Alexander Schmorell

Alexander Schmorell (16 September 1917 in Orenburg, Russia; – 13 July 1943 in Munich) was one of five Munich University students who formed a resistance group known as White Rose (Weiße Rose) which was active against Germany's Nazi regime from June 1942 to February 1943. In 2012, he was glorified as a saint and passion bearer by the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia.

Saint Alexander Schmorell
Saint and Passion bearer
Born16 September 1917
Orenburg, Russia
Died13 July 1943 (age 25)
Munich, Germany
Venerated inRussian Orthodox Church
Canonized5 February 2012, Munich, Germany by ROCOR
Major shrineCathedral of the Holy New-Martyrs and Confessors of Russia, Munich, Bavaria, Germany
Feast13 July

Early life

Schmorell's father was Hugo Schmorell, a German-born medical doctor who was raised in Russia. Schmorell's mother was Natalia Vedenskaya a Russian, the daughter of a Russian Orthodox priest. Schmorell was baptised in the Russian Orthodox Church. His mother died of typhus during the Russian Civil War when he was two years old. In 1920 his widowed father married a German woman, Elisabeth Hoffman, who, like him, grew up in Russia. They left Russia and moved to Munich, Germany, in 1921, when Schmorell was four years old. His Russian nanny, Feodosiya Lapschina, came along with them and she took his late mother's place in his upbringing. Alexander Schmorell grew up bilingual, speaking both German and Russian. His friends gave him the nickname 'Schurik', a nickname he would be called by his closer friends for the rest of his life.[1] He was an Eastern Orthodox Christian who considered himself both German and Russian. As declared in the Gestapo's interrogations, he was a convinced Tsarist and then an archenemy of the Bolsheviks.

Military service

After his Abitur (equivalent to high level High School diploma), he was called into the Reich Labour Service (Reichsarbeitsdienst) and then into the Wehrmacht (German Army during the Nazi era). In 1938, he took part in the annexation of Austria and eventually in the invasion of Czechoslovakia.

After his military service, the artistically gifted Alexander Schmorell began studies in medicine in 1939 in Hamburg. In the autumn of 1940, he went back with his student corps to Munich where he got to know Hans Scholl, and later Willi Graf. Together with Hans Scholl, Schmorell put together the White Rose's first four anti-Nazi leaflets. In the second leaflet Schmorell wrote a passage containing an outcry against the Holocaust.

The Russian front

In June 1942, Schmorell took part as a medical auxiliary in the campaign on the Eastern Front, together with Hans Scholl, Willi Graf and Jürgen Wittenstein, and came to strongly oppose the Nazis' treatment of enemy soldiers and civilians. Once back from Russia, he continued his studies in Munich in 1942–1943.


In December 1942, Schmorell, along with Hans Scholl, sought contact with Professor Kurt Huber. Together in 1943 they wrote the fifth leaflet "Aufruf an alle Deutschen!" (Appeal to all Germans!), which Schmorell then distributed in Austrian cities. Along with Hans Scholl and Willi Graf, he also painted words such as "Nieder mit Hitler" (Down with Hitler) and "Freiheit" (Freedom) on house walls in Munich. It is suggested that he and Sophie Scholl (Hans' sister) shared a romance, although Sophie herself was previously engaged to Fritz Hartnagel. However, little evidence of this exists outside Lillian Groag's play The White Rose.

After the arrests of Christoph Probst and Hans and Sophie Scholl, Schmorell attempted to escape to Switzerland, but was eventually arrested on 24 February 1943, the day of his friends' funeral, after being recognized in an air raid shelter.

Trial and execution

Alexander Schmorell was sentenced to death on 19 April 1943 at the Volksgerichtshof (People's Court) in the second trial against the White Rose. In the letters he wrote from prison he tried to console his family and assured them that he was at peace with his fate and not fearful of death. On 13 July 1943, at the age of 25, Schmorell was put to death by guillotine along with Kurt Huber at the Munich-Stadelheim Prison.


Completing the act of canonization, Alexander was glorified as a saint and passion bearer by the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia in Munich, Germany on February 5, 2012.

In film

Schmorell was portrayed by Johannes Suhm in the film Sophie Scholl: The Final Days.


  1. ^ The White Rose Studies

Further reading

  • Perekrestov, Elena (2017). Alexander Schmorell: Saint of the German Resistance. Holy Trinity Publications. ISBN 978-0884654216.

External links

Carl Muth

Carl Borromäus Johann Baptist Muth (also Karl) (31 January 1867, Worms – 15 November 1944, Bad Reichenhall) was a German writer publisher, best known for founding and editing the religious and cultural magazine Hochland.

