Angilmarie Rivera Sanchez: The Role of Gender in Commemorating the White Rose

Ever since I received the IDEA Grant from Florida State University, I have successfully propelled my Honors in the Major thesis forward and accomplished many of the goals I had set for myself this Summer. Once the Spring semester ended and I was able to focus on my research, I used some of the funds to buy books that I felt were essential in my investigative journey. Although I have been researching the White Rose since my freshman year of college, I felt like there was still a great deal of practical research I needed to complete in order to truly understand the history surrounding the German resistance group.

Angilmarie Rivera Sanchez, Senior, Political Science major

These books gave me a glimpse into the minds of Hans and Sophie Scholl, the siblings who my study focuses on, as well as helped me understand the way in which the White Rose functioned. In fact, I am working on contacting these authors who spoke with the students’ family members and studied the arrest records by the Gestapo. I also contacted the researcher whose work served as inspiration for my study, and we plan on speaking in the next week or so. Of course, the biggest update I have is that I traveled directly to Germany with the money I received! I visited Munich, Regensburg, and Ulm. The students studied and were caught at the University of Munich (LMU), so I went to see the commemoration efforts by the White Rose Foundation in the city. At the permanent exhibit, I spoke with curators about the role of Sophie Scholl in commemoration and the implications it has had on the White Rose’s message.

It was incredible to see the commemoration efforts I had been researching in person, and it honestly felt unreal. Being at the actual university was a very emotional experience, but I also learned a great deal of new information through the exhibit. In Regensburg, I went to visit the Walhalla Hall of Fame, which holds some of the greatest German thinkers and innovators. I saw marble heads of individuals like Mozart, Beethoven, Albert Einstein, and many more. Among those were five women, and one of them was Sophie Scholl. I spoke with the curators there and asked them the same questions I did to the ones at LMU: what is Sophie’s role in commemoration, why was she chosen as the figurehead, and what does this mean for the White Rose as a whole?

It was very interesting to see that she was set aside from the other marble heads – as if they purposely wanted people to be drawn to hers. Lastly, I visited Ulm, which was where the Scholl siblings lived and grew up before attending the university. Surprisingly, there were many objects of commemoration, some of which had not come up in my research. I was particularly intrigued by the Rosengarten, a garden with various flower species, each one named after important people. Even though most commemoration efforts in Ulm related to both siblings, the garden had named a particular species of white rose after Sophie; I emailed my mentor about this because it has been on my mind ever since.

When I returned to Munich, I took my research back to academia. I obtained a temporary
membership to the Bayerische Staatsbibliothek – a major library that contained an endlesssupply of books about a variety of topics. I spent a great deal of time here, tracking commemoration efforts for the White Rose by the year, as well as learning about the ways in which commemoration differs by region. This hands-on research helped me reach new, potential conclusions that I plan to continue investigating back in the states. Going to Germany was a huge advantage because I had access to information that I would have not been able to acquire otherwise.

The German people were extremely helpful and open to help, which I especially appreciated because I went in with very limited knowledge of the German language. Although I have a long way to go, meeting new people and interacting with their culture aided me in understanding the information I was intaking. I plan on officially translating some of the sources I brought with me from Germany to ensure I do not miss any details. From then, I plan on speaking with two very relevant scholars – Katie Rickard and Frank McDonough – so I can discuss my findings with then. I hope to finish this part of my research before the Fall semester begins, so I can then focus on preparing for my oral defense. I still have a long way to go, but I have accomplished a great deal with the help of the grant!

Photo by ian kelsall on Unsplash

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