Inspiring People Whom I Admire Part V

This is another installment in my series Inspiring People Whom I Admire Part V. A few weeks ago I wrote about the inspirational story of Irene Sendler. Today I want to continue that theme of inspiring women in the World War II era and tell you the story of Sophie Scholl.

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Inspiring People Whom I Admire Part V

Sophie Scholl was born on May 9, 1921, in Germany. At the age of 12, she joined the League of German Girls as did most of her classmates. This displeased her father who was an ardent Nazi critic. Initially, she was very enthusiastic but eventually also became critical of the Nazis. Her brother Hans, at one time, eagerly participated in the Hitler Youth program became disillusioned as well. Hans was even arrested in 1937 for participating in the German Youth Movement. Seeing her brother arrested affected her deeply.


After graduating from secondary school, she became a kindergarten teacher. She had hoped this would be recognized as an alternative service to the National Labor Service. Unfortunately for Sophie, it wasn’t. National Labor Service was a prerequisite to be admitted to the University. Therefore, Sophie served six months of auxiliary war service. The military-like regimen of the Labor Service caused her to change her initial views of National Socialism. She would eventually begin to practice passive resistance.

Sophie Scholl

In 1942 she enrolled at the University of Munich and attended with her brother Hans. During the summer, Sophie, Hans, and their friends began to question and resist the principles and policies of the Nazi regime. They adopted passive resistance strategies that were being used by students in the United States fighting racial discrimination.

White Rose

The group called themselves, White Rose, and co-authored six Anti-Nazi Third Reich political resistance leaflets. These leaflets instructed Germans to passively resist the Nazis. During school breaks, Hans and some of his friends were conscripted into the military and sent to the eastern front. There, some of the group witnessed a group of naked Jews shot in a pit. They were horrified and it emboldened their efforts when they returned to school.

Sophie was an invaluable member of White Rose. As a female, her chances of being randomly stopped by the SS were much less. Between June 1942 and February 1943 they prepared and distributed the six leaflets. In January 1943, the White Rose, using hand-operated duplicating machines, produced, and distributed between 6000 to 9000 copies of their 5th leaflet, “Appeal to All Germans.”


Readers of the leaflets were urged to support the resistance movement in their struggle for freedom of speech, freedom of religion, and protection of individuals from the arbitrary action of the criminal dictator state. The leaflets caused a sensation and the Gestapo initiated an intensive search for the publishers.


On February 18, 1943, Hans and Sophie brought a suitcase full of leaflets to the University. They dropped stacks of leaflets in the hallways for the students to find when class let out. After dropping off the leaflets they discovered that some copies remained in the suitcase. Not wanting to waste a single leaflet Sophie grabbed the copies and ran up the stairs to the top floor of the building. There she flung the copies into the air over the railing.

Unfortunately, Sophie was observed by a custodian who supported the Nazis and notified the police. Hans and Sophie were taken into Gestapo custody. Eventually, the rest of the group was arrested, interrogated, and charged with treason. Sophie assumed full responsibility in an attempt to protect the other members of the White Rose.

Mock Trial

In the People’s Court on February 21, 1943, Sophie was recorded as saying:

“Somebody, after all, had to make a start. What we wrote and said is also believed by many others. They just do not dare express themselves as we did.”

No testimony was allowed for the defendants; this was their only defense. Sophie and Han’s defiance, in the face of certain death, gained them the admiration of many people.

Last Day

On February 22, 1943, Sophie, and Hans, along with their friend Christopher Probst, were adjudged guilty of treason and condemned to death by guillotine. A few hours later as she walked to her execution, still brave and defiant, she uttered her last words:

“Such a fine, sunny day, and I have to go… What does my death matter, if through us, thousands of people are awakened and stirred to action?”

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After her death, a copy of the sixth leaflet was smuggled out of Germany to the UK, where it was used by the Allied Forces. In mid-1943, they dropped millions of propaganda copies over Germany. The leaflet was now retitled, The Manifesto of the Students of Munich.

I admire Sophie, her brother, and their friends for having the courage to stand up for what is right. Knowing that if they were caught it would mean certain death, they were still willing to make the sacrifice. Their small part in resisting the tyranny of Hitler and his National Socialist Party contributed to Germany’s defeat. The symbolic value of what Sophie and the White Rose accomplished cannot be measured. It is because of her courage and sacrifice that I’m proud to include Sophie Scholl in this series of Inspiring People Whom I Admire Part V.

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Great And Inspiring People Whom I Admire

A few weeks ago I was reading the book, Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill. It is one of my favorite books and I read it over and over. (You can purchase it from Amazon by clicking on the icon, hint hint, wink wink). In chapter 14, The Sixth Sense is about using your creative imagination. Hill created a mastermind group in his imagination. These were people that he admired, some alive and others long gone. They were people like Thomas Edison, Henry Ford, and Abraham Lincoln. This got me thinking about the great and inspiring people whom I admire.

