(Warsaw concentration camp, where WILLI and HANS are stationed. Siren and fighting sounds are heard. A little girl runs across the stage with a doll. She trips, falls, and starts to get up, only to bump into HANS.)
LUCAS (offstage): (Giving orders in German)
(HANS grabs the girls arm forcefully and pulls out a knife holding it to her throat. She tries to scream, but WILLI puts a hand over her mouth.)
HANS (whisper): Don’t be afraid of me. I promise I won’t hurt you.
(LUCAS rushes in.)
What’s going on Lucas?
LUCAS: They’re resisting the transport to Treblinka! Let me have the girl.
HANS: I can get rid of her. You have bigger things to worry about.
HANS (getting down to one knee): Are you alright? (She nods) Don’t worry; we’ll get you out of here.
HANS: Over here!
WILLI: Thank god you’re alright! Someone smuggled weapons into the ghetto. It’s ugly out there.
LUCAS (offstage): HANS!
HANS: Willi can you-
WILLI: Where to?
HANS: The church. Irena will meet you there. (To the girl) Willi here is going to take you to a friend of mine. She will help you find a home with a polish family, outside of Warsaw until the war is over.
LUCAS (offstage): Hans!!!
HANS (to WILLI): Go now. (Calling off) Coming!
EXPLOSION & BLACKOUT
PROJECTION: Slideshow with archival video and pictures of White Rose members.
SOPHIE (Offstage): Hitler’s power was said to be extraordinarily dependent on the sympathy of the population. A reversal of feeling among the people would be a weapon of considerable force against him, one which would threaten even his own self-confidence.
HANS (Offstage): For this reason, some friends and I started using the information we knew from being in the axis military against Hitler himself. Our leaflets were one of the greatest political "crimes" against the Nazi Party, an act of rebellion that would outlive the Nazi’s, the war, and even us.
SOPHIE (Offstage): Together.
WILLI (Offstage): We are
HANS (Offstage): The White Rose,
CHISTOPH (Offstage): and this
ALEX (Offstage): is our story….
PROJECTION: 2 years earlier
(SOPHIE and HANS enter.)
SOPHIE: I can’t believe that speaker’s nerve! (Mimicking the speaker.) Ladies,if you want to be of use to the Fuhrer drop out of school and be a housewife. Can you believe that?
HANS: Sophie, if you keep walking out of these speeches people are going to suspect-
SOPHIE: I wasn’t the only one. You walked out too. I’m tired of being a piece in the Nazi’s game. In fact, the whole bloody regime infuriates me! (Louder) We can’t just sit here and let them get away with this!
HANS (Quiet hiss, pulling her out of earshot): Shhhh! Sophie I agree with you, but you can’t take on the whole socialist movement, the Gestapo, and Hitler by yourself. We have to just play along and bide our time.
(ALEX and CHRISTOPH cross to HANS and SOPHIE as they start to exit.)
CHRISTOPH (calling): Hans! Sophie! Where are you going?
SOPHIE: I thought we’d go ahead and get to Mr. Huber’s class.
ALEX (joining them): Why? Aren’t you supposed to be in-
SOPHIE (whisper): I had to get out of there. That man-
CHRISTOPH (holding up a hand to stop her): Enough said.
ALEX: What I don’t understand is why we are all sitting back and doing nothing. We know what’s going on, but we’re not doing anything about it!
CHRISTOPH: If we did, it wouldn’t change anything, and I’m not about to get thrown in jail if it doesn’t make any difference.
ALEX: I would rather get arrested, then have to answer for not doing anything.
CHIRSTOPH: It’s different for you.
ALEX: No it’s not.
CHRISTOPH: If I went to jail who would look after my family? I have a wife and three kids to think about.
ALEX: Hitler has to be stopped!
CHRISTOPH: And you can’t stop him without an army.
ALEX: He’s brainwashing everyone! If you had the support of the people-
CHRISTOPH: Which you don’t.
