Vox Populi

A Public Sphere for Poetry, Politics, and Nature

Sandy Solomon: Sophie Scholl from diary, letters, pamphlets


21-year-old Scholl, with her older brother Hans, 

was guillotined on 22 February 1943 for being

part of the White Rose, a group of students 

arrested for distributing anti-Nazi flyers. 

April 1940

To politics, everything else must take 

second place. We were politically educated,

after all. I’d just like to relax

in your company again and see and feel

nothing but the cloth of your suit.

July 1940

I went cycling for two hours 

with Inge this afternoon.  Beyond 

Oberkirchberg, we turned off

into the woods. The tree tops 

kept crashing into each other overhead.  

Only the wind at work.

August 1941

I’ve got a nice job at present.

Herr Krele works at the munitions 

factory, while his wife tends 

the farm.  I’ve looked after their little 

home, and come to feel as if 

it is my own. When my job assignment

changes next week, I’ll miss the way

his wife puts aside one or two 

liters of milk for me each day 

(the only thing they’ve got plenty of

aside from bread and jam).

September 1941

I feel immense pleasure, I feel 

so strong, when I fool my superiors,

though I must enjoy this stolen sense 

of freedom in secret. 

.

My parents are still doing their best

to get me out of compulsory war work;

my father has already fired off

letters of appeal on my behalf—  

the first request he sent denied, 

the fate of the second still unknown.

November 1941

Although I can’t do as I please 

or as I’d imagined, I’m well off here

teaching in the kindergarten, sleeping

in camp.  I take a long solitary 

walk to and from work 

every morning and evening, amid

the snowy, twilit fields and hills.

January 1942

This evening, I listened to music on the radio 

written in the time of Bach, 

a lucid, joyous quartet, utterly 

unsentimental. I longed to breathe 

the same clear air as those 

who played the piece, and that desire

took me away from the turmoil briefly.

The music reminded me of the saying,

have a hard head and a soft heart

July 1942

My God, do not turn away from me if I fail

to hear you knock; open my deaf, deaf heart.

September 1942

I finished my factory work last Saturday.

Lisl and I will spend a few days

in a secluded farmhouse in the mountains

to be out of sight of man and his works. 

I’ll find solace in nature, away

from the terrible things happening.  

One gets the impression that, impelled 

by some evil power, people 

have lost control over themselves 

and what they do. When I looked over

the factory floor, I could see 

a hundred or so  people standing 

over their machines. I thought of them

as if sadly yet unwittingly obeying 

a power they themselves had created. 

October 1942

Now I’m delighting once more 

in the last rays of the sun

and marveling at the incredible beauty 

of all that wasn’t created by man: 

red dahlias beside the white 

garden gate, tall, solemn 

fir trees, birches with their trembling

golden leaves. Their trunks gleam

against the green and copper foliage.

Colors intensify in the golden sunshine. 

How mysterious—and frightening too—

that everything should be so beautiful despite 

the terrible things that are happening?

November 1942

People must examine every word

from every angle before they speak.

Mistrust and caution have forcibly replaced 

faith in other people. But, no, 

I won’t let anything discourage me.

.

Today my father learned he can

no longer practice his profession. 

The authorities find him unreliable

politically. He worries that his income 

as a bookkeeper won’t provide enough 

support, but he doesn’t want to give

the apartment up for just the year

or so before the war is over.

January 1943

Leaflet of the Resistance. A Call to All Germans!

Hitler is leading the German people

into the abyss….But what are the German people

doing?  They will not see. They will not listen.

Blindly they follow their seducers into ruin.

February 1943

Rain drips on the windowsill.

I can hear the sound of a clock ticking 

inside the wall—not often—mostly

close to midnight. Sometimes the ticking

is slow, sometimes faster and faster. 

I have the feeling what I hear 

is only the central heating. I can’t 

remember a time when I felt so 

unable to concentrate on my book.

.

Fellow Students—Men and Women!

Shaken and broken, our people behold

the loss of men at Stalingrad.

Three hundred and thirty thousand 

German men senselessly 

and irresponsibly driven to death…

by the inspired strategy of 

our World War I Private First Class.

Fuhrer, we thank you.

.

I so look forward to the spring.                                       

In that piece of Shubert’s I can feel

the breezes and smell the scents and hear

the birds. I can feel the whole 

of creation cry out for joy.


Translations with some modifications from At the Heart of the White Rose, Letters and Diaries of Hans and Sophie Scholl, edited by Inge Jens, Harper and Row, New York 1984 

Copyright 2019 Sandy Solomon

Sophia Magdalena Scholl (9 May 1921 – 22 February 1943) was a German student and anti-Nazi political activist, active within the White Rose non-violent resistance group in Nazi Germany

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