When Truth Was Treason

German Youth against Hitler

Book Notice

When Truth Was Treason: German Youth against Hitler, compiled, translated, and edited by Blair R. Holmes and Alan F. Keele (University of Illinois Press, 1995)

What we have learned to the present in articles, books, plays, and lectures of what is now being called the Helmuth Hübener Group might be called the popular Hübener. When Truth Was Treason is the scholar’s Hübener. The story of the young LDS Helmuth Hübener’s resistance to Hitler is told by the last living member of the group, Karl-Heinz Schnibbe. It is a gripping story that takes 141 pages in the telling. The remainder of the 425 pages in the book are photos, documents, notes, and index—all of which provide a fascinating supplement to the story itself.

The foreword by Klaus J. Hansen gives us an insightful look at Germany during the war from one who was there to experience it, and the introduction by Holmes and Keele is a timely contradiction to the current notion receiving so much publicity that the “German nation, as a whole, ‘voluntarily associated themselves with or submitted out of cowardice to the tyrannical rule of criminals’” (xxi). The seventy-four documents lead us from the “‘Decree about Extraordinary Radio Measures’” (document 1) adopted by the Nazis in 1939, through the “Nazi party report about the discovery of a Hübener leaflet” (document 5), to the “Nazi party report about the character of Johann Schnibbe” (document 17), through nineteen of Hübener’s leaflets and flyers, to a letter from Helmuth. His letter to “Dear Sister Sommerfeld and Family” contains the poignant opening lines: “When you receive this letter I will be dead. But before my execution I have been granted one wish, to write three letters to my loved ones” (240). The documents even contain the “detailed official report of Hübener’s execution” (document 62) with the Nazi’s grizzly insistence on exactness and detail.

The book contains 102 pages of notes on the text and 32 pages of index. When Truth Was Treason will become the official story of the Helmuth Hübener Group and will remain so for some time to come.


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