One thing that is true in American politics, and probably even more so in world history—is the fact that the more things change . . . the more they stay the same.
This election cycle, political insiders, as well as the public at large, are using words, phrases, and allusions to fairly recent dark historical events, people, places, and things not routinely recalled—at least not in vivid detail. The world has tried to forget and distance itself from the horrific events in Europe in the mid twentieth century.
It has been a while since the names of Hitler, Goering, Eichmann and others have been bandied about so freely—and so thoughtlessly. Far be it from me to tell others how to think. I would simply counsel some to stop and think.
It all got me thinking about some of the villains of the thirties and forties—and some of the heroes as well. Sadly, many of their names are not so well remembered as a lot of history’s bad-guys.
Today, on Apropos of Nothing, I wanted to highlight one (actually three) of those. Sophie Scholl, her brother Hans, and close friend, Christoph Probst. Children really, all in their early twenties, fought one of the most horrific war machines ever seen on earth—the fabled and feared Third Reich of Adolf Hitler.
In the long run and in the long view, of course—they won.
What was best, was the fact that Sophie, Hans, and their friends didn’t do it by shooting soldiers, planting land-mines, or blowing up bridges. They did it by spreading the word. The most feared word of all by would-be dictators and “masters” of the world.
They spread the truth—in the form of political resistance leaflets. By the thousands. Six times in all, before they were captured, sham-tried, and sentenced to death.
They exhorted their countrymen to overthrow their oppressors. To retake their country—and their heritage of peace, prosperity. And arts, and beauty. To return to the rule of law. To regain their sanity. To free themselves from the death-grip of history’s greatest madman—Adolph Hitler.
They spoke of freedom—and freedom’s song. Long before it was penned as music on paper, it was sang by Sophie Scholl and her comrades.
They called their small and loose-knit organization—the White Rose.
They paid with their lives—as heroes often do. And they paid in a most horrific fashion. Beheading by guillotine. Yes, the ever resourceful Nazis used those too.
But of dead freedom fighters are martyrs made, and of course such would become the fate of Sophie and her friends. Her, and each of them, are well remembered in German history today—each considered by historians and writers to be well among the greatest Germans that ever lived.
As a delicious side-note, one copy of their last leaflet was smuggled out of Germany and into Britain. There, it was reproduced by the Allies, and distributed by the millions back to Germany. Delivered by air, as it were. Dropped by airplanes—right along with the bombs.
Sophie and her friends employed the principals of peaceful dissent. Others would follow. Gandhi, King, and many, many more. Many of which also paid the ultimate price.
The graves of these three martyrs are well known today, and unlike those of their tormentors, are well maintained and venerated.
Evil always loses. It is an oft repeated truism—even if sometimes it takes a long, long while.
Satan never seems to learn.
I am including a link to a fine movie on the subject for those who would like to learn more. I also would refer you to several excellent Wikipedia articles on the subject.
Good people to remember during this volatile election year. Maybe reading and seeing the stories of these real heroes and real villains will cause us to slow down a little with the ugly name calling and finger pointing.
Maybe—it will even cause us to stop.
Thanks so much for reading. See you again in a few days.