Hans and Sophie Scholl Win – Vergangenheitsbewältigung
If you asked the average American citizen the question, “Who were Hans and Sophie Scholl”? They would not have a clue. If you asked the average American college student the answer would be the same. If you asked this question to a student who had a major or minor in Modern European History or German they would know. Any German student regardless of major or minor would know the answer. When the government changed from the Third Reich to the Federal Republic of Germany (West Germany) the German’s view of history changed. At first the history books stopped at 1933. Then a phenomena took place. The children born after WWII, the German “baby boomers” started asking questions. As they came of age and attended school in the 1960s, one of the big questions was, “What did you do in the war, daddy”? This led to a wonderful German word, Vergangenheitsbewältigung, which translates to “coming to terms with the past”. It took some time to evolve, but evolve it has into the Germany of today. Professor Ganyard mentioned in class that Germany has streets and schools named after Sophie Scholl. The German government issued a stamp1 commemorating Sophie Scholl. The German film industry produced a film, Sophie Scholl – The Final Days2. Sophie and Hans, your ideas triumphed over an entire regime. A regime that is remembered in history as being infamous; Sophie and Hans are remembered as being courageous and admired. It is tragic that you had to pay such a high price.
1. www.newworldencyclopedia.org/entry/Sophie_Scholl 2. Sophie Scholl – The Final Days, directed by Marc Rothemund, 2005, X Verleich AG (Germany), Zeitgeist Films (USA).