Friday, April 14, 2017


Lots of talk these days of resistance. Sounds of war drums in the air. Strange treatment of humans on airplanes and in prisons. Seems like it may portend things to come. I don't think so. These things have always been with us and I am writing today about a historical thing that happened to a 21 year old German woman named Sophie Scholl and a nonviolent resistance movement she was a member of in the city of Munich in 1943. 

The info I am going to summarize is available on Wikipedia. The photos are my own made at the University of Munich this past summer. 

Sophie was religious and influenced by the sermons of Cardinal John Henry Newman which were about a "theology of conscience." Sophie joined a group called the White Rose that advocated passive resistance to the Nazi government. The White Rose had distributed a pamphlet authored by Sophie's brother Hans. Horrified by reports by Sophie's boyfriend, a German soldier deployed to the Eastern Front of Nazi war crimes against Russians and Jews the group proceeded to author three more pamphlets. The writings used Biblical and philosophical reasoning to support intellectual resistance to the Nazis. 

Outside the University of Munich pages of the pamphlets are set in the brick walkways just like they scattered them when Sophie, Hans and Christopher Probst were arrested on campus Feb. 18, 1943.       .   

You may have noticed that in the good old USA trials take time. Guilty or innocent you get time to prepare a defense in a free country. In a dictatorship no such luxury. On Fed 22 the trio was tried and found guilty of treason and sentenced to death. Sophie's only defense recorded were these words:

Somebody, after all, had to make a start. What we wrote and said is also believed by many others. They just don't dare express themselves as we did.

A cell mate's letters later reviled her last words before going to trial:

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?

At 1700 hours the same day as the trial Sophie, Hans and Christopher were beheaded by guillotine. The sixth pamphlet that had been written by the White Rose was smuggled out of Germany and dropped by the millions of leaflets as propaganda against the Nazis by Allied forces.   

The internet tells us that the White Rose is remembered as an example of spiritual courage and social dissent against a "society of  violent repression, censorship and conformist pressure."

So that brings us to strange doings today. People singled out and dragged from airplanes. Death row inmates hurried to execution because of approaching expiration dates. Rumors of war, which I guarantee is making many young men nervous tonight. What's next? 

Maybe to tie things up here is another photo I made. It's a wall of a building with shrapnel damage in Munich. It's a one of a kind because from the impression I get is that most of modern Munich has been built since 1945. German war memorials are pretty low key and simple. It's not a mother of all bombs but people did die on this street just like Sophie and friends did on the execution block. 

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