Scenes 1 - 30
Scenes 1-2: Very nicely written, gives good feel for Sophie’s personality. No doubt that at some point or another, she did indeed listen to Voice of America, possibly even Billie Holliday. Much better depiction of Sophie than the usual too-shy wallflower, which she was not.
Problematic in inclusion of Gisela Schertling in the scene, since Gisela’s “undiagnosed neurological disorder” had left her distrustful of anything but classical music, an obsession that had caused Gisela to reject anything but the classics (including literature, art, etc.).
Scenes 3-4: No! We know from the transcripts precisely what they did on February 17. Gisela Schertling dined with Hans and Sophie Scholl at the Seehaus Restaurant in the English Gardens, then went back to their apartment until 10 pm.
Scene 5, the studio: Another no! For starters, contrary to White Rose legend the friends did not work in the studio. There was no secret knock. It was used as artist’s studio, and the official “excuse” for all their meetings - meetings, not working on leaflets - there was visiting the artists Manfred Eickemeyer or Wilhelm Geyer, and “discussing art.”
The only exception had been on February 15, and that was Hans and Sophie only during the morning, and Hans and Alex in the afternoon. Otherwise the friends worked either in Alex’s bedroom (Leaflets 1 – 4) or that of Hans Scholl (Leaflets 5 – 6).
Also note that Willi Graf had “left” White Rose work a few days earlier. He did not think they were doing enough and apparently was looking for more active resistance.
If Breinersdorfer wanted to include more of the “gang,” he could have done so via flashbacks or other methods available to movie-makers.
Scene 5, the leaflets: Leaflets for Augsburg and Vienna had been mailed in late January. There were no more mailings to those places (Augsburg, Vienna, Stuttgart, Frankfurt, Innsbruck, Linz) in February 1943. The mailings had been well-orchestrated.
Breinersdorfer does his viewers a disservice by trying to insert this scene here without giving us a better understanding of the precision with which they worked. Leaflets had been mailed on February 16, and that only to a handful of last-minute Munich addressees. Those leaflets had been prepared for mailing on February 15 and before. Therefore it’s totally out of place to have them running off leaflets on the night of February 17.
Scene 5, the camaraderie: Well-done. Especially letting Schurik’s playful side shine!
Scene 5, the decision about scattering at the university: Again, this was something the friends had discussed and planned a full week earlier. On or before February 12, 1943, Schurik had burned his uniform and paybook in preparation for leaving Munich for Russia on February 18, 1943.
Originally Hans had wanted Christoph Probst to accompany him to the university on the 18th, then had asked Schurik. When Schurik declined (too dangerous even for him), Sophie agreed. For more about this, see White Rose History Volume II.
Scene 7: Please spare us the nonsense about Hans’ supposed girlfriends. Yes, he “dated” girls, including Rose Nägele, Gisela Schertling, and Traute Lafrenz. He “dated” them in the way that most gay men “dated” women in the Third Reich. If you know anything about Hans Scholl’s personality and his abusive, dysfunctional relationships with women, this scene is unbelievable.
It’s also crazy to fictionalize a scene about a possible Nazi mole asking for a light on the street, when a few days earlier Hans had learned that there was almost certainly a real live mole among his friends (not White Rose friends, but the Nazi friends he maintained for no apparent reason). Why invent fiction when the truth is more compelling?
Scenes 8-9: Again, Gisela should be there, at least until 10 pm. Not having her in the apartment relieved Breinersdorfer of the responsibility of explaining why Hans and Sophie Scholl would have welcomed Gisela (who was an outspoken Nazi) into this circle of friends in the first place, and why she was with them the night before such a dangerous operation.
Scene 9: At least Breinersdorfer had the courage to infer Hans’ drug addiction. Too bad he did not explore it further, as it likely directly impacted what occurred the next day.
Scenes 10-15: Nicely done. Except that from what we know of Hans and Sophie’s relationship with Sophie as enabler, she probably would have given Hans the entire piece of bread with jam. And eaten nothing herself. But Breinersdorfer’s guess is as good as mine on that score. Also, Hans carried the suitcase, Sophie the briefcase, not the other way around. They switched only after both were empty.
Scene 16: Breinersdorfer skipped the part about Hans and Sophie meeting Alex Schmorell at the Arch of Triumph (Siegestor) before going to the university.
Scene 17: The building was NOT empty! (This is an important mistake, because it forces us to consider the question as to why they would have attempted something so absurdly risky, when there were too many potential eyewitnesses to their deed, some of whom they even knew well and who were Nazis.)
Scene 18: Amalienstrasse. Hopefully just a typo in the book accompanying the movie.
To have them “want to leave” the university building and then change their minds is not supported by any primary source materials. They merely stacked leaflets at the Amalienstrasse entrance and then went back up to the third floor, where they threw the leaflets over the balustrade a few minutes later.
