White Rose Honors Those Who Were Silenced
By Christine Vaughan
An interactive memorial that sits west of the Arts Building and honors the brave acts of a committed group of college students who were executed for peacefully resisting the Nazi regime in 1943 is in desperate need of repair. The Jewish Faculty-Staff Association hopes to restore the White Rose Memorial with the help of matching donations on Giving Day.
The White Rose Memorial, designed by a human development student in 2003, is one of the more than 100 programs and initiatives benefiting from CSUSM’s 2018 Giving Day on Tuesday, Nov. 27. For one day only, all gifts will be matched dollar for dollar thanks to Jack Raymond, chair of the CSUSM Foundation Board.
The public artwork features a white rose tree encased in steel bars with a ladle and a black steel bucket for water. Passersby are invited to water the plant. Over time, the metal bucket and ladle have rusted and corroded, and the memorial plaque is now almost illegible.
The cost for materials and labor is $4,600. The Department of Art, Media and Design and the Office of Inclusive Excellence have already pledged $500 each.
“This leaves us in need of $3,600 – but on Giving Day, we only need to raise $1,800 because every dollar will be matched,” said Hilary Taylor, president of the Jewish Faculty-Staff Association.
The $1,800 goal is especially meaningful to members of the Jewish Faculty-Staff Associaton. In Judaism, 18 is an auspicious number, signifying life.
“Given the current state of our nation and our world, it is imperative that we remain mindful that history can repeat itself when we don’t stand up for inclusion and justice,” said Taylor.
The White Rose Memorial was the brainchild of CSUSM student Cynthia Joseph, who was inspired by an art class taught by Andrea Liss in 2003 called “Holocaust art, film, and photography.”
The White Rose Society was a small group of non-Jewish medical students and professors from the University of Munich, who, in 1942 and 1943, denounced the Nazi movement’s enslavement and murder of the Jewish people. Their nonviolent resistance included distributing pamphlets they wrote advocating tolerance and justice. The founders, along with four other members of the White Rose Society, were caught and sentenced to death.
“My heart is full with gratitude that students who took my class, whose families did not experience the Holocaust, expressed deep empathy for those who did,” said Professor Andrea Liss. “Student artist Cynthia Joseph’s White Rose Memorial represents caring for life, standing up to racial hatred and honoring acts of bravery – actions that align directly with CSUSM’s mission.”
“I call it an iron vase,” said Joseph, referring to the steel case that surrounds the white rose tree. “It symbolizes the resistance to those who would deprive people of their personal freedoms. I invite people to water the plant, to add life.”
This year marked the 15th anniversary of the artwork’s installation and the 75th anniversary of the execution of the White Rose leaders. On May 1, the Jewish Faculty-Staff Association plans to re-commemorate the memorial for Yom Ha’Shoah, which translates loosely from Hebrew as the remembrance of the destruction and desolation, known broadly as Holocaust Remembrance Day.
At the time of its commissioning, one of the White Rose Society’s only surviving members, the late Dr. George Wittenstein, choose the quote that appears on the plaque: “And you should act as though all things German depended solely upon your actions and as though the responsibility were yours and yours alone.”
Make a gift today to support the White Rose Memorial. All gifts will be matched dollar for dollar on Tuesday, Nov. 27.
Christine Vaughan, Creative Communications Officer
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