The White Rose
By DANNY MINTON
May 9, 2021, marked what would have been the 100th birthday for Sophia Magdalena Scholl. Sophia and her brother, Hans, died on February 22, 1943, beheaded for treason against the Nazi government. She was only 21 years old.
Sophia was a student attending the University of Munich, where she discovered leaflets that her brother and others had been distributing. He had been questioning the principles of the Nazi party and its objectives. Hans had met two Roman Catholic men who inspired him to pursue religion and philosophy. Along with several other friends, they began to publish a peaceful resistance pamphlet. The group desiring to topple the Nazi regime named themselves “The White Rose.”
Upon learning that her brother wrote for the pamphlet, Sophia decided to join the group of men. Her being a woman gave the group even more weight with the students of the university. It was upon distributing the pamphlets that Sophia and her brother were arrested. It was February 18, 1943. They were tried in the People’s Court on February 21, on the 22nd, found guilty, and a few hours later beheaded at Stadelheim Prison.
At her trial, the 21-year-old Sophia made the statement, “Somebody, after all, had to make a start. What we wrote and said is also believed by many others. They just don’t dare express themselves as we did.”
Her final words before being executed are recorded as being, “Such a fine, sunny day, and I have to go. What does my death matter, if through us, thousands of people are awakened and stirred to action?”
Decades after her death, later generations would name Sophia one of the most influential Germans in their history. Sophia and the White Rose were symbolic of those who wanted the best for everyone and died resisting the evil the world presented.
As I read the story of Sophia and Hans Scholl, my thoughts went back to another group of people. It’s a group of men and women, some known but most nameless, who gave their lives for a cause in which they believed so deeply. “And what more shall I say? For time will fail me if I tell of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, of David and Samuel and the prophets, who by faith conquered kingdoms, performed acts of righteousness, obtained promises, shut the mouths of lions, quenched the power of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, from weakness were made strong, became mighty in war, put foreign armies to flight. Women received back their dead by resurrection; and others were tortured, not accepting their release, so that they might obtain a better resurrection; and others experienced mockings and scourgings, yes, also chains and imprisonment. They were stoned, they were sawn in two, they were tempted, they were put to death with the sword; they went about in sheepskins, in goatskins, being destitute, afflicted, ill-treated (men of whom the world was not worthy), wandering in deserts and mountains and caves and holes in the ground.” Hebrews 11:32-38 (NASB)
These men and women died for a cause for which they never saw the promise, but they knew they were paving the way for future generations. As we sit in our air-conditioned buildings, praising God and enjoying the fellowship of other Christians in freedom, we should not forget the sacrifices made for us to have this gift.
Unfortunately, the fight continues in countries we only read about or see on the news. Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, and others are places where men and women secretly share the gospel with their friends and neighbors. Many still face execution for their bravery in telling the world they live in of a man named Jesus. People smuggle Bibles into countries knowing that if discovered, they could be imprisoned or even executed. Their names are unknown to us, but our hearts go out to them and their willingness to spread the Word each time we read about them.
The worst that happens to us in this country when we talk religion is for someone to spout verbal or written comments. People may complain on social media each time we mention God or Jesus, but those are only words and mainly from a minority of people. We don’t have to fear a knock on our door with soldiers dragging us out to prison because we own a Bible or made a statement about Jesus being the Son of God.
This past week I’ve had a half dozen people whose last words to me were, “Have a blessed day.” It’s a simple phrase that I’ve seen several on social media find offensive. But you know what? Being Jesus or even telling the world about Him will always be offensive to someone. However, that should never stop us from saying His name or calling on Him to help us change the world to be what He wants it to be.
So today, I’ll give you this simple statement. I give it to you because of the freedom I received from many who have paid the ultimate price.
“God be with you and have a blessed day!”
Danny Minton is Pastoral Minister and Elder at Southern Hills Church of Christ
Photo credit: wikipeida.org