Hans and Sophie Scholl
In Munich I lived in Schwabing, a borough once the home of prominent cultural figures like Thomas and Heinrich Mann. I was unaware of it being better or worse than other parts of the city, but my decidedly downscale lodgings may have played a role. I am not sure whether it had become what present day Alexanderplatz is to its previous incarnation written about so eloquently in Döblin’s masterpiece.
It was very simple: a bed, a small refrigerator, and even a tinier sink, and a hot plate. I ate mainly at the University of Munich mensa (cafeteria).
In front of the university was Geschwister-Scholl-Platz, named after a brother and sister who were key members of The White Rose Movement, a small group of university students and a professor, who opposed to Nazism wrote and distributed pamphlets. Here are some lines from one of them:
Since the conquest of Poland three hundred thousand Jews have been murdered in this country in the most bestial way … The German people slumber on in their dull, stupid sleep and encourage these fascist criminals … Each man wants to be exonerated of a guilt of this kind, each one continues on his way with the most placid, the calmest conscience. But he cannot be exonerated; he is guilty, guilty, guilty!
On a very unfortunate day, Hans and Sophie Scholl were caught in the university atrium. They were beheaded less than a week later.
Today you will find this in front of the university:
I sit even at this hour at a small university bar
having walked the marbled halls past statues.
And so this is where they stood,
and this is where the other emerged
to catch these two descending
alone among the spiraling staircase.