She was 11 when the Nazis came to power, and like most German kids, she was enthralled with the youthful camaraderie they offered. She joined the BDM, the League of German Girls, and steadily advanced in its ranks. Her older brother, Hans, however, and several of her siblings were members of the White Rose, a non-Nazi youth group. Although initially allowed, such alternative groups were eventually banned in 1936, and her siblings were arrested for continuing their activities. Their arrests awakened in Sophie a recognition of injustice that in time would transform her into an intrepid anti-Nazi resistance fighter.
By June of 1942, Germany was in its third year of war, and Sophie and Hans found themselves together at the University of Munich. Hans, a medical student, was already involved in the White Rose anti-Nazi movement, and as soon as Sophie discovered his secret, she insisted on joining him. Over the next seven months they, and a handful of fellow students, would produce six widely distributed pamphlets of a heroic nature we can hardly imagine today…
“Our current ‘state’ is the dictatorship of evil…I ask you, if you know that, then why don’t you act?”
“The German name will remain forever tarnished unless finally the German youth stands up… Students! The German people look to us! The responsibility is ours…”
Sophie, Hans, and Christoph Probst were caught distributing pamphlets and arrested on February 18, 1943. In the half-day trial that followed, Sophie made this statement. “I am, now as before, of the opinion that I did the best that I could do for my nation.”
Sophie and her co-defendants were found guilty and beheaded by guillotine four days later. Their three friends, Willi Graf, Alexander Schmorell, and Kurt Huber were arrested days later and put to death.
Sophie Scholl was 21 years old.