White Rose: The Musical - Off Broadway

White Rose: The Musical - Off Broadway

#1White Rose: The Musical - Off Broadway
Posted: 2/4/24 at 9:50pm

I’ve been studying the story of The White Rose Resistance for 4+ years and I’ve been following this musical since the very beginning. Originally I was extremely optimistic, the songs were emotional and accurate, and the story seemed genuine. But then I watched the staged reading at 54 below as a live stream and OH MY GOD! This musical is truly a work of fiction calling its self a “true story”

First of all almost every sub plot is completely made up. I don’t know if this was kept but Huber’s student being the one to interrogate Sophie… not a thing. I found it kind of offensive that the Nazis who called for the deaths of these were being given any sympathy at all actually, especially when that syptathy wasn’t grounded in fact

Fredrick Fischer and his “run away with me” sentiment? Also not a thing. The weird part is that Sophie had a fiancé, his name was Fritz Hartnagle, and he DID have a similar sentiments towards the Nazi party which were slowly changed by Sophie. I have no idea why they had to invent a new storyline. The 54 Below concert even included a song where Sophie sang about her refusal to get married. She HAD a fiancé. I hate that she had to lose that part of her to been seen as a “feminist” in the playwright’s eyes.

Furthermore,  Lila Rahmdor is completely made up. I know her story was inspired by certain historical figures, but it seems so odd to throw her into a story that she wasn’t a part of. And it isn’t like there weren’t Jewish characters connected to The White Rose. Christoph Probst had a Jewish stepmother, and because her husband (Christoph’s father) killed himself she was without support. Ernest Reden, a close friend of the Scholls, spent six months in a concentration camps for being gay. HANS SCHOLL WAS ARRESTED FOR BEING GAY. If the writers needed to push the discrimination by the Nazi’s narrative they had so many outlets to do.  But by adding in a fictional storyline, they actively erase true stories of Nazi Atrocities. 

Perhaps the biggest offense though, was the complete disregard for Alexander Schmorell. See, the White Rose leaflets were the products of the intellect, and resilience of two best friends, Hans Scholl and Alexander Schmorell. The fist four leaflets, were written and distributed by them and them alone. The final two were still mostly their work, although the others (Sophie, Christoph, Willi, Huber, Traute Lafrenz) When the history was written (by Sophie’s sister, Inge) the spotlight was intentionally taken away from Hans and Alex and placed on Sophie. Alex was a Russian and Hans, as I said previously, had been arrested for Homosexuality. Sophie, on the other hand, had nothing to hide and her well spoken and flawless bravery secured heroism in history for the whole group. 

Still, Alex secured the typewriter. Alex introduced Hans to the rest of the group. Alex wrote the leaflets. Alex supported Hans when he fell into depressive episodes. Alex strongly influenced the groups religious views. Alex’s execution was signed off by Adolf Hitler himself. Without him there would be no White Rose. And any story without him is not, and cannot call itself, The White Rose.

To further rub salt in the burn there IS a character named Alex. Alex Schmidt. A Nazi. 

It is so heartbreaking to me that this is how the amazing story of the White Rose is going to be introduced to Americans. Is it wrong to be offended? Angry? I want to believe that there was good intentions. I always want to believe that people have good intentions. But it has been incredibly difficult for me to find a silver lining here. 

With hopes for a better future I did write my own short play. Alex and Hans at the center. Hans’ queerness kept genuine and intact. We performed a staged reading for about 100 high schoolers and it felt good to know that they got an honest introduction to the history that is so important in this day and age. There are other non-American productions working toward this as well. THE WHITE ROSE is a musical out of Australia written by two young best friends (which feels beautifully symbolic) and the very successful German production SCHOLL: DIE KNOPSE DER WEISSEN ROSE which uses Hans Scholls actual poetry as song lyrics. There’s also an article on Medium called “The True Story of the White Rose Deserves to be Told” in which another historian gives his thoughts on this musical - I agree with some of his sentiments and disagree with others, but it’s a good account to have. 

Updated On: 2/4/24 at 09:50 PM