Birthday: September 22, 1918
Died At Age: 24
Sun Sign: Virgo
Also Known As: Hans Fritz Scholl
Born Country: Germany
Born in: Crailsheim, Germany
Famous as: Founder of the White Rose Resistance Movement
father: Robert Scholl
mother: Magdalena Scholl
siblings: Elisabeth Hartnagel, Inge Scholl, Sophie Scholl, Thilde Scholl, Werner Scholl
Died on: February 22, 1943
place of death: Munich
Cause of Death: Execution
Founder/Co-Founder: White Rose
education: Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich
Hans Fritz Scholl was a German pacifist and the founder of the White Rose resistance movement that was active during the Nazi period. Originally from Baden-Württemberg, Scholl hailed from an affluent family. His father served as the mayor of Forchtenberg am Kocher. Although he grew up a Lutheran, he thought of converting to Catholicism at one point in his life. In 1933, he enrolled in the Hitler Youth organisation, but eventually became disillusioned. Later, he pursued a medical degree at the Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich. In the spring of 1941, he joined the military service as a medic in France against Russia. Scholl started the White Rose movement with his sister Sophie, Willi Graf, Kurt Huber, Christoph Probst, and Alexander Schmorell and put out six anti-Nazi Third Reich political resistance leaflets. In the ensuing months, they sent the leaflets to academics, scholars, doctors, and pub owners throughout Germany. In February 1943, Scholl and others were apprehended by the Gestapo. He, Sophie, and Probst were prosecuted for treason, found guilty, and sentenced to death. The beheading of the three activists took place on 22 February.
Childhood & Early Life
Born on September 22, 1918, in Crailsheim, Baden-Württemberg, Germany, Hans Fritz Scholl was the son of Robert Scholl and Magdalena Müller.
Following an election, Robert assumed the duties of the mayor of Forchtenberg am Kocher. During his service, he brought the railway to his town and ordered the construction of a community sports centre. However, he was viewed as too progressive by many and lost the office in the 1930 election.
Hans had five siblings, one older, Inge (born 1917), and four younger, Elisabeth (1920), Sophie (1921), Werner (1922) and Thilde (1925). He was educated at the secondary school in Kunzelsau before the family relocated to Ulm in 1932.
Hans’ father was an ardent critic of Adolf Hitler and was disappointed when he found out that Hans and Werner had enrolled in the Hitler Youth in 1933. Furthermore, Sophie and Elisabeth joined the German League of Girls (BDM) in the same year.
However, Robert was a man of liberal principles and allowed his children to make their own choices. Richard F. Hanser writes that Robert gave his children freedom to say “whatever they wished” and that they all had opinions.
In the next few years, Scholl gradually rose through the Hitler Youth ranks to become a local leader.
He had read that the former British Prime Minister David Lloyd George visited Nazi Germany and praised Hitler after getting back to Britain. Hans used this to defend Hitler from his father’s criticism. His father reportedly replied that he knew the Nazis more than the former British PM and that they were “wolves and wild beasts” who were taking advantage of the German people.
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Realizing the Truth about Hitler
Hans Scholl served as the flag bearer during the 1936 Nuremberg Rally. He was incredibly happy after he was selected for the task. However, when he came back from the rally, his family recalled, his disappointment was quite evident. He had realised that his personal beliefs were vastly different from those of the Hitler Youth.
Hans’s beliefs subsequently went through several changes. His siblings also stopped being supporters of Hitler around the same time.
For Scholl and his siblings, who had grown up in such a progressive household, the governmental ban on certain books and songs was simply unacceptable. They were further outraged by the racial legislation which forced their Jewish classmates to leave school.
At the age of 19, Hans joined the National Labour Service and spent the following six months serving with them, working on the construction of a road near a place called Göppingen.
Afterwards, he was conscripted into the German Army. Hans always had a fascination with horses and joined a cavalry unit in 1937 as a volunteer. A few months after this, he was apprehended from his barracks by the Gestapo for alleged participation in non-Hitler-Youth-related activities. Sophie, Inge and Werner were also apprehended.
The Gestapo combed through the Scholl house and seized diaries, journals, poems, essays, folk song collections, and other evidence that they thought would show the Scholl children as members of an illegal organisation.
In the weeks after the arrest, his siblings were gradually released. To get Hans out, his commanding officer had to assure the police that Hans was a good and loyal member of the military.
World War II
Scholl attended the Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich, pursuing a degree in medicine. At the advent of World War II, he joined the Second Student Medical Company. In the spring of 1940, Scholl, still serving in the army as a medic, was part of the German forces that invaded France.
He did not take part in any battle during World War II, as his service supposedly confined him to a field hospital. As a medic, he helped military doctors during limb amputations and other operations. He camped in the town of Saint-Quentin and was ashamed that he had been residing in requisitioned houses.
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After coming back to Munich, he re-joined his university and spent time by attending classes and treating patients at various clinics in the city, as well as wounded soldiers in military hospitals.
The White Rose Movement
He had several friends at the university, including Christoph Probst, Alexander Schmorell, Willi Graf, and Jugen Wittenstein. Sophie enrolled in the university in 1942.
Elisabeth Scholl revealed that the White Rose resistance group was formed due to the execution of several members of the communist movement in the spring of 1942. It did not take long for Hans to assume the position of the leader of the group.
One of the most influential members of the group was Kurt Huber, professor of philosophy at the University of Munich. Sophie was one of his students, and Hans and other medical students regularly attended his lectures. His teachings had a profound effect on the young members of the White Rose as well as on the movement itself.
In the early summer of 1942, Hans, Sophie, Schmorell, Huber, Graf and Probst co-wrote six anti-Nazi Third Reich political resistance leaflets, in which they called for non-violent resistance against the government. They had witnessed the horrifying behaviour of many of the German soldiers at the Eastern Front and saw the abhorrent treatment of the Jews in Poland and Russia.
The leaflets were handed out in and around the campuses of the University of Munich and the University of Hamburg. Furthermore, they were also sent to doctors, scholars, and pub owners throughout Germany via mail.
Arrest & Execution
On February 18, 1943, a custodian identified Hans and Sophie while they were hurling out leaflets from the atrium at Ludwig Maximilian University. They were immediately apprehended by the Gestapo and charged with treason along with Probst.
Judge Roland Freisler presided over the trial. He convicted and sentenced them to death on 22 February.
Hans, Sophie, and Probst were executed by decapitation by Johann Reichhart in Munich's Stadelheim Prison. The last thing Hans said was, “Es lebe die Freiheit!" ("Long live freedom!") Other members of the resistance were also subsequently caught and executed.
After their deaths, the German jurist Helmuth James Graf von Moltke illegally took a copy of the leaflets to England. In mid-1943, the Allied forces scattered millions of copies of the tract, renamed ‘The Manifesto of the Students of Munich,’ from planes over Germany.
German actor Fabian Hinrichs was cast as Hans Scholl in the 2005 historical-drama film ‘Sophie Scholl: The Final Days’.