One of the most important takeaways from Sophie Scholl and the Nuremberg Trial transcripts is the real-world application of critical thinking, and what that actually means. The common refrain from the Nuremberg Trials was “I was just following orders”, in one form or another. This could be either their way of passing the blame or the truth. If it is the truth, it is a disturbing fact that they would be so unthinking. In theme with Hitler’s ‘messianic’ image, his generals followed him with a blind, unquestioning devotion. When pressed in court, the generals responded in several ways, including Keitel’s avoiding of the question, Goering’s ‘creative interpretation’ of the facts, or whatever Hess was trying to do. Each one of these major players in the Nazi party avoided the question by some way or another, and only Keitel owned up to what he did, albeit grudgingly.
Sophie Scholl serves as a quintessential counterpoint to the actions of these Generals and high-ranking Nazi members. Sophie and Hans Scholl proudly and defiantly stood up for what they believed in, even knowing they would be punished harshly for what they did. They stood in front of a judge that they had no hope of persuading, but still showed courage enough to denounce the very same people who were about to kill. The White Rose took the risk enough to question the war and their government, and stand up for what they thought was right. It is quite amazing that college students showed more courage and critical thinking than adults in major positions of power.
Sophie Scholl, the Final Days. Dir. Marc Rothemund. Prod. Marc Rothemund, Christoph Müller, Sven Burgemeister, and Fred Breinersdorfer. By Fred Breinersdorfer. Perf. Julia Jentsch, Alexander Held, Fabian Hinrichs, and Johanna Gastdorf. X Verleih, 2005.
Nuremburg Trials Transcrips from D2L