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A-Level German Revision Guide: Exploring "Sophie Scholl – Die letzten Tage"

Updated: Jul 6

Engaging with films like "Sophie Scholl – Die letzten Tage" offers A-level German students profound insights into history, culture, and language. In this comprehensive revision guide, I'll delve into the plot, analyse key themes and characters, explore cinematography, seek to understand why this movie is discussed at A-level German, and prepare for typical essay questions that have appeared in past papers.


Sophie Scholl: An A-level German revision guide
Photo taken from https://www.kinopolis.de/vi/filmdetail/sophie-scholl-die-letzten-tage/37572000012PLXMQDD



Plot Overview:

"Sophie Scholl – Die letzten Tage" portrays the true story of Sophie Scholl, a young member of the White Rose resistance group in Nazi Germany. Set in 1943, the film chronicles the final days of Sophie's life as she, alongside her brother Hans and fellow activist Christoph Probst, distributes anti-Nazi leaflets at the University of Munich. The Gestapo arrests Sophie and her comrades, leading to their trial, conviction, and eventual execution by guillotine. The film offers a powerful portrayal of courage, defiance, and the struggle for justice in the face of totalitarianism.


Analysis of Key Themes


Resistance and Courage: 

The film explores the theme of resistance against oppressive regimes, highlighting Sophie Scholl's bravery and determination to speak out against injustice.


1. Defiance Against Tyranny: Sophie Scholl and her companions demonstrate unwavering defiance against the oppressive Nazi regime. Despite the risks, they distribute anti-Nazi leaflets, condemning the atrocities committed by the regime and calling for resistance. Their courageous actions embody a steadfast commitment to their beliefs and values, even in the face of grave danger.

2. Moral Integrity: Sophie's resistance is rooted in a profound sense of moral integrity. She refuses to remain silent in the face of injustice and oppression, choosing instead to speak out and take action against the atrocities committed by the Nazi regime. Her unwavering commitment to truth and justice inspires others to join the resistance movement and stand up against tyranny.

3. Sacrifice and Heroism: The film highlights the sacrifices made by Sophie and her fellow resistance members, who risk their lives to oppose the Nazi regime. Despite the personal cost, they remain steadfast in their commitment to their cause, willing to endure imprisonment, torture, and ultimately, death for the sake of freedom and justice. Their acts of heroism serve as a powerful testament to the resilience of the human spirit in the face of oppression.

4. Courage in the Face of Adversity: Sophie's courage shines through in moments of adversity, as she remains resolute in her convictions even when confronted with interrogation and torture by the Gestapo. Her refusal to betray her principles, even under extreme duress, underscores the depth of her courage and determination to resist tyranny at all costs.

5. Legacy of Resistance: Sophie's courageous resistance leaves a lasting legacy that inspires future generations to stand up against injustice and oppression. Her bravery serves as a reminder of the power of individual action to effect change, even in the darkest of times. Through her actions, Sophie becomes a symbol of hope and resilience, inspiring others to follow her example and resist tyranny wherever it may arise.


"Sophie Scholl: Die letzten Tage" portrays the theme of resistance and courage with poignancy and depth, highlighting the unwavering commitment of individuals to stand up against tyranny and injustice. Sophie Scholl's bravery and moral integrity serve as a powerful reminder of the importance of speaking out and taking action in the face of oppression, inspiring future generations to continue the fight for freedom and justice.


Conformity and Conscience: 

Through Sophie's unwavering commitment to her principles, the film interrogates the role of conscience in the face of societal pressure to conform.


  1. Conformity and Indoctrination: The film vividly portrays the pervasive atmosphere of conformity and indoctrination under the Nazi regime. Students are seen being indoctrinated with Nazi ideology in classrooms, while citizens conform to societal norms and expectations to avoid suspicion and persecution. The pressure to conform is palpable, with dissent often met with severe consequences.

  2. Conscience and Moral Awakening: Despite the prevailing conformity, Sophie Scholl experiences a moral awakening that compels her to challenge the status quo. Witnessing the atrocities committed by the Nazi regime, Sophie's conscience is stirred, leading her to question the morality of remaining silent in the face of injustice. Her awakening conscience prompts her to take courageous action and join the resistance movement.

