Sophia Magdalena Scholl (9 May 1921 – 22 February 1943) was a German student, anti-Nazi dissident, and activist.
When she was a teenager, she enlisted in the Hitler youth organization, as did most of her classmates. However, her initial enthusiasm gradually gave way to criticism, as she and her brother Hans began to feel the stifling effects of fascism.
In 1942, she enrolled at the Ludwig-Maximilian University in Munich to study biology and philosophy. Together with a group of like-minded students – Alexander Schmorell, Christoph Probst, and Willi Graf – and under the intellectual guidance of Kurt Huber, a philosophy professor at the University and ardent believer in liberal democracy, Sophie and her brother Hans led the non-violent resistance movement Die Weiße Rose (‘The White Rose’).
The group wrote, printed and distributed six typewritten leaflets denouncing the Nazi-regime and advocating active resistance against it. Copies of the leaflets were sent to different parts of Germany and Austria, appeared in mailboxes and phone booths, and spread to students in Frankfurt, Hamburg, Berlin and Vienna.
On February 18th, 1943, Sophie and her brother were caught leaving pamphlets at the University, and were immediately arrested and led to the Gestapo headquarters. During interrogation, they took the entire ownership of the action, trying to save as many of their collaborators as possible. Sophie, Hans, and their friend Christoph were indicted for treason, judged by Roland Freisler before the Volksgerichtshof (the ‘People’s Court’), and sentenced to death. In her statemente before the court, Sophie said: “Somebody, after all, had to make a start. What we wrote and said is also believed by many others. They just don’t dare express themselves as we did.” The judge acted like a prosecutor, and the proceedings consisted almost entirely of his denunciation and spite.
Offered a deal to recant her beliefs, so as to be spared the guillotine, Sophie declined the offer: “I am, now as before, of the opinion that I did the best that I could do for my nation. I therefore do not regret my conduct and will bear the consequences that result from it.” Allowed one last visit by her parents, Sophie said: “We took everything upon ourselves. What we did will cause waves.” She, her brother and Probst were killed on the same day they were sentenced. Just before he was beheaded, Hans cried out: “Long live freedom!”
Professor Huber was condemned for “abusing his responsibility as an educator” which was “to guide young people to an absolute trust in the Führer”. Within weeks, all the other core members of the White Rose were arrested and executed.
Books about her
- The White Rose: Munich, 1942-1943, by Inge Aicher-Scholl, tr. Arthur R. Schultz (2011. Original: Die Weiße Rose, 1952)
- Sophie Scholl: The Real Story of the Woman who Defied Hitler, by Frank McDonough (2009)
- Sophie Scholl and the White Rose, by Annette Dumbach and Jud Newborn (2006)
- An Honourable Defeat: A History of German Resistance to Hitler, 1933-45, by Anton Gill (1994)
- At the Heart of the White Rose: Letters and Diaries of Hans and Sophie Scholl, edited by Hans Scholl (1984)
- A Noble Treason: The Revolt of the Munich Students Against Hitler, by Richard Hanser (1970)
- Flamme sein! Hans Scholl und die Weiße Rose – Eine Biografie, by Robert M. Zoske (2018)
- Sophie Scholl – Lesen ist Freiheit, by Barbara Ellermeier (2018)
- Schluss. Jetzt werde ich etwas tun. Die Lebensgeschichte der Sophie Scholl, by Maren Gottschalk (2016)
- Sophie Scholl: Die Comic-Biografie, written by Heiner Lünstedt and illustrated by Ingrid Sabisch (2015)
- Sophie Scholl. Der Mut, sich selbst treu zu sein. Ein Lebensbild , by Bernd Aretz (2013)
- Frauen die Geschichte machten, by Peter Arens and Stefan Brauburger (2013)
- Sophie Scholl. Biografie, by Barbara Beuys (2010)
- Wer war Sophie Scholl? , by Barbara Sichtermann (2008)
- “Wir haben alle unsere Maßstäbe in uns selbst.” Der geistige Weg von Hans und Sophie Scholl, by Peter Selg (2006)
- Sophie Scholl – Die Letzten Tage, by Fred Breinersdorfer (2006)
- “Hoffentlich schreibst Du recht bald.” Sophie Scholl und Fritz Hartnagel, eine Freundschaft 1937–1943, by Hermann Vinke (2006)
- Das kurze Leben der Sophie Scholl, by Hermann Vinke (2005)
- “Wider die Kriegsmaschinerie”. Kriegserfahrungen und Motive des Widerstandes der “Weißen Rose”, by Detlef Bald (2005)
- “Ich würde es genauso wieder machen”. Sophie Scholl, by Barbara Leisner (2005)
- Mut zum Widerstand. Sophie Scholl, ein Porträt, by Werner Milstein (2003)
- “Sophie Scholl. Mystik und Politik“, by Johannes Kleinwächter . In: ders, Frauen und Männer des christlichen Widerstands. 13 Profile (1990)
- Die Weiße Rose, by Inge Aicher-Scholl (1952)
Films about her
- Fünf letzte Tage, directed by Percy Adlon (1982, IMDb)
- Die Weiße Rose, directed by Michael Verhoeven (1982, IMDb)
- Sophie Scholl – Die letzten Tage, directed by Marc Rothemund (2005, IMDb)