Sophie Scholl: The Final Days
Based on a true story, a sister and brother distribute leaflets at a German university and are caught. They are interrogated and given a show trial.
Sophie Magdalena Scholl (Julia Jentsch) in an apartment talks to Gisela Schertling (Lilli Jung) and says goodbye to her. She walks to a building and goes into an apartment in the basement where three men are working. She helps Willi Graf (Maximilian Brückner) prepare a letter they are sending to many people. During a break she pours wine. Willi gives Hans Scholl (Fabian Hinrichs) the stamps and the list of names and asks about the others. Hans says he will hand them out on campus. Willi asks if he is crazy and says the Gestapo is on alert. A colleague tells Hans that they will hide the rest until they get more envelopes; but Hans says there is a paper shortage. Hans does not want the Bolsheviks to get there before the Americans. He says he will hand them out at a lecture in a few seconds. He says he will take responsibility alone. Sophie volunteers to carry the suitcase and says a woman can get through more easily. They agree, and she leaves with Hans.
Sophie brings coffee to Hans at his desk and leaves the room. He puts stamps in the top drawer. Sophie writes about music to a friend and goes to bed.
In the morning Sophie is eating breakfast, and Hans brings in the suitcase. They hug and put on their coats and go out. She carries the small suitcase, and he has a briefcase. They walk into a large building and go upstairs. They see a man and a woman and speak briefly and go on. They separate and put small stacks of leaflets in various places in the hallway. He gets the rest of the leaflets out of her suitcase, and she picks up a pile and distributes them in smaller piles. He tells her to come with him, and they hold hands. She says there are some left in the suitcase. He takes it, and they go back upstairs. He puts stacks on the balcony railing, and she pushes one stack over into the area below. Students come in there and pick them up. They are going down the stairs when a janitor orders them to stop. He accuses them of dropping the leaflets and makes them come with him.
In an office an officer is talking to the janitor who detained them and another administrator. The officer takes a leaflet. Three men come in and say, “Heil Hitler.” The officer shows them the defamatory leaflet, and Robert Mohr (Alexander Held) asks for their identity papers. They show them to him and admit they are brother and sister. He says this is the anti-German Resistance sweeping Europe. The officer shows him bits of paper that Hans was tearing up, and Hans says he was given that and did not want anyone incriminated. Sophie admits that it was her suitcase, and he orders them taken away. They stand up and are handcuffed behind their backs. He says he has arranged for the university to be sealed off, and none of the administration are to leave.
Two men escort Sophie and Hans out of the university building and put them in a car that drives off. They are taken out and up stairs in an official building. Hans is taken into an office, and Sophie is put in another office. Mohr comes in and goes into an inner office. Lohner (Klaus Handl) takes her in there and leaves her. Mohr at his desk tells her to sit down. He asks about her father and her training and her address. She says she has no prior convictions, and she admits she shoved the leaflets from the balcony. She says she likes to play pranks and admits it was stupid. She regrets it now. He says the leaflets violate the law and asks if she wants to read what she can get for treason, shoving a book toward her. He says it could be prison or death. She says she had nothing to do with it. He lights a cigarette and offers her one, but she declines. He puts the suitcase on his desk and puts the two piles of leaflets on the suitcase, showing that they would fit well in it. She says it is a coincidence. He asks why she took an empty suitcase to the university, and she says she was on her way to Ulm to pick up her laundry. He asks why such a long trip in the middle of the week, and she says she was also going to visit a girlfriend and was going to meet her boyfriend at the Central Station. He asks his name, and she tells him. He asks why she had no dirty laundry with her, and she says she does them by hand. He asks why she went to the University, and she says she was going to meet Gisela for lunch. She had changed her mind the night before and came to tell her.
