In 1943 five students and a professor at the University of Munich were executed for their part in the White Rose (die Weiße Rose), a group that secretly wrote and distributed pamphlets calling on Germans to resist Hitler. The White Rose is a household name in Germany; now this research and outreach project, led by Alex Lloyd, is bringing the story to an English-speaking audience.
Alex has been working with the Weiße Rose Stiftung in Munich, whose stated mission is to uphold the group’s memory, ‘to contribute to civic courage and individual responsibility, and to promote democratic consciousness’. This also forms part of a larger discourse about resistance writing and how culture can inform political action.
From 2019–20 Alex’s Knowledge Exchange Fellowship has enabled the White Rose Project to tell the story of the resistance group and its members in the UK through podcasts, events and publications. This work is underpinned by the 2019 publication The White Rose: Reading, Writing, Resistance, edited by Alex; it contains the White Rose resistance leaflets in German alongside new translations by Oxford undergraduates, as well as articles by experts on the White Rose.
Alex comments that, ‘translation work with students has been at the heart of the project. While there are many versions of the leaflets in English, we set out to produce a new translation with two aims: first, that it should be collaborative; and second, that it should be undertaken by university students like the White Rose members themselves’. Before the spread of the COVID-19 virus caused international disruption, a two-day symposium had been planned in Oxford.
The programme involved academics, an artist, a professional storyteller, musicians, translators, a children’s author, and students. With the symposium postponed for the moment, the project is now seeking new digital ways to connect and exchange knowledge, ideas and creative outputs.
Alex is now in the process of exploring how best to do this, adding audio, visual, and text content to the project’s website. Audio tracks of excerpts from the letters of Sophie Scholl, one of the White Rose members, have already been uploaded using the new English version created by this year’s student translators.
Alex reports that ‘working with the Foundation has been hugely rewarding: first, it has enhanced my understanding of how the White Rose history has been – and continues to be – disseminated in Germany; second, it has enabled me to better appreciate what the Oxford Project can do in its own (different) context to tell this important story.’
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