ALEX (not paying attention to Christoph): If people could just stop living in fear of the Gestapo every second of every day, we might be able to do something!
(SOPHIE, CHRISTOPH, ALEX exit. HANS starts to follow and then turns back.)
HANS: Alex and Christoph were both right. This injustice had to be stopped, but at what cost? Without the support of the people nothing could be done. As I was reflecting on works from some of my favorite authors, I thought about how often the power of ink has been under estimated.
(Back in the present, thinking aloud.)
Writing has changed the world over and over again. That’s what we need to do, change the world…. We need a leaflet of resistance, a paper to encourage people to stand together, to fight back.
(Run and grab a piece of paper and begin writing.)
(Excited) Every good writer writes from the heart and for me- (writing) for me there is but one slogan: fight against the party which holds us in political bondage.We want genuine learning, and real freedom of opinion. This is a struggle for our future, our freedom, and our honor.
(HANS continues to work as ALEX enters.)
ALEX (reading): In the name of German youth, we demand that Adolf Hitler restore our personal freedom. The most precious treasure we have which he has cheated us of in the most miserable way…. (Trailing off, seeing HANS.) Did you read this? Our social studies class was passing it around.
HANS (aside, continuing to work): They’re all over the campus.
(ALEX is still absorbed in the paper.)
ALEX: Listen to this: It's high time we made up their minds to do something. What are we going to show in the way of resistance? When this terror is over we will have no answer when we are asked: What did you do about it?
(Frustrated HANS crumples up a piece of paper in his hands, and tosses it.)
HANS (shaking his head, tired): Nothing.
ALEX (picking up the crumpled paper): I’m your best friend, and it’s obviously something.
HANS: You have to promise not to say anything.
HANS: I can’t seem to get it right, and I need a faster way to make copies. (HANS gestures to the crumpled paper.) My typewriter is to easily traced, and it takes forever.
ALEX (unfolding the paper): You wrote this? But that means that you wrote- (the other one too.)
ALEX: I had no idea you could write like that….Wait a minute! There is an old printing press that Mr. Huber, uses sometimes to make copies for his lessons. You know how he feels about the Furher’s policies. He might let you-
HANS: That’s pretty risky…. Are you sure?
SOPHIE: Sure about what?
(ALEX tries to get rid of the paper in his hand, but SOPHIE is too fast for him.)
SOPHIE: I knew it! Anna passed me one of these fliers in philosophy earlier. (Laugh) “A great read by an anonymous author,” she said! I know my brother’s writing when I see it. It’s a miracle you don’t have any misspellings in the paper. (To ALEX) He’s a great writer but his spelling; it leaves something to be desired.
(HANS takes the paper from SOPHIE.)
HANS: Now wait just a minute Sophie!
SOPHIE: What? I want in!
ALEX: Sophie this-
HANS: It’s against the law.
SOPHIE: You think I don’t know that? Look somebody had to start something.
HANS: I still don’t want you getting involved. It’s too dangerous.
SOPHIE: Listen, what you wrote and said conveys a lot of other people’s opinions. They just don't dare express themselves like you do. It’s making a difference Hans, and I want to help! (HANS face clearly says no and he starts to say no. SOPHIE turns to ALEX.) Alexander?
ALEX: I don’t see why not.
HANS: Alex! (Groan.) Oh, alright.
SOPHIE: Good.First things first, we need to come up with a name for ourselves. You can’t keep signing these papers anonymous. We need a name…a symbol….something people will remember. (SOPHIE sees a white rose somewhere on the set. Thinking.) White Rose. That’s it!If you think about it we resemble a white rose in the night, since we stand for purity in a time of darkness. It’s perfect!
HANS (catching on): Like a white rose…..I like it. That’s what we should call ourselves: The White Rose.
SOPHIE: We continued to write and distribute the leaflets until the summer of 1942, when the Alex, Hans and Willi were drafted into the Axis military. (HANS holds his dog tags, the little girl appears looking at him possible fighting sounds in the background.) They never spoke about what happened in Poland, but you could tell in their eyes that they were haunted by it. Warsaw, Poland changed them forever.
