Sophie Scholl on Instagram
How far can imagination go?
02/26/2022, 2:10 pm
Sophie Scholl posts photos and videos from her life on Instagram – she is followed by hundreds of thousands. Now on the verge of finishing “ichbinsophiescholl” – in addition to a lot of praise, there is also criticism. Above all, a prominent satirist is taking the project to court.
Since May 2021, an Instagram thread has been telling the life story of Nazi resistance fighter Sophie Scholl. A few days after the 79th anniversary of her execution on February 22, 1943 by the National Socialists, the “ichbinsophiescholl” now ends. Bayerischer Rundfunk (BR) and Südwestrundfunk (SWR) struck a positive balance: more than 750,000 people followed the story, which was partially imagined with actors, many of them under 25 years old.
On the other hand, there are others who criticize, such as satirist Jan Boehmermann on ZDF’s “Magazine Royale”. The satirist said on February 18 that he’s discovered a “super sweet” blogger, who posts absolutely cool stuff about influencers, recipes, and travel tips between Munich and Ulm, and touts the activist’s lifestyle with university posts.” Sophie Scholl, who shares videos and photos and even answers to Comments: Boomermann complained that he was just a historian of hobbies, but it all sounded pretty made-up.” “Isn’t history all about facts and accuracy?”
But that’s the concept of the series: It has to appear as if Sophie is spreading herself, with Luna Wedler (“Biohackers”) as the face of the channel. In the fantasy film sequence, she plays the student alongside actors such as Max Hubacher (Hans Scholl) and David Hugo Schmitz (Alexander Schmorell). She enjoys student life, celebrates, falls in love – and becomes more and more thoughtful in the face of Nazi crimes, until she becomes active in the White Rose, which denounces the crimes in the pamphlets.
Bridging historical gaps creatively
“As with every historical feature film, we paint our image of Sophie Scholl, not just on television or in the cinema, but on social media,” says BR editor Lydia Leipert. In concert with historians, we took the liberty to fill historical gaps creatively on the basis of studied facts. Florian Azoulay, director of the Arolsen Archives, the International Center for Nazi Persecution, found specifically that this connection to young people’s living environment and narrative form is important. “Filling in the gaps with imagination is not a taboo for us. It is only important to name or illustrate the imaginary elements to avoid misunderstandings.”
Boomermann doesn’t see this being realized everywhere, for example when Sophie writes in a video: “Alex showed us the first recordings of the Eastern Front.” It was only later clarified in the comments: “The images shown are not from any member of the White Rose.” Others in the film share memories of relatives who were soldiers on the Eastern Front. There is no historical classification of the Russian campaign or an indication of the Wehrmacht’s crimes against the population, only sympathetic words: “We are very sorry. Thank you for sharing this very personal fate with us.” “Here the perpetrators of the Nazi era were almost victims,” read the angry comments.
BR and SWR welcome constructive criticism
Hildegard Kronwetter, president of the White Rose Foundation in Munich, sees the need for action in such cases: “If, for example, family stories are included in a post by individual users, a comment about this criminal war should be provided here.” Overall, Kronawitter believes the project is good and historically correct. “We are counting on the fact that the interest that a lot of people have generated will continue to have an impact and that they will engage with content in other media,” she hopes. “It is important for young people to hear for the first time about the White Rose’s resistance and the frustrating events this resistance caused.” In fact, the series was very impressed, as evidenced by the comments.
BR and SWR are also open: the concept can be criticized and it may be criticized at any time. “Jan Böhmermann did it in a sarcastic way on his show,” says Lippert. “If criticism of the ‘ichbinsophiescholl’ concept leads to a constructive debate about German culture of remembrance, we welcome it.”