Munich, Germany 1942—Hans Scholl never intended to get his younger sister involved in an underground resistance. When Sophie Scholl finds out, she insists on joining Hans and his close friends in writing and distributing anti-Nazi leaflets entitled, The White Rose. The young university students call out to the German people, begging them to not allow their consciences to become dormant, but to resist their tyrannical leader and corrupt government. Hans knows the consequences for their actions—execution for committing high treason—but firm in his convictions, he’s prepared to lose his life for a righteous cause. Based on a true story, Hans, Sophie and all the members of The White Rose resistance group will forever inspire and challenge us to do what is right in the midst of overwhelming evil.
I picked up this book with high hopes and, happily, it did not disappoint. The WWII era is one of my favorite historical periods, I’ve been planning on reading more books with male protagonists, sibling relationships make me happy, and the German resistance is something I know little of but am curious about.
Resist covers all those bases and then some.
It’s a book about war and coming of age and struggling against tyranny and the age-old battle of good and evil. At its heart Resist is the story of a young man who chooses not to take the easy path, who has the courage to act upon what he believes. Hans Scholl has his whole life ahead of him… and his country is crumbling to pieces around him. I love that he doesn’t bury his head in the sand and he doesn’t misuse his sense of patriotism by pretending that his country is so great it could never really become the monster Hitler was creating of it. Instead he takes his frustration, his passion for justice and truth, and channels it into doing everything he can to make a difference. The fact that he really lived and the events of the book actually happened only make it that much more poignant and impactful.
The story is by necessity disturbing and heart-breaking at times, but the darkness is beautifully woven in with simple, happy moments of light—such as when Sophie and Hans eat and exchange sibling-chat after midnight or at the dance scenes or the touching, sweet moment with the Russian family or when his friends gave Hans grief about Gisela. Speaking of which, their relationship made me a happy human. Nothing like falling in love over deep discussions about literature and politics and religion.
And Sophie and Hans melt my heart. I have a wonderful, close relationship with my older brothers too so it was extra special to see how the siblings looked out for each other and protected each other.
Which makes the ending of the book all the more powerful and painful. I honestly couldn’t remember what was going to happen, and reading a few of those last chapters was suspenseful to the point that I was actually feeling nauseous from the sense of dread and impeding peril. Not good for my peace of mind, dearies.
Also, this book is chockfull of stellar quotes, my fellow rabid bookworms. I’m pretty sure I ended up high-lighting about 50% of my Kindle ARC. It’s that good.
“If they allow their dreams to be dormant, I don’t see the point in dreaming at all.”
“Nothing is so unworthy of a civilized nation as allowing itself to be governed without opposition…”
“It is my firm belief that every human needs at least one friend in whom he can confide.”
“When, thus, a wave of unrest goes through the land, when ‘it is in the air,’ when many join the cause, then in a great final effort this system can be shaken off. After all, an end in terror is preferable to terror without end.”
“But I am your brother. I have to take care of you… no matter how stubborn you are.”
“He may call me home sooner than I’d wish, but I’d rather die for what is right, true, and just than to live with a dead soul and conscience.”
One of the many reasons Resist left such a deep impression on me is because much of it parallels the direction America is headed right now—so much of it flashes a stark light over all the missteps we’ve taken, the missteps we are considering taking, and the consequences of them. Hans’ frustration and agony of mind over his countrymen turning a blind eye and choosing to do nothing cuts me to the quick because I’ve often felt the same about the apathy and deliberate ignorance of so many Americans.
“Some of us take the easy road, myself included, for why would you risk your safety if you are a decent German citizen who’s minding your own business? You can simply close your eyes to the evil your government is committing and pretend you don’t notice while they strip away every freedom you possess. Perhaps you’ll make it through the war, through the tyrannical government, but at the end of the road, you will be in utter agony. The road that seemed the easiest led to destruction. But perhaps you take the painful road instead, the one that causes you to lie wide awake at night in fear? The one that could cut your life short, but would lead to peace and eternal rest. Would you take it? Would you bear the painful road? As you see, just as Hugo writes, ‘these two roads were contradictory.'”
“If I knew what was happening but gave it no heed, I was voluntarily allowing my people to be devoured by the wolves.”
“If everyone waits until the other man makes a start, the messengers of avenging Nemesis will come steadily closer; then even the last victim will have been cast senselessly into the maw of the insatiable demon.”
The story of Hans and Sophie Scholl demands attention because they were real. They were just two ordinary young people who loved and laughed and studied and wolfed down food at scandalous hours and managed on far too little sleep and got depressed and made mistakes and liked cake. But they were willing to put their lives on the line for what they believed was right, and they persevered even when they were terrified.
They were true heroes and I couldn’t be more thankful that history has remembered them.
May we never forget.
“When this terror is over, are we going to be included with the ones who allowed death to freely reign, or are we going to resist? If we choose the former, then what are we to say when asked ‘What did you do about it?’ We will have no answer. I for one, desire the latter. I want to stand up for life, goodness, morality, and most of all, God.”
*some disturbing scenes because of Hans’ exposure to Holocaust victims. A goodish amount of swearing.
*I received a free ARC in exchange for an honest review