Wilhelm Geyer and other Ulmers

Start this bit of exploration at the white Bauhaus structure (city information) across from the Münster.

Interior of Münster in Ulm

A little-known but interesting tidbit about this building: In 1937, Wilhelm Geyer participated in a funny, satirical, but halfway serious “vision thing” for Ulm. His sketch included green belts and parks, precisely where Ulm has installed them since the war. And a white Bauhaus structure across from the Münster. Only difference, he thought it would be a parking garage, not the tourism center. The resemblance to his sketch is eerily accurate.

Of course while you’re here, be sure to tour the Münster itself. (Look for Wilhelm Geyer’s stained glass window, his postwar contribution.) Take time to listen to the porcelain bells on the nearby store, buy ice cream, soak in the beauty of this plaza. It was much different in 1943, since traffic passed through here. Still, Münsterplatz has always been Ulm’s heartbeat.

Before leaving the general area, ask someone to point you to Ulm’s Neuer Bau located at Münsterplatz 47. Built in 1584-1593, this unusual complex served as Ulm’s Gestapo headquarters. It was here that Hans Hirzel was called on February 17 after having been denounced, and here that Wilhelm Geyer reported when he came under suspicion.

Now walk either side of the Münster until you reach Hafenbad; at Neue Straße, Hafenbad street is known as Kramgasse. Turn left onto Hafenbad. Hans Hirzel’s good friend Kurt Glöckler lived at Hafenbad 6. Hans Hirzel borrowed Kurt’s brother’s typewriter for use in addressing envelopes to mail the White Rose leaflets.

The Glöckler’s home was location of Kurt Glöckler’s laboratory. In addition to normal chemistry experiments, the lab was used to hide some of Hans Hirzel’s “seditious” materials. And sadly, Hans Hirzel also used it to manufacture LSD-like hallucinogenics, to escape the reality of that era’s insanity.

Stay on Hafenbad until you reach Olgastraße, another major boulevard. As you turn left onto the street, envision it as it was in 1943, still a grand avenue, but with sidewalks and front yards and trees and bushes and flowers. . . Olga Straße used to be “the” address in Ulm. No wonder it was renamed Adolf-Hitler-Ring!

Ulm’s courthouse back in the day

Olgastraße 106 was and is site of Ulm’s courthouse. In the days before Hans and Sophie Scholl saw through National Socialism, while they were still gung-ho about Hitler Youth, Werner Scholl famously painted anti-Nazi graffiti on the “justice” statue in front of the courthouse. Which forever earned the respect of his friend Otl Aicher.

The next major cross street should be Syrlinstraße. Turn right. Syrlinstraße 16 was home to Wilhelm and Clara Geyer and their six children. The building was renovated in 1995, so it’s lost the appearance of those years. (It is also possible that house numbers on the street have changed. Syrlinstraße 16 should be directly across the street from the park.) Clara Geyer recalled climbing the stairs to their third floor apartment, neighbors shunning her, refusing to help with the children, simply because her husband was under suspicion of treason. It didn’t help matters when everyone learned he would likely get the death sentence!

Stay on Syrlinstraße until you reach Kurze Straße. Take a left, then an immediate right onto Bodenstraße. Walter Hetzel, another close friend of Hans Hirzel and Heinrich Guter, lived at Bodenstraße 5.

Turn right on Karlstraße. You will cross Syrlinstraße again. This is not the tourist part of Ulm! But if you wish to get a feel for the city, this is part of the experience.

At Keplerstraße, take a right. Heinrich Guter lived at Keplerstraße 17. In addition to being one of the young high school boys convicted in the April 19, 1943 White Rose trial, Guter’s family was well-known for its anti-Nazi sentiments. When he applied to join Hitler Youth, they turned him down! He was not Nazi enough.

Not far past Guter’s childhood home, turn left on Zeitblomstraße. A tiny street to begin with, it turns into a one-block pedestrian zone. Zeitblomstraße dead-ends at Frauenstraße and one of Ulm’s prettiest “church complexes.”

You will find yourself standing across from the Pauluskirche, with its twin Middle Eastern spires. Sophie Scholl was confirmed in this church. She caused quite a stir when she showed up for that solemn ritual wearing her Jungmädel uniform. Against church regulations!

It’s worth the extra time to go inside this church. The stained glass windows (modern) add beauty, but otherwise it’s rather stark. Seeing this church—the only Lutheran church Sophie Scholl is known to have attended—you’ll comprehend why the color and vibrancy of nearby St. Georg and Otl Aicher’s church in Söflingen appealed to her on an emotional level.

If you are not in a hurry, stroll through the cemetery in this church complex. The tombstones provide a snapshot of Ulm’s long history.

Stay on Frauenstraße until you’re back at Olgastraße. Turn left, and you will be facing St. Georg, a Catholic church renowned not only for its beauty, but for the general courage of its parishioners during the Third Reich. Wilhelm Geyer and his family attended Mass here (the family still does, despite now living quite a distance from this church). It was home to a group of rebellious boys who refused to join Hitler Youth, and who suffered Hans Scholl’s wrath and beatings for non-compliance.

Next to St. Georg church on Olgastraße is the bishop’s residence. And directly next to it: The Scholls’ second home in Ulm. They lived in this apartment from Spring of 1934 to May of 1939. In 1934, the address was Olgastraße 81. House numbers changed in 1937—it’s now Olgastraße 139, next to the bishop’s residence.

Second Scholl residence in Ulm

The Scholls lived on the second floor, facing the street. Again, imagine the balcony overlooking a green belt with front yard and garden. The neighborhood has greatly changed through the years.

According to Ulm’s archives, the Scholls were the only non-Jewish family living in the building. They moved out shortly after Kristallnacht to a more “Aryan” part of the city.

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