There has been a lot of discussion about what Holocaust memory will be like as fewer survivors remain. Less discussed are those who risked their lives to save Jews during World War II.
The German-born doctor Traute Lafrenz, who died on March 6 at 103, was the last known surviving member of White Rose, which formed in Munich in 1942 and advocated nonviolent resistance against the Nazi government.
As young German college students allied against their country’s government, the group concluded its first leaflet: “Do not forget that every nation deserves the government that it endures.”
The Nazi government beheaded three of the group’s members—Hans Scholl, his sister Sophie Scholl and Christoph Probst—for producing and distributing leaflets opposing the totalitarian regime.
Lafrenz also faced punishment for her involvement. The Gestapo arrested her in 1943, but she managed to conceal the depth of her involvement in the group, so she only received a one-year jail term.
After the war, Lafrenz relocated to the United States, married another doctor and worked in hospitals in California and Illinois before retiring in South Carolina. She is survived by her daughter; three sons; and grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
Lafrenz was among those dramatized in the acclaimed cinematic retelling of the White Rose’s story, “Sophie Scholl: The Final Days” (2005).
German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier called her a “wonderful and immeasurably brave woman.”
She “had the courage to listen to her conscience and stand up to dictatorship, fascism and war,” he said.