I've blogged about Sophie Scholl before and recently watched a documentary about her. What an excellent, if heart-breaking, film inspired by the two siblings behind the doomed White Rose movement. Sophie, 21, and her brother, Hans, 24, were university students in Munich when, in 1943, they were caught spreading leaflets promoting the Nazi war as a lost cause. If you haven’t seen it, and have any curiosity about the German point of view during that terrible war, I highly recommend that you watch it.
Hans, a medical student, had spent time on the eastern front to help out with the injured during the Stalingrad battle, which many say was the turning point for the Nazis. Hans witnessed much suffering and upon his return to Munich to continue his studies, he and fellow students began writing anti-war pamphlets. This undermined the Nazi’s new approach and motto of “total war.”
Goebbels gave his infamous speech at the Berlin Sportpalast (broadcast on radio to the rest of the country) under the banner, “total war/shortest war” on February 18, 1943. It’s the exact same day that the doomed siblings were arrested.
The film highlights how fear turns people into cowards. It’s ironic that while Hitler and his cohorts were rewarding fearlessness on the battlefield with Iron Crosses and status, it was weapon-less and naïve young people who managed to conquer their own fears and call out for the truth. “The Emperor has no clothes” . . . a Hans Christian Anderson fairy tale applies here. I hope the little boy of the fairy tale met a better end than the White Rose students.
Sophie Scholl’s legacy is a hard one to follow. I have to look at my own life . . . how can I find courage to defend truth? Can I risk being ostracized for having a different viewpoint? Would I risk my life?