Magdalena Scholl

Magdalena Scholl

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Magdalena Müller was born in 1881. She became a nurse and served in a military hospital during the First World War. (1) She met Robert Scholl, who held pacifist views and despite the "patriotic frenzy and nationalist hysteria" of the First World War he refused combat duty and would serve only as a medical orderly. (2)

The couple married and over the next few years Magdalena gave birth to six children. This included Inge Scholl (b. 1917), Hans Scholl (b. 1918), Elisabeth Scholl (b. 1920), Sophie Scholl (b. 1921), Werner (b. 1922) and Thilde (b. 1925). (3)

They lived in the little town of Forchtenberg on the River Kocher. He was a man with strong opinions that he was not afraid to express. His wife, in contrast to her outgoing husband, was quiet and sensitive. "It was she who provided the calming influence in the Scholl household." (4)

In 1920 Robert Scholl was elected mayor of Forchtenberg. (6) Over the next few years he managed to get the railway extended to the town. He also had a community sports centre built in Forchtenberg but he was considered to be too progressive for some and in 1930 he was voted out of office. (6)

The family moved to Ulm in 1932. "Robert Scholl had lived in several small towns in Swabia, an area of south-west Germany known for its rural charms, thrifty people, and spirit of independence, before settling in Ulm, where he opened his own office as a tax and business consultant. He was a big, rather heavyset man, with strong opinions and an unwillingness, if not an inability, to keep those opinions to himself." (7)

Robert and Magdalena Scholl were both strong opponents of Adolf Hitler but could not prevent their children from joined the Hitler Youth and the German League of Girls. Elisabeth Scholl later pointed out why they rejected their father's advice: "We just dismissed it: he's too old for this stuff, he doesn't understand. My father had a pacifist conviction and he championed that. That certainly played a role in our education. But we were all excited in the Hitler youth in Ulm, sometimes even with the Nazi leadership." (8)

Hans Scholl, was chosen to be the flag bearer when his unit attended the Nuremberg Rally in 1936. Inge Scholl later recalled: "His joy was great. But when he returned, we could not believe our eyes. He looked tired and showed signs of a great disappointment. We did not expect any explanation from him, but gradually we found out that the image and model of the Hitler Youth which had been impressed upon him there was totally different from his own ideal... Hans underwent a remarkable change... This had nothing to do with Father's objections; he was able to close his ears to those. It was something else. The leaders had told him that his songs were not allowed... Why should he be forbidden to sing these songs that were so full of beauty? Merely because they had been created by other races?" (9)

Elisabeth Scholl has argued that during this period all the Scholl children gradually became hostile to the government. They were undoubtedly influenced by the views of their parents but had been disappointed by the reality of living in Nazi Germany: "First, we saw that one could no longer read what one wanted to, or sing certain songs. Then came the racial legislation. Jewish classmates had to leave school." (10)

Hans Scholl and some of his friends decided to form their own youth organization. Inge Scholl later recalled: "The club had its own most impressive style, which had grown up out of the membership itself. The boys recognized one another by their dress, their songs, even their way of talking... For these boys life was a great, splendid adventure, an expedition into an unknown, beckoning world. On weekends they went on hikes, and it was their way, even in bitter cold, to live in a tent... Seated around the campfire they would read aloud to each other or sing, accompanying themselves with guitar, banjo, and balalaika. They collected the folk songs of all peoples and wrote words and music for their own ritual chants and popular songs." (11)

Six months of National Labour Service was followed by conscription into the German Army. Hans always loved horses and he volunteered and was accepted for a cavalry unit in 1937. A few months later he was arrested in his barracks by the Gestapo. Apparently, it had been reported that while living in Ulm he had been taking part in activities that were not part of the Hitler Youth program. Sophie, Inge and Werner Scholl were also arrested. (12)

As Sophie was only sixteen, she was released and allowed to go home the same day. One biographer has pointed out: "She seemed too young and girlish to be a menace to the state, but in releasing her the Gestapo was letting slip a potential enemy with whom it would later have to reckon in a far more serious situation. There is no way of establishing the precise moment when Sophie School decided to become an overt adversary of the National Socialist state. Her decision, when it came, doubtless resulted from the accretion of offences, small and large, against her conception of what was right, moral, and decent. But now something decisive had happened. The state had laid its hands on her and her family, and now there was no longer any possibility of reconciling herself to a system that had already begun to alienate her." (13)

The Gestapo searched the Scholl house and confiscated diaries, journals, poems, essays, folk song collections, and other evidence of being members of an illegal organisation. Inge and Werner were released after a week of confinement. Hans was detained three weeks longer while the Gestapo attempted to persuade him to give damaging information about his friends. Hans was eventually released after his commanding officer had ensured the police that he was a good and loyal soldier. (14)

Inge Scholl later recalled: "We were living in a society where despotism, hate, and lies had become the normal state of affairs. Every day that you were not in jail was like a gift. No one was safe from arrest for the slightest unguarded remark, and some disappeared forever for no better reason... Hidden ears seemed to be listening to everything that was being spoken in Germany. The terror was at your elbow wherever you went." (16)

Sophie and Hans Scholl both attended the University of Munich. They helped to form the White Rose discussion group. Members included Alexander Schmorell, Jürgen Wittenstein, Christoph Probst, Willi Graf, Traute Lafrenz, Hans Leipelt, Lilo Ramdohr and Gisela Schertling. Inge Scholl, who lived in Ulm, also attended meetings whenever she was in Munich. "There was no set criterion for entry into the group that crystallized around Hans and Sophie Scholl... It was not an organization with rules and a membership list. Yet the group had a distinct identity, a definite personality, and it adhered to standards no less rigid for being undefined and unspoken. These standards involved intelligence, character, and especially political attitude." (17)

The group of friends had discovered a professor at the university who shared their dislike of the Nazi regime. Kurt Huber was Sophie's philosophy teacher. However, medical students also attended his lectures, which "were always packed, because he managed to introduce veiled criticism of the regime into them". (18) The 49 year-old professor, also joined in private discussions with what became known as the White Rose group. Hans told Inge, "though his hair was turning grey, he was one of them". (19)

In June 1942 the White Rose group began producing leaflets. They were typed single-spaced on both sides of a sheet of paper, duplicated, folded into envelopes with neatly typed names and addresses, and mailed as printed matter to people all over Munich. At least a couple of hundred were handed into the Gestapo. It soon became clear that most of the leaflets were received by academics, civil servants, restaurateurs and publicans. A small number were scattered around the University of Munich campus. As a result the authorities immediately suspected that students had produced the leaflets. (20)

On 18th February, 1943, Sophie and Hans Scholl went to the University of Munich with a suitcase packed with leaflets. According to Inge Scholl: "They arrived at the university, and since the lecture rooms were to open in a few minutes, they quickly decided to deposit the leaflets in the corridors. Then they disposed of the remainder by letting the sheets fall from the top level of the staircase down into the entrance hall. Relieved, they were about to go, but a pair of eyes had spotted them. It was as if these eyes (they belonged to the building superintendent) had been detached from the being of their owner and turned into automatic spyglasses of the dictatorship. The doors of the building were immediately locked, and the fate of brother and sister was sealed." (21)

Jakob Schmid, a member of the Nazi Party, saw them at the University of Munich, throwing leaflets from a window of the third floor into the courtyard below. He immediately told the Gestapo and they were both arrested. They were searched and the police found a handwritten draft of another leaflet. This they matched to a letter in Scholl's flat that had been signed by Christoph Probst. Following interrogation, they were all charged with treason. (22)

