Traute Lafrenz (photo), the last surviving member of the White Rose, a nonviolent resistance movement against the Nazi regime in Germany during World War II, passed away on March 6 (local time) at the age of 103, as reported by the Washington Post on Saturday. Lafrenz died at her home in South Carolina, the U.S., according to her family. The exact cause of her death is unknown.
The White Rose was formed in 1942 by a group of young students, including Hans and Sophie Scholl, who aimed to resist the Nazis by distributing flyers and leaving graffiti that revealed the crimes of the Nazi regime. The flyers circulated by the White Rose at the time contained messages such as “The Holocaust is an unprecedented crime in human history” and “Down with Hitler.” Lafrenz, a medical student at the time, helped procure small items such as ink, paper, and envelopes, and secretly copied flyers at a bookstore in Munich.
In February 1943, the Scholl siblings were apprehended by school security while distributing flyers in the university district and subsequently arrested by the Gestapo, the secret police of the Nazi regime. The Nazi authorities responded with severe repression against the leaders of the White Rose, ultimately leading to their execution by beheading just four days after their arrest. During that period, Hitler ordered the resumption of guillotine executions, and over 5,000 people in Germany were executed without trial in this manner.
Lafrenz was also arrested twice by the Gestapo, and spent time in prison, and was persistently surveilled for her involvement with the White Rose until the end of the war. Following the war, she immigrated to the U.S. in 1947 and completed her medical studies. She later married ophthalmologist Vernon Page, and together they raised four children. Lafrenz worked as a principal at a special school in the U.S. for over 20 years and was also actively engaged in anthroposophy for an extended period of time.
When Lafrenz celebrated her 100th birthday in May 2019, she was awarded the Order of Merit by German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier. President Steinmeier praised Lafrenz, “She is one of the few individuals who had the courage to resist dictatorship and the genocide of Jews. She is a hero of freedom and humanity.”