Important distinction, because it supports the notion (a hotly debated notion, to be sure) that Hans and Sophie planned all along to throw the leaflets over the balcony.
Scene 19: There is no evidence in the Gestapo interrogation transcripts (e.g. Scholls’ testimony, Jakob Schmid’s deposition, or postwar eyewitness accounts) that Hans and Sophie mingled with other students in an attempt to get away. On the contrary, the evidence is overwhelming that they basically stood there and waited for Schmid to huff and puff his way up three flights of stairs, that they acted as if they wanted to be caught.
Breinersdorfer also ignored one of the most fascinating interludes of the events of February 18 - for details, see White Rose History, Volume II. That ‘interlude’ makes Sophie look good (hence the puzzle about its being ignored) and Hans look dreadful.
Scene 20: Thankfully, Breinersdorfer resisted the temptation to copy Verhoeven’s ridiculous fictionalization of the scene where Hans Scholl tried to get rid of Christl Probst’s leaflet draft. Breinersdorfer got it right. This scene is very well done. More like this!
Scene 21: As in Scene 19, Breinersdorfer skipped a fairly significant “interlude” - one that in fact had humorous elements despite its serious overtones. (See White Rose History Volume II…) A shame, because it demonstrated that the Gestapo was not omniscient and omnipotent, as well as showed how tiny offenses could bring down the full force of “law.”
Scene 24: Not sure where Breinersdorfer got the name “Locher.” None of the administrative employees who signed Sophie Scholl’s transcripts as witness was named Locher. Also, Hans Scholl’s initial interview was not carried out by Mahler, nor by a low-level Gestapo agent. His first interview - the one in which the preprinted form was completed - was conducted by a man with the title “S.S. Hauptsturmführer und K.K.” (signature illegible), likely Schaefer.
Scene 26: While I understand that Breinersdorfer could not possibly cite Sophie’s every uttered word and stay within reasonable time limits for this movie, it’s also unfair to choose remarks that place her solely in a good light. We need to see the complex Sophie, not the edited martyr.
In this scene, for example, her responses to Mohr’s questioning about BDM make it sound like Sophie and all her siblings got out because they preferred bündische youth to Hitler Youth. That was not the case during the interrogation. She first stated that she got out due to differences of opinion with the BDM leader and that she resigned over the quarrel (which actually had happened).
When she mentioned the Gestapo arrests of herself and her siblings, in the interrogation she said that the arrests were completely unjustified. Breinersdorfer left out both of these crucial aspects of Sophie’s testimony.
In the transcripts, she also repeatedly and incorrectly identified the arrests as 1938 instead of 1937.
Scene 26, Sophie and National Socialism: Breinersdorfer quoted half of Sophie’s statement about National Socialism, and left out the best part. Before she said she wanted nothing personally to do with National Socialism, she had stated that: “I would like to add as an additional and (in the end) the most important reason for my antipathy to the movement: I perceive the intellectual freedom of people to be limited in such a manner as contradicts everything inside of me.”
Scene 26, the interview: This initial interrogation was quite long, but you’d never know that from Breinersdorfer. Even if he could not replicate the whole interview due to time constraints, he should have done something to fill the viewer in on the duration of this interrogation. And on its content.
Because from the moment Sophie articulated her comments about National Socialism until the conclusion of this segment of the interview, she effectively gave up Traute Lafrenz, Willi Graf, and Alexander Schmorell.
Mohr also caught her in several contradictions. In other words, Sophie did not exit this part of the interview with her halo intact (although she remained far more resolute in protecting their friends than her brother had).
If the viewer is to understand Sophie-the-person and not Sophie-the-legend, these shortcomings need to be portrayed ALONG WITH her strengths.
Scene 26, footnote 12: Breinersdorfer’s comments (footnotes) about the prisoner’s inability to make corrections to the official interview record are not born out by Sophie’s own transcripts. During this very first interview, she added - in her own handwriting - “as far as I remember” to the next-to-last statement in the transcript.
Scene 27: All right, so Breinersdorfer knew about Metternich. Why then leave him out of Scene 21 where his inclusion would have added warmth to the movie? And the timing here is wrong, because Metternich was not released until around 6:30 pm. Per Gestapo records. And in Munich in February, 6:30 pm is night time, not middle of the afternoon.
Scene 29: Sorry, but Else Gebel is a sympathetic character only in Else Gebel’s own postwar accounts. Breinersdorfer would have done well to read her accounts with a jaundiced eye. Also, NO! Sophie did not have her keys. These were not inventoried on February 18!
Scenes 31 - 60
Scenes 61 to end
Censorship of the transcripts by Breinersdorfer and Rothemund
See for yourself...
(c) 2005 Ruth Hanna Sachs. All rights reserved. Please contact Exclamation! Publishers for permission to quote.