Traute Lafrenz, the last of the White Rose anti-Nazi resistance, dies aged 103

NB: The memory of these young people, their indomitable courage and humanity in resisting the criminal Nazi regime always brings tears to my eyes. They have left us something priceless: the belief in an undefeated human conscience. Goodbye Traute, and good bye again Sophie and Hans and all your comrades on the White Rose. Thank you, and rest in peace.

Lafrenz was arrested twice by the Gestapo; liberated in April 1945 and settled in the US

The last surviving member of the White Rose resistance movement, which urged Germans to stand up against Nazi tyranny during the second world war, has died, according to the group’s historical foundation.

Traute Lafrenz died at her home in South Carolina on Monday at the age of 103, the group said in a statement on Thursday, paying tribute to her “courageous resistance and lasting testimony”. One of the most famous groups to resist the Nazis in Germany, the White Rose distributed anti-war pamphlets at Munich university in 1942-3, calling on people to rise up against the regime.

Sophie Scholl

According to the foundation, Lafrenz met Hans Scholl, one of the founders of the group along with his sister Sophie Scholl and Christoph Probst, in the summer of 1941. A year later, Lafrenz, a medical student, came across a flyer and realised Hans Scholl’s involvement from the literary quotations used in the text. She carried flyers to Hamburg where they were distributed by friends. When Hans and Sophie Scholl were arrested in February 1943, Lafrenz drove to the city of Ulm to inform their family.

Following a summary trial, the original White Rose leaders – the Scholl siblings and Probst – were beheaded at the Stadelheim prison in Bavaria, along with others including their philosophy professor Kurt Huber. In April 1943, Lafrenz also fell into the hands of the Gestapo, the Nazi secret police, and was sentenced to a year in prison for “complicity”. Shortly after her release, she was arrested again by the Gestapo in Hamburg. Lafrenz spent time in four Nazi prisons before her liberation from the one in Bayreuth in April 1945.

She emigrated to the US in 1947, where she completed her medical studies. On her 100th birthday in 2019, the German president, Frank-Walter Steinmeier, praised her as a “hero of freedom and humanity”.

Sophie Scholl and the White Rose

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The Second World War

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