Sophie Scholl and the White Rose by Jud Newborn and Annette Dumbach
(ISBN-13: 978-1851685363). This book is available as a paperback and as an eBook.
Today, in an aging society, we tend to look at younger people in their 20s and say "wait for them to grow up" or "well you can't expect much yet. They are still young." BUT in 1943 a group of people in their early 20s laid their lives on the line to make a difference in Hitler's Germany.
If you are not familiar with the story of The White Rose, or of the writings of Sophie Scholl, her brother Hans, their close friend Christoph Probst then you, my friends, have missed out.
My discovery of this book took a circuitous route. I first encountered this story back in the mid 1990s, as an interactive computer program written by "If Monks Had Macs" and delivered as a free Hypercard stack. At first it was a curiosity that, I’m ashamed to say, I set aside for weeks before taking the time to open and explore. Before this, I’d never heard of Sophie Scholl or The White Rose.
I was quite literally blown away. I spent several days totally absorbed in these materials and writings. It is not an exaggeration to say that my mind and life were changed. They were. I saw the world through different eyes. I saw new opportunities and possibilities. Mostly, I was stunned that someone "only" 21 years old had such an incredibly deep view of the world, society and morality. I began to understand that caring about people meant nothing unless that care was translated into action. I also, for the first time, understood that the necessary actions could, and often did, carry significant personal consequences.
Sophie and her brother, Hans, wrote about music and how it made them feel. They wrote about what it was like to belong to The Youth of Hitler, the liberal views of their father, human rights and eventually of the necessity of putting passive belief into action. And so, the subversive propaganda group and their newsletter, The White Rose, were born.
This small band of young men and women published and distributed information about what was really going on in Hitler’s Germany in an attempt to alert the German people to the atrocities that were going on beneath their noses and beyond their averted gaze. They did so as an enraged Gestapo desperately tried to locate and suppress what they were certain was a much larger organization.
As I read about their conviction, their determination, their willingness to put their lives on the line for what they believed, their integrity when finally caught, their steadfastness while in prison and their bravery as they faced death, my mind literally was expanded into new shapes. It was one of the most moving things I'd ever encountered. It still is.
I've yet to see any of the movies that truly did this story justice but, this book dedicated to The White Rose and those who brought it to life is a great place to start. If you can find any of the other writings of the Scholls or Christoph Probst then I encourage you to read them as well. If you are luckier still and can find the transcripts of interviews with Sophie's cell mate, do not miss the opportunity to read them. You will be changed. You can start your adventure here but I encourage you to read the book and to continue searching. There is much to find and much to learn.
For those who believe that what they do does not make a difference then reading this will show you just what a lie that is. Each and every one of us can make a difference and we DO matter. Sometimes big events pivot on the smallest of people.