Friday, November 7, 2014

"SUCH A FINE SUNNY DAY": The Power of WORDS on the Path of Resistance




The title of this post includes a part of the last words of Sophie Scholl, member of the German Resistance Group, The White Rose.  

On the twenty second of February in 1943, Sophie, her brother Hans and their friend Christoph Probst were found guilty of treason and condemned to death.  Their crime?  The distribution of six anti-Nazi political resistance leaflets.  They had been arrested while distributing the sixth leaflet at the University of Munich just four days earlier.


All three were beheaded by a guillotine in Munich's Stadelheim Prison at 17:00 hours.  The execution was supervised by Walter Roemer, the enforcement chief of the Munich district court.  He along with other prison officials, in later reports describing the scene, emphasized the great courage of the young 22 year old girl as she walked to her execution.  Her complete last words were recorded as follows:  


How can we expect righteousness to prevail when there is hardly anyone willing to give himself up individually to a righteous cause?  Such a fine, sunny day, and I have to go, but what does my death matter if through us, thousands of people are awakened and stirred into action?


Following her death, a copy of the sixth leaflet was smuggled out of Germany through Scandinavia to the UK by German jurist Helmuth James Graf von Moltke, where it was used by the Allied Forces.  In mid-1943, they dropped over Germany millions of propaganda copies of the tract, now retitled The Manifesto of the Students of Munich...


Sophie's legacy had begun...and it rained down on all of Germany as a warning.

In a historical context, The White Rose's legacy is significant as a demonstration of exemplary spiritual courage and as a well-documented case of social dissent in a time of violent repression, censorship and conformist pressure.


It also teaches us that while words can be manipulated and twisted in pretty ways to lead a nation into committing heinous acts of murder, torture and war, they may also be used to proclaim truth, which is ultimately the mightiest sword in any arsenal.


Playwright Lillian Garrett-Groag stated in Newsday on February 22, 1993:  "It is possibly the most spectacular moment of resistance that I can think of in the twentieth century.  The fact that five little kids, in the mouth of the wolf, where it really counted, had the tremendous courage to do what they did, is spectacular to me."


In the same issue of Newsday, Holocaust historian Jud Newborn noted that:  "You cannot really measure the effect of this kind of resistance in whether or not X number of bridges were blown up or a regime fell...The White Rose really as a more symbolic value, but that's a very important value."


I would personally argue that Sophie Scholl and The White Rose Resistance has more than just symbolic value.  It represents the essence of what every human being is called to be:  a protector of truth, a defender of the innocent, and a warrior for freedom.  This, in the case of young Sophie, may prove to be deadly in a world where so often truth is abhorrent to those who hunger for their own personal gain and power; but it is that quiet gnawing in the soul and heart of all human beings--that part of ourselves that can hear the voice of that truth and realize that it is, in fact, something worth dying for.


The Power of Words.  The Power of the Truth they can wield.  It is immeasurable.


Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a Lutheran pastor and another member of the German Resistance who was tortured then executed for treason against Germany once said:  "Silence in the face of evil is, itself, evil:  God will not hold us guiltless.  Not to speak is to speak.  Not to act is to act.  The ultimate test of a moral society is the kind of world that it leaves to its children."


Powerful words.  Convicting words.  They acknowledge that our voice, when used for truth--when used as a weapon to admonish evil outright and out loud to the world--is what defines our character.  Inaction is, in fact, a choice of action.  Silence is also speaking volumes.  Sophie knew this.  Her executioners knew this, too.  She made her choice, and I believe that because it was the right one--the truth--that she was able to face her death in peace and with a clear conscience.


On May 9, 2014, Google depicted Sophie Scholl for its Google Doodle on the occasion of what would have been her 93rd birthday.  She is, apparently, an inspiration to Google.


She is also a great inspiration to me.


Please take the time to read about Sophie in the article below.  She is worth your time, I promise!If you like what you read and want to be inspired further, there is a great YA novel based on her lived titled The Silenced.  There is also an incredible movie:  Sophie Scholl: The Final Days  that I highly recommend.  I have also included the trailer to that movie below.  Please look at BOTH and give me your comments.


Here is to Words and their saving power.  Here is to truth and courage.


Here is to the White Rose.


"Always stand up for what's right; even if you're standing alone." ~Sophie Scholl


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XM5A4ETW_Io

http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/Holocaust/rose.html

35 comments:

  1. Reading the article and the movie trailer has given me an inspiration. Sophie, Cristoph(I don't know if I spelled that right), and Hans were so brave to stand up for what's right. Standing up for what's right is really hard and takes a lot of courage and bravery to do. Especially in Nazi Germany. The fact that she stood up for what she believed in is very inspiring to me and I think to others. She did what everyone finds difficult and probably cowards to and she did it with pride. When her father broke into her trial and shouted that she would make history, he was right. She certainly made history and produced hope for others around the world.

