Sophie Scholl and the White Rose - Resistance in Nazi Germany

Sophie Scholl postage

Sophie Scholl postage, © Anniversary stock

04.02.2021 - Article

Sophie Scholl was 21 years old when she was executed. Her name stands for resistance against the Nazi regime like hardly any other.

Profile: Sophie Scholl
Born: May 9, 1921 in Forchtenberg, Baden-Württemberg, Germany
Nationality: German
Siblings: Inge (1917-1998), Hans (1918-1943), Elisabeth (*1920), Werner (1922-1944), Thilde (1925-1926), and a half-brother, Ernst
Parents: Magdalena and Robert Scholl
Education and studies: In 1940 Sophie begins training as a kindergarten teacher. A short time later, the National Socialists conscripted her into labor and war relief service. In 1942 Sophie begins to study biology and philosophy in Munich.
Resistance: Together with her brother Hans and other students, Sophie joins the White Rose resistance group against the National Socialists. On February 18, 1943, the students distribute leaflets directly at the university. The house locksmith observes and betrays them.
Died: Sophie, Hans and Christoph Probst, another member of the White Rose, are arrested after the leafleting action. After three days of interrogation, the Nazis sentence the three to death. They are executed on February 22, 1943.
Quote: “What we said and wrote is what so many think. Only they do not dare to say it.”

Sophie Scholl would have turned 100 years old on May 09, 2021. She and her brother Hans belonged to the resistance group “White Rose” and fought against Adolf Hitler. Only a few years earlier they had been enthusiastic supporters of him... But where did 21-year-old Sophie and her brother Hans, three years her senior, get the courage to rebel against those in power in the first place? Far too many people at the time did not dare to do so, were Nazis themselves or followers. And indeed, Hans, Sophie and their siblings were also attracted to the ideas of the Nazis.

“At first, we were all enthusiastic,” says Elisabeth Scholl, the only surviving sister of Sophie and Hans decades later in an interview. In Ulm, where the family experienced the beginnings of the Hitler era in the 1930s, the children soon joined the Hitler Youth and the Bund Deutscher Mädel, the Nazi youth organizations. “There was simply fellowship there,” Elisabeth Scholl recounts. The boys and girls went on excursions and organized camps. At the time, they didn't realize that the Nazis were trying to instill their ideals in the children.

Sophie Scholl has doubts about the system
The “Scholl siblings” soon take on leadership roles in the Hitler Youth and supervise groups. Sophie challenges “her girls” again and again, loves tests of courage and likes to be out in nature. The parents, on the other hand, are not very impressed by their children's enthusiasm for the Hitler Youth. They are Christians and reject the Nazis' attitude, especially their contempt for Jews. Hans, Sophie and their siblings thus grow up with Christian values on the one hand and Nazi propaganda on the other. This also leads to conflicts in the Hitler Youth. In 1938 Sophie even has to give up her rank as group leader. Doubts gradually germinate in her. She sees how the Jews are harassed more and more, no longer allowed to work, persecuted.

How Sophie Scholl and Hans Scholl changed the world
Hans has been studying medicine in Munich for a long time in 1942. He has also turned his back on the Nazis - and founds the White Rose with his friend Alexander Schmorell. The two of them wrote and distributed the first four leaflets alone, sending 100 copies each to authors, professors and booksellers. They demand: “Resist wherever you are!”
When Sophie also moves to Munich, she quickly makes friends with Hans' acquaintances; not long after, she is part of the core of the White Rose. During the day, the members live like normal students. At night they produce thousands of leaflets. The students send out the leaflets and distribute them on the university campus and elsewhere.

The end of the White Rose

On February 18, 1943, the group distributes leaflet at the university when a locksmith discovers and betrays Hans and Sophie to the Gestapo, the National Socialist Secret State Police. The two are interrogated for three days. They take all the blame, try in vain to protect their friends. And they sacrifice their lives for their courage: on 22 February they are sentenced to death and executed.

Today, numerous streets, public squares and schools are named after the Scholl siblings. They are considered role models and, with others, among the most important resistance fighters against Adolf Hitler and the Nazi Regime.

Top of page