Sophie Scholl

Sophie Scholl

Sophia Magdalena Scholl (9 May 1921 - 22 February 1943) was a member of the White Rose non-violent resistance movement in Nazi Germany. She was convicted of treason after having been found distributing anti-war leaflets at the University of Munich with her brother Hans. As a result, they were both executed by guillotine.

Since the 1970s, Scholl has been celebrated as one of the great German heroes who actively opposed the Third Reich during the Second World War. [ [ Berlin cheers for anti-Nazi film] 14 February 2005]

Early life

Sophie's father was the mayor of "Forchtenberg am Kocher" when she was born. Sophie was the fourth of five children:
# Inge Aicher-Scholl (1917-1998) [ [ Inge Aicher-Scholl] 6 September 1998] [cite web|url=|title=Inge Scholl: "Die Weiße Rose"]
# Hans Scholl (1918-1943)
# Elisabeth Hartnagel (* 1920), married Sophie's long-term boyfriend, Fritz Hartnagel.
# Sophie (1921-1943)
# Werner Scholl (1922, missing in action since June 1944)Sophie was brought up a Lutheran. She entered junior/grade school at the age of seven, learned easily and had a carefree childhood. In 1930 the family moved to Ludwigsburg and then two years later to Ulm where her father had a business consulting office.

In 1932, Scholl started attending a secondary school for girls. At the age of twelve, she was required to join the "Bund Deutscher Mädel" (League of German Girls), like most of her classmates, but her initial enthusiasm gradually gave way to criticism. She was aware of the dissenting political views of her father, of friends, and also of some teachers. Political attitude had become an essential criterion in her choice of friends. The arrest of her brothers and friends in 1937 for participating in the German Youth Movement left a strong impression on her.

She had a talent for drawing and painting and for the first time came into contact with a few so-called 'degenerate' artists. An avid reader, she developed a growing interest in philosophy and theology. This was her alternative world to fascist National Socialism.

In the spring of 1940, she graduated from secondary school. The subject of her essay was 'The Hand that Moved the Cradle, Moved the World.' Being fond of children, she became a kindergarten teacher at the Fröbel Institute in Ulm-Söflingen. She had also chosen this kindergarten job hoping that it would be recognized as an alternate service to "Reichsarbeitsdienst" (National Labor Service), a prerequisite to be admitted to the University. This was not the case, though, and in the spring of 1941 she began a six month stint in the auxiliary war service as a nursery teacher in Blumberg. The military-like regimen of the Labor Service caused her to think very hard about the political situation as well as to begin practising passive resistance.

After her six months in the National Labor Service, in May 1942, she enrolled at the University of Munich as a student of biology and philosophy. Her brother Hans, who was studying medicine there, introduced her to his friends. Although this group of friends was eventually known for their political views, they were initially drawn together by a shared love of art, music, literature, philosophy and theology. Hiking in the mountains, skiing and swimming were also of importance. They often attended concerts, plays and lectures together.

In Munich, Scholl met a number of artists, writers and philosophers, particularly Carl Muth and Theodor Haecker, who were important contacts for her. The question that they pondered the most was how the individual must act under a dictatorship. During the summer vacation in 1942, Scholl had to do war service in a metallurgical plant in Ulm. At the same time, her father was serving time in prison for a critical remark about Hitler to an employee.

The White Rose

In the early summer of 1942, a group of young men — including Willi Graf, Christoph Probst and Hans Scholl — co-authored six anti-Nazi political resistance leaflets. Calling themselves the White Rose, they instructed Germans to passively resist the Nazis. They had been horrified by the behaviour of the Germans on the Eastern Front where they had witnessed a group of naked Jews being shot in a pit.

Contrary to popular belief, Sophie Scholl was not a co-author of the articles. Her brother had been initially keen to keep her ignorant of their activities, but once she discovered his activities, she joined him and proved highly valuable to the group: as a woman, her chances of being randomly stopped by the SS were much smaller. She and rest of the White Rose were arrested for distributing the sixth leaflet at the University of Munich on 18 February 1943.

In the People's Court before the notorious Judge Roland Freisler on 21 February 1943, Scholl was recorded as saying "Somebody, after all, had to make a start. What we wrote and said is also believed by many others. They just do not dare express themselves as we did." Scholl's and her brother's defiance, in the face of terrifying consequences, gained them enormous admiration.weasel word

On 22 February 1943, Sophie Scholl, her brother Hans and their friend Christoph Probst were found guilty of treason and condemned to death. They were all beheaded by executioner Johann Reichhart in Munich's Stadelheim Prison only a few hours later at 17:00hrs. The execution was supervised by Dr. Walter Roemer who was the enforcement chief of the Munich district court. Prison officials, in later describing the scene, emphasized the courage with which she walked to her execution. Her last words were, partially, "Die Sonne scheint noch"—"The sun still shines" while her full comments were as follows: "How can we expect righteousness to prevail when there is hardly anyone willing to give himself up individually to a righteous cause. Such a fine, sunny day, and I have to go. But what does my death matter, if through us thousands of people are awakened and stirred to action?" [ [ Raoul Wallenberg Foundation] ] [ [ Spartacus schoolnet] Quote: "Else Gebel shared Sophie Scholl's cell and recorded her last words before being taken away to be executed. It is such a splendid sunny day, and I have to go. But how many have to die on the battlefield in these days, how many young, promising lives. What does my death matter if by our acts thousands are warned and alerted. Among the student body there will certainly be a revolt."]


