The Nazis Beheaded Her for Practicing Free Speech

Lessons in resistance we should all apply in our daily lives — Sophie Scholl and the White Rose

Mateja Klaric
6 min readOct 12, 2020


ToTo me, Sophie Scholl was a saint. And indeed, another member of White Rose, the group she belonged to, a Russian-German student Alexander Schmorell, was canonized as a saint by the Russian Orthodox Church in 2012. Given her life and death, Sophie should have been canonized too.

The White Rose was a group of students who resisted the Nazis. Their approach was peaceful and without as much as a trace of aggression. What these young German intellectuals wanted to achieve was to make people think, open their eyes, and recognize the horror of Nazism for what it was.

Sophie died under the guillotine in 1942 alongside two other crucial members of the White Rose, one of them her brother. She was only twenty-one and the Nazis beheaded her for the crime of spreading information and free thought in the form of leaflets. Free thought wasn’t allowed in Nazi Germany.

Another thing that wasn’t allowed was opposition. Those who opposed the regime were swiftly eliminated. But that’s not how the members of the White Rose started. In the beginning, they were, like most young people at the time, fervent members of the Hitler Youth and the German League of Girls.

Admit and learn from mistakes

For young people, it was easy to get carried away by the promises of greatness, comradeship, fun, and idealism that were at the core of the indoctrination machine known as the Hitler Youth. Sophie Scholl’s father opposed it but his children initially dismissed him as someone too old to understand.

Many members of the Hitler Youth later testified of how hard it was to resist the allure of the Hitler Youth and German League of Girls. It gave them a sense of belonging, erased class differences, and allowed everyone, including the poor, to engage in sports and fun activities that would have otherwise been out of reach.

The price of the smart uniforms, shiny daggers, and numerous benefits, however, was expectance of absolute loyalty to the Führer and the regime. Among other things, they had to learn Hitler’s speeches by heart…



Mateja Klaric

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