The White Rose Project is a research and outreach initiative at the University of Oxford. It aims to bring the story of the White Rose resistance group, ‘Die Weiße Rose’, to English-speaking audiences. The project was launched on 12 October 2018, the 75th anniversary of White Rose member Willi Graf’s execution. Although the White Rose is a household name in Germany, it is relatively little known elsewhere. It is an important story in its own right and forms part of a larger discourse about resistance writing and how culture can inform political action.
The White Rose Project is led by Dr Alex Lloyd. Alex is a Fellow by Special Election in German Studies at St Edmund Hall, and Lecturer in German at Magdalen College, Trinity College, and University College (University of Oxford). She teaches German language and literature from the mid-eighteenth to the twenty-first century, translation between German and English, and film studies. Her main research interests lie in twentieth-century literature and visual culture. Her first book, Childhood, Memory, and the Nation: Young Lives under Nazism in Contemporary German Culture, was published in 2020. In 2019 she received a Teaching Excellence Award from the university’s Humanities Division for her work with students on the White Rose Translation Project.
Translation work with undergraduate students is at the heart of the White Rose Project.
In the Project’s first year (2018-2019), fifteen students from ten colleges took part in the White Rose Translation Project, which resulted in a new publication: The White Rose: Reading, Writing, Resistance (Oxford: Taylor Institution Library, 2019). The students also contributed to a display, White Rose: Writing and Resistance, in the Proscholium at the Bodleian Library.
Comments from the student translators:
“As soon as I heard about this project I knew I wanted to be a part of it, not only because of the importance of ensuring that the leaflets are available to readers outside of the German-speaking world, but also because of the new solutions that inevitably arose from having students, rather than experienced translators, working on the project. It was very humbling to be a part of producing these texts, knowing that we were translating the words of people our own age, who campaigned for peace and freedom in incredibly dangerous times, and paid the ultimate price for it.”
“Through the participation in this project, I feel like I was able to approach this part of German history on a more emotional level. I am deeply moved by the thought that Sophie Scholl was the same age as I am now when she made the decision of being part of the resistance against the Nazis – a decision that she paid for with her life. Therefore, I hope that especially students will read these translations and that these translated texts will have a similar effect of bringing this part of German history emotionally closer to them, just as it brought the texts closer to me.”
Die Weiße Rose Stiftung e.V. | The White Rose Foundation (Munich)
The White Rose Project works with the White Rose Foundation in Munich thanks to support from The Oxford Research Centre in the Humanities (TORCH). The objective of the White Rose Foundation membership association is to uphold the memory and legacy of the resistance group. The foundation hosts a permanent exhibition in the DenkStätte Weiße Rose in Munich as well as travelling exhibitions, events and educational projects about the White Rose and their resistance against the National Socialist dictatorship. The Foundation’s website has a great deal of excellent information on the resistance group. They also have a Facebook page and YouTube channel.
SANSARA is an award-winning vocal ensemble focused on the performance of a cappella choral music. You can listen to examples of their work here. The White Rose Project is a proud partner of SANSARA, working together to tell the story of the White Rose in text and song. Find out more here.
Anke Loewensprung is a writer and multi-disciplinary artist. Through installations, performances and dialogue, she is exploring creative experiences of transformation and reconciliation. Working in Munich and Oxford she has been engaged with the story of the ‘White Rose’ student resistance since 2012. Anke designed an on-screen installation, Lighting Matches during Blackout, for the White Rose Resistance symposium in March 2020. When the symposium was postponed due to the Covid-19 pandemic, Anke adapted her installation into a digital form.
Anke writes about the installation:
In the on-screen installation, ‘Lighting Matches during Blackout’, I take a fresh look at the story of ‘The White Rose’ student resistance in wartime Munich. By linking historical photographs with my own images, and complementing them with short texts, viewers may enter both actual and in-between spaces, and factual and inner time. In following the students to Munich, to Warsaw, to a small town in Russia and back again, the three most intensive periods of their short lives come into focus. Sharp, black and white contrasts and dreamlike passages take us through their last year, starting in Summer 1942. Space opens up on a visual, poetic, and imaginative level for new insights and perspectives. The piece runs on a loop and lasts about 15 minutes. An accompanying booklet is available at the symposium and on my website.
Work with Schools
The White Rose Project supports the access and outreach programmes at the University of Oxford. We therefore currently offer workshops for schools on the White Rose, suitable within the context of History or Modern Languages. Workshops can also be combined with a short information session on studying at Oxford. Previous workshops have included lecture or classroom-style formats, focusing on the history of the group and/or their resistance writings, with teaching in English, German, or a combination of the two. We hope the project may provide ways to connect with the university and that examples of students’ work and experiences at Oxford may prove informative and inspiring. For more information or to request a workshop, please contact Dr Alex Lloyd (alexandra.lloyd[at]seh.ox.ac.uk).
In 2020 and 2021 the White Rose Project partnered with the Oxford German Network for the Oxford German Olympiad nationwide competition. We offered prizes for sixth formers, undergraduates, and students in Years 10 and 11 (or equivalent). For more information on the competition, see the Oxford German Network’s website here.
White Rose Project Activities
2020-2021 | Year Three
The third year of the project began in October 2020 with the launch of the third annual White Rose Translation Project. The Project’s work was once again generously funded by The Oxford Research Centre in the Humanities (TORCH).
November 2020: The White Rose Project took part in the Being Human Festival of the Humanities.
February 2021: From 15-27 February the Project followed the events of the White Rose resistance as they happened in real time through daily posts on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. This year marked the 78th anniversary of the first White Rose trials and was also a year when the dates and days of the week coincided. At the heart of the week was a live reading of the pamphlets in English by current and former students and academics, mirroring the membership of the original group.
