Last known survivor of WWII White Rose Nazi resistance group dies at 103

Traute Lafrenz took part in efforts with Sophie and Hans Scholl to distribute leaflets denouncing Hitler and his regime; was arrested by Gestapo and detained for a year

Traute Lafrenz in 1942. (Wikipedia public domain)
Traute Lafrenz in 1942. (Wikipedia public domain)

BERLIN — Traute Lafrenz, the last known survivor of a German group known as the White Rose that actively resisted the Nazis, has died. She was 103.

German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier expressed his condolences to her family Friday, describing Lafrenz as a “wonderful and immeasurably brave woman.”

“Your mother was one of the few who, in the face of the crimes of National Socialism, had the courage to listen to her conscience and stand up to dictatorship, fascism and war.”

According to an obituary published in The Charleston Post and Courier, Lafrenz died on March 6. She had emigrated to the United States after the war, marrying fellow physician Vernon Page and eventually retiring to South Carolina.

Born in Hamburg on May 3, 1919, Lafrenz moved to Munich to study medicine at the age of 22, where she met Hans Scholl. Through him, she became acquainted with other students who were opposed to the Nazis and months later took part in the White Rose’s risky efforts to distribute leaflets denouncing Hitler and his regime.

Several members, including Hans and his sister Sophie Scholl, were executed for their activity.

Undated photo of German Sophie Scholl, member of the Nazi resistance activist group ‘White Rose.’ (AP)

Lafrenz was arrested by the Gestapo secret police in 1943 but managed to hide her true involvement with the group and was sentenced to just one year of imprisonment.

After her release, she was again detained until American troops freed her from a prison in Bayreuth in April 1945, days before the end of World War II.

After emigrating, Lafrenz worked at a hospital in San Francisco, later living in Hayfork, California, and Evanston, Illinois.

She is survived by a daughter and three sons, as well as numerous grandchildren and great-grandchildren, according to the obituary. A memorial service was planned Saturday for friends and family at Yonges Island.

Germany’s president said in his tribute that Lafrenz’s actions had served as an “inspiration for young people who campaign for freedom and democracy these days.”

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