Sophie, Hans and Christoph were not allowed to select a defence lawyer. Inge Scholl claimed that the lawyer assigned by the authorities "was little more than a helpless puppet". Sophie told him: "If my brother is sentenced to die, you musn't let them give me a lighter sentence, for I am exactly as guilty as he." (23)

Sophie was interrogated all night long. She told her cell-mate, Else Gebel, that she denied her "complicity for a long time". But when she was told that the Gestapo had found evidence in her brother's room that proved she was guilty of drafting the leaflet. "Then the two of you knew that all was lost... We will take the blame for everything, so that no other person is put in danger." Sophie made a confession about her own activities but refused to give information about the rest of the group. (24)

Friends of Hans and Sophie had immediately telephoned Robert Scholl with news of the arrests. Robert and Magdalena went to Gestapo headquarters but they were told they were not allowed to visit them in prison over the weekend. They were not told that there trial was to begin on the Monday morning. However, Otl Aicher, Inge Scholl's boyfriend, telephoned them with the news. (25) They were met by Jürgen Wittenstein at the railway station: "We have very little time. The People's Court is in session, and the hearing is already under way. We must prepare ourselves for the worst." (26)

Sophie's parents tried to attend the trial and Magdalene told a guard: "I’m the mother of two of the accused." He responded: "You should have brought them up better." (27) Robert Scholl was forced his way past the guards at the door and managed to get to his children's defence attorney. "Go to the president of the court and tell him that the father is here and he wants to defend his children!" He spoke to Judge Roland Freisler who responded by ordering the Scholl family from the court. The guards dragged them out but at the door Robert was able to shout: "There is a higher justice! They will go down in history!" (28)

Later that day Sophie Scholl, Hans Scholl and Christoph Probst were all found guilty. Judge Freisler told the court: "The accused have by means of leaflets in a time of war called for the sabotage of the war effort and armaments and for the overthrow of the National Socialist way of life of our people, have propagated defeatist ideas, and have most vulgarly defamed the Führer, thereby giving aid to the enemy of the Reich and weakening the armed security of the nation. On this account they are to be punished by death. Their honour and rights as citizens are forfeited for all time." (29)

Robert and Magdalena managed to see their children before they were executed. Inge Scholl later explained what happened: "First Hans was brought out. He wore a prison uniform, he walked upright and briskly, and he allowed nothing in the circumstances to becloud his spirit. His face was thin and drawn, as if after a difficult struggle, but now it beamed radiantly. He bent lovingly over the barrier and took his parents' hands... Then Hans asked them to take his greetings to all his friends. When at the end he mentioned one further name, a tear ran down his face; he bent low so that no one would see. And then he went out, without the slightest show of fear, borne along by a profound inner strength." (30)

Magdalena said to her 22 year-old daughter: "I'll never see you come through the door again." Sophie replied, "Oh mother, after all, it's only a few years' more life I'll miss." Sophie told her parents she and Hans were pleased and proud that they had betrayed no one, that they had taken all the responsibility on themselves. (31)

Else Gebel shared Sophie Scholl's cell and recorded her last words before being taken away to be executed. "How can we expect righteousness to prevail when there is hardly anyone willing to give himself up individually to a righteous cause.... It is such a splendid sunny day, and I have to go. But how many have to die on the battlefield in these days, how many young, promising lives. What does my death matter if by our acts thousands are warned and alerted. Among the student body there will certainly be a revolt." (32)

They were all beheaded by guillotine in Stadelheim Prison only a few hours after being found guilty. A prison guard later reported: "They bore themselves with marvelous bravery. The whole prison was impressed by them. That is why we risked bringing the three of them together once more-at the last moment before the execution. If our action had become known, the consequences for us would have been serious. We wanted to let them have a cigarette together before the end. It was just a few minutes that they had, but I believe that it meant a great deal to them." (33)

A few days after Sophie and Hans were executed, Robert and Magdalena Scholl and their children, Inge and Elisabeth were arrested. (34) They were put into solitary confinement and Inge came down with diphtheria. In August 1943, they were tried and although Robert received a two-year sentence, the women were found not guilty. (35) Elisabeth later recalled: "We were outcasts. Many of my father's clients - he was a tax accountant - wanted to have nothing more to do with the family. It was always nothing personal - just because of the business. Passers-by took to the other side of the road." (36)

Werner Scholl went missing in 1944 while fighting in the Soviet Union. Although his body was never found it is assumed he was killed in action. (37)

With the arrival of Allied troops Robert Scholl was released and appointed mayor of Ulm. He was also a member of parliament of Württemberg-Baden. In 1952 he co-founded the All-German People's Party. It was a Christian, pacifist, left-wing party that opposed re-armament of Germany. His daughter, Inge Scholl, shared his political views and opened a progressive school founded on humanistic ideals. (38)

Magdalena Scholl died in 1958.

Life in the Third Reich had been a complex and ambivalent experience for the five Scholl children. Sophie, the fourth child and youngest daughter, had always known emotional and relative economic security; her parents were a harmonious and loving couple. Her father, Robert Scholl, had been mayor in several small towns in Swabia, an area of southwest Germany known for its rural charms, thrifty people, and spirit of independence, before settling in Ulm, where he opened his own office as a tax and business consultant. He was a big, rather heavyset man, with strong opinions and an unwillingness, if not an inability, to keep those opinions to himself. His views were never fashionable ones: he had worked as a medic in the First World War because of pacifist convictions, and during the war had met Magdalena, a Protestant nursing sister, who was to become his wife.

Mrs. Scholl was a gentle and soft-spoken woman who made her husband, home, and children the center and purpose of her life. In traditional style, she was the serene foil to her dynamic and strong willed husband. She tried to soothe troubled waters and maintain the peace; Robert Scholl was not a man who adopted the prejudices or values of the rural and small-town folk among whom he happened to live. Even when he was Burgermeister in the twenties, he did not find it necessary to visit the local pubs and have desultory chats with farmers and shopkeepers over a glass of wine or beer. When the political climate became increasingly conservative toward the end of the decade, he lost his mayoral post for advocating too liberal a position. Later, in Ulm, he would maintain some contact with Jewish friends and business associates despite the pressures around him, as well as with young artists who, like him, despised the new regime.

Meanwhile my parents had the miraculous good fortune of being able to visit their children once more. It was almost impossible to obtain such permission. Between four and five o'clock they hurried to the prison. They still did not know that their children's last hour was so near.

First Hans was brought out. He bent lovingly over the barrier and took his parents' hands. "I have no hatred. I have put everything, everything behind me." My father embraced him and said, "You will go down in history - there is such a thing as justice in spite of all this." Then Hans asked them to take his greetings to all his friends. And then he went out, without the slightest show of fear, borne along by a profound inner strength.

Then Sophie was brought in by a woman warden. She wore her regular clothes and walked slowly, relaxedly, and very upright. (Nowhere does one learn to bear oneself so proudly as in prison.) Her face bore a smile like that of a person looking into the sun. Willingly and cheerfully she accepted the candy that Hans had refused: "Oh yes, of course, I didn't have any lunch." It was an indescribable affirmation of life to the end, to the very last moment. She too was noticeably thinner, but her face revealed a marvelous sense of triumph. Her skin was rosy and fresh - this struck her mother as never before - and her lips were a glowing deep red. "So now you will never again set foot in our house," said Mother. "Oh, what do these few short years matter, Mother," she answered. Then she remarked, as had Hans, firmly, with conviction, and in triumph, "We took all the blame, for everything." And she added, "That is bound to have its effect in time to come."

