George Wittenstein – “A Personal Account of the White Rose”

The White Rose consisted of a small number of friends, most of them medical students in the University of Hamburg, who dared to speak out against the Nazi regime during the war. Unlike other anti-Nazi groups in Germany – and there were few of them in any case — the White Rose denounced the persecution and killing of the Jews. Although calling for the overthrow of the Nazi regime, the group espoused a non-violent philosophy. During 1942, the members spread their views through a series of pamphlets. When the government discovered the identity of those who were involved in writing and distributing the pamphlets, it moved against them, and six were executed.

George Wittenstein was actively involved with the White Rose and narrowly escaped Germany with his life. He subsequently traveled to the U.S., completed his medical studies, and went on to become an important practitioner and professor of cardiovascular surgery. In his talk at OSU, which he will illustrate with photographs that relate to his theme, Dr. Wittenstein will discuss the history of the White Rose. No one alive today is as well qualified to lecture on the White Rose as is Dr. Wittenstein, and his appearance at OSU allows our community to learn of this legendary group from the inside.

At Oregon State University, we have observed Holocaust Memorial Week every year since 1987. The breadth and the duration of our effort are unmatched in the Pacific Northwest. This program grows from the belief that educational institutions can do much to combat prejudice of all kinds, and to foster respect for the diversity that is America, by promoting an awareness of the Holocaust, perhaps the most horrific historical indicator of the high cost of prejudice. It is particularly important to teach young people about the Holocaust, so that coming generations will not forget the lessons that a preceding one learned at such cost. This emphasis recalls the motto of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum: “For the dead and the living, we must bear witness.”

To learn more about the Holocaust Memorial Program at Oregon State University, please visit http://oregonstate.edu/holocaust/

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