Sophie Scholl’s Final Words

Today in History –> Seventy-eight years ago today Sophie Scholl (along with Hans Scholl and Christoph Probst) a twenty-one year old German student and anti-Nazi political activist, active within the White Rose non-violent resistance group in Nazi Germany having been convicted of treason was executed by the guillotine.

In February of 1943, the [White Rose group] was apprehended when leaving pamphlets in suitcases all across the University of Munich. Sophie took to a balcony that overlooked a courtyard and scattered reams of flyers as students exited classes. Her action was witnessed by the school’s janitor, who reported Sophie and Hans to the Gestapo. After being interrogated for nearly 24 hours, Sophie emerged from questioning with a broken leg but a steely spirit. She was quoted as saying, “I’ll make no bargain with the Nazis.”

The students’ hearing began a mere four days after their arrest and, because all pled guilty, they were not allowed to testify. Still, Sophie did not sit quietly throughout the proceedings. She interrupted the judge throughout, with statements like: “Somebody had to make a start! What we said and wrote are what many people are thinking. They just don’t dare say it out loud!” and “You know the war is lost. Why don’t you have the courage to face it?”

She was allowed one official statement: “Time and time again one hears it said that since we have been put into a conflicting world, we have to adapt to it. Oddly, this completely un-Christian idea is most often espoused by so-called Christians, of all people. How can we expect righteousness to prevail when there is hardly anyone who will give himself up to a righteous cause? I did the best that I could do for my nation. I therefore do not regret my conduct and will bear the consequences.” She and her fellow defendants were sentenced to death by execution, which was carried out within hours of the decision. On the back of Sophie’s indictment, she wrote the word “Freedom”. Her reported last words were, “Die Sonne scheint noch”—”The sun still shines.”

Her last words:

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?”
~ Sophie Scholl

Raoul Wallenberg

Today in Holocaust History –> On this day 17 January 1945, Righteous Among the Nations, Raoul Wallenberg was taken away by Russian soldiers. He was never seen again.

Just prior to the Soviet army entering Budapest, Wallenberg said to his colleague in the Swedish embassy:

“I’ve taken on this assignment, and I will never be able to go back to Stockholm without knowing … that I’d done all a man could do to save as many Jews as possible”.

~ Raoul Wallenberg, Righteous Among the Nations

Raoul Wallenberg was sent to Budapest in 1944 to rescue Jews with connections to Sweden. He arrived with a list of Jews whom he was to help and 650 protective passports. However, he quickly widened the scope of his efforts by issuing 1000’s of “protective letters” and setting up a network of protective houses for Jews .

As the situation in Hungary deteriorated, Wallenberg abandoned all diplomatic protocol and attempted to rescue as many Jews as he could at great risk to himself.

Wallenberg used unconventional methods, including bribery and blackmail, to finance and run his huge rescue operation, successfully saving thousands of Jews. When Adolf Eichmann ordered a “death march” of tens of thousands of persons to the Austrian border, Wallenberg followed the marchers in their vehicles, and distributed food, clothing, and medications. He was able to free Jews from the death march by claiming that they were his “protected” Jews.

In 1956, 11 years after his disappearance, the Soviets finally stated that Raoul Wallenberg had died in prison in 1947.

In 1963 Yad Vashem recognized Raoul Wallenberg as Righteous Among the Nations.

Source: Yad Vashem

Simone Segouin

Simone Segouin, mostly known by her codename, Nicole Minet, was only 18-years-old when the Germans invaded. Her first act of rebellion was to steal a bicycle from a German military administration, and to slice the tires of all of the other bikes and motorcycles so they couldn’t pursue her. She found a pocket of the Resistance and joined the fight, using the stolen bike to deliver messages between Resistance groups.

She was an extremely fast learner and quickly became an expert at tactics and explosives. She led teams of Resistance fighters to capture German troops, set traps, and sabotage German equipment. As the war dragged on, her deeds escalated to derailing German trains, blocking roads, blowing up bridges and helping to create a German-free path to help the Allied forces retake France from the inside. She was never caught.

Segouin was present at the liberation of Chartres on August 23, 1944, and then the liberation of Paris two days later. She was promoted to lieutenant and awarded several medals, including the Croix de Guerre. After the war, she studied medicine and became a pediatric nurse. She is still going strong, and this October (2021) she will turn 96.

Ursula von Kardoff on Sophie Scholl and the White Rose

On Sophie Scholl and the White Rose:

“I will never forget the excitement when a leaflet was pressed into my hand by somebody in the editorial room of the Allgemeine Zeitung. The leaflets were being circulated by White Rose followers in Hamburg. Something inflammatory, heartening—yes, magical!—emanated from these typewritten and hectographed [mimeographed] lines.

We copied them off and passed them on. A wave of enthusiasm swept over us—we who risked so damned little in comparison.”
~ Ursula von Kardoff (reporter at Nuremberg War Crimes Tribunal, 1945)

Sophie Scholl: An Introduction

“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?”

~ Sophie Scholl, Her last words before execution.