Sophie had been chiefly concerned in those days whether her mother would be able to bear the ordeal of losing two children at the same moment. But now, as Mother stood there, so brave and good, Sophie had a feeling of sudden release from anxiety. Again her mother spoke; she wanted to give her daughter something she might hold fast to: "You know, Sophie-Jesus." Earnestly, firmly, almost imperiously Sophie replied, "Yes, but you too." Then she left-free, fearless, and calm. She was still smiling.

Christl was not able to see any of his family. His wife was not yet out of the hospital after the birth of their third child. She did not learn of her husband's fate until after the execution.

The prison guards reported: "They bore themselves with marvelous bravery. It was just a few minutes that they had, but I believe that it meant a great deal to them. "I didn't know that dying can be so easy,' said Christl Probst, adding, "In a few minutes we will meet in eternity."

"Then they were led off, the girl first. She went without the flicker of an eyelash. None of us understood how this was possible. The executioner said he had never seen anyone meet his end as she did."

And Hans, before he placed his head on the block Hans called out so that the words rang through the huge prison: "Long live freedom!"

At first it seemed as if the matter was ended with the death of these three. They disappeared silently and in virtual secrecy into the earth of the Perlach cemetery, just as the bright sun of late winter was setting. "Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends," said the prison chaplain, who revealed himself as one of them and who ministered to them with complete understanding. He shook their hands and pointed to the setting sun, saying, "It will rise again."

The Political Development of Sophie Scholl (Answer Commentary)

The White Rose Anti-Nazi Group (Answer Commentary)

Kristallnacht (Answer Commentary)

Adolf Hitler's Early Life (Answer Commentary)

Heinrich Himmler and the SS (Answer Commentary)

Trade Unions in Nazi Germany (Answer Commentary)

Adolf Hitler v John Heartfield (Answer Commentary)

Hitler's Volkswagen (The People's Car) (Answer Commentary)

Women in Nazi Germany (Answer Commentary)

German League of Girls (Answer Commentary)

The Assassination of Reinhard Heydrich (Answer Commentary)

The Last Days of Adolf Hitler (Answer Commentary)

(1) Annette Dumbach & Jud Newborn, Sophie Scholl and the White Rose (1986) page 14

(2) Richard F. Hanser, A Noble Treason: The Story of Sophie Scholl (1979) page 59

(3) Toby Axelrod, Hans and Sophie Scholl: German Resisters of the White Rose (2001) page 26

(4) Susan Ottaway, Hitler's Traitors, German Resistance to the Nazis (2003) page 121

(5) Indictment of Hans Scholl, Sophie Scholl and Christoph Probst (21st February, 1943)

(6) Anton Gill, An Honourable Defeat: A History of German Resistance to Hitler (1994) page 183

(7) Annette Dumbach & Jud Newborn, Sophie Scholl and the White Rose (1986) page 14

(8) Elisabeth Scholl, interviewed in The Daily Mail (18th January, 2014)

(10) Inge Scholl, The White Rose: 1942-1943 (1983) page 8

(11) Elisabeth Scholl, interviewed in The Daily Mail (18th January, 2014)

(12) Inge Scholl, The White Rose: 1942-1943 (1983) page 13

(13) Elisabeth Scholl, interviewed in The Daily Mail (18th January, 2014)

(14) Richard F. Hanser, A Noble Treason: The Story of Sophie Scholl (1979) page 69

(15) Annette Dumbach & Jud Newborn, Sophie Scholl and the White Rose (1986) page 44

(16) Richard F. Hanser, A Noble Treason: The Story of Sophie Scholl (1979) page 92

(17) Richard F. Hanser, A Noble Treason: The Story of Sophie Scholl (1979) page 143

(18) Anton Gill, An Honourable Defeat: A History of German Resistance to Hitler (1994) page 189

(19) Inge Scholl, The White Rose: 1942-1943 (1983) page 31

(20) Annette Dumbach & Jud Newborn, Sophie Scholl and the White Rose (1986) page 56

(21) Inge Scholl, The White Rose: 1942-1943 (1983) page 52

(22) Susan Ottaway, Hitler's Traitors, German Resistance to the Nazis (2003) page 118

(23) Inge Scholl, The White Rose: 1942-1943 (1983) page 56

(24) Else Gebel, letter to Sophie Scholl, that was sent to her parents in November, 1946.

(25) Richard F. Hanser, A Noble Treason: The Story of Sophie Scholl (1979) page 251

(26) Elisabeth Scholl, interviewed by the Daily Mirror (17th January, 2014)

(27) Inge Scholl, The White Rose: 1942-1943 (1983) page 58

(28) Annette Dumbach & Jud Newborn, Sophie Scholl and the White Rose (1986) page 158

(29) Judge Roland Freisler, sentencing of Sophie Scholl, Hans Scholl and Christoph Probst (22nd February, 1943)

(30) Inge Scholl, The White Rose: 1942-1943 (1983) page 61

(31) Anton Gill, An Honourable Defeat: A History of German Resistance to Hitler (1994) page 194

(32) Else Gebel, letter to Robert Scholl (November, 1946)

(33) Inge Scholl, The White Rose: 1942-1943 (1983) page 61

(34) Newsday Magazine (6th September, 1998)

(35) Annette Dumbach & Jud Newborn, Sophie Scholl and the White Rose (1986) page 167

(36) Elisabeth Scholl, interviewed by the Daily Mirror (17th January, 2014)

(37) Richard F. Hanser, A Noble Treason: The Story of Sophie Scholl (1979) page 283

(38) Annette Dumbach & Jud Newborn, Sophie Scholl and the White Rose (1986) page 181

Magdalena Scholl - History

The Power of Independent Thinking

The 2005 German film Sophie Scholl: The Final Days (Die letzten Tage) depicts the anti-Nazi heroine Sophie Magdalena Scholl (May 9, 1921–February 22, 1943). Sophie and her brother, Hans, were leading members of a nonviolent resistance group called the White Rose. Five students in their early twenties formed the group in 1942 at the University of Munich. The White Rose soon became infamous for a leaflet campaign that called for the removal of Hitler from power and an end to the insanity of World War II. The group subsequently became famous as martyrs to freedom and as proof that tyranny cannot destroy man’s passion for justice.

Sophie Scholl received wide acclaim in Europe, winning three German Film Awards or “Lolas”—the German equivalent of an Oscar. Julie Jentsch, who portrayed Sophie, was named Best Actress by the Berlin Film Festival, the German Film Awards, and the European Film Awards.

The movie was nominated for an Oscar in the “Best Foreign Language Film” category but lost to the South African film Tsotsi.

This brilliantly crafted film deserves every syllable of praise. It is confirmation that German filmmaking, which has arguably been in decline since the 1970s, is reestablishing its reputation for innovation and excellence.

The film’s execution merges with its theme. The lighting is flat and often harsh, with beams of light streaming from windows, lamps, and candles in order to beat back the darkness. On several occasions, the film pauses while Sophie gazes up at the radiant sky before returning to the grim atmosphere of Nazi rule. In that gray world, the eye is drawn immediately to the two “opponents” who will clash: to Nazism as represented in bright red banners that bear a swastika and to Sophie in a dull red sweater.

Settings are minimalistic and stark, with much of the action occurring in one room. Suspenseful music sometimes sounds like a beating heart, sometimes like a ticking clock. It is Sophie’s life that is ticking.

The movie opens in 1943 with a convivial scene where the 21-year-old Sophie, Hans, and two other young men are preparing the White Rose’s last leaflet: Number 6. Ignoring the danger, Sophie and Hans decide to distribute the leaflet at the University of Munich in broad daylight while the classes are in session and the corridors are empty. They want to ignite the campus with anti-war passion.

