Review: Freiheit!: The White Rose Graphic Novel
[Editor’s Note: This review may contain spoilers]
Written By: Andrea Grosso Ciponte
Art By: Andrea Grosso Ciponte
Colors By: Andrea Grosso Ciponte
Letters By: Andrea Grosso Ciponte
Review By: Kendra Hale
Freiheit!: The White Rose Graphic Novel is not only thought-provoking, but also shows a side of German history during WWII that, at least for me, was not well-known. Seeing her photo, I knew who she was, I recognized her but it never sank in what she had done. The book follows real life members of the The White Rose Society in Germany, as they tried to spread their message of moral obligation to the rest of the German people. The graphic novel specifically follows Sophie Scholl. We see, through her eyes, the lives of these members and their mission across the years of 1942 and 1943.
Sophie Scholl arrives to meet her brother Hans as a new student at the University of Munich. She has come to learn Biology and Philosophy, but stumbles upon much more when she finds a leaflet from a group, known as The White Rose, one day after class. In search of her brother to discuss a finding at their apartment, she learns that he, and many of their friends, are using their own printing press to create this call to action for their fellow Germans to stand for what is right in the changing climate of their world under the Hitler regime.
Freiheit!, which means freedom, showcases, in beautiful grey toned and colored watercolor art, the tale of this small group that was asking their fellow Germans to passively resist the Nazi’s and remember their honor and pride. The White Rose prepared, at the risk of their lives, leaflets that were spread all throughout Germany. Freiheit! brings into play not only the aspects of the members lives, but also features moments in German history from Joseph Goebbels, films that were being shown showcasing Jews as the enemy, and even bringing in speeches given to students at the University about their duties to the Fatherland.
It’s hard to tear this work apart and say positives and negatives when it’s something that reflects real history. There are moments that stick out, such as the stark change from grey tone to color on page 44, where Sophie is with her fiance as he is on leave, before being sent back out as a communications officer. The difference between colors and the tone it sets is that of the dream of a normal life of a young woman, being engaged and in love. But the words belay that notion as she finds herself upset at the fact that he is supporting the war in any regard.
Another moment that sticks out is the speech done to the students at the University of Munich. Just seeing and reading it, as a female, had me as disgusted as Sophie cries out “We have the same right to study!”. I think though that the part that haunts me and will stick with me happens after the members of The White Rose were gathered and arrested. After their execution, their families were charged with an invoice for 600 marks for wear to the guillotine. I had to pause, as I thought about just how mechanical it was for those doing the executions to have done something like this. I fell into tears after reading about what the British troops had done shortly after.
I am a lover of history, and to read history is to be aware of the world around us. This is a graphic novel that will absolutely become part of my collection. It is one I would recommend across the age range. Andrea Grosso Ciponte has given readers a time-frame in history that features voices that must be heard. That give hope. After reading Freiheit!: The White Rose, I did research on my own. I found that there is a monument to those who were part of The White Rose. I can confidently say that this is a book I would recommend reading. Every time.
Order your copy of FREIHEIT! THE WHITE ROSE GRAPHIC NOVEL today!!
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