Monday, December 5, 2016

Sophie and Hans Scholl, sometimes courage is easy, sometimes it is unbelievably hard.

Sophie and Hans Scholl were college students in Bavaria in the early 1930's. When the Nazi's came to power in 1933, Sophie and Hans could have been like everybody else and gone along, but the two Lutheran kids heard a speech by German Catholic Bishop von Galen in defense of freedom of conscience. Already raised to believe in liberal ideas by their parents, these two young people were inspired to join other college students to campaign for free speech by handing out pamphlets. They formed a group called the White Rose, eventually they were arrested by the Nazi Gestapo for Treason, tried and executed. Below is a video of Sophie's interrogation. She shows grace and courage and no regrets.

The White Rose group was motivated by ethical and moral considerations. They came from various religious backgrounds. Willi Graf and Katharina Schüddekopf were devout Catholics. Alexander Schmorell was an Orthodox Christian. Traute Lafrenz adhered to the concepts of anthroposophy, while Eugen Grimminger considered himself a Buddhist. Christoph Probst was baptized a Catholic only shortly before his execution. His father Hermann was nominally a Catholic, but also a private scholar of Eastern thought and wisdom. In their diaries and letters to friends, both Scholl siblings, nominally Lutherans, wrote about their reading of Christian Scholars, including Augustine of Hippo, Etienne Gilson, whose work on Medieval philosophy they discussed amongst other philosophical works within their network of friends.

Since the conquest of Poland, 300,000 Jews have been murdered in this country in the most bestial way ... The German people slumber on in dull, stupid sleep and encourage.... Each wants to be exonerated of guilt, each one continues on his way with the most placid, calm conscience. But he cannot be exonerated; he is guilty, guilty, guilty!
— 2nd leaflet of the White Rose.

Why do you allow these men who are in power to rob you step by step, openly and in secret, of one domain of your rights after another, until one day nothing, nothing at all will be left but a mechanized state system presided over by criminals and drunks? Is your spirit already so crushed by abuse that you forget it is your right - or rather, your moral duty - to eliminate this system?
— 3rd leaflet of the White Rose

Sophie and Hans Scholl were arrested here in the Atrium of Munich University by the Gestapo while handing out pamphlets.

The Courtroom in the Munich Hall of Justice where they were tried and convicted of Treason for handing out free speech pamphlets.

"Es lebe die Freiheit!"   Translated as: "Let Freedom live!"

Hans Scholl's last words before being beheaded by the Gestapo


Sophie Scholl's interrogation by the Gestapo

Sophie never took a partisan point of view only an unfaltering defense of free speech. 

Some people were listening.Hans Scholl as a member of the Hitler Youth, indoctrinated, but not swayed, he and his sister listened to Catholic Bishop von Galen who made a plea for freedom of conscience and became convinced that that was their mission in life. Heroes for the Ages.

The Blessed Clemens August Graf von Galen (16 March 1878 – 22 March 1946) was a German count, Bishop of Münster, and cardinal of the Roman Catholic Church. During World War II, Galen led Catholic protest against Nazi euthanasia and denounced Gestapo lawlessness and the persecution of the church. He was appointed a Cardinal by Pope Pius XII in 1946. He was beatified by Pope Benedict XVI in 2005.

As soon as World War II was over, Hitler and Himmler said their first goal was to wipe the Catholic Church off the face of the earth, but their first execution was going to be Bishop von Galen. They hated him because they couldn't silence him and he wouldn't stop attacking them, subtly sometimes, bluntly at others, but relentlessly at all times.

The guillotine with which Sophie and her brother Hans were beheaded by the Nazi Gestapo. Though dead, their voices were never silenced.