A man comes into the office and hands Mohr a document and goes out with the suitcase and leaflets. Mohr asks why her brother was on campus, and she says he was going to the Psychiatry Department. He asks why she was on the second floor, and she says she was going to meet Gisela. She was early and wanted to listen to a lecture there. He asks if she read the leaflets, and she says she glanced at them. She says she and her brother are apolitical. He asks if she attended the Gauleiter’s speech when the women protested, and she says no. He asks what she thinks about what the Gauleiter said in his speech. He says she was found in suspicious circumstances, and he urges her to tell the truth. She denies that she and her brother had anything to do with the leaflets except for the prank. He asks if she can hide her true convictions from them, and she says she is speaking frankly. He picks up the file of papers and leaves the office. Lohner comes in. Mohr comes back and says there were no leaflets in her suitcase and that her brother confirmed her story. He asks if she is relieved, and she says she was not worried. He calls in a transcript writer and says he is going to dictate a report, and she can make corrections. He says she will be put in a cell, and she may still be able to go to Ulm.
Lohner escorts Sophie through hallways to a room where a woman has her remove her jewelry and go with her. The woman tells her to get undressed, and she searches her clothes. The woman says she is a prisoner too and advises her to give her anything incriminating, but Sophie says she has nothing.
Later Sophie is led down a hallway with the woman to a large cell. Sophie asks about her brother, and the woman says he is finished and waiting; she is the prime suspect because it was her suitcase, and she dropped the leaflets. She advises her to admit nothing, but Sophie says she has nothing to confess. Sophie asks how long she has been there, and the woman says about one year. She was caught opposing Hitler, and Sophie asks why she works for them. The woman says she is there so that Sophie won’t kill herself. She says her brother was a Communist, and they stick together. She says they have to do something.
Two men call Sophie out, and she says goodbye to the woman in the cell, hoping they will never meet again. Sophie is taken to the registration desk, and the man says she is being released and is lucky this time. The phone rings, and he answers it and tells her to follow him. He takes her back to the interrogator Mohr with the release document and goes out. He tells her to take off her coat and sit down. He says her father served a six-week sentence last year for slandering Hitler. He asks how he would ever let her join a Nazi girls group, and she says she is independent. He asks why she joined, and she refers to Hitler’s promises. He asks if she is unmarried, and she says she is engaged to Fritz, a captain on the eastern front. He asks when she saw him last, and she says a half year ago. He shines a lamp in her face and takes a revolver out of a briefcase and asks if she recognizes it. She says her brother has one like it because he is a sergeant in the army. He asks about the bullets found in her desk and when she last bought stamps. She says two weeks ago and that she bought only eighteen. He shows her many stamps, and she says she never saw them before. He says they found them in her brother’s room. He asks why they had 140 stamps. She says they were not in her room.
An older man steps in the room and stands there to listen. Mohr asks if she owns a typewriter. She says their landlady lent one to his brother so that he could type papers for his classes. He takes out a leaflet and asks if it was not for that. He quotes a statement about Hitler not being able to win the war, but he could prolong it. A criminal syndicate can never win. Germany must become a federalist government with freedom of speech and of beliefs. She says Hans did not write that. He asks if she wrote it, and she says no. She repeats that she is apolitical. He stands up and says that leaflet was typed in her apartment, and letters were sent to Augsburg and Munich. She says she knows nothing about it. He tells her to stay seated and leaves the room with the older man. He comes back in and shows her the handwritten letter that was ripped up and is now pieced together. He asks if she saw it before. He has her read from it and asks about the handwriting. She does not recognize it. He tells her it was written by Christoph Probst, a friend in Innsbruck. He says they found letters from him among her things. He walks around and rants about this man. He asks if she and her brother helped Probst write the leaflets. She says he is making insinuations. He says she withheld important evidence. She says she can only admit what she knows. He reads to her from a letter about the war from the eastern front. He says it is troop demoralization and treason. She does not believe her brother said that. He asks her about the Eickemayr studio, and she says he is an architect. She says he let them use the studio for their paintings. He says her brother’s fingerprints were found on the copying machine. He says her brother confessed and claimed he did everything himself. He says he wrote all six leaflets and distributed them, 5,000 in one night in Munich. He shows her the confession signed by her brother and says she lives with her brother. They were together that morning. He asks if they are supposed to believe she had nothing to do with this. He tells her to admit that he helped distribute the leaflets. She thinks for a while and says yes; she is proud of what she did. She asks what will happen to her brother and her. He says she should have thought of that earlier. She asks if they will arrest her family, and he says others will decide that. She says she has to use a lavatory, but he says not now and asks who wrote the leaflets. She says she did; but he accuses of her lying because their scientific report concluded that they were probably written by a man. He asks who sent the leaflets, and she says it was her brother and her.
