some
had been members of the Hitler Youth and the BDM when it
was made compulsory
• In the summer of 1942 some served for 3 months at the
Russian Front and this influenced their thinking and actions
• Between June 1942 and February 1943 they printed anti-Nazi
leaflets and distributed them around the university campus
• On 18th February 1943 the Scholl’s were caught dropping
leaflets around the campus and arrested. Other members
were arrested in the coming months
• von Moltke helped to smuggle the text of the 6th leaflet out
via Scandanavia to the USA. In July 1943 copies were dropped
by aircraft over Germany
• Sophie and Hans Scholl and Christoph Probst were put on trial
on 22nd February 1943, found guilty and beheaded the same
• Alexander Schmorrel and Kurt Huber were beheaded in July
1943 and Willi Graf was also beheaded on 12th October 1943
• In 2012 Schmorrel was made a Saint by the Orthodox Church
• They are now remembered as one of the bravest opponents
of Nazi rule
• A film, The White Rose, was made in 1982 to great acclaim
White Rose Memorial – Ludwig Maximillain
University of Munich