The Scholl siblings: German resistance to Hitler – Zoe Z.

The siblings Hans and Sophie Scholl were remarkable people in German history and many Germans are proud and feel honoured to remember them on their memorial day 22nd of February. They are still role models for many today.

The two siblings were born just after the First World War with a 3-year age gap and grew up in the 1920s, when Germany was struggling because of the treaty of Versailles. In their youth they experienced hyperinflation as well as the period called the ‘Golden Twenties’. After Hans finished his school, he started studying medicine at the university of Munich; his sister Sophie joined him in 1942 to study biology. There she met friends of Hans and became friends with them too. They sometimes met for debating evenings, discussed books or visited the lectures of the philosophy professor Kurt Huber.  

When Hitler came to power the Scholl siblings were not against the national socialism. It was the joint trips by the Hitler Youth and the German Girls Association, the community spirit and the concept of the fatherland that appealed to the young people. But their early enthusiasm quickly turned into criticism for the Nazi regime.  

In June 1942, after an air raid on Cologne, Hans Scholl and Alexander Schmorell wrote and published the first leaflets. They called for passive resistance against Hitler and the NSDAP and complained about the complicity of the Germans on the crimes of the nazis. The purpose of the White Rose, as they called their resistance group, and its members was to educate people about the nature of the regime and to show resistance against war, the executions of innocent people and concentration camps. 

When some of the members were forced to serve on the eastern front, they witnessed how German soldiers were mistreating and killing Jews and were shocked. They tried to continue to educate the German citizens about it, especially the youth. The White Rose set up links with other resistance groups and soon was well known in parts of Germany and Austria. In February 1943 the group gained public attention as they started to paint at house facades and wrote anti governmental phrases. 

As Hans and Sophie Scholl distributed their sixth leaflet around the campus of the university of Munich on the 18.02.1943, they got caught by the janitor who held them captive until the Gestapo (secret police force) arrived. Four days later, on February 22, they were sentenced to death and executed on the same day. Other members were later arrested and executed too and the White Rose lost its fight against the regime. 

“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?” ― Sophie Scholl

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