Book: Sophie Scholl: The Real Story of the Woman Who Defied Hitler
Author: Frank McDonough
Publisher: The History Press
Number of pages: 255
Reason for Reading: I saw a movie about Sophie Scholl and wanted to know more about this incredibly brave young woman
Sophie was met by prison guards and led into the dimly lit reception area. She was searched, handed over her possessions and was then escorted to a single cell. Some members of the resistance remained on death row for several agonizing months. The usual period before execution –even in the Nazi era—was ninety-nine days. But this was not a normal case. It had already been decided Sophie, Hans and Christoph would die before the sun set.
My thoughts: As I’ve spent countless hours reading about resistance fighters, particularly during the Nazi regime, I constantly ask myself what I would do. Would I have been brave enough, informed enough to stand up and say, “This is wrong”? I grew up on Anne Frank, admiring her protectors as much, if not more, than I admired her. Trust me—that’s saying a lot.
Sophie Scholl was brought up in a well-to-do upper middle-class family, and despite her father’s harangues against Hitler as he rose to power, she and her siblings joined the Hitler Youth more for the fun activities than because they strongly supported Hitler. But as the fun activities degraded into very controlled pro-Hitler groups, they rebelled in ways large and small.
Sophie and her older brother Hans formed part of the core of the White Rose movement when they were in university. Their activities including writing and distribution of anti-Hitler tracts, and boldly leaving graffiti condemning Hitler and the Nazi Party. One fateful day, they were distributing the tracts at university, and Sophie impulsively shoved a large stack of them off the ledge down into the atrium below. Her impulsive act got them arrested. The White Rose group had been a focus of Nazi attention for some time, and the Nazis were thrilled to at last have found the perpetrators behind the graffiti and the posting of tracts.
Sophie remained calm and serene during intense interrogation. She denied everything, until faced with the facts that her interrogator, Robert Mohr, showed her as proof of her complicity. She then claimed that she and her brother Hans were the only ones involved. Unfortunately, Hans had been found in possession of a handwritten tract that would have become #7, written by Christoph Probst. So Probst, too, was detained and tried and convicted.
Sophia Magdalena Scholl was 21 years old when her life was ended by a guillotine at the hands of a Nazi executioner. Her legacy, however, continues to inspire.
Director: Marc Rothermund
Release Date: February 13, 2005
Running Time: 120 minutes
Distributed by: X Verleih AG (Germany) / Zeitgeist Films (USA)
The movie is in German with English subtitles, and is currently available to watch streaming from Netflix.
As I said, watching the movie is what brought Sophie Scholl into my consciousness. Julia Jentsch brilliantly portrayed Sophie Scholl, and Gerald Alexander Held brought depth and a degree of compassion to his role as her interrogator, Robert Mohr. The cast and direction, cinematography, everything is absolutely superb. I’d recommend starting with the movie, and then going to the book(s)–there are others out there–because after you see this stunning movie, you will definitely want to know more about Sophie Scholl.