The daughter of a mayor in 1930’s Germany, Sophie Scholl was caught up in the swirl of politics at an early age. And with the rise of the Nazi party, the idealistic teen-ager and her older brother Hans quickly joined the Hitler Youth. They, like so many, bought the lie that Adolph Hitler would bring hope and prosperity back to Germany. But between her father’s early anti-Nazi stance and her own careful observations, Sophie soon realized that Nazism was utterly incompatible with her Christianity.
The letters Sophie received from her boyfriend, who had been conscripted into the army, which told of the atrocities the Nazis were committing further convinced her that she needed to act—and the truth needed to be told.
Simply leaving the Hitler Youth was not enough for Sophie, but open dissent in Nazi Germany was tantamount to signing your own death certificate. So with her brother and four other friends, she formed The White Rose—an under-ground, non-violent resistance movement dedicated to educating German youths about the evils of Nazism.
The White Rose studied theology, philosophy, and politics together, and initially Hans wanted that to be the extent of Sophie’s involvement. But she insisted on being fully engaged in the activism, convincing the men that as a female she was far less likely to be stopped by the SS.
The group purchased a typewriter and a duplicating machine, and by 1942 had begun disseminating their leaflets around the campus of the University of Munich where Hans was a medical student and Sophie an undergrad. They also initiated an anti-Nazi and anti-Hitler graffiti campaign.
As their mission grew, Sophie would buy the paper and stamps at several locations so as to not raise suspicion, and thousands of leaflets were mailed from different posts. But in February of 1943 a utility man saw Sophie distributing the group’s literature on campus. She was arrested by the Gestapo, tortured, and sentenced to death for high treason.
As she was led to the guillotine, Sophie uttered her last words.
“How can we expect righteousness to prevail when there is hardly anyone willing to give himself up individually to a righteous cause? 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?”
She was 21 years-old.
Sophie Scholl is a hero you should know. And I’m Dr. Ross Porter.