She asks to be excused because she does have to use a toilet. Mohr calls Lohner who takes her to a bathroom. She goes in alone, looks in the mirror and cries. She comes out, and Lohner takes her back to the same office.
The interrogator Mohr questions her about their slogans and defacing swastikas at the university and other places. She says she and her brother did that. He asks her about Alex Schmorell, and she denies he knew about their plans. He asks about Graf too. A woman gives him papers. He asks Sophie why she keeps lying, but she denies she is lying. He shows her a paper and tells her to sign her confession. She looks at it and signs her name.
Sophie has her picture taken.
In the cell Sophie and the woman sit and talk at a table. The woman says she will be surprised because they are scared of the invasion which is coming soon and will free Germany. Sophie says that when her mother learns of her arrest, she will not be able to take it. Her father is ten years younger and is strong. Sophie sits on her bed and lies down. The other woman covers her with a blanket.
Mohr is interrogating Sophie again about the White Rose resistance movement. He asks about Willi Graf, and she says he is a friend. She says his fingerprints were there from another time. She denies that Probst distributed leaflets because Hans said he had a family. He shouts and demands that she tell him the truth. She refuses to admit that her friends were part of the resistance group, but he does not believe her. He gets a large notebook and reads from it about the White Rose group. He says she and her brother could not have printed thousands of leaflets. She says they wanted to create the impression that the resistance was widespread. She says her brother did not talk to her about his colleagues. She says people are reluctant to talk about politics these days. He asks where she got the addresses, and she says she got them from the telephone book. He asks her about 700 leaflets in Stuttgart and 2,000 in Munich. She says she took an express train to Stuttgart. He asks who helped in Munich, and she says she did not go there. He asks who financed the leaflets, and she says her father gives her 150 reichsmarks a month, and her brother gets military pay. He shows her a little notebook and says names under “I” indicate where income came from, and he notes that her fiancé’s name is there. She denies that he was involved. He asks if she accepts the consequences of taking full responsibility. He says they have all the names. If she cooperates with them, it will effect her verdict.
At night Sophie is in bed and talking with her cellmate. Sophie says she is worried about Fritz because his name was in her book. He was at Stalingrad and in a military hospital. She hopes he survives the war. She believes he will understand what she did. She describes him for her cellmate. She saw him last summer, and they talked about peace. Later they hear bombs. Sophie prays to God that people will find peace.
Mohr pours coffee for Sophie. He recognizes that she cares about the German people, and she asks why they are going to punish her. He says it is because of the law; without law there is no order. She says the law protected free speech before 1933. Now someone who speaks freely is put to death. He asks what else can they rely on besides the law, and she says conscience. He says that is nonsense. She says the law changes, but conscience remains the same. He asks what would happen if everyone tried to make their own laws. He says free thinking and democracy would be chaos. She says that without Hitler people would be free. They argue and disagree. He says the French who occupied them made him a policeman. He blames the Treaty of Versailles, and she blames Hitler for going to war. He says Hitler and the German people are protecting her, but she says they are arresting her family. He says the army is freeing Germany of Communists and plutocrats. They have different views on who will win the war. He asks if she is a Protestant which requires devotion. She says people go to church voluntarily, but Hitler gives them no choice. He asks why she risked so much, and she says because of her conscience. He says she is gifted and asks why she goes against them. She says the Nazis did terrible things in the name of freedom and honor. He thinks Europe can only be National Socialist, and she asks what if Hitler is insane. She refers to racial hatred and the persecution of Jews. He asks if she believes that propaganda and says the Jews are emigrating. She says they are being exterminated in camps. Hitler has been saying that he would do that for twenty years. He says she has not been taught properly. She says she was shocked to find out what was happening, that the Nazis were killing people including children. He says those people were unworthy. She was taught to be a nurse, and she has seen unhealthy people. She says no one knows what goes on in the minds of the mentally ill. She believes every life is precious. He says a new age has dawned and that what she says has no reality. She says it is decency, morality, and God. He gets angry and says God does not exist. He looks out the window. He asks if she relied on her brother and if they can write in the report that he led her along. She says no. He says he has a son with crazy ideas too, and he is on the eastern front and will do his duty. She asks if he believes in a final victory. He says she never had to get involved in this, and her life is at stake. He reads to her from a paper a statement that asks her to admit that she committed a crime. She believes she acted in the best interest of the people. She does not regret it and will accept the consequences. He calls for the transcript writer and says they are finished. He washes his hands.