Christoph Probst

Christoph Ananda Probst (born 6 November 1919, Murnau am Staffelsee – 22 February 1943, Munich) was a German student of medicine and member of the White Rose (Weiße Rose) resistance group.

Eugen Grimminger

Franz Eugen Grimminger, (29 July 1892 – 10 April 1986) was a member of the White Rose resistance group in Nazi Germany.

Hochland (magazine)

Hochland was a German Catholic magazine, published in Munich from 1903 to 1941 and again from 1946 to 1971. Founded by Carl Muth, it was regarded critically by the church, and published work by authors regardless of denomination on topics related to religion and culture.

John Knittel

John Knittel, originally Hermann Emanuel Knittel (March 24, 1891 in Dharwar, India – April 26, 1970 in Maienfeld, Graubünden) was a Swiss writer.


Kommilitonen! (Young Blood!, or Student Activists, literally Fellow Students!) is an opera by Sir Peter Maxwell Davies. The libretto is by David Pountney, who was also the director of the premiere performances in March 2011.

Kurt Huber

Kurt Huber (24 October 1893 – 13 July 1943) was a university professor and resistance fighter with the anti-Nazi group White Rose. For his involvement he was imprisoned and guillotined.

List of Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich people

This is a list of people associated with Ludwig Maximilians University of Munich in Germany.


Neuhausen and Nymphenburg are boroughs of Munich, the capital of the German state of Bavaria. They had been merged into the borough 09 - Neuhausen-Nymphenburg (German: Stadtbezirk 09) in 1992. For further information on the Munich boroughs, see: Boroughs of Munich.

New Martyr

The title of New Martyr or Neomartyr (Greek: νεο-, neo, the prefix for "new"; and μάρτυς, martys, "witness") of the Eastern Orthodox Church was originally given to martyrs who died under heretical rulers or non-christian rulers in post-medieval period (the original martyrs being under pagans, mostly during Roman period). The Greek Orthodox Church traditionally gives the title of New Martyr to those who had been tortured and executed during the Ottoman rule (turkocracy) in order to avoid forced islamization. Later, various Christian Churches added to the list those martyred under Islam and various modern regimes, especially Communist ones, which espoused state atheism. Officially, the era of the New Martyrs begins with the fall of Constantinople in 1453. Among those commemorated are not only those who gave their lives in martyrdom, but also those who are accounted as confessors for the Orthodox Faith.

Some New Martyrs are anonymous or known with non-Christian names, as they died without being officially baptized. According to the Orthodox belief, they were baptized in their own blood when executed.

Passion bearer

In Eastern Christianity, a passion bearer (Russian: страстотéрпец, tr. strastoterpets, IPA: [strəstɐˈtʲɛrpʲɪts]) is one of the various customary titles for saints used in commemoration at divine services when honouring their feast on the Church Calendar; it is not generally used in the Latin Church.The term can be defined as a person who faces his or her death in a Christ-like manner. Unlike martyrs, passion bearers are not explicitly killed for their faith, though they hold to that faith with piety and true love of God. Thus, although all martyrs are passion bearers, not all passion bearers are martyrs.

Notable passion bearers include the brothers Boris and Gleb, Alexander Schmorell (member of the White Rose resistance movement), and the entire Imperial Family of Russia, executed by the Bolsheviks in 1918.

Saint Alexander

Saint Alexander may refer to one of several saints including:

Pope Alexander I (died 115), saint and pope

See Epipodius and Alexander for Saint Alexander, martyred in Lyon, 178 AD

Alexander of Rome (died c. 289) - Christian martyr

Alexander of Bergamo (died c. 303), patron saint of Bergamo; may have been a Roman soldier

Alexander of Constantinople (born between 237 and 244 - 337), bishop of Byzantium and the bishop of Constantinople

Alexander of Jerusalem (d. 251 AD), venerated as a Martyr and Saint by Eastern Orthodox Churches & Roman Catholic Church

Alexander Nevsky (1220 – 1263), Grand Prince of Novgorod and Vladimir

Alexander Sauli, the "Apostle of Corsica", (1535-1592), member of an illustrious Lombard family

Alexander of Comana (died 251), bishop of Comana

Pope Alexander I of Alexandria, Patriarch of Alexandria

Alexander Svirsky (1448 - 1533), Eastern Orthodox saint, monk and hegumen of Russian Orthodox Church

One of the seven sons of Felicitas of Rome (101–165)

Sisinnius, Martyrius and Alexander (died 405), martyrs

Saint Alexander, a companion of St. Victor of Marseilles (died 290)

Alexander Schmorell (1917-1943), member of the White Rose

Scott Lowell

Scott Lowell (born February 22, 1965 in Denver, Colorado) is an American actor best known for his role as Ted Schmidt on the Showtime drama Queer as Folk.

