Long Live Freedom: Traute Lafrenz and the White Rose

by Peter Normann Waage

On February 22, 1943, three young students were beheaded in Munich. Their crime was high treason against the Third Reich. The students had spread anti-Nazi literature in the form of leaflets. This group of students came to be known as the White Rose Society, the name coined from the heading on the leaflets they distributed: Leaflets from the White Rose. These leaflets were first mailed to specific addresses around Munich, then spread around Hamburg, and later thrown from Allied warplanes all over Germany. The leaflets were pleas to their fellow citizens and encouraged Germans to resist the regime with actions, words, and voices. As one of the leaflets stated: “Up until the outbreak of the war the larger part of the German people was blindfolded; the Nazis did not show themselves in their true aspect. But now, now that we have recognized them for what they are, it must be the sole and first duty, the holiest duty of every German, to destroy these beasts.”

 

Long Live Freedom: Traute Lafrenz and the White Rose is the biography and memoir of Traute Lafrenz, now 95 years old. She was a member of the White Rose Society and this book is her voice, her memories of friends and the years as a student during the Third Reich. Because there were so few of the White Rose who survived the war, this book is a compelling witness to history.

 

We learn about the Strength through Joy movement and other aspects of life in the Third Reich. Waage writes forcefully about forced sterilization and the Eugenics movement in the United States that was the inspiration for the Nazi’s program to eliminate degenerates and the weak from society. Waage quotes Edwin Black’s bestselling book War Against the Weak on this subject. Also included are chilling testimonies from nurses who carried out their orders to euthanize people.

 

Most of all, this book is the record of the memories of one of the inner circle of the White Rose, Traute Lafrenz. “You have to realize that there was so much that bound us to one another,” says Traute. “There was the joy of hiking and walking, listening to music, reading, and discussing. It was all of this together that created friendship and inspired the activities that were to occur under the name of the White Rose.”

 

These bonds of friendship among university students during the days of World War II will also appeal to young people who have too few role models of the kind the White Rose represents. It will be a must-read for the many in the world who continue to look at the literature of the Third Reich in search of answers for how it could have happened and how we can make sure that it does not happen again.

About the Author

Peter Normann Waage

Peter Normann Waage is a Norwegian author and journalist. He has had a major role on the Norwegian cultural stage for many years and is the recipient of numerous awards and grants and has been a Government Scholar since January 2013. Peter’s many published works include books about Islam, on Russia and Russian literature, biographies of Russian writers, and essays on numerous topics. Salman Rushdie himself wrote a short salute to Peter’s book, Culture Collision, Islam and the West. Peter has interviewed many notable people during his career as a journalist including Saul Bellow, Doris Lessing, Fritjof Capra, and Mikhail Gorbachev.

 

Peter studied the History of Philosophy, Russian, art history, and literature at the University of Oslo and went on to study abroad in Russia and Italy. Fluent in German, Russian, and English, with a workable knowledge of Italian, Waage has worked extensively in Russia, Germany and Italy. His writing has been translated into Russian and German. He was awarded the Petropol Prize in St. Petersburg for his book on Dostoevsky.

 

Waage looks at the world in very special way, with a liberal dose of humor. He is a master at perceiving and revealing the forces that try to transform humanity into a an insignificant herd and tries to inspire people to hang on to their independence, their spirit, and their sense of self. A committed philosopher, essayist and anthroposophist, he is also a kind of peaceful warrior so to speak, unafraid to speak the truth whenever necessary. He believes in ideas and the power that they have in our lives. His work is inspirational and all encompassing. His book Traute Lafrenz and the White Rose is a natural result of Peter’s longtime friendship with Traute Lafrenz Page and his determination to give a voice so that those who have suffered and worked for freedom are heard.