The “how-to” behind WhiteRoseHistory.com

Posted on September 25, 2013

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WhiteRoseHistory.com represents the efforts of the Center for White Rose Studies to upload all primary source documentation into an online “database” – for additional research, as well as to support a more accurate version of White Rose resistance. It is fully searchable and permits the posting of questions or comments to each individual record.

Currently, we have 710 posts on that site, with approximately 6300 more to upload. The site’s tagline states: Documenting the true story of White Rose resistance for all the world to read. We invite our readers to read the ‘blog’ from the earliest posting (January 31, 1933, date that Hitler came to power) to the latest (October 12, 1943, date of Willi Graf’s execution).

While we list the sources and explain how to navigate the site, how the information is dated and uploaded may appear a bit mysterious. So it seems appropriate to explain for the benefit of our readers.

The Nitty Gritty

Step One: We save a COPY of the existing Word or Publisher document that has been published by Exclamation! Publishers. For example, the very first document we uploaded: Alexander Schmorell: Gestapo Interrogation Transcripts from the Russian military archives.

We saved a copy of that to our shared desktop. As we work on it, we ensure that page numbers stay the same as in our printed, hard copy version of the book. Those page numbers are critical to defining the “source” of each post or entry.

Step Two: We open our timeline (an Excel workbook). And occasionally (depending on what we’re uploading) we also open our Microsoft Access database.

Step Three: We post all documents to the most fundamental date. That is, Sophie Scholl’s second interrogation on February 18, 1943 is copied from the Word or Publisher document directly into WordPress, with date of February 18, 1943, time of 20:00 (to keep it in chronological order).

These documents are “footnoted” with e.g. Source: ZC13267 (195 – 198), where ZC13267 represents the shorthand name of the source document, and 195 – 198 the page numbers in our printed, hard copy version in English translation. We highlight the headings of each document with bright yellow, so we know what has been uploaded already (someone else can pick up easily at the point of the last entry).

Step Four: Once all documents have been fully uploaded, we go back to the beginning and make individual entries from the interrogations (or correspondence, or diaries) to the correct date and time-stamp for the event. For example, if Sophie Scholl talked about printing the fifth leaflet in her second interrogation, the section where she gives information about that event is entered at January 20, 1943, 23:30.

During this step, we are constantly referring to the timeline mentioned above, as well as to the Microsoft Access database. We’re trying to ensure consistency across the board.

Note that when Alexander Schmorell later speaks of printing the fifth leaflet, or when Gisela Schertling narrates what she observed, their interrogations likewise will appear both as the interrogation physically occurred, as well as at the January 20 date.

The more interrogations we upload, the more information you will see about (for example) the printing of the fifth leaflet, the early February meeting with Huber and Harnack, Alexander Schmorell’s leaflet run to Austria, and Sophie Scholl’s trip with leaflets to Augsburg and Ulm. Their story continually gains depth and complexity.

Step Five: When everything from a publication has been uploaded, we double-check to ensure that it is all “yellow” – meaning it’s been accounted for. Then we start over again with the next set of interrogation transcripts. Once we’ve finished all interrogation transcripts, we will start layering in their letters and diary entries – but as noted in copyright information, paraphrased only – with good footnotes regarding source.

This is extraordinarily time-consuming. But once it’s all uploaded, it should be a lasting contribution to White Rose research.

And as noted on the site, once we’ve finished uploading all the primary source materials, we will then upload Sachs’s White Rose Histories, linking to the primary sources on the WhiteRoseHistory.com site.

It’s hard to argue with facts.