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Sophie Scholl: the story of a Lutheran heroine
comes to the U.S. in an acclaimed new film
New York, February 6, 2006 -- Sophie Scholl was 21 years old when she was brought before "the People's Court," Nazi Germany's highest tribunal, in February 1943 to defend herself against charges of handing out anti-government pamphlets. The punishment was a foregone conclusion: death.
The dramatic story of Germany's most famous anti-Nazi heroine is told in Sophie Scholl: the Final Days, distributed by Zeitgeist Films. Directed by Marc Rothemund and starring German actress Julia Jentsch, the film has been nominated for an Oscar in the category of Best Foreign Film.
Sophie Scholl: The Final Days opens February 17 in New York and between February and May 9 elsewhere in the U.S. Check here for playdates.
Scholl, her brother, Hans and Christopher Probst, members of an anti-Nazi group called, "White Rose," were executed by guillotine the same day they were tried. Presiding over the trial was a murderous functionary named Roland Freisler, who is also featured in the film. Friesler pronounced death sentences on 2,295 people in the four years he presided over the court.
Details of Scholl's trial -- along with information about thousands of Nazi-era trials -- were unavailable for years and transcripts of her interrogation by the Gestapo were buried in East German archives. Complete information about the bloody transactions of the People's Court was available to scholars in 1985 when the German Bundestag issued a unanimous declaration that the court was not a court of justice "but an instrument of terror used to impose the National-Socialist dictatorship."
The members of The White Rose worked day and night, cranking a hand-operated duplicating machine thousands of times to create the leaflets which were each stuffed into envelopes, stamped and mailed from various major cities in Southern Germany. Recipients were chosen from telephone directories and were generally scholars, medics and pub-owners because they were in the best position to spread the anti-Nazi information.
Sophie Scholl was arrested following what is described as "a particularly dangerous" mission to distribute the leaflets.
The film depicts her courageous declarations before the People's Court. After nearly successful efforts to defend herself, Scholl was confronted with clear evidence that she had distributed leaflets. At that point she declared, "Yes, I took part in this and am proud of it." Her eloquent anti-Nazi statements before Presiding Judge Friesler are legendary in modern Germany.
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