  3. Resistance to Conformity: Sophie and her fellow resistance members courageously defy the pressure to conform and instead follow their conscience. They refuse to remain passive bystanders in the face of injustice and oppression, choosing to speak out and take action against the atrocities committed by the Nazi regime. Their resistance to conformity serves as a powerful example of individual agency and moral courage.

  4. The Power of Individual Conscience: The film highlights the transformative power of individual conscience in the face of overwhelming conformity. Sophie's unwavering commitment to her conscience inspires others to question the status quo and join the resistance movement. Despite the risks, they choose to prioritize their moral principles over societal expectations, demonstrating the profound impact of individual conscience in shaping history.

  5. Consequences of Conscience: Sophie's decision to follow her conscience comes with grave consequences, including imprisonment, interrogation, and ultimately, execution. However, she remains steadfast in her convictions, refusing to betray her principles even in the face of death. Her sacrifice underscores the importance of staying true to one's conscience, even in the most challenging circumstances.

The film explores the theme of conformity and conscience with depth and complexity, portraying the struggle between societal expectations and individual moral principles under the oppressive Nazi regime.


Justice and Morality: 

The trial scenes in the film raise questions about the nature of justice and morality, as Sophie defends her actions on the grounds of moral duty.


  1. Opposition to Injustice: The film depicts Sophie Scholl and her companions as principled individuals who refuse to turn a blind eye to the atrocities committed by the Nazi regime. Motivated by a sense of justice and morality, they speak out against the regime's crimes and actively resist its oppressive policies.

  2. Condemnation of Nazi Ideology: Sophie and the White Rose resistance group vehemently condemn the Nazi ideology of racial superiority, militarism, and totalitarianism. They view the regime's actions as morally reprehensible and are determined to expose its crimes to the German public.

  3. Courageous Acts of Resistance: Sophie's defiance of the Nazi regime is characteris

  4. ed by courageous acts of resistance, including the distribution of anti-Nazi leaflets and the dissemination of information about the regime's atrocities. Despite the grave risks involved, Sophie remains steadfast in her commitment to justice and morality.

  5. Individual Conscience vs. State Authority: The film highlights the conflict between individual conscience and state authority, as Sophie and her companions are persecuted by the Nazi authorities for their dissenting views. Sophie's refusal to betray her principles in the face of interrogation and torture underscores the importance of upholding moral integrity in the face of authoritarianism.

  6. Sacrifice for a Greater Cause: Sophie's ultimate sacrifice for the cause of justice and morality serves as a powerful example of selflessness and moral courage. Despite the personal cost, she remains unwavering in her commitment to the principles of truth, justice, and human dignity.

  7. Legacy of Resistance: The film concludes with Sophie's execution, but her legacy lives on as a symbol of resistance against tyranny and injustice. Her courageous actions inspire others to continue the fight for justice and morality, even in the face of overwhelming odds.


Sophie Scholl's unwavering commitment to justice serves as a powerful reminder of the importance of upholding moral integrity and standing up against tyranny, even in the darkest of times.


Central Characters:


Sophie Scholl: 

A courageous and principled young woman who becomes a symbol of resistance against the Nazi regime.


  1. Courage and Determination: Sophie Scholl is depicted as exceptionally brave and determined. Despite the risks involved, she actively participates in the White Rose resistance group's activities, including the distribution of anti-Nazi leaflets. Sophie's unwavering courage in the face of persecution and imminent danger serves as a powerful example of moral integrity and resilience.

  2. Moral Integrity and Conscience: Sophie's actions are guided by a strong sense of moral integrity and conscience. She is deeply troubled by the atrocities committed by the Nazi regime and feels a moral obligation to speak out against injustice. Sophie's refusal to remain silent in the face of tyranny reflects her unwavering commitment to her principles and beliefs.