Nineteen forty-three was a watershed year for both the war and the German people’s attitude towards it. Pivot points in war usually result from unacceptably high casualty rates that, in turn, inspire disillusionment with government and doubt about whether the conflict can be won. Leaflet 6 declares 𣾂,000 troops” have been sent “to a senseless death” on the eastern front, especially at Stalingrad. (Eventually, 740,000 Axis soldiers will be killed or wounded, and 100,000 will be captured on the eastern front.) The leaflet asserts, “Hitler cannot win the war. He can only prolong it.”

The Nazis react with predictable brutality to those speaking truth to power. Rather than publicly admit to losing an entire army at Stalingrad, the regime viciously cracks down on dissidents who are accused of “aiding the enemy” by exposing the facts. As Sophie’s cellmate later states, “Even the big shots are scared stiff.” This is the juncture in Nazi history at which the minister for public enlightenment and propaganda, Joseph Goebbels, delivers his famous “total war” speech. Desperate to retain control in the wake of military defeat abroad and economic hardship at home, Goebbels declares,

Total war is the demand of the hour. The homeland must stay pure and intact in its entirety. Nothing may disturb the picture. Everyone must learn to pay heed to war morale, and pay attention to the just demands of working and fighting people. We are not spoilsports, but neither will we tolerate those who hinder our efforts.

In the film, this speech plays on a radio in the background as Sophie surrenders her possessions and undresses at the prison. Like truth, she is becoming a casualty of “total war.” The White Rose is targeted with special ferocity because anti-war sentiments are growing popular the group’s first four leaflets had been printed in the hundreds, the last two in the thousands.

Arrest and interrogation

Against this political backdrop, Sophie and Hans leave stacks of Leaflet Number 6 in the university’s empty corridors and corners. Soon the bell will ring and students will flood out of classrooms to find this call for resistance. At the last moment—almost as they are making a clear, clean exit—Sophie and Hans decide to distribute one last stack of leaflets on an upstairs floor. Time runs out. Sophie abandons a pile on a balustrade overlooking the building’s main gallery. Then on impulse, as she leaves to blend in with a crowd of students, she tips the leaflets over the balustrade’s edge so that they flutter down, filling the air of the gallery.

It is now too late for Sophie and Hans to escape. A janitor races after them. At first, he accuses only Hans but Sophie insists on taking responsibility for tipping the leaflets and, so, both of them are caught.

For the crime of distributing the leaflets, they will be charged with “high treason, demoralizing the troops, and aiding the enemy.” At first, however, their captors want information . especially, they want the names of other White Rose members. Despite threats interspersed with promises of leniency, Sophie and Hans do not oblige.

The remainder and largest part of the movie deals with Sophie’s four days of imprisonment and interrogation in a Nazi prison, followed more briefly by her trial and execution. (Although Hans and Christoph Probst, a fellow member of the White Rose, undergo similar processes, their ordeals take place almost entirely off-screen.)

Sophie Scholl is one of those rare movies that maintain tension and suspense even though the outcome is known from the beginning shot. Part of the reason for this success is the realism of the drama, which benefits from the East German archival records on Sophie and her imprisonment that became accessible after the fall of the Berlin Wall.

By mixing “dialogue” from White Rose leaflets with information from the recovered archives, the scriptwriter, Fred Breinersdorfer, was able to reconstruct the “final days” with accuracy.

As a crime-fiction writer and a playwright, Breinersdorfer is particularly skillful in presenting the duel of wits that constitutes Sophie’s interrogation by Gestapo police official Robert Mohr. Although Sophie Scholl was not adapted from the theater, it resembles movies that begin as plays. For example, much of the drama takes place in one simple setting: Mohr’s office in the prison. Most of the ideological conflict comes from lean and meaty dialogue between two people: Sophie and Mohr.

The banality of evil

The movie’s portrayal of evil is riveting. “Evil” is not too strong a word. Sophie is being processed through a system that wishes to kill her for speaking the truth and having the courage to say “No.” She advocates and employs only peaceful means. As Sophie’s execution nears, her dignity is so impressive that a female guard breaks prison rules to permit Sophie to meet one last time with the equally doomed Hans and Christoph. Yet this same guard is a willing cog in the machinery that is designed to destroy the young woman she admires.

The depiction of evil will surprise people who are used to Hollywood Nazis as jackbooted sadists who scream “Raus! Raus!” at the Jews they are herding into concentration camps. Sophie’s treatment is not brutal compared with what we have come to expect from Hollywood Nazis. She is locked into a grim prison but not into a concentration camp. She is interrogated but not tortured. Her family is arrested but they are also released.

The Hollywood characterization captures an aspect of the Nazi regime, to be certain, but it also loses the subtlety that allowed Nazism to become a part of everyday life in a modern, educated nation. It loses the sense of how evil can become commonplace and as routine as paperwork. Or how ordinary people can absolve themselves of all responsibility for facilitating evil.

This concept has been called “the banality of evil.” The phrase was popularized by the German-American political theorist Hannah Arendt in her 1963 book, Eichmann in Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil. Arendt attended the trial of Eichmann, who had been instrumental in administering the Nazi death camps as a high-level bureaucrat. She did not see a sadist monster on trial. Like his fellow Nazi, Heinrich Himmler, who went from being a chicken farmer to head the notoriously sadistic SS, Eichmann seemed to be an ordinary man who had a talent for carrying out orders. Arendt went on to describe how ordinary people can commit terrible acts simply because the acts are performed systematically and within a socially sanctioned context that does not demand or encourage personal accountability.

Thus, the seizure of Jewish property was not theft if the property was confiscated through forms that were properly stamped and filled out in triplicate at a government office. Those who processed the paperwork and inventoried the goods were doing nothing more than that: paperwork and inventory. They were divorced from personal responsibility. Thus, Sophie’s killing is not murder if she is executed after receiving a show trial for violating laws against expressing the wrong political opinions. No one involved in the process needs to feel like a murderer each is only doing a job.

Any widespread government program rests on ordinary civil servants who staff the halls of bureaucracy and prisons, who type and file the paperwork. These are the people “doing their jobs” they obey orders and follow the letter of the law without questioning its content. Indeed, the law assumes the role that conscience often plays. It tells them what is right and wrong to do, and they obey.

Some of the people who facilitate Sophie’s killing are anonymous, such as the interchangeable men who lead her down corridors to a jail cell or an interrogation room. These men give less than no thought to the content of their actions. As one guard herds Sophie and another political dissident into their cell, he chides them, “Hurry, ladies. I want to hear the speech,” which was blaring on the radio. If asked, he would probably have claimed to bear Sophie no ill will.

Others are “small people” who swell with self-importance that they borrow from their roles as enforcers of state policy. For example, the university janitor who sees the leaflets being pushed off the railing he races after Hans and Sophie, yelling, “Stop. Don’t move! Stop at once! You are under arrest.” Or the milquetoast prison clerk with a bad Hitler hairdo who processes Sophie’s prison paperwork with a snide remark and takes obvious pleasure in the round-up of young, promising students whom most people would consider their “betters.”

Still others are self-aware enough to realize, on some level, they are striking a deal with the devil they are selling their souls for safety or a snippet of power.

The kangaroo People’s Court

For example, her court-appointed defense attorney, identified only as Klein, is a bought-and-paid-for toady who asks no questions and provides no defense at her trial. At their first and brief meeting in her prison cell, Sophie asks him, “What will happen to my family?” When he dismisses the question out of hand, she objects, “You are my lawyer!” At this slight stab at the legitimacy of his position, Klein explodes into a furious personal attack on Sophie that ends with his gloating about the upcoming court verdict it will put Sophie in her place. Klein has consciously chosen to hide behind amoral bureaucracy and will not countenance a moral mirror held to his face.

