Sophie and Hans Scholl

We have all heard the expression about the Germans and WWII, “Why didn’t they speak up?”

Easy for us to say, when speaking up against fascism in the Nazi Third Reich would lead to imprisonment at least and possibly death.  But there were some who did speak out against the Hitler regime. Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a Lutheran pastor, did and was executed just before the end of the war in 1945.

And then there were Sophie Scholl, 21, and her brother Hans, 23, who, in 1942 organized an ingenious campaign—The White Rose—by mailing leaflets denouncing Hitler and the Reich in towns all over Germany. The leaflets, which they distributed widely, spoke out against the horrors of the Nazi regime.

The Nazis were furious and the Gestapo was incapable of finding the source of these incendiary letters.

Unfortunately, they were caught distributing the leaflets at the University of Munich, which cost them and some colleagues their lives. February 23 marks the 74th anniversary of their 1943 execution by guillotine after a mock trial.

Lawrence H. Geller

 


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