Monday, 9 May 2011

Sophie Scholl's birthday

Memorial to White Rose
On 22 February 1943, Sophie Scholl was guillotined by the Nazi Regime.  She and two other members of the White Rose resistance movement, her brother Hans Scholl and Christopher Probst, were executed for fighting against the tyranny of the State with words.
Today would have been Sophie Scholl's 90th birthday.

Fr Dermot has a scholarly interest in Sophie Scholl and the White Rose resistence movement, particularly in the influence and great inspiration of Blessed John Henry Newman on the movement.      

Here is an extract from Fr Dermot Fenlon's paper "From the White Star to the White Rose.  J.H. Newman and the Conscience of the State".

Newman's question, Haecker's pedagogy, Hartnagel's testimony: it is not idle to speak of prophetic witness.  Science without God, education without a heart, produced its nemesis in the Third Reich.  The White Rose struggled to resist it.  But for the Rose to flower there was need, not of the blood of students.  There was need of the blood of Christ, interceding for a fallen humanity.  Haecker, Muth, Edith Stein: the school of Newman was the seed ground nurturing a small and heroic movement of German writers, some of whome stand to us as saints and martyrs bearing the witness of effective intercession through the power of Christ's Passion, the source of salvation in the night of terror.  Christopher Probst, together with Fritz Hartnagel, belongs to that moment of witness.  Willi Graf and Kurt Huber found their way into this company of saints.  Hans Scholl?  If we are to believe his sister Inge, his request to be received into the Catholic Church points in the same direction.  And Sophie?

One of Sophie Scholl's letters

Sophie Scholl is singular.  Her letters, from the invasion of France in 1940, disclose a spiritual evolution breathtaking in its sensitivity, sincerity and depth.  It is not an exaggeration to suggest that these letters entitle her to recognition as a writer in the company of Anne Frank or Simone Weil.  It must never be forgotten that it was through her influence, her letters and her personal gifts that Fritz Hartnagel found in Newman those 'drops of precious wine' that brought him to the testimony of truth in the horror of the Russian Holocaust.  After the war FritzHartnagel married Sophie's sister Elisabeth.  He insisted Sophie should not be commemorated as a saint.  Her letters make it clear that Sophie would have been the first to agree.  Hartnagel's fidelity to the truth of her memory, his refusal to simplify or exaggerate, are exemplary, and should remain exemplary for us.  Because of Sophie Scholl he became, without knowing it, on the Russian front at Mariupol in 1943, the decisive recipient of Germany's kairos for Newman.  We should all keep his name before us in our prayers.

In the darkness of Hitler's Germany, Newman brought home to those prepared to hear, the presence, power and redemptive realiy of the Cross of Christ. 

(taken from Internationale Cardinal-Newman-Studien Vol 20 pp.72)

Fr Dermot Fenlon was present at the launch of Frank McDonough's biography of Sophie Scholl on 22 February 2010 and is personally thanked in the author's acknowledgements.  

In April 2010 Fr Dermot Fenlon attended the funeral of Christoph Probst's son Michael in Bavaria.  There was a profusion of white roses at his gravesite.