The Political Development of Sophie Scholl (Commentary)

This commentary is based on the classroom activity: The Political Development of Sophie Scholl

Q1: Read the introduction and study sources 2, 3 and 4 and explain why Sophie Scholl joined the German League of Girls?

A1: The introduction points out that Sophie joined the German League of Girls with her two sisters, Inge and Elisabeth. Inge (source 2) points out that Hitler got support because he made promises that were popular with the people: "He would see to it that everyone had a job to go to and enough to eat. He wouldn't rest until every single German enjoyed independence, freedom and happiness".

Source 3 suggests that the "Scholl children were infected by the excitement that permeated their schools and community - the wearing of uniforms, the marching in torchlit processions through the streets of Ulm".

Source 4 shows a classroom showing all the children wearing Hitler Youth uniforms. Many children joined the German League of Girls and the Hitler Youth organisations because they did not want to be different from the other children.

Q2: Sophie's father, Robert Scholl, was totally opposed to Adolf Hitler and the Nazi Party. Explain how sources 5, 6 and 7, help to explain why this did not stop Sophie from being a member of the German League of Girls?

A2: Although her father did not support Hitler he believed his children should make their own decisions. Robert Scholl therefore provided the arguments against joining but refused to forbid it. Elisabeth Scholl (source 7) suggests that her father's arguments did not convince the children: "We just dismissed it (her father's views on Adolf Hitler): he's too old for this stuff, he doesn't understand."

Q3: Explain what Richard F. Hanser (source 9) meant when he said: "Her (Sophie Scholl) zest gradually diminished as it became more and more clear that the BDM, like all other National Socialist programs, was designed for conformity rather than liberation."

A3: Sophie Scholl, mainly because of her upbringing, rejected traditional German values. She held modern views that women should have equality with men. Sophie gradually became aware that the BDM "was designed for conformity rather than liberation".

Q4: How does the information in source 10 help to explain what happened in source 12.

A4: Source 12 explains how the Scholl family were arrested by the Gestapo in 1937. The reason for this was that Sophie's brothers, Hans and Werner, had formed their own youth group. This was illegal in Nazi Germany and therefore resulted in the arrest of Hans and Werner. As in the Scholl case, the Gestapo often arrested all family members for a crime committed by only one person.

Q5: Why did Sophie Scholl want the Second World War to take place?

A5: According to her sister, Elisabeth Scholl, Sophie believed that a war offered the best hope of getting rid of Adolf Hitler.

Q6: In Sophie's letters to her boyfriend, Fritz Hartnagel, she explained the reasons why she joined the resistance against Adolf Hitler. Study sources 14, 15 and 16 and explain what she meant by the following: (i) "I'm sure you find what I'm writing very unfeminine". (ii) "Justice is more important than sentimental loyalty". (iii) "It doesn't matter if it's German soldiers who are freezing to death or Russians, the case is equally terrible. But we must lose the war. If we contribute warm clothes, we'll be extending it."

A6: (i) In the letter written on 28th June, 1940, Sophie suggests that her boyfriend would consider her interest in politics as "unfeminine". (ii) Sophie believed that if you thought your parents were wrong, you should disagree with them. She thought that this was the same for the soldier who disagrees with his orders. According to Sophie, justice is more important than loyalty. (iii) Sophie refused to support the campaign to provide warm clothing for German soldiers fighting in the Soviet Union. She argued that it was important that Germany lost the war and that if "we contribute warm clothes, we'll be extending it."