  3. Intellectual Curiosity and Idealism: Sophie is portrayed as intellectually curious and idealistic, with a strong desire to make a difference in the world. She is deeply engaged in discussions about politics, philosophy, and morality, and her idealism fuels her determination to oppose the Nazi regime and fight for a better future.

  4. Compassion and Empathy: Sophie demonstrates compassion and empathy towards others, particularly those who are oppressed or persecuted by the Nazi regime. She expresses concern for the welfare of her fellow citizens and is moved by the suffering of those who have been victimized by the regime's policies.

  5. Sacrifice and Selflessness: Sophie's ultimate sacrifice for the cause of resistance underscores her selflessness and commitment to the greater good. Despite the personal risks involved, she remains steadfast in her resolve to oppose tyranny and uphold the values of truth, justice, and human dignity.


Sophie Scholl is portrayed as a remarkable and inspirational figure. Sophie's character embodies the timeless values of courage, integrity, and compassion, making her a symbol of resistance and resilience in the face of tyranny.


Hans Scholl: 

Sophie's brother and fellow activist, who joins her in distributing anti-Nazi leaflets and shares her commitment to the White Rose cause.


  1. Leadership and Conviction: Hans Scholl is depicted as a natural leader with a strong sense of conviction. He takes the initiative to establish the White Rose resistance group and plays a central role in organizing its activities. Hans's unwavering commitment to the resistance movement inspires others to join the cause and strengthens their resolve to oppose the Nazi regime.

  2. Intellectualism and Idealism: Hans is portrayed as an intellectual and idealistic young man who is deeply troubled by the injustices perpetrated by the Nazi regime. He engages in philosophical discussions with his sister Sophie and fellow members of the White Rose, reflecting his intellectual curiosity and commitment to seeking truth and justice.

  3. Courage and Resilience: Hans demonstrates immense courage and resilience in the face of adversity. Despite the risks involved, he continues to distribute anti-Nazi leaflets and speak out against the regime's atrocities, fully aware of the potential consequences of his actions. Hans's steadfastness in the face of persecution serves as a source of inspiration for his fellow resistance members.

  4. Sense of Duty and Responsibility: Hans feels a profound sense of duty and responsibility towards his fellow citizens and future generations. He believes it is imperative to speak out against the crimes of the Nazi regime and take action to oppose its tyranny, even at great personal risk. Hans's sense of duty drives him to sacrifice his own safety for the greater good.

  5. Brotherly Bond with Sophie: Hans shares a close bond with his sister Sophie, and their relationship forms the backbone of the White Rose resistance movement. They collaborate closely in organizing and carrying out the group's activities, relying on each other for support and encouragement. Hans's deep affection for Sophie strengthens his resolve to continue the fight against the Nazi regime.


Hans Scholl is portrayed as a courageous and principled leader in "Sophie Scholl: Die letzten Tage." Hans's character embodies the timeless values of courage, conviction, and sacrifice, making him a central figure in the fight against Nazi tyranny.


Gestapo Interrogator: 

Robert Mohr, is portrayed as a formidable and cunning adversary to Sophie Scholl and the White Rose resistance group.


  1. Authority and Power: Robert Mohr is depicted as a high-ranking officer within the Gestapo, wielding considerable authority and power. His position within the Nazi regime grants him the ability to interrogate and intimidate individuals suspected of resistance activities with impunity.

  2. Manipulative and Deceptive: Mohr employs manipulative tactics and deception to extract information from Sophie Scholl and her companions. He feigns sympathy and understanding to lower their defenses, only to use their words against them in an attempt to incriminate them further.

  3. Intelligence and Perseverance: Mohr is portrayed as an intelligent and tenacious interrogator who is relentless in his pursuit of Sophie and the White Rose members. Despite their steadfast refusal to cooperate, Mohr continues to interrogate them, employing psychological pressure and coercion to break their resolve.

  4. Skepticism and Suspicion: Mohr approaches Sophie and her companions with a deep-seated skepticism and suspicion, viewing them as dangerous subversives who pose a threat to the stability of the Nazi regime. His interrogation tactics are motivated by a desire to uncover evidence of their resistance activities and eliminate them as a perceived threat.

