9 May 2021 marks the 100th anniversary of the birth of Sophie Scholl, certainly the most famous member of the White Rose resistance circle. Sophie had been active in the Hitler Youth as a teenager, but she came to reject Nazism as she understood more about its ideology and saw how it marginalized and persecuted people. She finished secondary school in 1940 and, after compulsory labour service, began studying Biology and Philosophy at the Ludwig Maximilian University in Munich. Sophie loved literature, music, art, philosophy, and religion. In her letters she is sometimes serious and thoughtful, and at other times very funny and whimsical.
On Thursday 18 February 1943, Sophie and her brother Hans deposited copies of a resistance leaflet around the atrium at the entrance of the main university building in Munich. Sophie, in what she later described in her Gestapo interrogation as the result of either ‘high spirits’ or ‘foolishness’, pushed one of the piles of leaflets over the balustrade and the sheets of paper cascaded down into the empty hall below. This caught the attention of the university caretaker, he Gestapo were called, and the two students were arrested. Just four days later, on Monday 22 February, Sophie was executed by guillotine. She was 21 years old. Along with the other members of the group, she is an inspiring example of how ‘ordinary’ people can do extraordinary things, and how conscience and moral courage can challenge injustice.
One of our student translators, Tayiba Sulaiman, talks about the letters written between Sophie Scholl and Fritz Hartnagel, published in Damit wir uns nicht verlieren: Briefwechsel 1937-1943 (Fischer, 2008).
If you’re interested in finding out more about Sophie Scholl, have a look at the following:
Books (in English)
Kip Wilson, White Rose, Versify, New York, NY, 2019.
Hayden Kaye, The Girl Who Said no to the Nazis: Sophie Scholl and the Plot against Hitler, Pushkin Children’s Books, London, 2020.
Alexandra Lehmann, With You There is Light: Based on the True Story about Sophie Scholl and Fritz Hartnagel, L&L, 2017.
Annette Dumach and Jud Newborn, Sophie Scholl and the White Rose, Oneworld, Oxford, 2007.
Inge Scholl, The White Rose: Munich, 1942−1943, Wesleyan University Press USA, Middletown, 1983.
Frank McDonough, Sophie Scholl: The Real Story of the Woman Who Defied Hitler, The History Press, Stroud, 2010.
Films (in German with English subtitles)
Marc Rothemund (dir.), Sophie Scholl: The Final Days, X Verleih, 2005.
Michael Verhoeven (dir.), Die Weiße Rose, CCC Film, 1982.
Katrin Seybold, The Resisters: Testimony of the White Rose, Basis-Film, 2008.
—., No! Witnesses of Resistance in Munich 1933-45, Basis-Film, 1998.
‘BBC Bitesize’ – https://www.bbc.co.uk/bitesize/clips/zcqkq6f
‘A Mighty Girl – The world’s largest collection of books, toys and movies for smart, confident, and courageous girls’ – https://www.amightygirl.com/blog?p=19179
‘The White Rose Foundation, Munich’ – https://www.weisse-rose-stiftung.de/white-rose-resistance-group/
‘International Bomber Command Centre’ – https://internationalbcc.co.uk/about-ibcc/news/sophie-scholl/
‘Deutsche Welle’ – https://www.dw.com/en/sophie-scholl/t-40588004
‘National WWII Museum, New Orleans’ – https://www.nationalww2museum.org/war/articles/sophie-scholl-and-white-rose
‘At the Heart of the White Rose (Preview)’ – https://cdn.plough.com/-/media/files/plough/lookinside/a/whiteroseenlookinside.pdf?d=20170506T191205Z
‘Sophie Scholl – The Final Days’ – https://zeitgeistfilms.com/userFiles/uploads/films/136/sophiescholl-presskit.pdf