Sophie tells her cellmate that Mohr offered her a way out if she renounced her beliefs and blamed her brother. The woman says she is young and should survive to work for her ideals. Sophie says there is no way back. She eats bread and butter. They hear an air-raid siren and bombs. Sophie looks out the window but then gets down with her cellmate.
Sophie’s cellmate comes back in and tells Sophie that the new prisoner is Christoph Probst. Sophie says he has three children. The door opens, and Mohr tells her that the prosecutor is expecting her. He takes her in the hall to the office with an older man. He gives her the indictment and says her trial starts tomorrow in Munich. They cannot delay. Lohner takes her back to her cell.
Sophie tells her cellmate that she is charged with high treason, troop demoralization, and aiding the enemy. Sophie looks out the window on a sunny day and prays. Rechtsanwalt August Klein (Paul Herwig) comes in and says he has been appointed to defend her and asks if she read the indictment. Sophie says yes and asks what will happen to her family. He says other authorities will decide. She wants to know. He says she talks as if he is responsible. She says she has a right to know about her family. He says she is making demands. She says she should get the same sentence as her brother. He says she and her brother are wrong. He says the President of the People’s Court will set her right. He knocks on the door and says he will see her in court in the morning and goes out. Her cellmate says the judge will call her a criminal because he was a Soviet commissar and needs to rehabilitate himself. Sophie says her father wanted them to live free and honest lives even though it may be difficult. Sophie asks if it will be a public trial, and her cellmate says it will be a show trial to deter others. She says people will hear about their leaflets, and the students will revolt. Her cellmate says even if it is the worst, she will have 99 days before the execution. Sophie says her brother spoke of having a strong spirit and a tender heart.
In the morning Sophie says she dreamed she was with a child and had just enough time to keep the child safe. She fell, but the child in the white dress survived. The door opens, and Lohner tells her to be ready to be transported. Sophie finishes dressing. Her cellmate wishes God to be with her. Sophie knocks on the door and goes with Lohner.
Sophie is taken by men to a car and the justice building. Inside the court they remove her handcuffs. She sits near Hans, but a soldier between them tells them to be quiet. People stand up as the judges come in. Everyone salutes Hitler except Hans and Sophie. The judge reads the charges against Hans and Sophie and then calls Christoph Probst (Florian Stetter). He is questioned and says he is a good father. He says he is apolitical. The judge says the state paid for his education. He says he suffered from a psychotic depression when he wrote things he retracted later. The judge does not accept his excuse and says he is unworthy. The judge calls Hans, who is brought forward. The judge also lectures him about the gifts he received from the Reich to become a medical aide. Hans denies that he is a parasite. The judge says he did not do his duty for the community. He is accused of using passive resistance and sabotage. The judge says he dragged his sister into this, but Sophie says she did it on her own. The judge castigates her for interrupting. He asks Hans if he wrote the leaflets. Hans says they have no chance against the Americans and others, and Hitler can only prolong the war. The judge accuses him of helping the enemy; but Hans argues that only be ending the war now can they prevent—but the judge cuts him off and says the German people want total war. Hans says Germany is bleeding to death and wants peace. He says Hitler and his men are to blame for the European massacre. The judge calls him a “dishonorable dog.” Hans says he was on the eastern front and saw streams of blood. He saw German soldiers shooting women and children. The judge asks if he is stupid enough to think Germans will believe him. Hans says if the judge and Hitler were not afraid of his opinions, he would not be there. The judge tells him to shut up and calls him a scoundrel, a fool, and a traitor. He ends the examination and asks the lawyers if they have any questions; but both lawyers say no. Hans is taken back to his seat.