The judge who presides over Sophie’s trial is similar. Sophie’s cellmate tells her that Roland Freisler, president of the People’s Court, is a former Soviet commissar who needs to “rehabilitate himself on the home front.” Desperate to prove his loyalty, Freisler rages at the three defendants with such fury that the prosecuting attorney seems redundant. And yet, Freisler is clearly afraid. He scans the audience to ascertain their reaction to his words. At one point, Hans replies to Freisler’s boast of not being afraid of the defendants by saying, “If you and Hitler weren’t afraid of our opinion, we wouldn’t be here.”

By far the most interesting face of evil belongs to Herr Mohr, the police agent who interrogates Sophie and forms a personal connection with her, despite himself. His reluctant admiration for her clearly makes him uncomfortable, perhaps because he realizes fully the role he is playing in her destruction and takes some responsibility. Mohr is the most dangerous of the civil-service bureaucrats: intelligent, competent, and loyal to both the ideals and structure of the Nazi regime.

Part of his loyalty is self-interest. When Sophie defends the former democracy of Germany, he replies bitterly, “I was only a tailor in that damn democracy!” But self-interest cannot explain why Mohr is proud of his son’s being sent to the eastern front. He has embraced the overall ideals of Nazism. He ably defends those ideals against uncomfortable facts that Sophie presents and against unpleasant duties such as sentencing her to death (de facto) by preparing her confession. After doing so, he walks to a sink and washes his hands in a gesture reminiscent of Pontius Pilate.

The essence of the ideological conflict between Sophie and Mohr, which is the essence of the film’s overall conflict, occurs in one passage of dialogue between them. Sophie is seated on one side of Mohr’s desk across from him in the interrogation room:

Mohr: You may have used false slogans but you used peaceful means.

Sophie: So why do you want to punish us?

Mohr: Because it is the law. Without the law there is no order.

Sophie: The law you are referring to protected free speech before the Nazis came to power in 1933. Someone who speaks freely now is imprisoned or put to death. Is that order?

Mohr: What can we rely on if not the law? No matter who wrote it.

Mohr: Nonsense! [Grabbing two books, one in each hand, as though weighing them against each other.] Here is the law and here are the people. As a criminologist, it is my duty to find out if they coincide and, if not, to find the rotten spot.

Sophie: The law changes. Conscience doesn’t.

Sophie Scholl is not merely a movie about moral courage. Its value in that respect should not be understated but, for me, the most fascinating aspect was the interaction between ideals and evil that occurs in subtle and varied ways throughout the film. Over and over, those who “process” Sophie’s murder are either morally dead—that is, they have become true bureaucrats who are just doing a job—or they are shaken by the simple truth and bravery of her being. Her existence is a reproach to the devastation they do under the guise of “greater principles” or expediency.

Like the shafts of light that pierce scenes of darkness, Sophie’s existence pierces through and makes them confront responsibility for their own actions.

Sophie’s death is handled well and not exploited for effect. Her last words, at least in the movie, are “The sun is still shining.” Then there is the sound of a guillotine blade’s falling.

Christoph’s last words are “It wasn’t in vain.”

The movie ends with text that reads, “The 6th leaflet was taken to England via Scandinavia. In mid-1943, millions of copies were dropped by Allied planes over Germany. They now bore the title ‘A German Leaflet Manifesto of the Students of Munich.’”

Two earlier films depicted the White Rose’s resistance: The Last Five Days (Fünf letzte Tage, 1982) and The White Rose (Die Weiße Rose, 1982). But it is the German director Marc Rothemund who brought Sophie Scholl into American awareness. He created a heart-stopping, heartbreaking movie that is inspirational without preaching. It creates fresh perspective on freedoms we take for granted, such as the ability to speak without being killed for doing so. It reminds us to jealously protect that freedom . especially in times of war when speaking truth to power can easily and officially become “aiding the enemy” and treason.

Beyond History Blog

Sophie Scholl is one of the most famous persons of the German resistance against National Socialism - worldwide. She was born Sophia Magdalena Scholl in Forchtenberg on 09 May 1921 and was executed in Munich on 22 February 1943 - aged only 21.

The icon Sophie Scholl

Sophie Scholl is often singled out more than her brother or the rest of the members of the resistance group later known as the White Rose. She has become a figurehead, the face not only of the group but of the resistance against National Socialism.

In contrast to his sister Sophie, Hans Scholl was one of the driving forces of the group from the very beginning. Sophie Scholl was not yet involved in the first 4 of the 6 leaflets. In addition, there were of course other members of resistance - also female - whose names are probably not familiar to most people today. If you think of Sophie Scholl, however, you immediately have an image in mind - and a story.

It is probably the combination of age and gender that helped to make her an icon. It seems remarkable in two respects that a young woman has committed herself at the risk of her life in a male-dominated society. At the same time, this also brings her closer to a younger "target group" that is usually confronted with the subject in a school context.

The interpretation of Sophie Scholl's oldest sister Inge Aicher-Scholl later contributed significantly to our idealized image of her. It is good that today a more complex and realistic picture of her is being drawn, which makes the human being behind the historical figure visible.

Nevertheless, Sophie Scholl is still a projection surface for many people today and was and is used for the most diverse purposes.

Sophie Scholl's short life

Sophie Scholl grew up with her siblings in Forchtenberg, Ludwigsburg and Ulm. Her parents Robert Scholl and Magdalene née Müller raised the children in the Christian faith. The siblings had sympathies for National Socialism. They voluntarily joined the Nazi youth groups and took on leadership roles. Sophie Scholl is said to have participated in meetings of the Bund Deutscher Mädel (BDM) as late as 1941 and also encouraged others to do so.

After school, she began training as a kindergarten teacher. Only after her work and war service in 1941/1942 she was allowed to begin her studies in Munich in 1942. She had already met her boyfriend Fritz Hartnagel in 1937. Through her brother Hans, who also studied there, she joined the Munich resistance group. After they were discovered in Munich University on 18 February 1943, handing out the 6th leaflet, Sophie and Hans Scholl, as well as Christoph Probst, who was later arrested, were sentenced to death on February 22 and executed on the same day.

Sophie Scholl was not a saint. She was a normal human being. She was 12 years old at the time the National Socialists seized power. Hitler Youth (HJ) and BDM were designed to educate children and young people to National Socialism. It is all the more remarkable that she, like her brother and others, had the inner strength and courage to question National Socialism (and her own views) and to become active on behalf of her beliefs in the resistance despite the dangers.

Memorial for the White Rose on Geschwister-Scholl-Platz in front of Ludwig Maximilians University, Munich, photo by Amrei-Marie, CC BY-SA 4.0 (, via Wikimedia Commons (

Supremacy and Survival: The English Reformation

Sophie Scholl, White Rose objector to Nazi rule in Germany, was born on May 9, 1921 she was guillotined on February 22, 1943. Scholl is one of the most admired women in 20th Century German history--but what does she have to do with the subject of this blog?

According to this Catholic Herald story from 2009, she and her White Rose compatriots were very much influenced by Blessed John Henry Newman, particularly by his teachings on conscience:

Cardinal John Henry Newman was an inspiration of Germany's greatest heroine in defying Adolf Hitler, scholars have claimed.

New documents unearthed by German academics have revealed that the writings of the 19th-century English theologian were a direct influence on Sophie Scholl, who was beheaded for circulating leaflets urging students at Munich University to rise up against Nazi terror.

