LET’S HEAR IT FOR THE GIRLS!
After the very sad events that happened in the school shooting in Florida and watching the young students organizing their protests and working for change, I decided that this month I would like to honor the very young women who sacrificed and worked to make changes in the lives of the citizens of planet earth. I came across the remarkable story of Sophie Scholl who has been quoted as saying:
“I’ll make no bargain with the Nazis.”
In 1942, anti-Nazi pamphlets titled “Flyers from the White Rose” began appearing overnight in public spaces around the Munich area. Thousands of leaflets distributed across Germany urged the German people to resist the Nazi system, openly denouncing the Führer (“Every word that comes from Hitler’s mouth is a lie!”) and boldly warning the regime: “We will not be silent. We are your bad conscience. The White Rose will not leave you in peace!”
The flyers attempted to encourage active opposition and dissent in a time when most German citizens seemed complacent or resigned to Hitler’s rule. Writing that “our present state is the dictatorship of evil”, one White Rose pamphlet asked:
Why do you allow these men who are in power to rob you step by step, openly and in secret, of one domain of your rights after another, until one day nothing at all will be left but a mechanized state system presided over by criminals? Is your spirit already so crushed by abuse that you forget it is your right — or rather, your moral duty — to eliminate this system?
This peaceful White Rose resistance movement — named after a symbol intended to represent purity and innocence in the face of evil — was founded, organized, and led by five German young people, including 20-year-old Munich University student Sophie Scholl.
As a teen, Sophie had initially joined the female wing of the Hitler Youth movement, the German Girls League, and even became a Squad Leader at the height of Hitler’s rise in 1935 — but it wasn’t long before she began to question and rebel. When her Jewish friends (already forbidden to join the League with her) began to disappear, and after being reprimanded for reading passages from a banned book by the Jewish writer Heinrich Heine to a group of younger girls, Sophie wrote in her diary of the deep depression she felt under the ‘nightmare’ of Nazi rule. In 1939, she went for a walk with her older sister, who said, “Hopefully there will be no war.” Sophie replied, “I hope there will be. Hopefully someone will stand up to Hitler.”
The outbreak of World War II came only a few months later, and Sophie’s boyfriend Fritz left to fight on the Eastern Front. His letters home, detailing war crimes carried out by German soldiers, were horrifying — and the more Sophie learned of Nazi atrocities in the East, the more her disillusionment and despair hardened into determination. After her father was arrested for speaking out against Hitler at his workplace, Sophie crept onto her university campus in the middle of the night to write “freedom” on the wall. Soon, an opportunity arose to channel her anger at the Nazi regime into organized, non-violent resistance: together with her brother Hans, she joined the White Rose, purchased an illegal typewriter, and threw herself into the writing and guerilla distribution of the pamphlets.
It was while scattering the group’s sixth leaflet that Sophie and Hans were spotted by the campus janitor, who called the Gestapo on the Scholl siblings and held them until the secret police arrived. Under interrogation, Sophie was offered a reduced sentence if she would admit that her brother had led her astray. She refused, saying, “I won’t betray my brother or my principles. I’ll make no bargain with the Nazis.”
Appearing in court with a broken leg, Sophie faced her hearing with typical unflinching courage. “What we wrote and said is also believed by many others,” she proclaimed. “What does my death matter, if through us, thousands of people are awakened and stirred to action?”
The defendants were allowed no testimony, but Sophie’s sole statement during her trial is a testament to her fearless resolve: “Time and time again one hears it said that since we have been put into a conflicting world, we have to adapt to it. Oddly, this completely un-Christian idea is most often espoused by so-called Christians, of all people. How can we expect righteousness to prevail when there is hardly anyone who will give himself up to a righteous cause? I did the best that I could do for my nation. I therefore do not regret my conduct and will bear the consequences.”
Alongside Hans and their fellow White Rose member Cristoph Probst, Sophie was convicted of high treason and sentenced to execution by guillotine. Her indictment read:
She admits to having taken part in the preparing and distributing of leaflets. Together with her brother she drafted the text of the seditious ‘Leaflets of the Resistance in Germany’. In addition, she had a part in the purchasing of paper, envelopes and stencils, and together with her brother she actually prepared the duplicated copies of this leaflet. She put the prepared leaflets into various mailboxes, and she took part in the distribution of leaflets in Munich.
On the back of her copy of the indictment, Sophie wrote “freedom”.
Before her beheading on February 22, 1943 —at the age of 21 years old — Sophie described a dream that she’d had the night before her trial. “It was a sunny day,” she recounted. “I was carrying a child, in a long white dress, to be christened. The path to the church led up a steep slope, but I held the child firmly. Then suddenly, a crevasse opened at my feet, gradually gaping wider and wider. I was able to put the child down safely before plunging into the abyss. The child is our idea. In spite of all obstacles, it will prevail.”
Today, the legacy of the White Rose movement lives on around the world as an enduring tribute to the moral courage of those willing to take a stand against any kind of tyranny, at any cost. Sophie and her fellow members of the White Rose resistance are remembered today as heroes in Germany — but the only surviving member, Franz Müller, says of his friends, “Hans and Sophie Scholl really did not want to be heroes. Friendship and freedom were the values most important to them.”
After the war — after the full extent of the Nazi atrocities became clear to all — Hitler’s personal secretary, Traudl Junge, recalled, “I was satisfied that I wasn’t personally to blame and that I hadn’t known about those things. I wasn’t aware of the extent. But one day I went past the memorial plaque which had been put up for Sophie Scholl, and I saw that she was born the same year as me, and she was executed the same year I started working for Hitler. And at that moment I actually sensed that it was no excuse to be young.”
As we look to history for lessons and inspiration, it is worth remembering the bravery of free-thinking, freedom-loving Sophie, and her refusal to look away or be silent.
SOPHIE SCHOLL YOU ROCK!
The information came from Wikipedia.
I invite you to leave a link to a post about a remarkable woman, young woman, girl in the comments section.