These were the last words of Sophie Scholl, a 21 year old college student at the University of Munich and member of the non-violent White Rose group, who were dedicated to passive resistance against the Nazi government. She was executed for passing out leaflets about the resistance.
“How can we expect righteousness to prevail when there is hardly anyone willing to give himself up individually to a righteous cause? Such a fine, sunny day, and I have to go, but what does my death matter, if through us, thousands of people are awakened and stirred to action?”
Today hundreds of German schools are called after her and she and her brother have been jointly voted the fourth greatest Germans of all time. This exceptionally courageous young woman’s execution matters because it shows the human spirit at its finest during humanity’s darkest period.
Today, every German knows the story of The White Rose. A square at the University of Munich is named after Hans and Sophie Scholl. And there are streets, squares, and schools all over Germany named for the members of The White Rose. The German movie The White Rose is now found in video stores in Germany and the United States. Richard Hansen sums up the story of The White Rose:
In the vogue words of the time, the Scholls and their friends represented the “other” Germany, the land of poets and thinkers, in contrast to the Germany that was reverting to barbarism and trying to take the world with it. What they were and what they did would have been “other” in any society at any time. What they did transcended the easy division of good-German/bad-German and lifted them above the nationalism of time-bound events. Their actions made them enduring symbols of the struggle, universal and timeless, for the freedom of the human spirit wherever and whenever it is threatened.
Hope and courage. Sophie embodied both. She knew her heart and had great faith, as this quote so beautifully illustrates. This is why I have included her into a blog. Another young hero whose legacy has lived on in the side of the victor.
“Isn’t it a riddle . . . and awe-inspiring, that everything is so beautiful? Despite the horror. Lately I’ve noticed something grand and mysterious peering through my sheer joy in all that is beautiful, a sense of its creator . . . Only man can be truly ugly, because he has the free will to estrange himself from this song of praise.
It often seems that he’ll manage to drown out this hymn with his cannon thunder, curses and blasphemy. But during this past spring it has dawned upon me that he won’t be able to do this. And so I want to try and throw myself on the side of the victor.”
― Sophie Scholl