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Freheit! The White Rose Graphic Novel Review

4 min read
Freiheit: The White Rose is a riveting tale of one of the darkest periods of the 20th Century.

Creative Staff:
Story and Art: Andrea Grosso Ciponte

What They Say:
With an entire nation blindly following an evil leader, where did a handful of students find the courage to resist? The university students who formed the White Rose, an undercover resistance movement in Nazi Germany, knew that doing so could cost them their lives. But some things are worth dying for.

The White Rose printed and distributed leaflets to expose Nazi atrocities and wake up their fellow citizens. The Gestapo caught and executed them. Sophie Scholl was twenty-one; her brother Hans, twenty-four; Christoph Probst, twenty-three; Alexander Schmorell and Willi Graf, twenty-five.

But the White Rose was not silenced. Their heroism continues to inspire new generations of resisters. Now, for the first time, this story that has been celebrated in print and film can be experienced as a graphic novel. Italian artist Andrea Grosso Ciponte’s haunting imagery will resonate with today’s students and activists. The challenges they face may vary, but the need for young people to stand up against evil, whatever the cost, will remain.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers):
It’s the beginning of the 1940s and Nazi Germany is at the peak of its power. Although not everyone living in Germany believed in the ideology that the Nazi party was the correct way of living. There was a courageous group of young individuals willing to stand up to this evil. Colleges have been a source of revolution and this book is no exception. Sophie and Hans start their plan as they drop pamphlets about the White Rose in their college. There were tremendous risks to make your voice heard. They always knew that if they were to get caught, they would be executed. Despite this, Sophie and Hans Scholl pick the greatest fight that one can partake in. 

Some more details about why Sophie and Hans picked this role would be appreciated. What caused them to take this dangerous mantle. The consequences are constantly being showed and it would add to their mystique. Those consequences are never forgotten. For each action that these individuals take, there is always someone or something lurking in the shadows. Being too loud attracts unwanted ears. Sophie’s father learns this lesson the hard way as he is jailed by the Gestapo.     

The executions should have been a moment of tremendous sorrow but it doesn’t deliver on that aspect. There is never a sense of why these people are so inflicted to fight for justice. The cause is great but there isn’t any reason why these people are the way they are. You have a brother and sister but there isn’t any sense that there is a family relationship. Even the moment when their father, Robert Scholls, is arrested has no emotional backbone. That moment should have been more of a tearjerker that was the last straw and set their resolve for justice. 

The art style for this book wonderfully depicts the injustices of the era. There are points where I feel like I’m reading a black and white comic book. The way Andrea Grosso Ciponte uses color takes his message to a new level. It’s why I was surprised as to how the color impacts the story.  

In Summary:
Freiheit: The White Rose is a riveting tale of one of the darkest periods of the 20th Century. The imagery paints a desolate image of this wickedness. There is always hope in the darkest of caves. It’s like uncovering a hidden page that has been largely hidden from history. The White Rose struggle adds a wonderful layer to this iniquitous period. This is a giant first step to uncovering more of this historical group but there is still so much that feels is missing from this chapter. Its subject matter isn’t the easiest to read about but it should be read to know about what the brave people did in the darkest of times.   

But this book never managed to create any emotional tether to the characters. It was never able to find a good pace for the story it’s telling. White Rose is promoted as a group that inspired a new generation of protestors. But it doesn’t go into much depth about how the new generation was inspired by them. There was only one page that shows minor results of their revolution. It never managed to find a voice. There needed to be an emotional hook to get me engrossed in Sophie and Hans’s struggle. Even though this story is from Sophie’s point of view, she remains an outsider to events going on around her. There is so much tragedy happening in her view and she has the motivation to great work but it never touched upon where this motivation comes from. When she was with her family, there could have a closeup to make her seem human. 

Grade: C

Age Rating: 13 and Up
Released By: Plough Publishing House
Release Date: February 16, 2021
MSRP: $24.00

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