Tom Simard

Poetry, Music, and Prose

Hans and Sophie Scholl

In Munich I lived in Schwabing, a borough once the home of prominent cultural figures like Thomas and Heinrich Mann. I was unaware of it being better or worse than other parts of the city, but my decidedly downscale lodgings may have played a role. I am not sure whether it had become what present day Alexanderplatz is to its previous incarnation written about so eloquently in Döblin’s masterpiece.

It was very simple: a bed, a small refrigerator, and even a tinier sink, and a hot plate. I ate mainly at the University of Munich mensa (cafeteria).

In front of the university was Geschwister-Scholl-Platz, named after a brother and sister who were key members of The White Rose Movement, a small group of university students and a professor, who opposed to Nazism wrote and distributed pamphlets. Here are some lines from one of them:

Since the conquest of Poland three hundred thousand Jews have been murdered in this country in the most bestial way … The German people slumber on in their dull, stupid sleep and encourage these fascist criminals … Each man wants to be exonerated of a guilt of this kind, each one continues on his way with the most placid, the calmest conscience. But he cannot be exonerated; he is guilty, guilty, guilty!

On a very unfortunate day, Hans and Sophie Scholl were caught in the university atrium. They were beheaded less than a week later.

Today you will find this in front of the university:

A poem:

I Sit

I sit even at this hour at a small university bar
having walked the marbled halls past statues.
And so this is where they stood,
and this is where the other emerged
to catch these two descending
alone among the spiraling staircase.

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6 thoughts on “Hans and Sophie Scholl

  1. The story of the Scholls is one that is not well-known here in America. I consider myself fairly knowledgeable in the field of 20th Century European history, but was completely ignorant of this chapter of history until I met my wife, who owns a documentary about Sophie Scholl.

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  2. I’d love to see it.

    There’s a film, Sophie Scholl: The Final Days, which I haven’t seen, but friends have and say it’s very good.

    I must have come across them for the first time at university when instead of reading what I was supposed to I was reading what I wanted to. I think the book must have been Peter Hoffman’s fantastic The History of the German Resistance.

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  3. A fitting poem.

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  4. arjcee on said:

    Enjoyed your recollections and the poem, Tom.

    Like

  5. 2kdb2 on said:

    Reblogged this on Star in the Stone and commented:
    Sometimes, silence is not golden. Acts of courage should not be forgotten…

    Like

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