‘Scenes of Resistance’ mural to commemorate Margaretha Rothe
In 2002, 24 students from the Margaretha Rothe Secondary School were inspired to research the biography of the Hamburg resistance fighter after whom their school was named. They wanted create a lasting memorial to her. Based on a dramatic reading developed by one of the teachers at the school and used in the classroom, the students designed and produced fourteen illustrated panels in their art course. The panels were permanently installed in the school hall. Each panel is one square metre in size, and together they tell the story of Margaretha Rothe’s life in the style of a black-and-white graphic novel. The art course received the Bertini Prize for this work in 2002.
In honour of Margaretha Rothe’s 100th birthday in 2019, two students expanded the memorial by adding 15 more panels. The new scene depicts Traute Lafrenz, one of Margaretha Rothe’s friends, who carried flyers printed by the White Rose resistance movement from Munich to Hamburg.
The life of Margaretha Rothe
Margaretha Rothe was born in Hamburg in 1919. She was a student at the Lichtwarkschule and joined an opposition reading group led by the teacher Erna Stahl in 1936. She later studied medicine and formed a resistance group with her fellow students which was in contact with the White Rose group in Munich. Margaretha Rothe and her group distributed leaflets which listed the frequencies of foreign radio stations, as well as anti-Nazi flyers created by Hans and Sophie Scholl. The members of her group were arrested by the Gestapo on 9 November 1943 and accused of ‘high treason’ and ‘undermining military morale’. Margaretha Rothe was imprisoned first in Hamburg-Fuhlsbüttel and then in Leipzig, where she contracted tuberculosis and died on 15 April 1945.
Remembering Margaretha Rothe
The first public tributes to Margaretha Rothe’s resistance group appeared in the 1970s and 1980s. A memorial plaque was dedicated in the main auditorium (Audimax) of the University of Hamburg in 1971, and a street in Hamburg-Niendorf was named Margaretha-Rothe-Weg in 1982. In 1987, a building in the grounds of the University Medical Centre in Hamburg-Eppendorf was named Geussenhainer-Rothe-Haus in honour of Margarethe Rothe and Friedrich Geussenhainer, who died in the Mauthausen concentration camp in 1945. And the secondary school in Barmbek-Nord was named after Margaretha Rothe in 1988.
On the initiative of students from the Alstertal and Margaretha Rothe secondary schools, a monument was also erected in 2004 in the Garden of Women memorial complex at the Ohlsdorf Cemetery.