I have been a fan of comics since before many of you were born. The full spectrum of topics were wide and varied from the classic superhero genre, horror based, and those based on the silly. I loved them all but generally gravitated toward the superhero ones. However, I also enjoyed the war based comics. Sgt. Rock, Sgt. Fury and his Howling Commandoes, were two of my favorites. These were generally set during World War II which had always held a fascination for me. Those types of comics are not in vogue any more but the events of World War II and the history that lead to it still interest me. Mainly the questions of how it could have happened. How could one man hold sway over millions of people who should have known better? It also shed a light that courage was not only displayed by the military.

During this time, there were many German people who fought to oppose the inhumanity they were witnessing in Nazi Germany. Many who gave their lives in the service of their beliefs. And not all of them were soldiers. Some were everyday people and even students who refused to cast a blind eye to the atrocities they were witnessing. Such is the story in Andrea Grosso Ciponte‘s FREIHEIT!: The White Rose Graphic Novel.

FREIHEIT! (Freedom)

This powerful graphic novel is based on the true story of young university students who formed the White Rose, an undercover resistance movement in Nazi Germany. The White Rose wrote and distributed six now-infamous pamphlets calling for resistance against the Third Reich. This inevitably lead to their capture and execution at the hands of the Gestapo. It is an amazing story about a government that so feared the written word, that they would burn books and execute those responsible. As well as the courage of those students who were willing to put their lives on the line to distribute the truth. While this story has been adapted into other formats, this is the first time it has been told in the graphic novel genre.

Thoughts

Andrea Grosse Ciponte has created a startling adaptation of this true story. It is both a tragic and inspirational look at how young, German students were willing to make the ultimate sacrifice to attempt to open people’s eyes. In his book, Ciponte’s art fluctuates from the whimsical to the almost newsreel like. And as the narrative continues, it explores the fears and roadblocks that the students faced to spread the White Rose’s message.

Ciponte also revealed  how the student’s choices effected their lives and those around them. While at the same time, exploring the deluded idealism that Hitler and his minions followed and tried to impose on everyone else. At the close, he detailed how the students met their demise. In the terse, cold, summary as reported by the Gestapo, that showed they were courageous to the very end. However, in another example of the cruelty of the Nazi regime, it also reported that the Government even charged the families of the executed for wear and tear on the method of their execution. Finally, he also included the full translated texts of their six pamphlets that the Gestapo felt warranted their deaths.

For those who had not been aware of these events, it is a vivid example of the dangers of blindly following one demented man’s vision and the courage it took to take a stand. Brilliantly executed by Ciponte and well worth reading if for no other reason than to try to learn from our mistakes. FREIHEIT!: The White Rose Graphic Novel will be available on February 16th by Plough Publishing.

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