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Long Live the White Rose!

I watched Sophie Scholl: The Last Days last night. Yet another movie about the Nazis, though this one was somewhat different than many in that it relayed a short episode (about a week) of a small group of student resisters to National Socialism (no, it isn't that wretched film Swing Kids). Sophie Scholl and her brother were caught after distributing leaflets critical of the Nazi prosecution of the war. Of course, in a totalitarian society, political critiques are not welcome, in fact, they were labeled high treason. Sophie and the group are motivated not only by political opposition but a grounding in a principle that is higher than the state; though it is presented a bit fuzzy, Christianity seems to be the principle. The interrogaters have made a god of the state, and so are a bit befuddled to see an intelligent, non-violent, and principled stand against such idolatry.
Another point appreciated in this film was that the Nazis (and their minions) were presented as humans. Police interrogater Mohr pleads with Sophie to recant; he is impressed with her intelligence and spirit; during the trial, one gets the sense that the only one 100% committed to the State is the raving president of the court. Rather than seeing only monsters, the viewer is given a glimpse of the "principalities and powers" referred to in the letter to the Ephesian church by St. Paul. Jacques Ellul (here and here) discussed this at length in his Anarchy and Christianity. Institutions become repositories of all kinds of evil. I'm not suggesting that the Nazis were benevolent in the beginning and later turned bad, rather that not all of German society was inhabited by demons. Perhaps near the end of the war it was, but in 1943 (when the film takes place) Germans were still ignorant (perhaps willfully) of the depravity committed in their name.
All in all, a very moving picture. Best of all, though not for Sophie and her compatriots, no Steven Spielbergian Far and Away ending.


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