I believe my write-up on Traudl Junge would be incomplete without mentioning one more fact. I wrote in my note that non-Jewish population in Germany during the early days of the War were oblivious to Holocaust. They were in fact living an increasingly comfortable life and for them Hitler had brought hope for the future and the belief that they could win the War. Of course, people like Hans Junge knew that something was wrong and one has to go beyond the shadows of Hitler in order to know the truth. But aside these individual cases, there were largely two separate groups of people who felt the real truth. One group was that of those who witnessed the bloodshed themselves, with their own eyes. For example, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_people_who_assisted_Jews_during_the_Holocaust lists most of these well known persons and the reason for them being recognized as the “Righteous among the nations”. We have seen one such case in the movie Schindler’s List. There are plenty more. There was one another group that also came to realize the truth and what was really going on. This group, lead by a young University of Munich professor, called themselves as the White Rose ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/White_Rose). They distributed leaflets in the University … they could only distribute six of them during the period from June 1942 to February 1943. In one of these leaflets for example, the group writes:
“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!“
— From the second leaflet of the White Rose.
Of course the Gestapo eventually caught up with all the members of the group and six core members were executed. Today, of course, we honor these brave young men and women who spoke against hitler in those days, knowing very well what awaited in their fate. One of the member of this group was a 21 year old girl named Sophie Scholl (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sophie_Scholl)* As she was being questioned by the judge she is known to have said
“You know as well as we do that the war is lost. Why are you so cowardly that you won’t admit it?”
Scholl was born an year after Traudl Junge and died in the same year Junge started working for Hitler. Later, when Junge came to know about her from the memorials, she realized that it was not enough an excuse to be young …
“Of course, the terrible things I heard from the Nuremberg Trials, about the six million Jews and the people from other races who were killed, were facts that shocked me deeply. But I wasn’t able to see the connection with my own past. I was satisfied that I wasn’t personally to blame and that I hadn’t known about those things. I wasn’t aware of the extent. But one day I went past the memorial plaque which had been put up for Sophie Scholl in Franz Josef Strasse, and I saw that she was born the same year as me, and she was executed the same year I started working for Hitler. And at that moment I actually sensed that it was no excuse to be young, and that it would have been possible to find things out.“
The movie Downfall ends with Junge speaking the above words …