Intended for healthcare professionals


Traute Lafrenz: doctor and White Rose member

BMJ 2023; 380 doi: (Published 23 March 2023) Cite this as: BMJ 2023;380:p695
  1. John Illman
  1. London, UK
  1. john{at}

Traute Lafrenz was the last known survivor of a group of medical students and other young radicals in the White Rose, a non-violent resistance movement in Nazi Germany. American troops liberated her on 15 April 1945, just three days before a trial that could have condemned her to the same fate as her fellow conspirators—the guillotine.

The petite, self-assured, and determined student hand-cranked the old fashioned, duplicating machine that, night after night, rolled out, one by one, thousands and thousands of leaflets denouncing the Nazi terror.

White Rose

Lafrenz also helped to source paper, ink, and envelopes—not the mundane job it might seem. The Gestapo set up a special—but largely unsuccessful—unit to track White Rose paper supplies. Concluding correctly that the group was Munich based, they instructed local stationery stores to report customers buying large quantities of paper and installed men at train stations to check mail movement.

The wily White Rose trumped them by buying small packs from many small retailers and stationers. They also posted leaflets from one city for distribution in another and mailed leaflets to random addresses and prominent individuals. Although limited to a few dozen people, the group seemed large and formidable—distributing its outspoken tracts in far flung cities, including Frankfurt, Linz, Salzburg, Stuttgart, Vienna, and Ulm. …

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