Traute Lafrenz Page was the last survivor of a non-violent resistance movement in Nazi Germany. On 6 March 2023, she died of natural causes at her farm in Yonges Island, S.C. aged 103.

Born Traute Lafrenz in Hamburg, Germany, Traute was a medical student in Munich when she became acquainted with other medical students like the Scholl siblings who opposed the Nazi regime. She and Hans Scholl were briefly romantically involved. Together they formed the Weisse Rose (White Rose). The students and one professor at the University of Munich (Willi GrafKurt HuberChristoph ProbstAlexander SchmorellHans Scholl, and Sophie Scholl) began producing and distributing leaflets urging Germans to rise up in peaceful opposition to the Nazis. “Out of their readings of great writers evolved the initial idea about putting together these pamphlets that were focused on not only rebuking the Nazis but also invoking great names in literature and philosophy, and also rebuking the German people for not standing up,” Lafrenz Page’s daughter said.

Hans and Sophie Scholl, were arrested in 1943, convicted of high treason, and executed. Lafrenz Page attended their funerals and soon was arrested on charges of association. During her interrogation by the Gestapo, Lafrenz Page succeeded in disguising the full extent of her involvement in the distribution of leaflets. She was sentenced to serve a year in prison. After her release was arrested again by the Gestapo and faced trial in April 1945. Her life was spared as an advancing US Army liberated the prison just days before her trial was to begin.

Traute Lafrenz Page (Family photo)

Traute Lafrenz Page (Family photo)

“She knew the date of that trial for a long time, maybe even a year before it came up,” Lafrenz Page’s daughter said. “So what carried through the time of imprisonment and these experiences was the idea that the human spirit needed protection.”

After the war, Lafrenz Page completed her medical studies and moved to the US, where she served a medical residency in San Francisco and met her future husband, Vernon Page. He was an ophthalmologist who ran a medical practice in Hayfork, California, where she then practiced as a general practice physician. Traute hardly ever spoke about her involvement in the resistance against the Nazi regime and is quoted as saying; “Every complaint is forbidden in view of the fate of the others.”

Later, Lafrenz Page spent a year learning how to care for developmentally delayed children in Switzerland and became an enthusiast of Steiner’s anthroposophy. She began working as director of the Esperanza School in 1972. “She loved that work,” her daughter said. “On one level she just liked working with children, and on Marshfield, they also worked to address a child’s spirit, even if that child was handicapped or debilitated.”

In 2019, Lafrenz Page received the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany on the occasion of her 100th birthday. Her only Medline-listed article might provide some insight into her motivation in looking after disabled children:

This article examines the actions and testimonies of 14 nurses who killed psychiatric patients at the state hospital of Meseritz-Obrawalde in the Nazi ‘euthanasia’ program. The nurses provided various reasons for their decisions to participate in the killings. An ethical analysis of the testimonies demonstrates that a belief in the relief of suffering, the notion that the patients would ‘benefit’ from death, their selection by physicians for the ‘treatment’ of ‘euthanasia’, and a perceived duty to obey unquestioningly the orders of physicians were the primary ethical reasons that were stated for their behavior. However, 20 years had elapsed between the killings and the trial, thus giving ample opportunity for the defendants to develop comfortable rationales for their actions and for their attorneys to have observed successful defenses of others accused of euthanasia.

One Response to Traute Lafrenz Page (1919-2023)

  • At some point there maybe should be some discussion of the connections between the Nazis and anthroposophy, but this isn’t the time. Except perhaps to acknowledge that some who followed Steiner’s nonsense did so with good intentions and good consequences.

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