With this post I want to honour Sophie and Hans Scholl and other members of die Weisse Rose (the White Rose) student movement in Munich, Germany in World War 2.
I first came across the story of Hans and Sophie Scholl when I was working in Stuttgart as part of my university year abroad. I didn’t know anyone in the first few weeks so raided the library where I worked and one of the books I came across was “Die Weisse Rose” written by their sister, Inge Scholl.
Members of die Weisse Rose (the White Rose) organised resistance against the Nazi regime, an act of immense courage given the repression of the fascist organisation in Germany at that time. Eventually they were captured and three of their number – Sophie Scholl, her brother Hans Scholl and their friend Christoph Probst – were found guilt of treason on 22nd February 1943. They were executed a few hours later at 5 pm, beheaded by a guillotine.
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?” What immense courage!
I think the anniversary of the deaths of these young people is a good opportunity not only to remember and honor their courage, but also to remember that there were very brave Germans who fought the Nazi regime – often at the cost of their own lives through execution or transport to concentration camps where they were killed along with the millions of Jews, Christians, gypsies, intellectually and physically handicapped people, trade unionists and others who opposed the Nazi regime.
I also think it’s terrific that the sacrifice of these young people is not forgotten. Their lives were not lost in vain and their courageous activities are remembered and honoured seventy-three years down the track as heroes and inspirational to those today engaged in action for social justice and human rights.