[Marxism] Sophie Scholl and the White Rose

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Sun Mar 5 12:06:29 MST 2006

In 1942 a group of medical students in Munich began to write and distribute 
anti-fascist leaflets clandestinely in the name of the White Rose. Two of 
them, Hans Scholl and his sister Sophie, were caught in the act of 
distributing leaflets at their university on February 18, 1943. Along with 
their comrade Christoph Probst, they were charged with high treason, found 
guilty by a kangaroo court, and put under the guillotine five days later. 
Today they and the rest of the group, who were all either executed or 
sentenced to long prison terms, are regarded as heroes by the German 
people. They should be so regarded today by anybody struggling for peace, 
democracy, the rule of law, and social justice.

Last Friday night I watched “Sophie Scholl: the final days,” a new German 
film based on the White Rose history that is playing at the Film Forum in 
NYC. And yesterday I watched a video of another German film about these 
youth titled “The White Rose,” which I first saw over twenty years ago. I 
strongly recommend both films, especially since they approach the event 
from different angles. The first film, directed by Michael Verhoeven and 
starring Lena Stolze as Sophie Scholl, dwells mostly on events leading up 
to their arrest while the second starts with their arrest and ends with 
their martyrdom. Basically, they can be seen almost as part one and two of 
the same drama.

Most of the action in “Sophie Scholl” takes place in the office of Robert 
Mohr, a Nazi cop played by Gerald Alexander Held, who begins by using 
conventional interrogation techniques. He is determined to extract a 
confession from Sophie (Julia Jentsch ) by confronting her with 
contradictions in her alibi, while she continues to insist on her 
innocence. Eventually she is overwhelmed by the mass of evidence seized 
from the apartment she shares with her brother and confesses–without 
acknowledging that what she did was a crime.

Mohr is not satisfied with her confession. He wants her to see herself as a 
criminal. The dialogue between the two characters at this point turns into 
a memorable clash of ideas about the rights and responsibilities of 
citizenship. The cop, who has climbed the Nazi hierarchy from a meager 
rural background, resents this woman who strikes him as relatively 
privileged and refined. He cannot understand why these students, who are 
only attending college through state funds provided by the Nazi party, are 
such ingrates. He also challenges their patriotism. Why would they want to 
undermine the fighting will of German troops who are only trying to defend 
their way of life? Although clearly addressing German history, the film 
will certainly remind Americans of the conflicts between authority and 
rebellion that take place here during wartime, especially Vietnam and Iraq.


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