Beyond History Blog

Sophie Scholl - Face of the Resistance

Heike Leiacker - 09. May 2021 - General, Anniversary, Germany, History, Knowledge, Personalities

Sophie Scholl is one of the most famous persons of the German resistance against National Socialism - worldwide. She was born Sophia Magdalena Scholl in Forchtenberg on 09 May 1921 and was executed in Munich on 22 February 1943 - aged only 21.


The icon Sophie Scholl

Sophie Scholl is often singled out more than her brother or the rest of the members of the resistance group later known as the White Rose. She has become a figurehead, the face not only of the group but of the resistance against National Socialism.

In contrast to his sister Sophie, Hans Scholl was one of the driving forces of the group from the very beginning. Sophie Scholl was not yet involved in the first 4 of the 6 leaflets. In addition, there were of course other members of resistance - also female - whose names are probably not familiar to most people today. If you think of Sophie Scholl, however, you immediately have an image in mind - and a story.

It is probably the combination of age and gender that helped to make her an icon. It seems remarkable in two respects that a young woman has committed herself at the risk of her life in a male-dominated society. At the same time, this also brings her closer to a younger "target group" that is usually confronted with the subject in a school context.

The interpretation of Sophie Scholl's oldest sister Inge Aicher-Scholl later contributed significantly to our idealized image of her. It is good that today a more complex and realistic picture of her is being drawn, which makes the human being behind the historical figure visible.

Nevertheless, Sophie Scholl is still a projection surface for many people today and was and is used for the most diverse purposes.


Sophie Scholl's short life

Sophie Scholl grew up with her siblings in Forchtenberg, Ludwigsburg and Ulm. Her parents Robert Scholl and Magdalene née Müller raised the children in the Christian faith. The siblings had sympathies for National Socialism. They voluntarily joined the Nazi youth groups and took on leadership roles. Sophie Scholl is said to have participated in meetings of the Bund Deutscher Mädel (BDM) as late as 1941 and also encouraged others to do so.

After school, she began training as a kindergarten teacher. Only after her work and war service in 1941/1942 she was allowed to begin her studies in Munich in 1942. She had already met her boyfriend Fritz Hartnagel in 1937. Through her brother Hans, who also studied there, she joined the Munich resistance group. After they were discovered in Munich University on 18 February 1943, handing out the 6th leaflet, Sophie and Hans Scholl, as well as Christoph Probst, who was later arrested, were sentenced to death on February 22 and executed on the same day.


Sophie Scholl was not a saint. She was a normal human being. She was 12 years old at the time the National Socialists seized power. Hitler Youth (HJ) and BDM were designed to educate children and young people to National Socialism. It is all the more remarkable that she, like her brother and others, had the inner strength and courage to question National Socialism (and her own views) and to become active on behalf of her beliefs in the resistance despite the dangers.

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Karl Koerber

11. December 2021

Thanks for this post. It’s a reminder that many people, like Sophie and her siblings, were attracted to National Socialism, especially in the early 1930s, for a variety of reasons. They were not all antisemites. My father was the same age as Sophie, also 12 years old when the Nazis came to power but, unlike the Scholls, had only conservative, pro-Nazi influences in his young life and could never fully overcome the indoctrination of those years. The White Rose story is also a reminder, for those who ask why Germans didn’t stand up to Hitler, that at least some tried, but were brutally suppressed. Once the Nazis had absolute control and had the police and the military on board, there was little anyone could do to stop them, much like China, Saudi Arabia, or other totalitarian states today.

Beyond History

12. May 2021

Dear Jo, thank you very much for your comment. We are very happy that you found the post interesting and of course agree that the courage and dedication of Sophie Scholl (and other members of the resistance) were truly remarkable.

Jo Lundeberg

11. May 2021

I learned something new today. I had never heard of Sophie Scholl. It’s remarkable that someone so young would have that much courage and dedication to the cause. Then lose her life for her beliefs.

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