May 2021: The White Rose Project hosted a colloquium on ‘The White Rose and the Uses of Culture’.
2019-2020 | Year Two
The second year of the project began in June 2019, when Dr Alex Lloyd was awarded a Knowledge Exchange Fellowship by The Oxford Research Centre in the Humanities (TORCH) to support the work of the White Rose Project. Knowledge exchange is defined as ‘the mutually beneficial sharing of ideas, data, experience, and expertise, and involves collaboration between researchers and external organisations or the public’. Alex’s external partner was the Munich-based Weiße Rose Stiftung (White Rose Foundation), whose mission is to uphold the resistance group’s memory and ‘to contribute to civic courage and individual responsibility and to promote democratic consciousness’.
September 2019: Following the success of the translation project in its first year, we launched a second translation project in September 2019. Again, students applied by submitting a short statement about their motivation and a sample translation. We had a number of very strong submissions and eighteen students received places. They were joined by one of the student translators from last year’s project.
November 2019: Alex Lloyd spent a week at the White Rose Foundation in Munich. The purpose of the visit was to get a better sense of the Foundation’s work, its approaches to disseminating the history of the White Rose, and to meet individuals connected with the history and memory of the group, including academics and family members. This was a very productive and rewarding week and contributed much to the ongoing development of the project.
December 2019: The project was awarded a generous grant from the Humanities Cultural Programme Project Fund (TORCH, University of Oxford) to develop a programme of spoken word and music in collaboration with the award-winning vocal ensemble SANSARA, led by Artistic Director Tom Herring. Alex and Tom’s project was the very first to be awarded this grant.
January – February 2020: This year the translation seminars began in January. Students worked on excerpts from the letters and diaries of the White Rose members. In groups of three or four, the translators researched their lives and discussed the purpose and challenges of working on these particular texts. The seminars were lively and productive, and in addition to Alex Lloyd, the students were joined by Jenny Lemke (DAAD Lektorin, University of Oxford) who was able to offer valuable insights into issues of style and tone in German. On Friday 21 February Alex Lloyd was interviewed on BBC Radio 4’s The World Tonight. She spoke about the White Rose group and the project’s collaboration with SANSARA, ahead of the 22 February concert, held on the 77th anniversary of the first White Rose trials and executions.
March 2020: We were due to hold an international symposium on the White Rose on 17 and 18 March 2020 at St Edmund Hall, Oxford. Sadly, this fell on the cusp of the lockdown and we had to postpone the event. Instead, we hosted a digital symposium on our website. The programme included academics, a visual artist, a professional storyteller, and students. Read, view, and listen to their contributions here.
July 2020: This year the White Rose Project partnered with the Oxford German Network for its nationwide competition the Oxford German Olympiad. We offered two prizes: one for sixth formers (or equivalent) and one for university students. We had an extraordinary response to our inaugural White Rose Project Writing competition with nearly sixty entries from 45 schools across the UK. Entrants were asked to write a short essay in German in response to the question „Was können wir heute noch von der Weißen Rose lernen?“ [What can we learn from the White Rose today?].
On 16 July Tom Herring (Artistic Director, SANSARA) and Alex Lloyd took part in the Big Tent Live Events series hosted by TORCH. Their discussion was streamed live from the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford.
2018-2019 | Year One
The first year of the project, which began with an exhibition at the Taylor Institution Library, involved translation work with students and resulted in a book publication and a display on the White Rose at the Bodleian Library.
October 2018: The Project was launched at the Taylor Institution Library, University of Oxford. At the same time an exhibition on the White Rose was opened, co-curated by Alex Lloyd and the German Subject Librarian, Emma Huber. The exhibition introduced the group members and their activities and explored their lives and legacy through examples of what they read and wrote, using books from the Taylorian and Bodleian holdings. You can watch Dr Alex Lloyd’s talk at the project’s official launch on 12 October 2018 here.
October 2018 – April 2019: Fifteen students from ten colleges participated in a collaborative translation of the White Rose resistance pamphlets. They attended an introductory seminar at which they discussed the pamphlets, translation theory, and the aims of their new translation. Students were provided with support mateirals including historical information abotu the White Rose. They then worked in groups, with two or three students taking responsibility for each of the pamphlets. They discussed their drafts together in seminars and refined their versions according to this feedback. There was a final meeting to make decisions about formatting, footnotes, and the glossary. Their work was edited by Alex Lloyd and any amendments were sent to them for their approval.
May – July 2019: Student members of the White Rose Project contributed to a display in the Bodleian Library’s Proscholium from 18 May to 7 July 2019, ‘White Rose: Writing and Resistance’. The display explored how the White Rose Resistance used the political power of the written word. The students wrote one of the text-panels and worked with Dr Alexandra Franklin at the Bibliographical Press to create posters with slogans from, and inspired by, their translations of the pamphlets. The display also displayed two of the original pamphlets alongside the students’ translations.
June 2019: A new book, The White Rose: Reading, Writing, Resistance (Oxford: Taylor Institution Library, 2019), edited by Alex Lloyd, was published. The publication includes the White Rose resistance leaflets in German as a parallel text alongside new translations undertaken by the Oxford undergraduate student translators. The leaflet texts are framed by a series of articles by experts on the White Rose, and the catalogue from the Taylorian exhibition. The foreword was provided by the director of the White Rose Foundation (Weiße Rose Stiftung) in Munich, Hildegard Kronawitter. The book was launched at an event at St Edmund Hall.