Sophie Scholl (1921-1943), German student and anti-Nazi political activist, active within the White Rose non-violent resistance group in Nazi Germany.  Convicted of high treason after having been found distributing anti-war leaflets at the University of Munich (LMU). As a result, she was executed by guillotine.

In 1942, five young German students and one professor at the University of Munich (LMU) crossed the threshold of toleration to enter the realms of resistance, danger and death. Protesting in the name of principles Hitler thought he had killed forever, Sophie Scholl and other members of the White Rose realized that the ‘Germanization’ Hitler sought to enforce was cruel and inhuman, and that they could not be content to remain silent in its midst…

#SophieScholl #WhiteRose #WorldWarII #ProtestAuthoritarianism #Resist

Warsaw Ghetto Uprising

On April 19th 1943, the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising began. It was the 1943 act of Jewish resistance that arose within the Warsaw Ghetto in German-occupied Poland during World War II, and which opposed Nazi Germany’s final effort to transport the remaining Ghetto population to Treblinka. The uprising started on 19 April when the Ghetto refused to surrender to the police commander SS-Brigadeführer Jürgen Stroop, who then ordered the burning of the Ghetto, block by block, ending on 16 May. A total of 13,000 Jews died, about half of them burnt alive or suffocated. German casualties are not known, but were not more than 300. It was the largest single revolt by Jews during World War II.

On 19 April 1943, on the eve of Passover, the police and SS auxiliary forces entered the Ghetto. They were planning to complete the deportation action within three days, but were ambushed by Jewish insurgents firing and tossing Molotov cocktails and hand grenades from alleyways, sewers, and windows. The Germans suffered 59 casualties and their advance bogged down. Two of their combat vehicles (an armed conversion of a French-made Lorraine 37L light armored vehicle and an armored car) were set on fire by insurgent petrol bomb. Following von Sammern-Frankenegg’s failure to contain the revolt, he lost his post as the SS and police commander of Warsaw. He was replaced by SS-Brigadeführer Jürgen Stroop, who rejected von Sammern-Frankenegg’s proposal to call in bomber aircraft from Kraków and proceeded to lead a better-organized and reinforced ground attack.

The longest-lasting defense of a position took place around the ŻZW stronghold at Muranowski Square, where the ŻZW chief leader, Dawid Moryc Apfelbaum, was killed in combat. On the afternoon of 19 April, a symbolic event took place when two boys climbed up on the roof of a building on the square and raised two flags, the red-and-white Polish flag and the blue-and-white banner of the ŻZW. These flags remained there, highly visible from the Warsaw streets, for four days. After the war, Stroop recalled:

“The matter of the flags was of great political and moral importance. It reminded hundreds of thousands of the Polish cause, it excited them and unified the population of the General Government, but especially Jews and Poles. Flags and national colours are a means of combat exactly like a rapid-fire weapon, like thousands of such weapons. We all knew that – Heinrich Himmler, Krüger, and Hahn. The Reichsfuehrer [Himmler] bellowed into the phone: ‘Stroop, you must at all costs bring down those two flags!’”
~ Jürgen Stroop, 1949

#WarsawGhettoUprising #JewishResistance #Holocaust

Sonderkommando Auschwitz Revolt

On October 7th, 1944, the Sonderkommando of Auschwitz-Birkenau—a group of Jewish prisoners tasked with removing corpses from gas chambers and burning them—rose up against their Nazi captors. Using gunpowder smuggled by young Jewish women forced to work in munitions factories, a group of Sonderkommando prisoners blew up one crematorium and killed some of the guards.

250 of the revolt’s participants died fighting the SS and police, and 200 more were shot by the SS after the fighting ended. Although the SS quashed the uprising, the Auschwitz-Birkenau revolt remains an example of bravery in the face of extraordinary oppression.

#AuschwitzRevolt #Resistance

Sobibór Revolt

On October 14th, 1943 prisoners at the Sobibór extermination camp in Poland revolt against the Germans.

Sobibor is notable for the prisoner revolt which took place on 14 October 1943. The plan for the revolt, developed by Alexander Pechersky and Leon Feldhendler, involved two phases. In the first phase, teams of prisoners were to assassinate all of the on-duty SS officers in discreet locations. Then in the second phase, all 600 prisoners would assemble for roll call and walk to freedom out the front gate. However, the revolt did not go as planned. The operation was discovered while several SS officers were still alive and prisoners ended up having to escape by climbing over barbed wire fences and running through a mine field under heavy machine gun fire. Even so, about 300 prisoners made it out of the camp, of whom roughly 60 survived to the end of the war. Thus the Sobibor revolt is often described as the most successful to take place in any Nazi camp.

After the revolt, the Nazis demolished the camp and planted it over with pine trees to conceal the evidence of what had happened there. In the first decades after World War Two, Sobibor was not well known and the site was rarely visited except by locals digging for buried valuables. Since then, it has become better known through its depictions in the TV miniseries Holocaust and the film Escape from Sobibor. The site now hosts the Sobibor Museum as well as ongoing archaeological excavations.

Above a few of the survivors.