The judge calls Sophie and asks if she is ashamed of giving out the leaflets, and she says no. She says she wanted to distribute the leaflets to get across their ideas. He says their product was not worthy of German students. She says they fight with words. The judge reads from what they wrote. He asks where they got the paper, and she says from shops and the university. He calls it theft from the state. She says that they wanted to end the terrible slaughter of so many people and the Jews before it was ended by the Allies so that Germany would not be as disgraced. He says the master race does not care, but she says his master race wants peace. It wants human dignity, conscience, and empathy. He says total war will free the German people and make them greater. She says people agree with them but do not dare to speak up. He does not want to hear any more from her and asks the lawyers if they have questions. They have none, and the judge says her hearing is over. She is taken back to her seat.
A man comes in the courtroom and says he is the father Robert Scholl (Jorg Hube). The judge says it is not permitted and orders him to be taken out. He says there is a higher justice while he and his wife are removed. The judge calls for closing statements and tells the defendants to stand. Probst says he has confessed he did wrong and asks him to spare his life. Hans asks the court to spare Probst and punish him. The judge says he cannot speak for another. Hans sits down. Sophie says he will soon be standing where they are standing. The judge says he is outraged by what she said. The judge puts on his hat and stands up to read the verdict on February 22, 1943. He says the defendants published leaflets during time of war calling for people to sabotage armaments and overthrow the people’s national socialist way of life. They used propaganda against Hitler and therefore helped the enemy and demoralized the troops. They are sentenced to death and lose their rights as citizens for all time. They have to pay for the cost of the trial. Sophie says the terror will soon be over. Hans says they may hang them today, but they will be hanged tomorrow. The judge orders them taken away.
Soldiers take the three down the stairs in handcuffs. Sophie is put in a different car. She is brought back to the jail and put in a different cell. The woman guard tells her to write any farewell statement quickly. Sophie says she thought all prisoners had 99 days, but the woman tells her to start writing and closes the door. On the table is paper and a pen. She howls and then sits at the table. She cries. She begins writing a letter to her beloved Fritz. She sees a crucifix on the wall. The woman guard comes in and says she has visitors. Sophie goes with her and passes Hans in the hall. She goes into a room and talks with her mother and father. He says she did the right thing, and he is proud of her. Her mother touches her face, and Sophie says she stood bravely by her. Her mother says they will meet in eternity. The guard says it is time, and she embraces her parents across the table. In the hall she tells Mohr that she just said goodbye to her parents.
In her cell Sophie looks out the window. The prison minister comes in, and they sit at the table. Sophie prays and then asks him for God’s blessing. He stands up and holds a hand over her head as he says the blessing. The guard opens the door, and the minister says no one loves more than the one who gives up one’s life for one’s friends. Sophie goes with the guard and is put in a cell with Hans and Christoph. The guard says they have little time, gives her a cigarette, and leaves. They share the cigarette. Christoph says it was not in vain. They hug together. Two men with top hats come in, and one handcuffs Sophie and takes her out.
They lead her outside and into a room where men at a table tell her of the legal process. The man says it is 5 and time for her execution. The two men in top hats take her into a room with a small guillotine. They lay her body on the table and slide it forward, placing her head between the boards. The blade comes down. In the darkness someone shouts, “Long live freedom!”
In addition to these three people the death sentence was imposed on four other members of the White Rose. Other members suffered severe punishment. One of the six leaflets was taken to Scandinavian countries, and millions of copies were dropped over Germany with the title that this is a manifesto from German students in Munich.
This docudrama depicts a courageous sister and her brother who risked their lives to speak out against the Nazi regime and its terrible war and executions. For this peaceful action they were interrogated, berated by a tyrannical judge, and executed. Yet their message managed to get out of Germany and was magnified when millions of leaflets were distributed in Germany from the air, enabling Germans to become more aware of their dreadful situation and what they might be able to do to shorten the horrible war.