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  2. This was very powerful. It is so sad that people had to go through such terrible events. It is also amazing that Sophie had such a great perspective on life as she was killed.
    I recently read the story of Job in the bible. I feel that his perspective on life and his trials are similar to how Sophie seemed to deal with her trial. She knew that she was doing the right thing and she was punished for it but that is where integrity came in. I loved her quote "Always stand up for what's right; even if you're standing alone," because I feel that I am always in this situation. When I do this and then bad things happen to me, Iose a friend, I end up standing alone, I try to remember Job's example and now I will also look to Sophie's example.
    It is important to remember that life is hard but God is on our side and if we are doing what we know is right he sees it and that is what matters.

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  3. It's always surreal to be reminded that these are actual events that occurred and not just cinema movies. This reminds me of when we read Night in ninth grade and it was hard sometimes to grasp that this wasn't just a book, it was real. I can't imagine going through that, I can't imagine being Sophie. I have had a very sheltered life. There's stories told every day about horrible occurrences that happen to people similar to me and I'm always grateful that for whatever reason I have been given an easy life in retrospect to others. It makes your issues seem so much smaller than everything else. When I'm stressing about a math test or disappointed that something didn't go as expected, it's all such minor issues compared to what these people went through. It makes you really grateful for the life you live.

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  4. Its crazy, Sophie was so brave. I would love to think that in a time where I needed to stand up for my belief, that I could. Yet honestly if my life was on the line I don’t know what I would do. The fact that Sophie was able to still have confidence in what she thought even after her life was threatened. I honestly can’t even imagine going through something like that. I’ve a life where I didn’t have to make such big decisions like that on my own. It really makes me kind of look at life in different perspectives. After watching the trailer, it really made me want to watch the movie, it was very intriguing.

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  5. I think it's funny how many people would look at what Sophie Scholl did and say they can do the same. It's not that I don't believe them, just hard to imagine them or anyone for that matter doing what Sophie did. I know that if I was put in a position such as hers I would most likely just do agreed with what they said. Especially since I am extremely bad at debating, and would never be able to argue the same as she could.

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  6. I thought it was really amazing how they all decided that they would do this even though they knew that they would be killed for it, but I also think they knew how powerful what they were doing was. All they needed to do was show people what Hitler and the Nazis were truly doing and get more people to understand that he truly is a terrible person and they did just that. I thought it was incredible how they continued to fight for what they believed in even when they were offered just jail time for saying that what they did was wrong. Even when they were about to die they were still fighting for what they knew was right. The fact that they fought for this until the very end may have also had a huge impact on people who saw what they were fighting for because they showed them that they were right and willing to die for what they believed in.

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    1. I agree. Sometimes, when we see someone feel so strongly that they are willing to die, and have a peace about them in addition to all that, it begins a wave/movement of good. This happened in Europe with the Resistance Movement. They had to be strong and willing to die to keep credibility. People are always watching us...are we as good as our words? I love that you pointed this out.

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  7. Sophie is an inspiration because she stood up to what she believed in. Even though she knew what the consequences were she stayed true to what she though was right. Standing up in what you believe in is really hard. Especially if the consequences are as high as they were for her.

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  8. This story is quite incredible to say the least. I am absolutely in love with the way Sophie carried herself during this time. She was always keeping her head high, even when it showed that the darkest hour was coming upon her.

    She stood up for what she believe in, against the scariest thing any of us will ever face, and that's death. She looked it in the eye, and told it that no matter what, she would not be a slave to it. She would not be a slave to the who wanted innocent people to die. She would not be a slave to neighbors who did what they were told with fear in their eyes. She decided she was more than that. That the life of other people and their freedom was far more important than her own, and she would gladly, and gracefully lay down her life at the call for what was right.

    Sophie was the kind of person we would all like to be when it is our time to portray who we are, in the wake of dark times. We could all learn a little bit from Sophie. And Hans. And Christoph. And all those people who decided others were more important to save, then themselves.

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    1. Beautifully said. Yes, there was something about her--that grace and confidence and peace in her beliefs and convictions that made her special. She is definitely a true model of goodness in human beings!

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  9. Sophie is the woman that all leaders should look up to. She strongly believe in what she has done is right, and doesn't take the easy way out. You would think the darkness of the times would take her over but she stayed true to herself. They didn't think for themselves they thought for everyone else.