Scholl, a student who was 21 at the time of her death in February 1943, is a legend in Germany, with two films made about her life and more than 190 schools named after her. She was also voted "woman of the 20th century" by readers of Brigitte, a women's magazine, and a popular 2003 television series called Greatest Germans declared her to be the greatest German woman of all time.

But behind her heroism was the "theology of conscience" expounded by Cardinal Newman, according to Professor Günther Biemer, the leading German interpreter of Newman, and Jakob Knab, an expert on the life of Sophie Scholl, who will later this year publish research in Newman Studien on the White Rose resistance movement, to which she belonged.

The researchers also found a link between Scholl and Pope Benedict XVI in the scholar who inspired her study of Blessed John Henry Newman:

He added: "The religious question at the heart of the White Rose has not been adequately acknowledged and it is only through the work of Guenter Biemer and Jakob Knab that Newman's influence. can be identified as highly significant."

In his speech Fr Fenlon explained that Sophie, a Lutheran, was introduced to the works of Newman by a scholar called Theodor Haecker, who had written to the Birmingham Oratory in 1920 asking for copies of Newman's work, which he wanted to translate into German. . . .

It was through Haecker that the young Joseph Ratzinger - the future Pope Benedict XVI - learned to admire Newman, who died in Birmingham in 1890.

Conscience is a subtext throughout the history of the English Reformation and its aftermath--beginning with Henry VIII's "tender conscience" about having married his brother's widow. Robert Bolt's A Man for All Seasons centers St. Thomas More's heroism on his defense of the rights of conscience. Blessed John Henry Newman, as I've posted before, defended the rights and outlined the responsibilities of conscience, properly understood, in reaction to English concerns about the doctrine of Papal Infallibility.


Thank you, Jackie!
May on her 90th birthday Sophia Magdalena Scholl smile on us and ask of Our Lady the help we need
See also

Thank you for more information about Fr. Fenlon's paper on Sophie Scholl, Ulrich.

The most important aspect of Jakob Knab’s research on the theological influences on Sophie Scholl is his view that both she and
Fritz were increasingly drawing inspiration from the writings of Cardinal Newman in this crucial period. When Sophie met Fritz for the last time on 20 May 1942 she gave him a farewell present of, among other things, two
volumes of sermons by Newman. In a letter from Fritz on 26 June 1942 he told Sophie that after reading these he too had discovered what he called the ‘wonderful world’ of John Henry Newman. Fritz said he had absorbed every
line like ‘drops of precious wine’. In a further letter at the beginning of July
1942 Fritz wrote that, after reading Newman while witnessing the anti-Jewish atrocities and views of many Wehrmacht officers, he could see more clearly that ‘we stand in a relationship of moral obligation to our Creator. Conscience
gives us the capacity to distinguish between Good and Evil’. Knab has found out, through detailed research, that it was during this period that Fritz read Newman’s sermon The Testimony of Conscience. Here, Newman – using a
passage from the Second Letter of St Paul to the Corinthians as his starting point – develops the central theme of his doctrine about conscience: ‘We are by nature what we are: full of sin and corruption … Man is capable of both good and evil … If doing good be evidence of faith, then doing evil must
be even more convincing proof that he lacks faith.’ Fritz concluded his letter to Sophie with the precept: ‘We must submit our reason to these mysteries and acknowledge our faith.’ It seems that Sophie had been greatly inspired by
these passages too, and they also offered Fritz a graphic illustration of what he found disturbing about the behaviour of the Wehrmacht in the Soviet Union, which led him to denounce the anti-Semitic doctrines that underpinned the
Holocaust. After Fritz had seen the corpses of Soviet prisoners of war who had collapsed from exhaustion and had heard of mass executions among the Jewish population, he wrote to
Sophie: ‘It’s frightening, the cynical insensitivity with which my commanding
officer describes the slaughter of all those Jews in occupied Russia, and the way he is totally convinced of the rightness of his course of action. I sat there, my heart pounding. How relieved I was to be back on my own, lying on my camp bed, where I could take refuge in prayer, and in thoughts of you.’
(McDonough, Sophie Scholl, (paperback version 2010), p. 176)

Emigration from Germany: Arrival in a new world – entering and arriving are two very different things

Departing from the German emigration ports Hamburg and Bremen resp. Bremerhaven, the majority of emigrants had in mind to reach North America. A significantly smaller number departed to Brazil, Australia, Argentina, Chile and various other countries.

White Rose History: January 1933 – October 1943

In the Name
Of the German People

In the criminal case against

1. Hans Fritz Scholl from Munich, born in Ingersheim on September 22, 1918,

2. Sophia Magdalena Scholl from Munich, born May 9, 1921 in Forchtenberg,

3. Christoph Hermann Probst from Aldrans near Innsbruck, born November 6, 1919 in Murnau,

currently in interrogative custody with regards to the matter of traitorous aiding and abetting of the enemy, preparations for high treason, and demoralization of the armed forces –

The First Council of the People’s Court, pursuant to the trial of February 22, 1943, in which the following participated:

President of the People’s Court, Dr. Freisler, presiding

Director of the Regional Court Stier

SS-Gruppenführer Breithaupt

SA- Gruppenführer Bunge

Deputy Secretary of State and SA- Gruppenführer Köglmaier

As Representative of the Chief Prosecutor of the Reich:

Reich Attorney Weyersberg

The above have acknowledged as just:

That during a time of war, the accused used leaflets to call for sabotage of armaments and for the overthrow of the National Socialist way of life they have propagated defeatist thinking and vilified the Führer in a most vulgar manner, thereby aiding and abetting the enemies of the Reich and demoralizing our armed forces.

They are therefore to be punished by death.

They have forfeited their honor as citizens for ever. [Note 1]

The accused Hans Scholl has been studying medicine since Spring 1939 and – thanks to the solicitude of the National Socialist government – is now in his eighth semester! In between, he has seen active duty in the French campaign working in a field hospital from July to November 1942, he was on the Eastern Front as a medic.

As a student, he has the duty of exemplary community effort. As a soldier – and it is in this capacity that he has been ordered to study – he has a special duty of loyalty to the Führer. That and the solicitude that the Reich has bestowed especially on him was not enough to stop him from writing leaflets “of the White Rose” in the first half of the summer semester of 1942, from duplicating and disseminating them. These leaflets pessimistically prophesy Germany’s defeat, they call for passive resistance in the form of sabotage of the armaments industry and in general at every opportunity [Note 3] call for taking the National Socialist lifestyle away from the German people and therefore the government as well.

That, because he has deluded himself to believe that this is the only way the German people can survive the war!!

After he returned from Russia in November 1942, Scholl challenged his friend – the accused Probst – to give him a manuscript that would open the eyes of the German people! And Probst actually delivered a draft of a leaflet to Scholl as requested at the end of January 1943.

In conversations with his sister Sophia Scholl, the two of them decided to pursue leaflet propaganda in the sense of an effort against the war and in favor of cooperation with hostile plutocracies against National Socialism. The two siblings who had rooms with the same landlady co-wrote a leaflet [entitled] “To All Germans”. In this leaflet, Germany’s defeat in the war was prophesied, a War Of Independence against “National Socialist subhumanity” was announced, and demands in the sense of a liberal formal democracy were advanced. In addition, the siblings wrote a leaflet “German Students” (called “Fellow Students” in a later edition). They declared war on the Party, said that the day of reckoning were come, and were not embarrassed to compare their call for a battle against the Führer and the National Socialist lifestyle of our people with the war of independence against Napoleon (1813) and to associate the soldier’s song “awake my people, the beacons are burning” with it [Note 4].