Following her death, a copy of the sixth leaflet was smuggled out of Germany through Scandinavia to the UK by German jurist Helmuth von Moltke, where it was exploited by the Allied Forces. In mid-1943, they dropped millions of propaganda copies over Germany of the tract, now retitled "The Manifesto of the Students of Munich."

The White Rose's legacy has, for many commentators, an intangible quality. Playwright Lillian Garrett-Groag stated in "Newsday" on 22 February 1993, that "It is possibly the most spectacular moment of resistance that I can think of in the 20th century... The fact that five little kids, in the mouth of the wolf, where it really counted, had the tremendous courage to do what they did, is spectacular to me. I know that the world is better for them having been there, but I do not know why."

In the same issue of "Newsday", Holocaust historian Jud Newborn noted that "You cannot really measure the effect of this kind of resistance in whether or not X number of bridges were blown up or a regime fell... The White Rose really has a more symbolic value, but that's a very important value."


On 22 February 2003, a bust of Sophie Scholl was placed by the government of Bavaria in the Walhalla temple in her honour.

The Geschwister-Scholl-Institut for Political Science at the Ludwig Maximilians University of Munich is named in honour of Sophie and her brother Hans. The institute is home to the university's political science and communication departments, and is housed in the former Radio Free Europe building close to the city's Englischer Garten. There is also an ongoing effort to rename the Ludwig Maximilians University of Munich into "Geschwister Scholl University of Munich" by the LMU Students' Committee (AStA).

Over the last four decades many local schools as well as countless streets and squares in Germany have been named after Sophie Scholl and her brother.

In 2003, Germans were invited by ZDF Television to participate in a nation-wide competition to choose the top ten most important Germans of all time. Voters under the age of 40 helped catapult Sophie and her brother Hans Scholl into fourth place, winning over Bach, Goethe, Gutenberg, Bismarck, Willy Brandt and Albert Einstein. If the votes of young viewers alone had been counted, Sophie and Hans Scholl would have been ranked first. Several years earlier, readers of "Brigitte Magazine", one of Germany's leading magazines for young women, voted Sophie Scholl "the greatest woman of the twentieth century," winning over such figures as Madeleine Albright and Madonna.

Film, book and theatrical portrayals

In February 2005, a movie about Scholl's last days, "Sophie Scholl – Die letzten Tage" (""), featuring actress Julia Jentsch in the title role, was released. Drawing on interviews with survivors and transcripts that had remained hidden in East German archives until 1990, it was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film in January 2006. In an interview, Jentsch said that the role was "an honour." [cite web|url=|title=Es war uns eine Ehre, Sophie Scholl zu sein|year=2005
[ (English translation by Google)]
] For her portrayal of Scholl, she won the best actress at the European Film Awards, best actress at the German Film Awards (Lolas), along with the Silver Bear for best actress at the Berlin Film Festival.

Jud Newborn and Annette Dumbach's 1986 book about the White Rose, "Shattering the German Night" (Little, Brown) was reissued in an expanded, updated and illustrated edition in 2006, "Sophie Scholl and the White Rose", to accompany the new film's release and provide an account of the history behind the White Rose.

There were three earlier film accounts of the White Rose resistance. The first film was financed by the Bavarian state government and released in the 1970s, entitled "Das Versprechen" ("The Promise"). In 1982, Percy Adlon's "Fünf letzte Tage" ("Five Last Days") presented Lena Stolze as Sophie in her last days from the point of view of her cellmate Else Gebel. In the same year, Stolze repeated the role in Michael Verhoeven's "Die Weiße Rose" ("The White Rose").

American playwright Lillian Garrett-Groag's play "The White Rose" features Sophie Scholl as a major character.


ee also

*White Rose
*German Resistance
*Johann Reichhart
*"Die Weiße Rose" (1982 film)
*"Sophie Scholl - The Final Days" (2005 film)

External links

* [ Shoah Education website article, Sophie Scholl and the White Rose]
* [ Inheritance Inge Aicher-Scholl (ED 474) im Archiv des Instituts fuer Zeitgeschichte Muenchen-Berlin (Institute of Contemporary History Munich/Germany)]
* [ "The Geschwister-Scholl-Institut"]
* [ Sophie Scholl's time in Ludwigsburg (in German and English)]
* [ Sophie Scholl Biography and Memorial]

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