The White Rose movement in graphic novel form

Andrea Ciponte has found an ideal genre for telling the Scholl siblings’ story.

In 1942, a small group of German university students tried to wake up their country to the mass murder of Jews and other atrocities. “We will not be silent,” they wrote. “We are your bad conscience.” Brave with youth, they painted graffiti slogans like Down with Hitler! and Freiheit! (Freedom!) and left anonymous leaflets in public places. They called their nonviolent movement the White Rose, a name with poetic, philosophical, and religious echoes. The students managed to distribute only 15,000 copies of six leaflets before being arrested and executed. Yet their example inspired people all over the world. Soon after the members of the White Rose were killed, British Royal Air Force pilots dropped millions of copies of their sixth leaflet all over Germany.

This poignant story has been told before in film, theater, and opera. But it feels especially timely in this 112-page graphic novel.

“Every people deserves the regime it is willing to endure,” Andrea Grosso Ciponte’s story begins, citing the first leaflet. Ciponte is our troubled conscience. He wants us to grapple with how we have allowed another, more recent era of authoritarian cruelty.