Sophie Scholl

Sophia Magdalena Scholl (9 May 1921 – 22 February 1943) was a German student and anti-Nazi political activist, active within the White Rose non-violent resistance group in Nazi Germany.She was convicted of high treason after having been found distributing anti-war leaflets at the University of Munich (LMU) with her brother, Hans. As a result, she was executed by guillotine. Since the 1970s, Scholl has been extensively commemorated for her anti-Nazi resistance work.

Sophie Scholl – The Final Days

Sophie Scholl – The Final Days (German: Sophie Scholl – Die letzten Tage) is a 2005 German historical drama film directed by Marc Rothemund and written by Fred Breinersdorfer. It is about the last days in the life of Sophie Scholl, a 21-year-old member of the anti-Nazi non-violent student resistance group the White Rose, part of the German Resistance movement. She was found guilty of high treason by the People’s Court and executed the same day, 22 February 1943.

The film was presented at the 65th Berlin International Film Festival in February 2005 and won Silver Bear awards for Best Director and Best Actress (Julia Jentsch). It was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film.

Stadelheim Prison

Stadelheim Prison (German: Justizvollzugsanstalt München), in Munich's Giesing district, is one of the largest prisons in Germany.

Founded in 1894, it was the site of many executions, particularly by guillotine during the Nazi period.

Susanne Hirzel

Susanne Zeller, née Hirzel (7 November 1921 in Untersteinbach – 4 December 2012), was a member of the resistance group "White Rose", for which she was arrested and convicted, but avoided the death penalty.

Traute Lafrenz

Traute Lafrenz (born May 3, 1919) is a German-American physician and anthroposophist, who was a member of the White Rose anti-Nazi group during World War II.She was born in Hamburg. Together with Heinz Kucharski, Lafrenz studied under Erna Stahl at the Lichtwark-Gymnasium, a liberal arts school in Hamburg. When coeducation was abolished in 1937, Lafrenz moved to a convent school, where she and classmate Margaretha Rothe graduated in Easter 1938. Together with Rothe, Lafrenz began to study medicine at the University of Hamburg in the summer semester of 1939. After the semester she worked in Pomerania, where she met Alexander Schmorell who had begun studying in the summer of 1939 at the Hamburg University's Medical School but continued his studies from 1939/40 in Munich.

In May 1941 Lafrenz moved to Munich to study there, where she got to know Hans Scholl and Christoph Probst. In her opposition to the Nazi regime, she found inspiration in the writings of Rudolf Steiner. She attended many talks and discussions of the White Rose group, including those with Kurt Huber. In late 1942 she brought the third White Rose flyer to Hamburg and redistributed them via her former classmate Heinz Kucharski. When on 18 February 1943 Hans and Sophie Scholl were arrested in Munich University, Traute Lafrenz also was put under investigation by the Gestapo. She was arrested shortly afterwards on 15 March, together with Alexander Schmorell and Kurt Huber and sentenced to one year in prison on 19 April 1943. During her interrogation by the Gestapo Lafrenz succeeded in disguising the full extent of her involvement in the leaflet distribution. After her release she was arrested again by the Gestapo and imprisoned again.In 1947 she emigrated to the United States, completing her medical studies at Saint Joseph's Hospital in San Francisco, California. After moving to Chicago, she served from 1972 to 1994 as head of Esperanza School, a private, therapeutic day school serving students with developmental disabilities between the ages of 5 and 21. She has been involved in the anthroposophical movement in the United States for more than half a century. She is now retired and lives on Yonges Island near Meggett, South Carolina.

White Rose

The White Rose (German: die Weiße Rose) was a non-violent, intellectual resistance group in the Third Reich led by a group of students and a professor at the University of Munich. The group conducted an anonymous leaflet and graffiti campaign that called for active opposition to the Nazi party regime. Their activities started in Munich on 27 June 1942, and ended with the arrest of the core group by the Gestapo on 18 February 1943. They, as well as other members and supporters of the group who carried on distributing the pamphlets, faced show trials by the Nazi People's Court (Volksgerichtshof), and many of them were sentenced to death or imprisonment.

The group wrote, printed and initially distributed their pamphlets in the greater Munich region. Later on, secret carriers brought copies to other cities, mostly in the southern parts of Germany. In total, the White Rose authored six leaflets, which were multiplied and spread, in a total of about 15,000 copies. They denounced the Nazi regime's crimes and oppression, and called for resistance. In their second leaflet, they openly denounced the persecution and mass murder of the Jews. By the time of their arrest, the members of the White Rose were just about to establish contacts with other German resistance groups like the Kreisau Circle or the Schulze-Boysen/Harnack group of the Red Orchestra. Today, the White Rose is well-known both within Germany and worldwide.

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