Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Sophie Scholl's day in court

Hans Scholl, Sophie Scholl, Christoph Probst,
Munich Train Station, July 23, 1942

"On February 22, 1943, a German university student named Sophie Scholl, her brother Hans, and one of their friends, Christoph Probst, were awaiting trial in the "People's Court" in the Munich Palace of Justice. The judge who was to preside over their case, Roland Freisler, suddenly swaggered into the courtroom, dramatically dressed in flowing red robes. Judge Freisler was known as the hanging judge because he passed death sentences on nearly everyone tried in his court.

This trial, its audience filled with those loyal to Hitler's Third Reich, looked like it would be no exception. Judge Freisler opened the proceedings with a furious and demented tirade, making great billowing gestures with his robes and screaming that the defendants were guilty of treason, conspiracy, rendering the armed forces unfit to protect the German Reich, giving aid to the enemy, and weakening the will of the German people.

The defendants were not given a chance to speak on their own behalf, but in the midst of the judge's tirade, Sophie suddenly cried out, 'Somebody had to make a start! What we said and wrote are what many people are thinking. They just don't dare say it out loud!'"

Opening paragraphs from "Sophie Scholl: The White Rose" from Women Heroes of World War II.