[Marxism] Interview with Sophie Scholl director
lnp3 at panix.com
Thu Mar 9 18:45:49 MST 2006
MARCH 8, 2006
Sophie Scholl: The Final Days
directed by Marc Rothemunde
Although it didnt win gold at the Oscars for best foreign film, Sophie
Scholl: The Final Days has already earned its place as one of the great
Based on Nazi interrogation records and other documents, the film is about
the martyred leader of The White Rose, an anti-Nazi student group that ran
resistance in Munich during World War II. It shows how Sophie, a latter-day
Joan of Arc, ultimately chooses to die rather than betray her ideals and
Although the story has been told before, according to director Marc
Rothemunde, Sophies compelling story is a revelation to most Americans.
About 95 percent of American audiences are shockedmost of them think all
Germans were Nazis and murderers. Thats one reason it was important to
make the film, says Rothemunde. This is a true story based on such
intense research that almost all the dialogue was actually said. All the
action is true. It was challenging to treat this real history as a
compelling drama, without losing accuracy.
MERIN: When did Sophies story become known in Germany?
ROTHEMUNDE: During the 60s. They began teaching it in schools.
M: Why did it take 20 years for the story to be introduced into the curriculum?
R: It took time for the German people to rebuild Germany. The country was
totally destroyed. People were very poor. There was the Marshall Plan and
the Cold War between East and West. It took one or two generations20 to 30
yearsto rebuild Germany. In the 60s, there was a wonderful economy. The
past wasnt considered so important. The first real movies about the Nazi
years werent made until the 80s, when The White Rose, the Oscar-winning
Black Trumpet and some other films were made. This was the first generation
of moviesof directorsto deal with Nazi history.
M: Sophie Scholl is one of several recent German filmsThe Downfall, The
Ninth Day and Before the Fall, among othersthat challenge our impressions
of Germans behavior during the Nazi regime. Why are these films being made
now? Is this a trend in German cinema?
R: In Germany, we make 100 movies per year. There have been five or six
historical films like those you mention in the last three years. Thats not
a trend. But fortunately those that are made get a lot of recognition in
Germany and abroad.
In my generation of film directors, were curious about our historywe want
to know what our grandparents experienced. Our grandparents dont talk
about it, so were exploring. Weve reached a maturity and level of
experience where people trust us, so we can get financing for our films.
Now that Germany is rebuilt and reunified, we dont focus so much about
those issues. But those in our grandparents generation are the last
eyewitnesses to the Nazi regime, and we must question them to find out what
happened. It involves all of us.
And what involves all of us, too, is that therere still Nazis, not only in
Germany, but around the world. Thats terrible and, as long as there are
Nazis, you have to try to open their eyesand remind the others to keep an
eye on them.
M: How does the film address social and political issues of todays Germany?
R: For example, recently in Germany there was a Nazi demonstration against
unemploymenttheyre blaming Turkish workers for unemployment. But, 8,000
young people who saw Sophie Scholl demonstrated against the Nazis.
M: Are there many Nazis in Germany?
R: In Berlin, its 1.5 percentthats about 40,000 people. Just in Berlin.
Mostly theyre in the East, where Communism ruined the economy and poor
people who lived under Communism are now very vulnerable to the influence
of the other extremist system of the far right.
You have to keep what happened fresh in peoples minds, so it wont happen
again. Its a responsibilitywithout feeling guiltyto know the past and be
aware of Nazis nowadays.
Scholls message is civil courage: See whats happening; dont look away;
say something; do something.
Civil courage isnt always political action, not always a life or death
matter. In classrooms, theres one little fat boy whos tortured. In
workplaces, someone gets hurt and others look away.
Leaflets distributed by Sophie Scholl werent very political. They call for
passive resistance to Hitler. Its a call for human rights. Audiences have
been so touched by Sophieespecially Americans. Theyve said they hope
American young people will see the filmnot to learn about German history,
but to see a character like Sophie who stands up.
Around the world, its mostly students who rise up against military
dictatorships. In Korea, in South Americain Argentina, for exampleits
students who got tortured and killed. There are resistance fighters in all
countries. Sometimes, theyre too fewlike in Nazi Germany. German people
were guilty. But saying all were guilty is too simple. You dont learn
anything that way.
M: What do you see as the essence of Nazism?
R: For me, its hate and blaming other people for what happens to you.
Something bad happens, and you blame another group of people and hate and
An essential question we should all ask is: Why does one babya perfectly
normal babygrow up to be a Sophie Scholl, and another grow up to be a Hitler?
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