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  10. Wow, I wonder how nerve wracking it would be to get put into a guillotine and then wait for your turn to die. And to think that your whole childhood would be going with you as well. I wouldn't be able to deal with that. She is obviously someone with great strength in her heart to give herself up for her country's sake. That's what real pride is, in my opinion. She knew that Germany was better then that, and she knew that they could fix their mistake with allowing Hitler to take over. And it's sad she wasn't able to see the results of her efforts. I'm sure that if she was still alive that she would be amazed at what her leaflets did and how they aided in the war against Adolf Hitler. I look up to her now that i understand her story more. I hope to become someone strong like that when it comes to my motives and that will allow me to do what i feel is right when the time comes. And I find it interesting that some of the strongest people in history, are women. :P

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    1. Absolutely! Sophie is a fine example of MANY women who fought bravely in the Resistance during the Second World War. If you have an interest, check out Nancy Wake on Google (code name: The White Mouse). Another example of an INCREDIBLY strong woman during this same time period who literally led an army of 7,000 in the French Resistance against the Nazis.

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  11. I cannot believe how strong Sophie Scholl was. It’s one thing to distribute resistant leaflets, but its a whole different level of strength to be able to smile without regret before your execution. There is no way I could hold up like she did. Pure devotion is such a beautiful thing. Sophie believed in her cause so greatly and to such an amazing extent. She knew the truth and she knew she had to do something. “Not to speak is to speak. Not to act is to act.” I love that. Sometimes, silence and stillness can be so powerful. I think of the Biblical story of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego. They were told to bow down to the king’s golden idol or they would be thrown into the fire. When the music sounded, they stood still. They didn’t bow. Their story turned out much better than Sophie’s, but both are amazing examples of bravery.

    The White Rose Resistance is so inspiring to me. A lot of times I feel nervous about sharing my beliefs and opinions with others, mostly because of confrontation. It is amazing to me that Sophie never stretched the truth (not even just a little) to potentially save herself. To avoid trouble or tricky situations, sometimes I manipulate the truth so that it is open to interpretation. But, his story has such an impact on that way of thinking. Be bold for what you believe in, even if it gets you into trouble. It is so worth it in the end to know you were faithful to yourself and others who are with you.

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    1. Love the story of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego. Although things did turn out better for them than they did for Sophie, they didn't know that they would be saved when they made the decision to stand firm. I like to believe that there is a very special place in heaven for Sophie Scholl and others like her. :)

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  12. I think a lot of people will say that they will stand up for what they believe in but then when death is brought into the picture people stand down. It must take A LOT of courage to stand up for what you believe in knowing that your going to be killed for it. She was willing to risk her life just so she could maybe save other people, thats amazing.

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  13. “Don't be afraid of your fears. They're not there to scare you. They're there to let you know that something is worth it.”
    ― C. JoyBell C.

    The Nazi's implemented the tactic of fear while trying to rally up troops. It takes a lot of courage and dedication to stand up to a person that is not afraid to kill you right away. The story of Sophie Scholl made me very touched. I knew as soon as I watched the trailer that I HAD to see the movie. I applaud Sophie for standing up for what she believed in. Personally, If I was in that situation I would take the first chance I got to get out of it. Sophie Scholl is a strong women that should always be remembered.

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    1. Oh, my! LOVE that quote you shared! :) SO true! Thanks for sharing it.

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  14. I watched that preview and I am quite interested in watching/ buying that movie. I feel that I relate to Sophie a lot. I am very passionate in the things that I believe in and for myself, I am the type of person that if I believe in something that is a guaranteed assumption that if it came down to it I would die for my belief. I read the article and in there when it talks about her final conversation with her parents and her mother asks her if she remembers Jesus and she says yes, that hit me very strongly. I think that is why she was okay to give up her life for that cause because she had the reassurance that she was going to live even though she is dying. "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only begotten son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish, but have everlasting life." - John 3:16, The Holy Bible; NIV. For me I feel the same way about death, that if I stand up for what I believe on earth and if that may mean that I die, than so be it because I am going to Heaven no matter what. And shall I ever have to look death in the face over my beliefs, I know without a fact that I would die fearlessly. I don't deny that Sophie dying a noble death such as laying down her life for the belief in her fellow people, I am just saying that I relate a lot to her and I respect her decision. Some people may look at this story and become angry or sad or awestruck, but I look at this story and am completely inspired. I pray that if our country were ever put in that situation, which it is kind of already heading towards, that just like Sophie, I would have the chance to stand up for what is right, for truth, not for fame, but for change.

    ... Sorry for the rambling.

