Sophie Scholl's 90th Birthday
By Tommy Bobo on 05/09/2011 @ 04:30 PM
I assume that everyone reading this has a favorite person of peace from history. Today would have been my favorite war resisters 90th birthday, if she had not been killed by those she opposed.
Sophie Scholl was born on May 9, 1921 in Forchtenberg, Germany. She grew up in the Lutheran family that was very vocal in their opposition of the rise of the Nazi Party. She and her brother Hans paid the ultimate price for their beliefs.
Copyright © United States Holocaust Memorial Museum
While in college in Munich the Scholls along with their friends wrote and disseminated six anti-war leaflets under the name White Rose. The leaflets were distributed throughout Germany via anonymous mailings. They also painted graffiti around Munich with messages such as “Freedom” and “Down with Hitler”.
On February 18, 1943 Sophie and Hans brought a suitcase full of leaflets to a university building. As students left their classrooms they found stacks of leaflets by the doors and on the railing. Sophie at the last possible moment threw a stack off of the top floor into the atrium below. She and her brother were turned in to the Gestapo by the building’s janitor.
On February 22nd they along with collaborator Christoph Probst were sentenced to death and were behead the same day. Sophie’s last words were:
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?
After her death the last White Rose leaflet reached the Allied Forces who copied it and was dropped by aircraft across Germany.
Sophie, Hans, Christoph and the other involved in the White Rose have numerous memorials in their memory across Germany.
What makes the story of White Rose so engaging to me is that I first read about them when I was in college and their age. It really made me examine how I acted on my beliefs doing my time in school. Had I and those around me done enough to protest the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan? How would I have responded if the stakes were as high as they were for the Scholls?
Also, if you are looking for a movie to watch tonight I would recommend Sophie Scholl: The Final Days. It is based on the Gestapo records of her capture and interrogation. It was nominated for the Oscar for the Best Foreign Language Film in 2005.
I would love to find out which peaceniks and activists you admire. Please let me know in the comments.