White Rose memorial museum
Denkstätte Weiße Rose, Munich
UPDATE: the site has undergone a complete overhaul and the all-new exhibition opened in 2017. I'll put an updated chapter and new photo gallery here as soon as I find the time ... please bear with me.
A small memorial museum in Munich
dedicated to the "Weiße Rose" resistance movement in Nazi Germany
associated mostly with the names of siblings Hans and Sophie Scholl, who were both studying at Munich University at the time.
>More background info
>What there is to see
>Access and costs
>Combinations with other dark destinations
>Combinations with non-dark destinations
More background info:
Weiße Rose ('white rose') was the name adopted by a circle of students/friends that formed a kind of intellectual underground resistance against the Nazis
. Central to the group were about six activists, out of whom Hans and his younger sister Sophie became the most enduringly famous in contemporary public consciousness – partly helped by the film "Sophie Scholl – the Final Days" which raked in various German and European awards and in 2006 was nominated for the Academy Award for best foreign language film.
Out of the group's purely intellectual, hidden opposition emerged more active resistance in the form of anti-Nazi slogans smeared on walls under the cover of night, and, especially, in the form of a series of flyers, written, printed, duplicated and distributed secretly. In these flyers, ordinary Germans were asked to open their eyes and see the reality behind the Nazi propaganda and no longer support the disastrous war that was plunging Germany
into a catastrophe. These activities started in the summer of 1942, but from January 1943, at the time when the disaster of the battle of Stalingrad (see Volgograd
) signalled the fact that Germany
would not be able to win this war, activities were intensified. The flyers, initially rather convoluted in their language and full of literary allusions and quotes, became more and more direct and outspoken in the process.
On 18 February, while distributing their 6th flyer, the Scholl siblings were caught and together with other White Rose activists put on a show trial at the infamous Volksgerichtshof ('People's Court') under the notorious "judge" Roland Freisler, known for his breathing fire and brimstone in such trials. Not surprisingly, they were sentenced to death and executed on 22 February 1943.
However, a copy of the group's last flyer found its way into Great Britain
– and from July 1943 thousands of copies were dropped over Germany by RAF
planes… a belated reward for the internal resistance efforts that until then so few in or outside Germany knew of or even imagined.
The memorial museum's name "Denkstätte", by the way, deviates from the usual German term "Gedenkstätte" – this is of course not a mistake but rather wordplay: "Gedenken" means 'to commemorate', just "denken" means 'to think' … you get the picture: you're supposed to not just think back and contemplate here, but use your head more actively … after all you're in a university building …
What there is to see: UPDATE: a new exhibition has meawhile opened (in 2017). So the text below about the old one will have to be updated as soon as I'll find the time. Please bear with me.
The exhibition has a series of text-and-photo panels, all in German only, which detail the background and highlight the personal stories of the members or associates of the Weiße Rose movement in Munich
(and beyond). There's an interactive screen too, headphones are provided. Adjacent to the single vaulted room museum is a small specialist library.
Brochures in various languages (including, apart from German and English, French, Spanish, Italian, Russian and Polish) are available at the desk by the entrance. Display copies are placed on a rack by the entrance – if you don't want buy one (even though they cost just 3 EUR) you could ask if you could take one around the exhibition with you to help you understand the text panels.
Outside the building, on the pavement in front of the main entrance doors and on the square around the fountain, a special kind of on-the-ground-monument is "scattered" about: clay paving stones designed to look like Weiße Rose flyers, some in clusters, some on their own, half folded over and seemingly blown about by the wind. The originally only temporary installation was eventually made permanent and renewed in 2006.
's Ludwig-Maximilians University north of the old city centre on the main Ludwigstraße boulevard about halfway en route to the fashionable district of Schwabing, on Geschwister-Scholl-Platz.
Access and costs: a bit hidden, but not impossible to find; free.
: the exhibition is a bit tricky to locate if you don't know where you're going – so here's some detailed directions (also refer to the photos for illustration): first make your way to Munich
's main university building on Geschwister-Scholl-Platz (the name is already an indication, of course), which, coming from the city centre, is located towards the end of Ludwigstraße, shortly before you get to the impressive Victory Arch (Siegestor) – it's perfectly walkable – but there's also a metro stop (Universität, line U 3 or U 6) nearby. The entrance is in the building to the left (west).
By the fountain in front of the entrance you may already see the ground memorial paving stones in the shapes of flyers; closer to the main entrance, there's the largest cluster of these. But to get to the memorial museum, which is INSIDE the building, you need to enter through the middle and ascend a flight of stairs, then descend another flight of stairs, set at a slight angle down into the main hall/atrium and head right.
Don't be puzzled by the fact that this is a working university and student life goes on as normal around you. The many noticeboards in the entrance area are also mostly of concern to students only – although you may find a floor plan on which you might just spot the location of the "DenkStätte Weiße Rose" (it took me while to make it out). There's an information desk to the left too, but this was closed when I visited (September 2009) and there was only a small sign saying "DenkStätte Weiße Rose" pointing right … but nowhere in particular. So: up the central stairs it is and then down into the atrium, past white marble neo-Grecian sculptures, and across a floor with animal mosaics set into it. You may notice two memorial sculptures to the left and right of the red marble wall opposite – the one on the right-hand side is a bust of Sophie Scholl. The memorial museum is housed in the basement room behind this wall – the entrance is just round the corner to the right.
UPDATE: 2016: the old exhibition is currently closed for refurbishment. Until the new one opens in early 2017 a temporary stand-in can be found on the 1st floor in the Thomas-Mann-Hall.
Opening times: During university opening hours (so at least Monday to Friday) from 7 a.m. to 22 p.m.
Time required: depends: if you can read German and want to read everything on display there and then, this could take between half an hour and 45 minutes. If you can't read German, you could just as well have a quick browse around and pick up one of the English-language brochures for more concentrated perusal later.
Combinations with other dark destinations:
Combinations with non-dark destinations:
- Weiße Rose Denkstätte 01 - Uni building
- Weiße Rose Denkstätte 02 - Uni entrance
- Weiße Rose Denkstätte 03 - information desk
- Weiße Rose Denkstätte 04 - at least a sign
- Weiße Rose Denkstätte 05 - complex floor plans
- Weiße Rose Denkstätte 06 - steps up to atrium
- Weiße Rose Denkstätte 07 - Uni main hall
- Weiße Rose Denkstätte 08 - head right round the corner
- Weiße Rose Denkstätte 09 - Sophie Scholl bust
- Weiße Rose Denkstätte 10 - steps down to the centre
- Weiße Rose Denkstätte 11a - mainly text panels
- Weiße Rose Denkstätte 11b - main exhibition room
- Weiße Rose Denkstätte 12 - interactive screen
- Weiße Rose Denkstätte 13 - library
- Weiße Rose Denkstätte 14 - flyers monument
- Weiße Rose Denkstätte 15 - flyers monument
- Weiße Rose Denkstätte 16 - fountain outside university