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    1. You aren't rambling at all. Love your words. I am very glad that her story resonated so strongly with you. There are people who, no matter how short their time on Earth may have been, deserve to be remembered. Sophie is one of them. :)

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  15. Some people do stand up for what they believe in and some don't. I, myself do stand up for what I believe in even if it means I stand alone, just like the quote you have up for in the class. When death is brought up in the situation, I may second guess myself but I will still stay put and still go for what I think is right for myself or just right in general. Sophie is a great example of standing up for what you believe in. She knows what's right from wrong.

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  16. I am very afraid of confrontation and because of that I usually back down to people, unless it's something I'm extremely passionate about. Then I will stand up to whomever. I've noticed the older and more opinionated I've gotten the more I'm willing to put it out there because I believe in doing what's right. The quote really resinates with me because I go through that a lot, even if it's just little things in my life. Her story is so powerful and really inspired me, I really wish I could see the movie.

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  17. "Stand up for what you believe in, even if you're standing alone."
    Sophie School was an incredible person. She was one of only a few who took a stand up against the Nazi regime, the uniqueness surrounding her was her calmness , peace and clarity of mind at such a young age. Even the Nazis recognized that there was something different about her. Sometimes, if you're lucky, you are given the chance to witness someone of greatness. We can't always put our fingers on it but we recognize their difference. Very seldom do these people use their difference to further the cause of good. Sophie School met these qualifications. She used her difference to stand up for what was right, even when it seemed she was standing alone, that is what makes her essence great. Even when she was standing alone.

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    1. Yes! So true about greatness! I love the C.S. Lewis book Prince Caspian. The thing about people of greatness--true greatness--is that there is this peace AND humility that hangs about them. They don't look to themselves as great. They are inspired by something much bigger than who they are. The line that I love in Caspian is when the young Prince is told by Aslan, "Now is the time for you to take your place as the new king of Narnia." Caspian then replies, "I don't know if I am ready to be king." And Aslan says, "It is for that reason that I know you are."

      Doing great things--having that quality you so beautifully describe here--is in part found in that humility. The person does not desire greatness, he/she just wants to do what is right. That purity, I believe, is greatness.

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  18. See, the thing is about standing up for what you believe in, is harder than what it looks, because sometimes even if your passionate about it, there are always people who are opposite of you who will fight for what THEY believe in, it starts a confrontation. It makes it harder to actually FIGHT for it, instead you would rather just believe it and leave people to there entitled opinions.
    Standing alone is more frequent than not, but most times its preferred .

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  19. It inspires me as a person to stand up for what you believe in, even if it's not something as drastic and awful as The Holocaust. Sophie Scholl was a young girl, who, even though her actions led to her and her brother's death, still inspired people in Germany and in other countries to fight for their beliefs.
    I see Sophie as a martyr, which is someone who dies for their stronger beliefs or religion. This takes a lot of dedication, that I'm not even sure I have. If I were in her position, could I fess up and agree to be set free for my words to be documented and then forgotten so people can live on doing the wrong thing? Or would I be defiant and do as the police or higher force tell me to do? I guess you never really know how you will be in a situation like that until it actually happens to you.

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  20. This is really an example of humanity at its finest. I think the most striking part of this is that these kids were completely aware that they could die for their actions. And yet they went through with it. They understood what they were doing went far beyond them. To me, that's what true heroism is. Also, her last words perfectly summed up what they stood for, especially that last sentence. I'm glad that people know what happened to these kids, and that people understand how inspiring their actions were.

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  21. I think what's really incredible about Sophie is that she knew she was going to die. She knew her life was endangered, yet she didn't back down. She was far beyond her time, and she was truly gifted. In all honestly, I doubt I could have done the same. That's part of what makes it such a touching story; she was one of a kind in her actions, somewhere between hopelessness and hope.

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  22. Sophie's strength and will shook me, tremendously. She looked death in the eye, and showed no fear. The way in which she felt no remorse for handing out the pamphlets, even though it was costing her her life, spoke out an act of humanity that is striking. Her peace of mind and strength in holding her foot down for taking a stand for what is right is inspiring. Personally, it is not too difficult for me to stand up for what I believe in. There are times where I put my opinion aside to fall into the bandwagon belief of others, but as I have gotten older, I've truly come to contact with the realization that life is short, and what how significant can it be if all I ever did was let my voice fade in the crowd? I am an individual with a very strong personality, even quite stubborn. This inspiring event has moved me to take those charactersistics and utilize them in the correct way, where I take a stand, even if I am standing alone.

