I was in the Swiss village of Begnins outside Geneva shortly after the fall of the Berlin Wall in November 1989. I spent three days there with Axel von dem Bussche, a former Wehrmacht major, holder of the Knight’s Cross of the Iron Cross for extreme battlefield bravery, three times wounded in World War II, and the last surviving member of the inner circle of German army officers who attempted to assassinate Adolf Hitler.
I was reminded of my visit with von dem Bussche, whom I was interviewing for The Dallas Morning News, by the 70th anniversary of the execution of five Munich University students and their philosophy professor who were members of the White Rose resistance movement in Nazi Germany. The BBC last week interviewed the 99-year-old Liselotte Furst-Ramdohr, who hid leaflets for the group in her closet and helped make stencils used to paint slogans on walls. [Click here to hear the interview or click here to see the BBC’s article based on the interview.] The six White Rose members managed to distribute thousands of anti-Nazi leaflets before they were arrested by the Gestapo and guillotined. The text of their sixth and final set of leaflets was smuggled out of Germany by the resistance leader Helmuth James Graf von Moltke, who was arrested in 1944 and hanged by the Nazis in January 1945. Copies of the leaflets’ language were dropped over Germany by Allied planes in July 1943. Furst-Ramdohr, who was widowed during the war when her first husband was killed on the Russian front, also was arrested by the Gestapo. She was imprisoned but eventually released.