Sophie Scholl (May 9, 1921– February 22, 1943) was a German student and political activist who was a member of the White Rose – a non-violent resistance group to Hitler and the Nazi party. In 1943, she was caught delivering anti-war propaganda and was executed for high treason at the age of 21 (along with her brother Hans Scholl).
Her story is one of bravery and personal conscience.
In 1942, Sophie joined her older brother, Hans, at the University of Munich and founded the White Rose movement (along with Christoph Probst, Willi Graf and Alexander Schmorell) – one of the few German groups that spoke out against the inhumanity of the totalitarian regime.
The White Rose conducted anonymous leaflet and graffiti campaigns which called for active opposition against the Nazi regime. The risks involved in such a movement were enormous – the lives of average civilians were monitored for any deviation from absolute loyalty to the state. Even a casual remark critical of Hitler or the Nazis could result in arrest by the Gestapo.
On February 18, 1943, Sophie and Hans were caught leaving pamphlets at the University of Munich and were arrested. On February 22, four days after their arrest, their trial began. It was there, in the courtroom in front of the judge, Sophie remarked, “Somebody, after all, had to make a start. What we wrote and said is also believed by many others. They just don't dare express themselves as we did.”
Sophie and Hans were found guilty of treason. Their punishment…death.
“I am, now as before, of the opinion that I did the best that I could do for my nation. I, therefore, do not regret my conduct and will bear the consequences that result from my conduct.”
Her final words: “The sun still shines.”
Sophie Scholl and other members of the White Rose remain a symbol of how people can take courageous action against violent repression.
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