This week we attended a stunning performance at the Coterie Theatre – The White Rose: We Defied Hitler. This play is based on the case of Sophie Scholl, a German student who openly defied Hitler by working on a publication called The White Rose. The White Rose pamphlets encouraged German citizens to fight against the Nazi regime for democracy and social justice. Scholl’s passive resistance (and that of her brother, Hans, who worked on the pamphlets with her) came to the attention of the Gestapo as they distributed the sixth edition of their publication. They were arrested and interrogated about the activities of the White Rose. Scholl and her brother held firm on their beliefs, and were tried in court, found guilty of treason, and executed.
The play focuses on the time from when Scholl and her brother were arrested to when they head out to be executed. We see Scholl both embrace and recoil from her role in the White Rose as she both stands proud of her convictions and mourns the loss of her future. The Nazi interrogator is both frightening and friendly, which adds to the sense of sadness throughout the play. Not only does Scholl lose her life, but the interrogator has lost his integrity by becoming an instrument of evil. Scholl’s brother, Hans, feels both real and dreamlike as Scholl becomes overtired, hungry and thirsty in the interrogation room. Did Hans actually come visit her or did she just imagine that?
This play left the audience thoughtful and emotional. How would each of us behave if we faced the same kinds of evil that Scholl faced? Would we stand strong and fight back? Would we have the strength of our convictions to accept our fate? Would we face death defiantly and with quiet confidence, as Scholl did?