(Little girl leaves, a meeting between The White Rose members, SOPHIE folds the last leaflet and puts it in a stack.)
SOPHIE: That’s the last one, our 100th copy of: “An appeal to all Germans.”
CHRISTOPH: That’s the most we’ve ever printed.
WILLI: I still don’t feel like that’s enough. We have to stop this now before-
HANS: I wish we could.
SOPHIE: You’re doing the best you can Hans.
HANS (abrupt): Our best isn’t good enough Sophie! There has to be something else we can do.
(Knock on the door. SOPHIE looks offstage as the others continue talking.)
ALEX: Hans it’s Lucas!
WILLI: What is he doing here?
ALEX: I don’t know, but he’s here.
WILLI: I thought he was transferred to Berlin with- (realizing, sharing a quick moment with Hans) Oh no.
HANS: They’re onto us. Quick everyone! Hide the papers, and grab your books.
(Everyone scampers around quickly, hiding the papers, and grabbing their study books. SOPHIE let’s LUCAS inside, glancing nervously over her shoulder, it needs to be very clear that LUCAS is a GESTAPO member.)
SOPHIE: Lucas, what a pleasant surprise! I haven’t seen you in forever. Please come in.
LUCAS: I can’t stay Sophie, I’m here on business. There has been some criminal activity going on inside the campus. A group of students that call themselves “The White Rose” have been openly rebelling against the Furher himself. (Pause) I thought I’d stop by to see if you had noticed anything suspicious that might give us a lead.
HANS: We will be sure to notify you immediately, if we find anything.
LUCAS: Thank you. (To Everyone) Hail Hitler.
ALL: Hail Hitler.
SOPHIE: Hans do you think-
HANS: No. Come on. Let’s get this place cleaned up before he comes back.
(They clean, and as they do they pick up some papers off the set and read them.)
CHRISTOPH: We emphatically point out, that The White Rose is not in the pay of any foreign power. Although we know that the National Socialists must be broken by military means. We seek the revival of the deeply wounded German spirit.
WILLI: Isn’t it true? That every honest German is ashamed of his government these days? Who among us has any idea the shame that will befall us and our children? When one day the veil falls from our eyes and the most horrible of crimes….crimes that infinitely outdistance every human measure reach the light of day?
ALEX: Since the conquest of Poland, 3,000 Jews have been murdered in this country. For the sake of future generations, an example must be set after the war, so that no one will ever have the slightest desire to try anything like this ever again.
SOPHIE: The war is approaching its destined end. It has become a mathematical certainty, that Hitler cannot win the war. He can only prolong it. But what are the German people doing? They will not see, and will not listen. Victory at any price! Is inscribed on their banner, "I will fight to the last man," says Hitler. But in the meantime the war has already been lost.
(HANS turns and speaks to all those onstage rallying them until he has their undivided attention.)
HANS: Germans! Do you and your children want to suffer the same fate that befell the Jews? Are we to be forever a nation which is hated, and rejected by all mankind? No. A new war of liberation is about to begin. Do not believe the National Socialist propaganda which has driven fear into your bones. A criminal regime cannot achieve a German victory!
Freedom of speech, freedom of religion, the protection of individual citizens from the will of
a criminal dictator, these will be the bases of the New Europe.
We are the White Rose, and we will not leave you in peace! Support the resistance before it is too late.
(It’s nighttime and HANS and SOPHIE appear with a stack of papers which HANS begins packing in a suitcase. SOPHIE lights a candle and sets it on the table.)
SOPHIE: Willi and Christoph were talking to me earlier about- (Knock on the door.) It’s 1 o’clock in the morning. Who could-
HANS (looking offstage): He’s back.
HANS: Lucas and his Gestapo friends.
(HANS begins moving faster and takes the suitcase offstage, as SOPHIE picks up the loose pages on the desk.)
