Nazi Revolt Exhibit Teaches Students Importance of Free Thought

By Sal Barbagallo
Salem, Mass., February 21, 2017 — The recent opening of “White Rose: The Student Resistance Against Hitler, Munich 1942/43” promoted student’s power to make Salem State University (SSU) a place for their ideas.

About 30 people joined Christopher Mauriello, academic coordinator of the Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies at the Fredrick E. Berry Library’s entrance for speeches and a short documentary on the White Rose resistance. German Consul General Ralf Horlemann travelled to the university to stress the importance of the White Rose movement’s message after the recent election cycle.

German Consul General Ralf Horlemann thanks the crowd for attending the event on February 8, 2017 at Salem State University in Salem, Mass.. Horlemann visits the university before a looming snowstorm to stress the importance of the White Rose movement’s message. Photo: Sal Barbagallo

“White Rose” showed how students and young adults are able to oppose government and stand up for the ethics in which they believe. It depicted the courage of people fighting for what is right despite the fear of the Gestapo and Nazi Germany.

“The university is yours. It’s your community, it’s your values, it’s your system. I hope that students take this and understand the university really is a place for your ideas, your expression, your energy and we need it now more than ever,” Mauriello said. “I really think this is a wonderful exhibit to show the power of students.”

The crowd claps as Chris Mauriello begins the presentation on “White Rose” in the Fredrick E. Berry Library on February 8, 2017. The exhibit will stay at Salem State University in Salem, Mass., for a month before moving to another college.

Siblings Hans and Sophie Scholl started the White Rose movement in 1942 with Willi Graf and Alexander Schmorell. The group grew into a community of students across Germany who opposed the actions of Adolph Hitler. Anti-war, anti-Nazi pamphlets were mailed and distributed by members in hope to combat the propaganda at the time. The Scholl siblings were caught throwing pamphlets from a balcony at the University of Munich in early 1943. A janitor reported them to the Gestapo. The siblings were executed on February 22, 1943.

At the exhibit’s opening event, people funneled into the library lobby after a short film gave background on the movement. Inside, lines of posters told the story of many people who were involved.

“I’m glad I was able to learn from them and appreciate what they did for Germany,” SSU student Fatima Nambough said.

The event’s film and exhibition were very clearly interpreted for students, Mauriello noted.

The “White Rose” was intended to be an educational experience and not a controversial one. Mauriello spoke about the Winfisky Gallery “State of the Union” controversy and how he put effort into dispelling any ambiguities that may arise from “White Rose.”

Hope Abramson and Karen Johnson, who works in Career Services, found the event through SSU’s “WHAT’S NEW AND WHAT TO DO @ SSU!” email. In the past, the couple visited the University of Munich and many of the sites important to the White Rose movement. They said the exhibition at SSU was very moving, much like their experience at the sites in Germany.

Abramson talked about the violent actions of Nazi Germany and how small the White Rose movement was.

“People wonder why not more people spoke out against the government,” she said.

Roughly half of the “White Rose” posters set up on the first floor of the Fredrick E. Berry Library at Salem State University in Salem, Mass., on February 8, 2017. The posters contain photographs and text about the “White Rose” movement and its members.

The exhibition came from Brandeis University in Waltham, Mass., and will stay at SSU from February 8, 2017 until March 8, 2017.

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