by Jarad Johnson
Part 1: Literary Heroes
“The written word endures.” Neil Postman.
Words can make and unmake worlds. Sometimes we forget how powerful they are, but every once in a while, it’s important to remember what people can do with words, from revival to revolution. From time to time here at Sacred Chickens, we like to remember those who use words effect change or call out evil, perhaps inspiring a new generation to do the same.
One group of literary heroes was the White Rose, a nonviolent, intellectual group that operated in Nazi Germany. Some of the members had witnessed atrocities on the eastern front that demanded action. Throughout their year of operation, they waged an anonymous leaflet and graffiti campaign that called for active and passive resistance to the Nazi Regime, distributing around 15,000 copies. Interestingly, out of the first 100 pamphlets distributed, 35 were turned over to the Gestapo. According to the Holocaust Research Project, “Between June 1942 and February 1943, they prepared and distributed six different leaflets, in which they called for the active opposition of the German people to Nazi oppression and tyranny.”
The students traveled from city to city to distribute their leaflets, even though the male members of military age were at great risk of getting caught traveling with the proper orders. Tragically, three core members of the White Rose were executed on February 22, 1943, as was the professor who had guided the movement. However, the way in which the students were willing to sacrifice their lives to distribute so much of their literature demonstrates the power words had and will always have, even in times of great oppression.
Although this did not stir the immediate revolution the students dreamed of, eventually their contribution was recognized as the stirring of the German conscience. They lived their words and died for them.
Jarad is the co-administrator and writer for Sacred Chickens, attends college at MTSU, loves tea, and tries to spend every spare second reading. Jarad is an English major. Bless his heart! Let's all light a candle for him and send him happy thoughts!