SOPHIE (noticing LUCAS): I thought they left for headquarters yesterday.
HANS: Apparently not.
(Second Knock on the Door.)
SOPHIE: What should we do?
HANS: Answer the door of course.
HANS: He doesn’t know anything’s wrong. For all he knows we’re still as loyal to the Furher as ever.
HANS: Just go get the door. I’ve got the papers.
(SOPHIE answers the door and LUCAS brushes past her and into the room, as HANS starts to exit with the last of the papers.)
LUCAS: I noticed your light was still on. You realize curfew was two hours ago right? What are you still doing up?
SOPHIE (To HANS, glaring):I don’t know. That is an excellent question.
HANS: Sophie was just helping me with a homework assignment for tomorrow.
(HANS drops a paper on the ground as he exits and LUCAS picks it up.)
LUCAS: Here you- (dropped something).
(LUCAS glances at the paper and his face changes. SOPHIE snatches it away.)
LUCAS: What was that?
SOPHIE: Nothing, just homework.
LUCAS: Let me see it.
SOPHIE: Why? I told you it’s just- (homework)
(LUCAS grabs her hand with the paper threateningly)
LUCAS (tightening his grip): Give it to me Sophie.
SOPHIE: I told you, it’s homework. I shouldn’t have to- (prove it.)
LUCAS: You’re lying.
SOPHIE: Stop it! You’re hurting me!
HANS (re-entering): Let my sister go Lucas!
LUCAS (threatening): What does that paper say?
SOPHIE: It says- (LUCAS pulls her arm further behind her back.) Ouch!
HANS: I said let her go!
LUCAS: Traitor! I can’t believe I trusted you!
HANS: What are you talking about?
LUCAS: Don’t act so innocent! You know perfectly well what I’m talking about. The White Rose Papers, you’re writing them. The janitor saw you and Sophie. I didn’t believe him, but it all makes sense now.
HANS: Lucas, think about what you’re doing.
LUCAS: Like you did? You didn’t seem to think twice before you went and put everything on the line! All those times when you weren’t there…You betrayed me!
(LUCAS releases SOPHIE. HANS puts himself between them. HANS and LUCAS continue to fight.)
SOPHIE: Stop it!
LUCAS: I thought I could count on you. I actually thought you were my friend.
HANS: I am your friend!
LUCAS (Hitting HANS in the jaw.): Shut up!
LUCAS: This whole time you were laughing at me, lying to me!
(GESTAPO enter and start to take SOPHIE and HANS away.)
SOPHIE: Lucas, you can’t!
LUCAS: You will both pay for what you did.
SOPHIE (struggling): Please, you don’t want to do this! We’re still your friends we -
HANS (calmly/measured): Let it go Sophie. We have made our choice, and Lucas has made his. Es lebe die Freiheit.
SOPHIE: Es lebe die Freiheit. Long live freedom…
(SOPHIE and HANS are walked downstage as if to their execution as LUCAS watches. Freeze.)
LUCAS: The following days led the execution of: Willi Graf, Alexander Schmorell, Christoph Probst, Hans Scholl, and Sophie Scholl. But it was not the end. After the arrests of the original White Rose, a group of chemistry students at the University of Munich took up their cause. Armed with a typewriter, they copied out hundreds of the leaflets and continued distributing them. Soon a copy of the sixth leaflet was smuggled into England, where the British air force dumped plane loads of copies on Germany.
HANS: The real damage is always done by those millions who want to 'survive,' the honest men who just want to be left in peace, those who don’t like to make waves—or enemies, and those who live small, and die small. Because if you keep it small, you’ll keep it under control, if you don’t make any noise, then death won’t find you.
SOPHIE: But it’s all an illusion, because they die too. Those people who roll up their spirits into tiny little balls so as to be safe. Safe! From what? Life is always on the edge of death. Narrow streets lead to the same place as wide avenues; and a little candle burns itself out just like a flaming torch does. I have chosen my own way to burn. Have you chosen yours?