The Courage of Sophie Scholl

by DAVID KRIEGER

If young people today would like to learn something about courage, they should see the movie "Sophie Scholl–The Final Days." Sophie Scholl was a 21 year old student at the University of Munich in 1943. Her older brother, Hans Scholl, was a medical student at the University, and a founder of the White Rose, a small group of students that secretly put out leaflets critical of Hitler’s Germany. Sophie Scholl and her brother took risks to oppose the Nazi regime, when most Germans, including students, were either enthusiastic supporters of the regime or were cowed by fear from speaking out.

In February 1943, Sophie Scholl and Hans distributed leaflets at their University denouncing Hitler’s regime and its aggressive war in Europe. They were detained and taken to the police station for interrogation. For distributing information critical of the Nazi government they were charged with high treason and with lowering the morale of the German troops. In a matter of only a few days, they were brought before a judge who condemned them to death. The same day they were executed by guillotine. The movie is about the dignity of this young woman, who stayed true to her beliefs and paid the ultimate penalty.

The story has some parallels to today’s America. The United States is engaged in an aggressive and illegal war in Iraq. Critics of the war are often denounced as being unpatriotic and of demoralizing the troops. Detainees in the so-called "global war on terror" are being held without charges and without trials. Prisoners are being tortured. American citizens are being wiretapped. And most members of our society, including those on college campuses, are docile, even though we have the freedom to speak out without fear of imprisonment and death.

Sophie Scholl chose to live and die by her conscience rather than support the repressive laws and aggressive militarism of a vicious regime. That her ideas live on in this movie is a tribute to her heroism and that of her colleagues in The White Rose.

The evening that I saw this powerful film, there were 14 people in the theater. It is a film that everyone should see, reflect upon and discuss. What gave Sophie and her colleagues in the White Rose Society the clarity and courage to act? Why was courage such a rare commodity then, and why is it now? Why are our college campuses so quiet in the face of an aggressive and illegal war?

DAVID KRIEGER is president of the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation.


 

Like What You’ve Read? Support CounterPunch
Weekend Edition
September 4-6, 2015
Lawrence Ware
No Refuge: the Specter of White Supremacy Still Haunts Black America
Andrew Levine
Compassionate Conservatism: a Reconsideration and an Appreciation
Paul Street
Bi-Polar Disorder: Obama’s Environmental Bait-and-Switch Politics
Arun Gupta
Field Notes to Life During the Apocalypse
Steve Hendricks
Come Again? Second Thoughts on My Ashley Madison Affair
Ron Jacobs
Bernie Sanders’ Vision: As Myopic as Every Other Candidate or Not?
Jeffrey St. Clair
Arkansas Bloodsuckers: the Clintons, Prisoners and the Blood Trade
Richard W. Behan
Republican Fail, Advantage Sanders: the Indefensible Budget for Defense
Ted Rall
Call It By Its Name: Censorship
Susan Babbitt
“Swarms” Entering the UK? What We Can Still Learn About the Migrant Crisis From Che Guevara
Kali Akuno
Until We Win: Black Labor and Liberation in the Disposable Era
John Wight
Adrift Without Sanctuary: a Sick and Twisted Morality
Binoy Kampmark
Sieges in an Age of Austerity: Monitoring Julian Assange
Kathleen Wallace
The Child Has a Name, They All Do
David Rosen
Why So Few Riots?
Norm Kent
The Rent Boy Raid: Homeland Security Should Monitor Our Borders Not Our Bedrooms
John Helmer
IMF Officials Implicated in Theft, Concealment of Ukraine Loan Corruption
Michael Welton
Canada’s Arrogant Autocrat: the Rogue Politics of Stephen Harper
Patrick T. Hiller
There’s Nothing Collateral About a Toddler Washed Ashore
Ramzy Baroud
Palestine’s Crisis of Leadership: Did Abbas Destroy Palestinian Democracy?
Pepe Escobar
Say Hello to China’s New Toys
Sylvia C. Frain
Tiny Guam, Huge US Marine Base Expansions
Pete Dolack
Turning National Parks into Corporate Profit Centers
Ann Garrison
Africa’s Problem From Hell: Samantha Power
Christopher Brauchli
Poor, Poor, Pitiful Citigroup
Norman Pollack
Paradigm of a Fascist Mindset: Nicholas Burns on Iran
Roger Annis
Canada’s Web of Lies Over Syrian Refugee Crisis
Chris Zinda
Constitutional Crisis in the Heart of Dixie
Rannie Amiri
Everything Stinks: Beirut Protests and Garbage Politics
Missy Comley Beattie
In Order To Breathe
James McEnteer
Blast From the Past in Buenos Aires
Edward Leer
Love, Betrayal, and Donuts
Cesar Chelala
Cruelty is Not a Human Right
Louis Proyect
Migrating Through Hell: Quemada-Diez’s “La Jaula de Oro”
Charles R. Larson
Class and Colonialism in British Cairo
September 03, 2015
Sal Rodriguez
How California Prison Hunger Strikes Sparked Solitary Confinement Reforms
Lawrence Ware
Leave Michael Vick Alone: the Racism and Misogyny of Football Fans
Dave Lindorff
Is Obama the Worst President Ever?
Vijay Prashad
The Return of Social Democracy?
Ellen Brown
Quantitative Easing for People: Jeremy Corbyn’s Radical Proposal
Paul Craig Roberts
The Rise of the Inhumanes: Barron, Bybee, Yoo and Bradford
Binoy Kampmark
Inside Emailgate: Hillary’s Latest Problem
Lynn Holland
For the Love of Water: El Salvador’s Mining Ban
Geoff Dutton
Time for Some Anger Management
Jack Rasmus
The New Colonialism: Greece and Ukraine