On the 22nd February 1943, the first three members of the White Rose resistance group were put on trial and executed by guillotine in Germany. Active from June 1942, the first arrests took place after Sophie Scholl was seen throwing anti-Nazi leaflets from the top floor of the atrium of the University of Munich.
Centred around Hans Scholl and his sister Sophie, the small group of university friends who formed the White Rose printed and distributed their first leaflet in June 1942. They printed six leaflets in total, which were distributed around Germany. The Gestapo itself estimated that 10,000 copies had been produced of the fifth leaflet, entitled “A Call to All Germans!”
Over the course of three nights in early-to-mid February, some members of the group had painted “Freedom” and “Down with Hitler” around Munich. Then, on the 18th February 1943, Hans and Sophie distributed over a thousand copies of their sixth leaflet in the hallways of the university. However, they realised that a few copies were still nestled in the bottom of the suitcase they had brought them in and so chose to fling them from the top of the atrium.
They were seen by university janitor, and Nazi Party member, Jakub Schmid who called the Gestapo. The siblings were taken away for interrogation before being sent to trial on the 22nd February. A third member, Christoph Probst, was also tried his handwriting was matched to a draft of a seventh leaflet found in Hans’ possession. They were found guilty of treason, and beheaded later that day by guillotine in the grounds of Stadelheim Prison.