The accused Scholls duplicated the leaflets partially with the assistance of a friend, the medical student Schmorell. The leaflets were distributed with mutual agreement:

1. Schmorell traveled to Salzburg, Linz, Vienna and mailed 200, 200, 1200 leaflets addressed for these cities and in Vienna, he mailed another 400 that were addressed to Frankfurt am Main

2. Sophia Scholl mailed 200 in Augsburg and on another occasion 600 in Stuttgart.

3. At night, Hans Scholl and Schmorell scattered thousands [of the leaflets] in the streets of Munich.

4. On February 18, the Scholl siblings set out 1500 – 1800 [leaflets] at the University of Munich in small parcels [sic], and Sophia Scholl threw a pile from the third floor down to the Lichthof.

Hans Scholl and Schmorell also carried out a graffiti operation on the nights of February 3, 8, and 15, 1943 [Note 5] in many places in Munich, especially at the university. These read “Down with Hitler”, “Hitler the Mass Murderer”, “Freedom”. Sophia Scholl found out about this after the first occasion, agreed with it and asked – unsuccessfully, to be sure – to participate in the future!

The accused have themselves disputed [Note 6] the expenditures, which totaled approximately 1000 Marks [Note 7].

Probst also began his medical studies in Spring 1939 and is now in his eighth semester as a soldier ordered to study [at the university]. He is married and has 3 children ages 2-1/2 years, 1-1/4 years, and 4 weeks old. He is an “unpolitical person”, which means he is not a man at all! Neither the solicitude of the National Socialist Reich for his vocational education, nor the fact that the National Socialist population policy enabled him to have a family while still a student, prevented him from completing a manuscript at Scholl’s request, in cowardly defeatism. The manuscript used the heroic battle in Stalingrad as an occasion to vilify the Führer as a militaristic swindler, and that – devolving into the form of an exhortation calls for action in the sense of what he presents as honorable surrender as assumption of a position against National Socialism. He supports the promises contained in his leaflet with reference to – Roosevelt! And he obtained his knowledge of this by listening to English broadcasts!

All the accused have confessed to the above. Probst tries to excuse himself with “psychotic depression” during composition his reasons for this are Stalingrad and the puerperal fever of his wife. But that alone cannot excuse such a reaction.

Whoever does as the accused have done, that is treasonously demoralized the home front and therefore in time of war our armed forces and therefore aids and abets the enemy (§ 5 of the Special Wartime Crimes VO and § 91 StrGB), raises the dagger in order to knife the Front in the back. This applies as well to Probst, who may claim that his manuscript was never to have become a leaflet, because the manner of expression used in the manuscript demonstrates otherwise. He who acts in this manner is attempting to start a rift in the unbroken unity of our front line, especially now when it matters most that we stand strong together. And this was done by German students, whose honor has always called for self-sacrifice for nation [Note 8] and fatherland!

If this action were punished with anything other than death, it would create the beginning of a chain of developments whose end was once 1918. Therefore there was for the People’s Court only one just punishment that would protect our warring people and Reich: the death penalty. The People’s Court knows that in this matter it is of one mind with our soldiers!

The accused have forfeited their honor as citizens for ever by their [acts of] treason against our people.

As condemned persons, the accused must also bear the costs of the trial.

/Signature: Husk/
Chief Administrative Officer
Acting as Court Clerk for the Bureau

Chief Prosecutor of the Reich
Of the People’s Court

Note 1: The original German places the blame for the loss directly on the accused, ie, the courts did not take it from them, they voluntarily gave it up. Note also difference between handwritten draft: Honor as citizens, not civil rights.

Note 2: The final draft of the verdict, together with the justification for the verdict (“Reasons”), is in the ZC13267 file twice. With the first copy, the reasons are handwritten, presumably in Freisler’s hand. It is nearly illegible, therefore no attempt was made to compare the two documents to verify accuracy of the 1943 transcription. Verdict + “Reasons” only included in this translation once. I have also not attempted to make the English translation read better than the original German document, where the grammar and vocabulary are decidedly poor.

Note 3: The syntax in this sentence contains an error, left “as is”. ‘At every opportunity’ modifies ‘call’, not ‘taking away.’

Note 4: It = the war of independence.

Note 5: In the original document, if the reader did not know the dates in question, one would assume that the writer had said “August 3” instead of Feb 3 & 8, because of incorrect punctuation.

Note 6: Could also mean ‘paid for’. In a legal document, usually ‘dispute’, but throughout Freisler’s writing, always paid.

Note 7: Approx. $8000 as of January 2003.

Note 9: There are numerous handwritten notes between the Clerk’s signature and the addressee. All in different hands, and mostly illegible.

Note 10: Unless the text provides new information, I have not inserted the information from this verdict into the chronological database. For example, I have not added anything about the graffiti operation based on this verdict, since it is covered in detail by the interrogations, and since the text in this document agrees with the interrogation responses.-Ed.

Sophie Scholl German Activist

Sophie Scholl was in a relationship with Fritz Hartnagel.


German Activist Sophie Scholl was born Sophia Magdalena Scholl on 9th May, 1921 in Forchtenberg, Baden-Württemberg, Germany and passed away on 22nd Feb 1943 Stadelheim Prison, Munich, Bavaria, Germany aged 21. She is most remembered for White Rose non-violent resistance group. Her zodiac sign is Taurus.

Sophie Scholl is a member of the following lists: 1921 births, Nonviolence advocates and Women in World War II.


Help us build our profile of Sophie Scholl! Login to add information, pictures and relationships, join in discussions and get credit for your contributions.

Relationship Statistics


First Name Sophie
Last Name Scholl
Full Name at Birth Sophia Magdalena Scholl
Age 21 (age at death) years
Birthday 9th May, 1921
Birthplace Forchtenberg, Baden-Württemberg, Germany
Died 22nd February, 1943
Place of Death Stadelheim Prison, Munich, Bavaria, Germany
Cause of Death Executed
Build Average
Hair Color Brown - Dark
Zodiac Sign Taurus
Sexuality Straight
Religion Lutheran
Ethnicity White
Nationality German
Occupation Text Anti War Activist, Student
Occupation Activist
Claim to Fame White Rose non-violent resistance group
Father Robert Scholl
Mother Magdalena Scholl
Brother Hans Scholl
Sister Inge Scholl, Elisabeth Scholl Hartnagel

Sophia Magdalena Scholl (ʼn May 1921 – 22 February 1943) was a German student and anti-Nazi political activist, active within the White Rose non-violent resistance group in Nazi Germany.

Department of Theatre presents The Sophie Scholl Project

BEMIDJI, Minn. — The Bemidji State University Department of Theatre presents “The Sophie Scholl Project,” an original work based on records of the life, interrogation, trial and execution of University of Munich student Sophie Scholl during World War II. The production was written, directed and performed by the members of a theatre seminar course taught by Assistant Professor of Theatre and Communication Arts Pat Carriere. It opens on Thursday Nov. 15 and runs through Saturday, Nov. 17. Shows begin at 7:29 p.m. nightly during the three-day run.

Sophia Magdalena Scholl, the daughter of Robert Scholl, was born May 9, 1921. Sophie joined the Hitler Youth in 1933, and at first was enthusiastic about the organization. But influenced by the views of her father, she became increasingly critical of Adolf Hitler and his Nazi government.

After leaving school in 1940 she became a kindergarten teacher, followed by six months of auxiliary war service as a nursery teacher in Blumberg. In May 1942, she entered the University of Munich and became a student of biology and philosophy.

