A human being, not an icon


Munich (dpa): Sophie Scholl’s name is synonymous with resistance to National Socialism like no other. He was part of a group that included Alexander Schmorell and his brother Hans. White Rose denounced the crimes of the Nazis and distributed pamphlets to encourage people to action. On February 18, 1943, Hans and Sophie Scholl were arrested while making pamphlets in Munich and executed four days later. Sophie Scholl in particular became an icon. However, around the centenary of his birth on Sunday (May 9), his image changes; it reveals more and more a young woman who had courage and strength, but also weaknesses and contradictions, which makes her more accessible than ever.
Thomas Rink, of the Nazi Documentation Center in Munich, believes it is time to change our image of her. “Sophie Scholl was not born resilient.” If one looks at his entire life story with all its contradictions, ambivalences and developments, the myth of a “saint without contradictions” is dispelled. “It goes from being an icon of resistance to a human being.” Josef Schuster, president of the Central Jewish Council, also greets this: “There are no perfect people. And if they are put on a pedestal, they are no longer fit to be role models. Because then they become unattainable.
Hildegard Kronawitter of the White Rose Foundation believes that young people in particular are able to handle this inconsistency. The young woman is often experienced as contradictory, says the president. If an idol like Sophie Scholl also has contradictions within her, they can relate to that.
The Instagram project “@ichbinsophiescholl” is a good example. For ten months, the channel shares videos, photos and impressions of the last ten months of Sophie’s life. Luna Wedler plays the student who is filmed in everyday life. Wedler was impressed: “She’s a modern woman. For me she’s become an amazing role model.”
Scholl was born on May 9, 1921 in Forchtenberg, Baden-Württemberg, and grew up with four siblings. His parental home was liberal and Protestant. He enjoyed an idyllic childhood with games, freedom and nature. After a brief stint in Ludwigsburg, the family ended up in Ulm in 1932, just as the Nazis were increasingly present.
But even though his parents were critical of Nazi ideology, older brothers like Hans or Inge were active in the Hitler Youth. Sophie also became an enthusiastic member of the Jungmädelbund at the age of 13. In her biography “Wie schwer ein Menschenleben wiegt” (How human lives weigh), Maren Gottschalk describes the school at the time as reckless and provocative, with short hair. and a brazen way quite different from the tailed Hitler girls. She secretly smoked and was in love with Fritz Hartnagel, whom she met when she was 15 and whom she wrote what was probably her last love letter on February 16, 1943, full of purple flowers.
Bike tours and excursions with her companions, night trips, sitting around the campfire, all of this resulted in a realm of experiences that girls like her didn’t usually have, Kronawitter explains. Only little by little did Sophie know that it was not about freedom, but that everything was tied to an ideology.
Theologian and historian Robert Zoske speaks of a long and sometimes painful process of development. “The person Sophie, as it appears to us from the sources, had many facets, of which the prisoner who defies death, as she is at the end before the People’s Court, is only one of many,” he writes in the book. Sophie Scholl – Es reut mich nichts “(I don’t regret anything). He believes he achieved such iconic importance for the way he maintained his actions so stubbornly and categorically to the end.
Fueled by discussions and books, Sophie’s doubts about the Nazi regime grew and she was rejected for her enthusiasm for war. While studying biology and philosophy in Munich, Hans brought her into contact with like-minded people such as Schmorell, Christoph Probst, Willi Graf and Kurt Huber. Friends argued, read forbidden books, and wrote pamphlets in which they strongly criticized crimes such as the mass murder of Jews. “We will not be silent, we are your guilty conscience, the White Rose will not let you rest in peace!” read the fourth pamphlet, for example.
Sophie joined in enthusiastically. On February 18, 1943, she and Hans handed out the sixth pamphlet from the University of Munich. They were discovered and arrested, as well as other people in their group. Sophie and Hans Scholl, as well as Probst, were sentenced to death and executed on February 22, 1943, followed by death sentences. The day before the execution, Sophie is supposed to have said the following: “Such a sunny and good day, and I must go. (…) What does my death matter, if through us it is they wake up thousands of people and agitated in action. “

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