Sophie defied Hitler and defied time at the cost of her life

Sophia Magdalena Scholl was a young woman born in Germany (1921-9943) who defied time and paid for it with her life.  On Feb 22, 1943 she was guillotined on the orders of Adolph Hitler.  Her crime was that she resisted the zeitgeist that had spread through Germany and infected its people with either a racist fascist ideology of hate or a sense of futility and inability to change anything.  How many times have you heard the German excuse about the Holocaust that “We did not know anything was happening; we thought they were just taking them away to be relocated!”  Or “What could we do, Hitler controlled everything and his spies were everywhere.”  Sophia Scholl, perhaps because of her youth and perhaps because of her courage and belief in change did not buy into the prevailing German attitudes.  She became part of a German resistance group called the White Rose which advocated non-violence as a way to resist Hitler’s laws. 
Like many others, I had heard of Anne Frank and her courage in the face of Nazism but I had never heard of any active youth movements during the Hitler era.  One day in Blockbuster, I found this movie called “The White Rose” which was about a small group of students at Munich University who began to oppose the decisions and sanity of Hitler’s Nazi regime.  These students secretly distribute a newsletter (called the White Rose) to other students.   The group begins to grow in numbers and becomes a threat which the Gestapo pledges to hunt down and destroy.  The film chronicles the bravery and eventual trial of several ringleaders including Sophia and her brother.   Another great movie about this group and Sophia is “Sophie Scholl: The Final Days” and of course there are numerous books now written about her life.
I cannot do justice to the life and courage of Sophie in this short blog.  No matter what I say and no matter how long I say it, there are not enough words to convey the bravery, fortitude, courage, faith and values that her and the White Rose tried to raise against Hitler and his Nazi zombies.  However, I think you might get some sense of this courage in Sophie’s last words before they beheaded her.  First, put yourself in the setting that Sophie is now in for her execution.  You have been taken from school and your home and sequestered in a German prison for four days.  During that time you have been beaten and tortured by the Gestapo.  You have been accused of treason, which is a crime punishable by death in Nazi Germany. You have been stripped, your head shaved and you are wearing a burlap bag.  In less than four hours you have been found guilty and sentenced to death on the same day.  You are now being paraded in front of a group of rabid hate mongering Hitler sycophants called Nazis.  They are cursing and jeering and spitting on you as you are marched up to the guillotine.  You are asked if you have any last words, not out of pity but out of the belief that you might yet endorse and beg Hitler for your life. 
Sophia’s last words are:
“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?”
Sadly, few noticed Sophie and her brother and the other White Rose members who were tried and executed.  During the hell days of the Third Reich, there seemed little hope and one small pocket of resistance did not spread as Sophie and her group had hoped.  However, it is now over fifty years later and far from being forgotten, Sophia has been recognized for the heroine she was.  Hitler’s name has become synonymous with insanity and hatred and Sophie’s with conviction and faith in a just world free of tyranny and persecution.  One of the few surviving pamphlets that the White Rose distributed had these prophetic words to share:
“Nothing is so unworthy of a civilized nation as allowing itself to be governed without opposition by an irresponsible clique that has yielded to base instinct. It is certain that today every honest German is ashamed of his government. Who among us has any conception of the dimensions of shame that will befall us and our children when one day the veil has fallen from our eyes and the most horrible of crimes – crimes that infinitely outdistance every human measure – reach the light of day?”
Sophie and the White Rose exemplify many of the same attitudes of groups like the Occupiers who believe that evil comes when good people do nothing.  To defy the current morality and to defy the current values of a given society is to hold a strong conviction for the possibilities of change.  When we endorse change rather than how things have always been we are in some sense defying time.  We are saying we will not wait.  We are going to take responsibility for changing the times, the hearts and minds of others.  Here in America and much of the developed world, we need to change from the mindset exemplified by quotes like:  “Shop till you drop” and “He who has the most toys wins” to a mindset that reflects admiration for values of frugality and conservation and ecology.  However, only through the kind of courage that Sophie and perhaps many Occupiers have can we change the times and bring in a new era of values.
What do you think about shopping till you drop?  How excited where you about the Superbowl, did it govern your entire Sunday plans?  What parts of modern society do you feel need to be changed?  Are you too glued to shopping and sports to really care about what is happening in  the rest of the world?  When was the last time you protested something you thought was wrong?  If you do not do it, who do you think will?

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