Sophie Scholl particpated in the The White Rose resistance movement, along with her brother Hans, during World War II in Germany. I had actually seen a film about the White Rose at the International Cinema when I was in college, and then several years ago, I read a book about Sophie and the White Rose, so I was familiar with the story.
Sophie and Hans Scholl honored on a stamp.
In 1942, Hans Scholl (Sophie's brother) and some friends from the University of Munich started a resistance movement which Sophie (also a student at the university) joined. Over a period of about 8 months, this group produced and distributed leaflets that called for the German people to actively oppose the Nazi regime. One of the six leaflets they produced called for "Freedom of speech, freedom of religion, and protection of the individual citizen from the arbitrary action of criminal dictator-states." The pamphlets drew quite a bit of attention (anywhere from 6,000 to 9,000 copies of the fifth pamphlet were distributed in multiple cities, mostly by mail). The production and distribution of these leaflets was quite a feat given the difficulty of acquiring paper, stamps, and the equipment to make copies in war-time Germany. The Gestapo was working hard to find and punish the perpetrators.
Spoiler Alert: the film is titled "Sophie Scholl: The Final Days." It takes place during the distribution of the sixth leaflet and shows Sophie's capture, interrogation, and trial. Sophie and Hans Scholl, along with fellow-resistor, Christoph Probst were executed on February 22, 1943.
Hans Scholl, Sophie Scholl, and Christoph Probst.
Is the film worth a look? Most definitely! This film was nominated for an Oscar in 2006 for Best Foreign Film. The acting is superb. I loved this film for several reasons.
- The historical account is fascinating, and much of this film is taken from transcripts of the trial and eyewitness accounts. The film manages to capture the drama and suspense of the events.
- I think it is important to recognize that many Germans were not complacent during Hitler's rule in Germany, and not only knew what was going on, but were trying to unite other Germans to act against Hitler.
- Freedom of speech is something that is easy to take for granted here in America. Hans and Sophie Scholl and Christoph Probst were executed for speaking freely...a right that had been theirs in Germany prior to Hitler's rise to power.
- This film makes me question what my actions would have been in similar circumstances. Would I have acted to reclaim freedoms of speech and religion? Would I have spoken out against the murder of fellow citizens? This is a very thought-provoking film.
- Sophie Scholl was an incredibly intelligent and articulate young woman, and this film portrays those qualities.She and the other members of the White Rose were not trying to be cast as heroes. They simply wanted to do the right thing. Watching Sophie (played by Julia Jentsch) handle her interrogation and trial with strength and dignity is amazing.
Sophie Scholl was only 21 years old. Her brother Hans was 24. As Sophie walked to her death, she said "The sun still shines."
Yes, Sophie, 72 years after your death, the sun still shines on you and others like you who stand for what is right with courage and grace.
For more information on Sophie Scholl and The White Rose, check out these links: