Resistance against tyranny
In Korea, the first day of March is Independence Movement Day. On March 1, 1919, nine years after Korea lost its sovereignty to Japan, Korean activists read the Korean Declaration of Independence in Seoul. Two million people - nearly 10 percent of the population at the time - participated in the demonstrations. The movement was a nonviolent protest that showed the civil courage of Koreans who risked their lives for freedom.
The White Rose was a symbolic manifestation of civil courage in German history. During World War II, the nonviolent resistance group stood against Adolf Hitler’s Nazi regime. Hans Scholl and his sister Sophie organized the anti-Nazi resistance with other college students in Munich.
The Scholls started the resistance in 1942 when they witnessed the cruelty of the Nazis. Hans was a medical student by day and a resistance leader by night, writing leaflets with Sophie and other students. They sent them to leaders of the community in order to show opposition to the Nazis with the courage of politically powerless citizens.
“We will not be silent. We are your bad conscience. The White Rose will not leave you in peace!” they wrote. They urged the people to act for the honor of Germany. Germans learned of the reality of the war as the Nazi forces were defeated in the Battle of Stalingrad from August 1942 to February 1943. But they still feared the Nazi regime.
While distributing leaflets in the University of Munich, they were arrested by the Gestapo. They were tried for treason and argued, “Somebody, after all, had to make a start. What we wrote and said is also believed by many others. They just don’t dare to express themselves as we did.” As Hans was executed, he cried out, “Long live freedom!”
The Scholls are respected by Germans as a symbol of civil courage. Schools are named after them, and three movies about their resistance movement were produced. Their sister Inge Scholl wrote books about the student movement. “Students Against Tyranny: The Resistance of the White Rose” was also published in Korean.
The March 1 Movement and the White Rose teach us an important lesson. We are not brave because there is nothing to bear. True courage is to overcome the fear no matter how frightening it is. It is the duty of the young generation to study history and remember the people who sacrificed themselves for a better future. Only then can we have courage to move forward for a better future. As the March 1 Independence Movement signals spring in Korea, Germans are reminded of the spirit of the White Rose in the season of blossoms.
The author is a TV personality from Germany.
He currently appears on the JTBC talk show Non-Summit.
JoongAng Ilbo, Mar. 5, Page 28
by DANIEL LINDEMANN