  5. Apathy to Human Suffering: Mohr exhibits a chilling indifference to the suffering of his interrogatees, dismissing their protests of innocence and pleas for mercy with cold detachment. His willingness to inflict psychological and physical harm in pursuit of his objectives underscores his ruthless commitment to the Nazi cause.

  6. Conflict of Conscience: While Mohr is depicted primarily as an antagonist in the film, there are moments that hint at a potential conflict of conscience. He appears momentarily unsettled by Sophie's unwavering resolve and moral conviction, suggesting a flicker of doubt regarding the righteousness of his actions within the context of the Nazi regime.


Robert Mohr serves as a formidable antagonist, embodying the ruthless authoritarianism and moral bankruptcy of the Gestapo. His manipulative tactics, intelligence, and unwavering commitment to the Nazi cause make him a formidable adversary to Sophie Scholl and the White Rose resistance group. Despite his portrayal as an antagonist, Mohr's character also raises questions about the moral complexities and internal conflicts faced by individuals operating within oppressive regimes.


Cinematography

The film's cinematography employs stark lighting, claustrophobic framing, and minimalistic set design to evoke the oppressive atmosphere of Nazi Germany. Close-up shots of Sophie's face during interrogation convey her inner turmoil and resolve, while long takes during the trial scenes create a sense of tension and suspense.


  1. Visual Atmosphere: The cinematography establishes a somber and oppressive atmosphere reflective of the film's historical setting during the height of Nazi rule in Germany. The use of muted colors, dim lighting, and stark contrasts evokes a sense of tension and foreboding, immersing viewers in the oppressive atmosphere of the time.

  2. Symbolism and Visual Metaphors: The cinematography employs symbolism and visual metaphors to convey thematic elements and character motivations. For example, close-up shots of characters' faces during moments of intense emotion or conflict convey their inner turmoil and moral dilemmas. Additionally, recurring visual motifs such as the White Rose symbol and images of resistance activities serve as potent reminders of the characters' defiance against tyranny.

  3. Spatial Composition: The spatial composition of scenes is carefully crafted to heighten dramatic tension and emotional impact. The use of framing, camera angles, and perspective creates a sense of intimacy during dialogue-driven scenes, allowing viewers to connect with the characters on a deeper level. Conversely, wide shots and expansive compositions are employed during pivotal moments to underscore the magnitude of events unfolding onscreen.

  4. Narrative Pacing and Rhythm: The cinematography contributes to the film's narrative pacing and rhythm, effectively building tension and suspense throughout the story. Quick cuts, dynamic camera movements, and fluid transitions between scenes maintain a sense of momentum, keeping viewers engaged and invested in the unfolding drama. Conversely, slower pacing and static compositions are utilized during moments of reflection or introspection, allowing viewers to absorb the emotional weight of the characters' experiences.

  5. Emotional Impact: The cinematography enhances the emotional impact of key moments in the film, eliciting a range of feelings from viewers. Intimate close-ups and expressive facial expressions convey the characters' inner struggles and vulnerabilities, eliciting empathy and compassion from the audience. Additionally, sweeping camera movements and breathtaking landscapes evoke a sense of awe and reverence, underscoring the film's themes of courage, resilience, and human spirit.


The cinematography in "Sophie Scholl: Die letzten Tage" is instrumental in conveying the film's themes, enhancing its emotional resonance, and immersing viewers in the harrowing reality of life under Nazi rule. Through its skillful use of visual storytelling techniques, the cinematography brings the characters and events of the film to life, leaving a lasting impression on audiences long after the credits roll.


Historical Context


The film is set during the final days of the Nazi regime in Germany, specifically in February 1943. Understanding the historical context of the film is essential to grasp the significance of Sophie Scholl's resistance activities and the gravity of the consequences she faced.


  1. Nazi Germany: During the early 1940s, Germany was under the totalitarian rule of Adolf Hitler and the Nazi Party. The regime espoused extreme nationalist and racist ideologies, promoting the superiority of the Aryan race and persecuting those deemed inferior, including Jews, Romani people, disabled individuals, and political dissidents.

