On June 28, 1940, four days after the fall of France, the German Sophie Scholl wrote a letter to her boyfriend Fritz Hartnagel, an officer in the Wehrmacht. Scholl, whose bitter disillusionment with Nazi misrule had hardened into firm opposition to it, expressed her despair at the onward march of Hitler’s forces and his stranglehold on power. “If I didn’t know that I’ll probably outlive many older people,” she wrote, “then I’d be overcome with horror at the spirit that’s dominating history today.”

But Scholl wasn’t outliving older people for long. Less than three years later, her life was tragically, and barbarically, cut short. As a member of the underground resistance movement Die Weiße Rose, she was caught and found guilty of preparing and distributing...


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