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  23. Sophie's courage and determination while watching the video and reading, really had me thinking. I tried visualizing and putting myself in her position in a way to see if I will do the same thing as she did; even though she had the opportunity to give up and say she didn't do anything wrong but she didn't. With all honesty I would say that I didn't do anything "wrong". It is very hard to stand up for what you believe in especially if your life is at risk. I do take what I believe in very seriously but if it puts my life in risk and I know it will hurt others along the way, I probably wouldn't stand up for what I believe in. This might make me seem like a coward but I always put others before me and if i'm putting other peoples life's at risk then I couldn't be able to do such a thing. What Sophie did really takes a lot of guts and strength as a person and hopefully one day I can be like that because this is truly an inspiration to me and many others.

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  24. I can not express my love for people who stand up for what is right. Even when no one else has the courage to stand. Sophie and her brother did just that. She didn't even try to hide it they asked and she said she was proud.
    So I am a huge super hero fan, I love comic books, the movies, tv shows. Sophie is in all sense a super hero. A super hero is someone with power, whether it's physical, mental, or they have the power of influence. I'm sure there were times that she was scared, who wouldn't be? She was a super hero, standing up for what is right and not backing down when the enemy confronts her. Like all super hero's I'm sure Sophie wasn't perfect, but that's what makes them so likable isn't it? They aren't perfect but it doesn't mean they can't make a difference in the world.
    One of my favorite quotes is from one of my hero's as a child. "Courage is being scared to death but saddling up anyway" - John Wayne. This quote means the world to me. Courage doesn't mean you aren't scared, it means you dang well may be scared but you do it anyway, because it was the right thing.

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  25. Standing up for something you believe in is hard on its own, but to stand up for something in Nazi Germany must be even harder. Sophie stood up to what was right when everyone else stayed silent. I think a lot of people in Germany knew what was going on with Hitler, and knew it was wrong, but everyone was scared for what would happen to them. Sophie ended up getting killed over passing out six leaflets. She even got a chance to stay alive if all she did was admit she was wrong. She knew she was right and couldn't lie to herself even if it meant to stay alive. I would've said I was wrong, because I would not want to die over my beliefs. Standing up for what's right is the right thing to do, but also the harder thing to do.

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  26. My, oh, my. Standing up for anything can be a struggle for the every day young adult. Standing up to the powers controlling Nazi Germany is on a level on which very few people can claim to be. It's hard to just say, "Sophie Scholl did what was right," because that's been said for so many people. Honestly, though. not many people deserve it. Sophie, on the other hand, is one of the most worthy people there are. Reading this article, I felt... Empowered. I wanted to make a difference in this world. But, alas, I don't think I will ever have the opportunity to prove myself in the way the great Sophie Scholl did, and for that, I am grateful. In my immediate area, there is no need for me to be a martyr. But I can help in other ways. I can, when the time comes, raise my children to be good people who will lay down their lives for what is right. If not in their time, perhaps in their children's time, the occasion will arise.
    Reading this article, one quote rang through my mind. "Great men are forged in fire. It is the privilege of lesser men to light the flame." -The War Doctor

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  27. I believe this is the first of many blog posts that I had yet to comment on simply due to my poor memory (I'm actually surprised I didn't comment, considering I read the entirety of this post when it was published). This reply won't necessarily be eloquent, but I'll try my best to comment with what I'm fishing for.

    It seems as though no one is capable of showing you mercy when you're expressing something that is in conflict with what they personally feel, and as a result, arguments happen. On a larger scale (in Sophie's case), you have people being sentenced to death for standing against the government and its control over its people.

    It's a difficult circumstance to work around, definitely; you have people that aren't necessarily willing to follow you in blind faith (even if they agree) out of fear, and there are always going to be those few that simply can't agree with you whether or not you're right or wrong. I would like to express my gratitude for Sophie, a young woman who wasn't afraid to give her ideas to the world even in a time and a place where it was hard to act on those notions. She's a powerful symbol today, for those who want to step up and make a change for the better. There's a reason why her story is so popular; she is one of the only few people in that time period to resist against a growing power that had such a large influence over a mass amount of people, and she managed to gain a lot of people to share her perspective. It's impressive and admirable, and she's a good symbol for what it truly means to stand up for what you believe in.

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  28. It's always difficult to think about how people had to go through this, and I'm not entirely sure how I would react to being put in that kind of situation. Sophie, through her actions, proves just how powerful the human soul can be, and what it can do. after reading this, I feel that I've done almost nothing compared to what she has. Accomplished so little compared to her. She put herself at such risk. She didn't care about herself. All that mattered to her were others. I'm glad I don't have to live in a time like that. If out in the same situation as her, I doubt I could take her actions. I'm not proud to say I would likely fall in line, keep my head down, and keep living.

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