This year, the White Rose Translation Project explored ‘creative translation’, adapting the White Rose resistance pamphlets into new works, including poetry, prose, drama, and artwork. The Oxford students’ translations are imaginative responses to, and interpretations of, real events and people as encountered in interviews and primary sources. They explore the courage and conviction of students who, eighty years ago in Germany, stood up to fascism and used the written word to resist. The translations were developed through a series of workshops and seminars from January to March 2022. We’re sharing some of the students’ work here on our blog.
My creative translation of the pamphlets and letters of the White Rose Group took the form of a poem that incorporates both English and German. I chose this form as I believed it could showcase the highly emotive and poetic language that the group used within their writings to grab their readers’ attention and convince them of their cause. When I first read the pamphlets, I had expected them to follow the conventions of much political writing, and was surprised to find the raw emotion, urgency and very thought-provoking poetic images that their writing actually contained.
As a German student, it felt important to me to read the pamphlets in their original form, and subsequently to include snippets in my creative translation. So many of the discussions surrounding the White Rose’s work and their resistance can lead back to the theme of language – Hitler’s manipulation of the German language, their counter-efforts to weaponise the language against the Nazis, and finally even the fact that it was literal, physical words (in the form of the pamphlets that Sophie dropped and the draft of the final pamphlet in Hans’ pocket) that eventually condemned them. I therefore wanted to focus on the power of language in the White Rose story, and decided this would be illustrated best through a blend of English and German.
I also wanted to focus on the theme of guilt which runs throughout all the pamphlets. Ultimately, this poem aims to explore how choice of words (or Wortwahl) is highly significant, with the power to live on even after death, through all forms of censorship and fascism.
© 2022 Anna Cooper. All rights reserved.