Sophie Scholl and the White Rose

Sophie Scholl was born in 1921, the fourth of six children. Her family was Lutheran, and her father was vocally anti-Nazi. Despite her fathers protests, in the early 30s, Sophie willingly joined the Hitler Youth. She loved the games and excitement it brought, along with being with her friends.

However, Sophie hated injustice. When the Nuremberg Laws came in 1935 and stripped the rights of all the Jews, Sophie was infuriated. She entered the University of Munich in 1942 where she studied biology and philosophy. That year, Sophie’s father was imprisoned for making anti-Hitler comments.

In 1942, an anonymous essay entitled “The White Rose” floated around the University of Munich. Hans Scholl, medical student and brother of Sophie, read this anonymous anti-Nazi essay. Inspired by the audacity the author of the letter had, he began spreading the essay wherever they went – and thus, The White Rose was born. (It was known in German as Die Weiße Rose.) The original members were Hans Scholl, Willi Graf, and Christoph Probst. Originally, Hans tried to hide his involvement from Sophie but when Sophie found it, she joined.

There were six leaflets published in total. Four leaflets were under the title “The White Rose” and two were under the title “Leaflets of the Resistance.” The leaflets were made and distributed from 1942 to 1943. The anonymous leaflets urged the population to speak up. Leaflet 4 bluntly stated, “We will not be silent. We are your bad conscience. The White Rose will not leave you in peace.” You can see more excerpts from The White Rose leaflets here.

On February 18, 1943, Hans and Sophie spread the sixth leaflet around the University of Munich as usual. Right before the class break, Sophie noticed a huge stack of pamphlets still in their suitcase. At the top floor, she grabbed a handful of leaflets and flung them over the balcony, just as students were about to fill the atrium. A university janitor had seen them, and immediately turned them in.

Hans, Sophie, and Christoph Probst were arrested, tried, and sentenced to death. Christoph’s wife was in the hospital with their third child.
During the middle of the trial, both of Sophie’s parents came. Her mother was upset. Her father was proud of his children and wanted to defend them, but neither was allowed to come in. Before being executed, Hans and Sophie were allowed to have one last visit with their parents.

The court could not understand how three Germans, raised in German families, German schools and Hitler Youth, could rebel. Sophie boldly replied, “Somebody, after all, had to make a start. What we wrote and said is also believed by many others. They just don’t dare to express themselves as we did.”

memorial at University of Munich, Wikipedia, public domain

While in prison, the Scholl’s were most notable for their courage; they refused to show fear. Sophie walked to her death unflinching. Hans’ last words were “Long live freedom!”

The execution date was February 22, 1943. Soon after the Scholl’s death, The White Rose’s sixth leaflet was smuggled to the Allies. The Allies copied millions and air-dropped the leaflets all over Germany.

The White Rose’s legacy still stands – today nearly all of German knows who these heroes are. Streets and places are named after the Scholl’s and The White Rose. Pamphlets surround the University of Munich in commemoration. (You can see pictures here.) In 2005, a German movie entitled Sophie Scholl: The Final Days depicts The White Rose. The White Rose has also been featured in other documentaries, movies, and books.

Although this quote comes from an unknown source, it is quoted in a 2008 book as Sophie and has a very fruitful message.

“The real damage is done by those millions who want to survive. The honest men who just want to be left in peace. Those who don’t want their little lives disturbed by anything bigger than themselves. Those with no sides and no causes. Those who won’t take measure of their own strength, for fear of antagonizing their own weakness. Those who don’t like to make waves—or enemies. Those for whom freedom, honour, truth, and principles are only literature.”


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  • You probably know by now that I LOVE The White Rose! I really enjoyed reading this and glad that you included many not that known members such as Traute Lafrenz. There were many White Rose members that are hardly recognized even though some of them did get caught and sent to jail for life or concentration camps.
    So I was glad to see that you mentioned some of them!

    • Yah, until I did research, I didn’t know about Traute. I just knew about Sophie, Hans, Alex, and Christoph. I thought that just because Sophie is the most-famous doesn’t mean she deserves 100% of the credit 🙂

  • I first read about the white rose in 2010 whilst reading an article on Wikipedia. Straight away I was blown away by the courage of these people. I read a book about Sophie and watched the 2005 movie. I travelled to Munich this month and I visited the University, the museum, the flat they lived in and also the graves of Hans, Sophie and Christoph (and other family members) where I placed a white rose on each grave. It is a really beautiful cemetery. Being in all those places touches way down deep inside your soul and is something that I will carry inside me forever.
    To think that in one place, Munich, one of the most evil seeds in modern history began to grow and became the Nazi party and yet at the same time another seed of pure, unselfish righteousness was also beginning to bloom. The roses and the thorns.
    I’m not sure it is the sense of compassion and justice that fascinates us about the white rose movement as noble as that cause is, but rather it is the strength of conviction and the unfaltering courage which the Scholl siblings displayed to the end which makes them stand out. At such a tender age they must have been truly remarkable characters.
    A common question…. if you had a dinner party and could invite anybody you wanted living or dead, who would it be?….. How I would love to chat with them about all manner of subjects…

    • Now we have a 15 year old Swedish girl Greta Thunberg taking up Soohie’s mantle,she will meet many obstacles,it is a lonely road as I know myself…trying to save the woodlands,the rivers,the life that gave us life….Greta will get inspiration from Sophie,and lead us onto the right path…

  • Now we have a 15 year old Swedish girl Greta Thunberg taking up Sophie’s mantle,she will meet many obstacles,it is a lonely road as I know myself…trying to save the woodlands,the rivers,the life that gave us life….Greta will get inspiration from Sophie,and lead us onto the right path…