The Ties That Bind: the Family Life of Christoph Probst and Its Influence on His Actions with the White Rose

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The Ties that Bind: The family life of Christoph Probst and its Influence on his actions with The White Rose

Laura Phillips
UH – 120
November 22, 2010

Family is an important part of any childhood development. The environment we grow up in shapes our moral code, our judgments, our thoughts, our actions… the list goes on. How we are raised, the beliefs of our parents, the experiences we have all play an integral part in the formation of a person’s character, of their courage, of their spirit. Christoph Probst was one man who took what he learned from his family to heart, maintaining a strong personality through a difficult era, while risking (and eventually giving) everything he had to stand up for a cause he believed in. Christoph Probst’s early family life was anything but smooth. Born on November 6, (or 16 or 11 depending on the source) 1919 to Hermann Probst and Karin Kleeblat, Christoph began his schooling at home and at an early age (Karin had a teaching certification). This teaching continued until he was around 10 (Sachs 63). It was through his homeschooling that he learned about cultural and religious freedoms, and their importance. Hermann Probst, the son of a merchant family, was a “giant of a man who loved his books [and] his families” (Sachs 63). As a private scholar of Asian Culture and Eastern Religions, and Sanskrit researcher, Christoph’s father disapproved of Hitler and his actions yet chose to distance himself from politics. Rather, as an aesthete, Hermann Probst associated himself with the intellects and artists of Munich, including Paul Klee and Emil Nolde, both of whom were eventually banned from Germany (Dumbach 69). Hermann engaged his young son in “profound spiritual-intellectual conversations” which “gave [Christoph’s] natural curiosity ever new sustenance” (Sachs 154). These conversations and experiences would truly explain the great influence Hermann Probst had on his son: he was Christoph’s “great, beloved, and adored Father” (Sachs 64). It is suitable, then, that Christoph’s second name was that of the man he revered most. While Christoph was not brought up under a formal religion, his home environment encouraged “exploration, inquisitive searching, and tolerance”, broadened by his father’s fascination with the Eastern Religions (Sachs 63). “The bookshelves were filled with volumes concerning the Mahabharata and the Bhagavad Gita” (Dumbach 69). It was this fascination and the thought that his son should have a “melodious Indian name” which encouraged Hermann’s third addition: Ananda (Sachs 156). However, Christoph’s parents divorced when he was young, most likely due to Hermann’s constant battles with mental illness (which his children – Christoph and Angelika – likely knew nothing about). In 1928 Hermann remarried Elisabeth (Elise) Rosenthal, a friend of Karin, and a Jew. Karin married Eugen Sasse. They had one son together, Dietrich Sasse, who greatly admired his older step brother (Sachs 63). After his parent’s divorce, Christoph and Angelika alternated living with their parents, although the majority of their time was spent with their mother. From 1930 to 1932, Christoph lived in Nuremberg and Munich with his mother and stepfather, and enrolled in the city’s Humanistic Gymnasium. While not fond of the changes involved, including overcrowding associated with the ‘public’ school, the young student managed to excel in all subjects save mathematics. In 1932, after separating from Sasse, Karin Kleeblatt moved her children to Chiemagau and registered both of her children at a rural boarding school in Marquartstein, as nonresident students (Sachs 63). Here, Karin hoped that her children would receive a more liberal education, closer to the ideals she had already started to teach and instill in her children. In 1935, however, the headmaster began to implement changes to the school that would further the National Socialist Ideals. These new guidelines would further restrict the...
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