  2. World War II: By 1943, World War II was in full swing, with Germany engaged in military conflicts across Europe and parts of North Africa. The war effort placed immense strain on the German economy and society, leading to widespread shortages, rationing, and civilian hardships.

  3. The White Rose Resistance: The White Rose (Weiße Rose) was a non-violent resistance group formed by a group of students and intellectuals at the University of Munich, including siblings Sophie and Hans Scholl. The group distributed leaflets condemning Nazi atrocities and calling for resistance against the regime. Their activities were motivated by a sense of moral duty and a desire to expose the crimes of the Nazi regime to the German public.

  4. Oppression and Repression: Opposition to the Nazi regime was met with severe repression by the authorities, including the Gestapo (secret police) and the SS (paramilitary organization). Dissenters risked imprisonment, torture, and execution for their resistance activities. The regime employed propaganda, censorship, and surveillance to maintain control over the population and suppress dissent.

  5. Sophie Scholl's Arrest and Execution: In February 1943, Sophie Scholl and her brother Hans were arrested by the Gestapo for distributing anti-Nazi leaflets at the University of Munich. After a swift trial, they were found guilty of treason and sentenced to death. On February 22, 1943, Sophie, Hans, and their friend Christoph Probst were executed by guillotine. Their courageous resistance and sacrifice became emblematic of the broader struggle against Nazi tyranny.

  6. Legacy of Resistance: The story of Sophie Scholl and the White Rose resistance group continues to resonate as a symbol of courage, integrity, and moral defiance in the face of oppression. Their actions inspire individuals worldwide to stand up against injustice and tyranny, serving as a reminder of the power of ordinary people to effect change even in the darkest of times.


The historical context of "Sophie Scholl: Die letzten Tage" provides essential background information for understanding the film's portrayal of Sophie Scholl's resistance activities and the broader struggle against Nazi tyranny during World War II. By exploring the social, political, and ideological dynamics of the time, viewers can gain insight into the challenges faced by individuals who dared to speak out against injustice and oppression.



Why "Sophie Scholl – Die letzten Tage" Is Discussed At A-Level German:

  1. Historical Significance: The film offers a poignant portrayal of a key figure in German resistance history, providing valuable insights into the complexities of life under Nazi rule.

  2. Cultural Relevance: "Sophie Scholl – Die letzten Tage" prompts discussions about German identity, memory, and remembrance, making it a relevant and thought-provoking topic for A-level German students.


Typical A-Level German Paper 2 Questions On Sophie Scholl


  1. Betrachten Sie Sophie Scholl als ein Vorbild für Zivilcourage oder als eine naive junge Frau? Geben Sie Ihre Gründe an.

  2. Vor seiner Hinrichtung sagt Christoph Probst: "Es war nicht vergebens." Inwiefern stimmen Sie dieser Aussage zu?

  3. "Mohr ist nichts Anderes als ein Vertreter des Nazi-Regimes." Wie stehen Sie zu dieser Aussage?

  4. Mit welchen Methoden und Techniken schafft der Regisseur die verschiedenen Atmosphären in diesem Film. Finden Sie die Methoden effektiv?

  5. Finden Sie Sophies Widerstand sinnvoll oder sinnlos? Erklären Sie warum.

  6. "Dieser Film ist unendlich deprimierend." Wie stehen Sie zu dieser Aussage?

In conclusion, "Sophie Scholl – Die letzten Tage" serves as a compelling subject for A-level German study, offering students a rich tapestry of themes, characters, and cinematography to explore. By engaging critically with the film's content and preparing for typical essay questions, students can deepen their understanding of German history, culture, and language while honing their analytical skills and preparing for their exams.


If you found this post helpful, please like and share it with others so that many students can benefit from it. Thank you.


On my German language blog, you’ll find more help in preparing for your A-level German exam. From grammar explanations on German adjective endings, Konjunktiv 2 and the passive voice in German to other A-level German revision guides on Der Besuch der alten Dame and Der Vorleser.


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