Scholl was a member of a group called White Rose, formed by students at the University of Munich in 1941. It is believed that the group was formed after August von Galen, the Archbishop of Munster, spoke out in a sermon against the Nazi practice of euthanasia — the killing of those considered by the Nazis as genetically unsuitable.

Members of this anti-Nazi group included Sophie and her brother Hans, their sister Inge, Christoph Probst, Alexander Schmorell, Willi Graf and Jugen Wittenstein. Kurt Huber, a philosophy teacher at the university, was also a member of the group.

In 1943, Sophie and her brother Hans were arrested for distributing leaflets on the Munich campus, and Christoph Probst was later arrested in connection with the production of the leaflets. The three members of the White Rose group appeared before the People’s Court judge Roland Frieisler on Feb. 20, 1943 and were executed hours later after being found guilty of sedition.

Sophie Scholl will be played by Mallory McKay, a sophomore in elementary education from Rochester, Minn. Also in the cast are: Erik Bergsven (freshman in music Bemidji, Minn.) as Johann Reichardt, Inspector Robert Mohr and Judge Roland Frieisler Ramey Nordby (fresman in creative and professional writing Grygla, Minn.) as Christoper Probst Thomas Bauer (senior in history Owatonna, Minn.) as Hans Scholl Sarah Bull (junior in theatre Bemidji, Minn.) as Traute Lafrenz and Else Gebel Kayla Hinkemeyer (sophomore in elementary education Kimball, Minn.) as Gisela Schertling and Magdalena Scholl Jamie Lim (junior in psychology from Melaka, Malaysia) as a guard and Carriere as Robert Scholl.

The Sophie Scholl Project will be held in the Black Box of the Bangsberg Fine Arts Complex, located on the campus of Bemidji State University. Tickets are $8.00 for adults, $4.00 for students and senior citizens. BSU students are admitted free with a valid ID. Seating in the Black Box is limited, so interested patrons are encouraged to buy tickets in advance.

Tickets are available in the Bangsberg Fine Arts Complex box office, located in Bangsberg 127 on the BSU campus. Tickets are available by telephone reservation only, and will not be available for walk-up purchase call (218) 755-3863 to reserve.

For more information, please contact Patrick Carriere at the Bemidji State University Department of Theatre at (218) 755-3901.

What Inspires You?

Inspiration comes in many forms. Beaches, music, books, movies, art, and injustice inspire me. However, one inspiration in my life challenges me to think and possibly reconsider my conclusions. That inspiration is my 16-year-old grandson, Bo. I think grandchildren inspire their grandparents in lots of different ways. I have 10+ grandchildren and great-grandchildren. As their gifts for inspiration become apparent, they continue to enrich my life in remarkable ways. Even as infants, babies, and toddlers, they are inspirational just by being. And, always, their unconditional love inspires and transforms. I am highlighting Bo in this piece because his unique brand of inspiration surfaced in a surprising way – he asked&hellip

On this date in 1943, anti-Nazi student activist Willi Graf was beheaded at Munich’s Stadelheim Prison.

Graf was a conscientious Catholic whose disaffinity for Naziism manifested in an early refusal to join the Hitler Youth: he did a short stint in prison in 1938 for having continued associating with a banned Catholic youth league.

This subversive fellow might have been destined for the chop regardless in the black years to come, but for a thoroughgoing radicalization, he was drafted into the army as a medic and got a front-row seat on the Holocaust and the horrors of the eastern front.

During a 1942 study leave back in Munich, Graf met White Rose resistance figures Hans and Sophie Scholl and began participating in that circle’s distribution of illicit anti-Nazi leaflets.

He was arrested within months and condemned on April 19, 1943 to die as a traitor — though actual execution of the sentence waited several months on the Gestapo’s vain exertions to extract from their prey actionable information on other collaborators.

A number of schools around Germany are named in Graf’s honor.

On this day..

Possibly related executions:

1943: Sophie Scholl of the White Rose

On February 22, 1943, Sophie Magdalena Scholl, former student of philosophy and biology at the University of Munich in Germany, was executed by guillotine for her role in the White Rose nonviolent Nazi resistance group.

Scholl was born just 21 years earlier and spent a carefree childhood in Ludwigsburg and later, in Ulm.

Although she initially joined Bund Deutscher Mädel at age 12 (as required), she quickly grew disenchanted with the group and began to identify strongly with the dissenting political views of some of her teachers, family, and friends.

While serving the required six months in the National Labor Service prior to enrolling in university, Scholl began exploring the philosophy and practice of passive resistance, which she was almost immediately able to put into practice at the University of Munich the following spring, where she quickly fell in with the compatriots of her older brother, Hans Scholl.

Initially a forum to entertain the abstract questions of budding young intellectuals, the group (which dubbed itself the White Rose) quickly moved towards taking a more active role in resistance to the Nazi regime.

How should an individual act under a dictatorship? What obligations, or indeed, power, did a group of half a dozen students have in the face of such stifling repression? As Sophie and her brother watched as their father was jailed for a critical remark made about Hitler to an employee, other group members shared stories of atrocities witnessed during war service (of the six members, all but Sophie were male).

It was agreed that some sort of action was necessary. But what?

The group began distributing a series of leaflets urging other Germans to join them in resistance against the Nazi regime. The earlier leaflets were mailed anonymously to addresses all over Germany (copied out of the phone book), but later, the group began targeting the student population. In Fellow Fighters in the Resistance, they wrote: “The name of Germany is dishonoured for all time if German youth does not finally rise, take revenge, smash its tormentors. Students! The German people look to us.”

Passive was their philosophy, but their language was most certainly not.

In February 1943, the group targeted the last of the series of six leaflets for distribution in the main building of the university. Scholl and her brother volunteered to distribute the leaflets one morning, and nearly were able to disappear into the throng of students once classes let out, before being spotted by a janitor and quickly arrested.

After hours of interrogation, Scholl had almost established her innocence, until investigators searched the siblings’ apartment and found proof of her guilt. At this point, she switched tactics and proudly stood by her actions, stating that she was obligated to act in accordance with her conscience and would freely do the same thing again, and this in the face of increasingly hostile and derogatory questioning by her interrogator.

Scholl, her brother Hans, and White Rose member Christoph Probst were subsequently brought to trial in the People’s Court in a crowd of hand-picked Nazi supporters and in front of the notorious Nazi judge Roland Freisler. Found guilty, each was allowed to give a brief statement. Scholl proclaimed, “Where we stand today, you will stand soon.”

Hans and Sophie Scholl and Probst were executed just hours after their trial. Sophie Scholl’s last words were: “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?”

Indeed, the pamphlet that led to Scholl’s death did have that very effect. Smuggled out of Germany later that year, the Allied Forces seized on it and dropped thousands of propaganda copies German cities later that year, retitled as “Manifesto of the Students of Munich”.

In the post World War II era, the Geschwister Scholl (Scholl siblings) have since attained an almost mythical stature in German culture and history, with numerous monuments and schools dedicated in their honor (as well as the famous University plaza the siblings crossed the day of their arrest). In a nationwide 2003 poll, Sophie and her brother Hans were voted the fourth most important Germans of all times, above Bach, Goethe and Einstein.

A celebrated movie about Sophie Scholl was released to critical acclaim in 2005, and the White Rose continues to be the subject of numerous books and articles, from the philosophical to the startlingly practical and pertinent questions of the present day, of just what an ordinary and relatively powerless individual can and should do under extraordinarily trying circumstances.

Watch the video: Die Wannseekonferenz 1984