Cold, unfathomably sharp, heavy ... Poised, waiting, hovering, full of stored energy, indifferent about its duty ... Absolutely uncircumventable: no possibility of escape, no other possible outcome. This is happening. And soon.
Such was the situation before young Sophie Scholl and her brother, Hans, on the 22nd of February, 1943. They circulated seditious flyers at the university, in Munich, an act the Nazi government regarded as high treason.
My 'involvement' with Sophie Scholl was a subtle and circuitous one. Following my sophomore year in college I took a year off to work and travel. In February, I visited my best friend in Germany, with a 'southern' trip planned (ie. a trip focusing on destinations in Southern Europe). It was my first trip abroad, and I travelled alone to Germany. My friend met me at the train station in Marburg, and we walked, with all my gear, to his dormitory atop a long hill overlooking that beautiful little city. His dormitory was located on a road named Geschwister-Scholl Strasse. I didn't think anything of that street name (which refers to the Scholl siblings) until some years later, when I saw a movie about some Munich university students who participated in the resistance movement against Hitler in 1942 and 1943. They circulated flyers critical of the war. Critical of the Nazi regime. Critical of Hitler.
Initially they spread the flyers in the mail, which was untraceable. But one day they had flyers left over, so rather than toss them, one of the the students decided to spread them in person at the university. His sister joined him in the act, though they knew it carried great risk.
They were seen, reported, arrested, and the others working with them were eventually arrested as well, though they steadfastly denied that any others were involved. They were quickly 'tried,' convicted, and sentenced to death. I put tried in quotation marks because the trial was not what we would regard as a fair or balanced process. It was a kangaroo court. They were executed by guillotine the same day they were tried. On Feb. 22. 1943.
I am not feeling well, tonight, to do this diary about this incredible young woman, so rather than go on and on about my high regard for her, I’ll leave it to quotations from others to describe her impact on our world.
Golo Mann, historian, third son of Nobel Prize winner, Thomas Mann:
If they had been the only ones in the German resistance movement, the Scholl siblings and their friends, they would have sufficed all by themselves to save something of the honor of those people who speak the German language.
(Hätte es im deutschen Widerstand nur sie gegeben, die Geschwister Scholl und ihre Freunde, so hätten sie alleine genügt, um etwas von der Ehre des Menschen zu retten, welcher die deutsche Sprache spricht.)
From quotes about Sophie :
It is possibly the most spectacular moment of resistance that I can think of in the 20th Century... The fact that five little kids, in the mouth of the wolf, where it really counted, had the tremendous courage to do what they did, is spectacular to me. I know that the world is better for them having been there, but I don't know why.
Lillian Garrett-Groag in Newsday (22 February 1993)
Among the many tributes, in 1999 the German women’s magazine Brigitte voted her “Woman of the Twentieth Century.” In a major German TV series in 2003, called Greatest Germans, Sophie Scholl was the highest-ranked German woman of all time. (From p. 7, Sophie Scholl: The real story of the Woman Who Defied Hitler, by Frank McDonough.)
Finally, two paragraphs from McDonough’s final chapter, on Sophie’s legacy.
Sophie’s inspirational and life-affirming story is not just another story about the past. It is a story of vital importance in the present and for the future. It is a story of bravery, of personal conscience and of freedom of opinion. It is really a story of today, about you and me. We must never foget she was just 21 years old when she was killed by the Nazis, but she possessed a life-affirming personality no dictatorship could ever silence. Sophie chose the path of resistance when could have just as easily led a quiet life. This makes Sophie’s decision to oppose the Nazis all the more remarkable.
Sophie Scholl faced her own death with supreme fearlessness and a deep faith in her moral, political and religious convictions. She showed that brutal dictatorships can only be averted through the courage and resistance of all citizens. She walked toward the guillotine calmly and with no trace of fear, believing that what she had done was the right thing to do. There have been many brave individuals in history. Sophie Scholl walks alongside the very bravest of them all. A white rose that will never die - with a profound message:
Please pass Sophie’s message on.
(Note: Freedom is the word Sophie wrote on the back of her document of indictment. It is also the last word uttered by her brother Hans, moments after her execution, when he screamed Long Live Freedom before the blade fell. The White Rose is the name Hans, Sophie and her friends used to describe their resistance group.)
On to tonight's comments!
I loved the snarky, but accurate comment from blue aardvark, here!
I enjoyed this exchange between CDH in Brooklyn and stagemom in Eclectablog's outstanding follow-up diary Insipid reporting by New York Times was worse than we thought!
As someone who lived in Georgia the first 41 years of my life, jfromga says it all in Avenging Angel's well-written and fact-based diary New Right-Wing Attack on Wisconsin Teachers Boomerangs.
This comment from second gen, as opposed as this user appears to be to my position on Second Amendment rights, shows that s/he understands at least one important part of the reasons why Daily Kos RKBA was created, and will continue to be a robust presence on the site.
From Regina in a Sears Kit House:
Great comment , especially that last line! From msmacgyver.
crankyinNYC's discussion of the cult of objectivity at the NYT might inspire a horror movie script.
This comment by Tom Taaffe illustrates that lack of income isn't the only problem facing so many families.
Please add your own selections, below!
Thanks for visiting tonight!