Traute Lafrenz, the final recognized survivor of small band of medical college students and others in Nazi-ruled Germany who have been a part of a resistance referred to as the White Rose that distributed leaflets carrying among the earliest warnings of Adolf Hitler’s genocidal plans, died March 6 at her residence in Yonges Island, S.C. She was 103.
The dying was confirmed by her daughter, Renee Meyer. No trigger was given.
The White Rose group — by no means numbering quite a lot of dozen — represented one of many first organized protests calling consideration to the Holocaust, that ultimately claimed the lives of 6 million Jews along with Roma, disabled folks and others.
“We is not going to be silent,” stated one of many leaflets. “We’re your dangerous conscience. The White Rose is not going to go away you in peace!”
Many in White Rose group have been executed with out trial underneath Hitler’s orders — beheaded by guillotine in an execution methodology utilized by the Nazis in some prisons and different websites.
Ms. Lafrenz was by no means as well-known in postwar Germany because the White Rose founders and leaders: Hans Scholl, his sister Sophie Scholl, Alexander Schmorell, Christoph Probst, Willi Graf and their mentor, philosophy professor Kurt Huber. After the struggle, they have been honored as martyrs with colleges, streets and city squares bearing their names.
Ms. Lafrenz (who took the title Traute Lafrenz Web page after marriage) was twice arrested by the Gestapo, Hitler’s feared secret police. She was inside three days of dealing with a jailhouse trial within the Bavarian metropolis of Bayreuth, and potential execution, when U.S. forces liberated the jail and the town in April 1945.
“I used to be a recent witness,” she instructed the German day by day Bild Zeitung in 2018. “Given the fates of the others, I’m not allowed to complain.”
Ms. Lafrenz, a medical pupil in Munich, noticed the mounting proof of the Nazi marketing campaign towards Jews and anybody else deemed outdoors of Hitler’s “grasp race” visions.
Ms. Lafrenz helped offered the tools for printing leaflets clandestinely at a Munich bookshop, whose proprietor was homosexual and feared the Nazi sweeps that additionally focused his group. She additionally carried leaflets to her native Hamburg in northern Germany, the place she secretly left the fliers in libraries or tossed them from buildings.
Ms. Lafrenz, who emigrated to the US in 1947, not often talked about her wartime experiences. Her daughter stated her she opened as much as her solely in 1970 about her actions in the course of the struggle.
On Could 3, 2019, on Ms. Lafrenz’s one hundredth birthday, German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier awarded her the Order of Benefit 1st Class, the nation’s highest honor for civilians.
She “belonged to the few who, within the face of the crimes of nationwide socialism, had the braveness to take heed to the voice of her conscience and insurgent towards the dictatorship and the genocide of the Jews. She is a heroine of freedom and humanity,” the quotation learn.
The leaflets have been extremely literary, usually citing writers and philosophers together with Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Plato, Aristotle in addition to the Bible. The White Rose group additionally risked their lives by portray anti-Nazi graffiti comparable to “Down with Hitler!” round Munich in the course of the night time, typically carrying pistols to guard themselves.
One other leaflet Ms. Lafrenz distributed stated Jews in Germany and its occupied international locations have been being murdered “in essentially the most bestial method possible … a horrible crime towards the dignity of mankind, against the law that can not be in contrast with some other within the historical past of mankind.”
One of many White Rose group, Hans Scholl, was believed to have been executed not just for his anti-Nazi exercise however as a result of the Gestapo had found his homosexual relationships. Ms. Lafrenz revealed years later that she had been Scholl’s “girlfriend” for some time, however that their relationship was primarily based on their mutual ardour towards discrimination and a shared humanity. It was by no means sexual, she stated.
She stated she had been current, in disguise, on the funerals of Scholl and Sophie Scholl, risking arrest and doubtless her life.
The title White Rose was believed to have been taken from the title of a 1929 novel about an American oil firm searching for to buy a Mexican ranch. (The writer, who glided by the nom de plume B. Traven, is healthier recognized for his novel “The Treasure of the Sierra Madre,” which impressed the 1948 film directed by John Huston and starring Humphrey Bogart.)
Traute Lafrenz was born in Hamburg on Could 3, 1919, lower than a yr after the top of World Warfare I. Her father was a civil servant and mom a homemaker. Ms. Lafrenz first studied medication in Hamburg and later on the College of Munich, the place she met her future White Rose comrades.
After reaching the US, she accomplished her medical research in San Francisco, the place she met her future husband, Vernon Web page. He turned an ophthalmologist, and she or he went into basic follow.
They lived within the Chicago suburb of Evanston from 1972 to 1994. She headed the Esperanza College in Chicago, a non-public college serving to college students with developmental wants. She additionally turned a number one adherent to anthroposophy, a spiritualist motion constructed across the concept of with the ability to acquire a notion past the bodily world.
Her husband died in 1995. Along with her daughter, survivors embody sons Michael, Kim and Thomas; seven grandchildren, and 5 nice grandchildren.
In a 2018 interview within the German journal Der Spiegel, she stated she felt shivers when she noticed pictures of recent far-right followers utilizing Nazi stiff-arm salutes at a rally within the German metropolis of Chemnitz.
“Possibly it’s no coincidence,” she instructed the journal. “We’re dying out and on the similar time every little thing is coming again once more.”