Biografía en Español
301008 - Sophia Magdalena Scholl (May 9, 1921 - February 22, 1943)
was a member of the White Rose non-violent resistance movement in Nazi
Germany. She was convicted of treason after having been found
distributing anti-war leaflets at the University of Munich with her
brother Hans. As a result, they were both executed by guillotine.
Since the 1970s, Scholl has been celebrated as one of the great German
heroes who actively opposed the Third Reich during the Second World War.
Sophie's father was the mayor of Forchtenberg am Kocher when she was
born. Sophie was the fourth of five children:
Inge Aicher-Scholl (1917-1998)
Hans Scholl (1918-1943)
Elisabeth Hartnagel (* 1920), married Sophie's long-term
boyfriend, Fritz Hartnagel.
Werner Scholl (1922, missing in action since June 1944)
Sophie was brought up a Lutheran. She entered junior/grade school at the
age of seven, learned easily and had a carefree childhood. In 1930 the
family moved to Ludwigsburg and then two years later to Ulm where her
father had a business consulting office.
In 1932, Scholl started attending a secondary school for girls. At the
age of twelve, she was required to join the Bund Deutscher Mädel (League
of German Girls), like most of her classmates, but her initial
enthusiasm gradually gave way to criticism. She was aware of the
dissenting political views of her father, of friends, and also of some
teachers. Political attitude had become an essential criterion in her
choice of friends. The arrest of her brothers and friends in 1937 for
participating in the German Youth Movement left a strong impression on
She had a talent for drawing and painting and for the first time came
into contact with a few so-called 'degenerate' artists. An avid reader,
she developed a growing interest in philosophy and theology. This was
her alternative world to fascist National Socialism.
In the spring of 1940, she graduated from secondary school. The subject
of her essay was 'The Hand that Moved the Cradle, Moved the World.'
Being fond of children, she became a kindergarten teacher at the Fröbel
Institute in Ulm-Söflingen. She had also chosen this kindergarten job
hoping that it would be recognized as an alternate service to
Reichsarbeitsdienst (National Labor Service), a prerequisite to be
admitted to the University. This was not the case, though, and in the
spring of 1941 she began a six month stint in the auxiliary war service
as a nursery teacher in Blumberg. The military-like regimen of the Labor
Service caused her to think very hard about the political situation as
well as to begin practising passive resistance.
After her six months in the National Labor Service, in May 1942, she
enrolled at the University of Munich as a student of biology and
philosophy. Her brother Hans, who was studying medicine there,
introduced her to his friends. Although this group of friends was
eventually known for their political views, they were initially drawn
together by a shared love of art, music, literature, philosophy and
theology. Hiking in the mountains, skiing and swimming were also of
importance. They often attended concerts, plays and lectures together.
In Munich, Scholl met a number of artists, writers and philosophers,
particularly Carl Muth and Theodor Haecker, who were important contacts
for her. The question that they pondered the most was how the individual
must act under a dictatorship. During the summer vacation in 1942,
Scholl had to do war service in a metallurgical plant in Ulm. At the
same time, her father was serving time in prison for a critical remark
about Hitler to an employee.
y Sophie Scholl
In the early summer of 1942, a group of young men — including
Willi Graf, Christoph Probst and Hans Scholl — co-authored six anti-Nazi
political resistance leaflets. Calling themselves the White Rose, they
instructed Germans to passively resist the Nazis. They had been
horrified by the behaviour of the Germans on the Eastern Front where
they had witnessed a goup of naked Jews being shot in a pit.
Contrary to popular belief, Sophie Scholl was not a co-author of the
articles. Her brother had been initially keen to keep her ignorant of
their activities, but once she discovered his activities, she joined him
and proved highly valuable to the group: as a woman, her chances of
being randomly stopped by the SS were much smaller. She and rest of the
White Rose were arrested for distributing the sixth leaflet at the
University of Munich on February 18, 1943.
In the People's Court before the notorious Judge Roland Freisler on
February 21, 1943, Scholl was recorded as saying "Somebody, after all,
had to make a start. What we wrote and said is also believed by many
others. They just do not dare express themselves as we did." Scholl's
and her brother's defiance, in the face of terrifying consequences,
gained them enormous admiration among their contemporary supporters and
the post-war German public to the present
On February 22, 1943, Sophie Scholl, her brother Hans and their friend
Christoph Probst were found guilty of treason and condemned to death.
They were all beheaded by executioner Johann Reichhart in Munich's
Stadelheim Prison only a few hours later at 17:00hrs. The execution was
supervised by Dr. Walter Roemer who was the enforcement chief of the
Munich district court. Prison officials, in later describing the scene,
emphasized the courage with which she walked to her execution. Her last
words were, partially, "Die Sonne scheint noch"—"The sun still shines"
while her full comments were as follows: "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?
Following her death, a copy of the sixth leaflet was smuggled out of
Germany through Scandinavia to the UK by German jurist Helmuth von
Moltke, where it was exploited by the Allied Forces. In mid-1943, they
dropped millions of propaganda copies over Germany of the tract, now
retitled The Manifesto of the Students of Munich.
The White Rose's legacy has, for many commentators, an intangible
quality. Playwright Lillian Garrett-Groag stated in Newsday on February
22, 1993, that "It is possibly the most spectacular moment of resistance
that I can think of in the 20th century... The fact that five little
kids, in the mouth of the wolf, where it really counted, had the
tremendous courage to do what they did, is spectacular to me. I know
that the world is better for them having been there, but I do not know
the same issue of Newsday, Holocaust historian Jud Newborn noted that "You
cannot really measure the effect of this kind of resistance in whether
or not X number of bridges were blown up or a regime fell... The White
Rose really has a more symbolic value, but that's a very important value."
On February 22, 2003, a bust of Sophie Scholl was placed by the
government of Bavaria in the Walhalla temple in her honour.
The Geschwister-Scholl-Institut for Political Science at the Ludwig
Maximilians University of Munich is named in honour of Sophie and her
brother Hans. The institute is home to the university's political
science and communication departments, and is housed in the former Radio
Free Europe building close to the city's Englischer Garten. There is
also an ongoing effort to rename the Ludwig Maximilians University of
Munich into "Geschwister Scholl University of Munich" by the LMU
Students' Committee (AStA).
Over the last four decades many local schools as well as countless
streets and squares in Germany have been named after Sophie Scholl and
In 2003, Germans were invited by ZDF Television to participate in a
nation-wide competition to choose the top ten most important Germans
of all time. Voters under the age of 40 helped catapult Sophie and her
brother Hans Scholl into fourth place, winning over Bach, Goethe,
Gutenberg, Bismarck, Willy Brandt and Albert Einstein. If the votes of
young viewers alone had been counted, Sophie and Hans Scholl would have
been ranked first. Several years earlier, readers of Brigitte Magazine,
one of Germany's leading magazines for young women, voted Sophie Scholl
"the greatest woman of the twentieth century," winning over such figures
as Madeleine Albright and Madonna.