Double Victory: Minorities and Women During World War II
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Scholl, Hans (1918–1944); Scholl, Sophie (1921–1944)

German resistants to the Third Reich. Hans Scholl was born on 28 September 1918. His sister, Sophie Scholl, was born on 9 May 1921 when their father, Robert Scholl, was mayor of Forchtenberg am Kocher. In late 1933, Hans Scholl joined the Hitler Youth, but he soon became disillusioned by the reality of National Socialism. In 1937, he and some of his friends were briefly jailed for "subversive activities" in the Jugenbewegung (Youth Movement).

Although Sophie joined the Bund deutscher M?del (BdM, League of German Girls) at the age of 12, 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. The arrest of her brother and his friends in 1937 left a strong impression on her.

In March 1937, Hans graduated from secondary school and was drafted into the Reichsarbeitsdienst (RAD, National Labor Service). Two years of military service with a cavalry unit in Bad Cannstatt followed. As a member of the armed forces, Hans began studying medicine at the University of Munich in 1939.

In the spring of 1940, Sophie Scholl became a kindergarten teacher at the Fröbel Institute in Ulm-Söflingen. She had chosen this profession hoping it would be recognized as alternate service to the RAD, membership in which was a prerequisite for university admission. However, from the spring of 1941, she served six months of auxiliary war service as a nursery teacher, and the militaristic regimen of the Labor Service convinced her to practice passive resistance.

In the summer of 1940, Hans was sent as a member of the student medical corps with the German army when it invaded France. Later that year, he returned to Munich, where he joined with Christoph Probst, Kurt Huber, Alexander Schmorell, Willi Graf, and Jürgen Wittenstein to form the "White Rose," a resistance group. These friends, later joined by popular philosophy professor Kurt Huber, formed the heart of the group. From the end of July to October 1940, Hans Scholl served as a medic on the Eastern Front.

In May 1942, Sophie joined Hans at the University of Munich as a student of biology and philosophy, and she insisted on being included in the White Rose. The group's activities included publishing leaflets calling for the restoration of democracy and social justice. During the summer of 1942, the Scholls' father was imprisoned for making a critical remark about Hitler to an employee.

Hans Scholl and Alex Schmorell wrote and duplicated "Leaflets of the White Rose," which were scathing in their criticism of Germans who did nothing to oppose the Third Reich. Three more leaflets headed "Leaflets of the Resistance" were issued, each more hard-hitting than the last. The initial two called for passive resistance in a largely abstract and philosophical way. The third essay advocated specific measures such as sabotage of armament plants, obstruction of scientific research benefiting the war effort, and boycotts of cultural institutions that enhanced the Nazi image.

After publication of the fourth pamphlet, the White Rose suspended activities because Hans Scholl, Schmorell, Graf, and Wittenstein were sent as part of a student medical unit to the Eastern Front. Their experiences in this campaign only hardened their resolve, and when they returned to Munich, they expanded the activities of the White Rose to other German universities. The leaflets were at first sent anonymously to people all over Germany. Two final leaflets appeared, one in January and the last in mid-February 1943.

All of these activities attracted the attention of the Gestapo, which found it relatively easy to track down the perpetrators. Sophie was arrested on 18 February 1943 while distributing the sixth leaflet at the University of Munich. On 22 February, Sophie, Hans, and their friend Christoph Probst were condemned to death and executed by guillotine a few hours later. Both Scholls were later hailed as martyrs by the Federal Republic of Germany and the German Democratic Republic.

Peter Overlack


Further Reading
Geyer, M., and J. W. Boyer, eds. Resistance against the Third Reich. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1992.; Hanser, Richard. A Noble Treason: The Revolt of the Munich Students against Hitler. New York: Putnam, 1979.; Inge, Jens, ed. At the Heart of the White Rose: Letters and Diaries of Hans and Sophie Scholl. New York: Harper and Row, 1987.; Schneider, Michael. Keine Volksgenossen: Studentischer Widerstand der Weissen Rose. München: Rektoratskollegium der Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität, 1993.
 

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