Before I begin, today I completed my 60th trip around the sun and I’m grateful for everything. Many thanks to everyone who has contributed to my blog. I appreciate all my followers and subscribers. I am humbled.

“Men are not made from easy victories but based on great defeats.”
~ Ernest Shackleton

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Great And Inspiring People

Hill was inspired by his mastermind group and would even have roundtable council meetings in his mind. During these meetings, he would have imaginary conversations with the members. Each one had a different quality that he admired. By doing this, he opened up his creative mind and came up with ideas on things he could accomplish.

I began thinking about different great people who I admired and have inspired me throughout my life. So I decided to write about these inspirational people. They are people who overcame obstacles and were great leaders. I have learned great lessons from them. They have set excellent and inspirational examples for me to follow. To keep the blogs short, I have decided to do this in parts.

“Loneliness is the penalty of leadership, but the man who has to make the decisions is assisted greatly if he feels that there is no uncertainty in the minds of those who follow him and that his orders will be carried out confidently and in expectation of success.”
~  Ernest Shackleton

Sir Ernest Shackleton

Sir Ernest Shackleton

I will begin with an incredible leader, Sir Ernest Shackleton. Shackleton was born in 1874 in Kildare, Ireland. He was an Antarctic explorer who attempted to reach the South Pole. He joined Robert Scott’s expedition in 1901 and took part in the sledge journey across the Ross Ice Shelf. In January 1908, he led an expedition to Antarctica but was prevented from reaching their intended based site by the ice. On that expedition, he later led a sledging party to within 112 miles (180 km) of the South Pole. Due to their success in claiming the Victoria Land plateau for Britain, he was knighted on his return.

“When things are easy, I hate it.”
~ Ernest Shackleton

“Difficulties are just things to overcome.”
~ Ernest Shackleton


I first heard of Ernest Shackleton when I was given a book titled Endurance. You can also get this book by clicking on the icon to the right. (Another wink). The book, written by Alfred Lansing, is well written and inspirational. It entails the 1914 ill-fated expedition to Antarctica led by Shackleton. They proceeded from England aboard the ship, Endurance. The expedition had planned to make the first crossing of Antarctica via the South Pole from the Weddell Sea to McMurdo Sound.

The Endurance became trapped in the ice and drifted for 10 months. Eventually, the ice crushed the powerful ship. Shackleton and his men then drifted for another five months on ice floes. Running low on food and supplies, they escaped in boats to uninhabited Elephant Island.


A Dangerous Journey

Knowing their only hope for survival was a dangerous journey across the sea, Shackleton and five men set out in a whaleboat. Their destination was the tiny island of South Georgia. There was a whaling station where they could find help. South Georgia was 800 miles from Elephant Island. The journey took 16 days across a rough and dangerous ocean. Through expert navigation, they landed on the south side of South Georgia.

“No person who has not spent a period of his life in those ‘stark and sullen solitudes, that sentinel, the Pole’ will understand fully what trees and flowers, sun-flecked turf and running streams mean to the soul of a man.”
~  Ernest Shackleton


Although elated to have reached their destination, Shackleton knew their ordeal was not over. The whaling station was on the north side of the island. They would have to cross rugged terrain to reach it. It had been 16 months since the Endurance had become trapped in the ice. The six men set out and eventually reached the whaling station. The whalers couldn’t believe their eyes when these six ragged men walked into their station.

Shackleton never forgot about the men they left behind on Elephant Island. He worried about them every day. Despite his lack of strength he wanted to set sail and rescue them right away. The weather wouldn’t allow for a return trip at that time. Shackleton never gave up. He made four unsuccessful attempts at rescuing his men.

“Through endurance we conquer.”
~ Ernest Shackleton

“The questions are always more important than the answers.”
~ Ernest Shackleton


Four months later Shackleton’s perseverance paid off and they successfully arrived at Elephant Island. Shackleton couldn’t believe his eyes when he saw that all his men were alive. They survived despite the lack of food sources and water on this barren island. All his men were loaded onto the ship and they embarked to Chile.

“If you’re a leader, a fellow that other fellows look to, you’ve got to keep going.”
~  Ernest Shackleton

The Definition Of A Leader

Sir Ernest Shackleton displayed extraordinary leadership in saving all his men. He is an inspirational figure in which I admire greatly. His unmatched perseverance is a lesson that we should all learn. Persevering and overcoming all obstacles is the key to success. Shackleton had a definitive purpose, rescuing his men, and nothing was going to stop him. He was dedicated to his men and put their needs before his. This is the definition of a leader.

“I have often marveled at the thin line which separates success from failure.”
~ Ernest Shackleton

“No one asks how to motivate a baby. A baby naturally explores everything it can get at unless restraining forces have already been at work. And this tendency doesn’t die out, it’s wiped out.”
~ Ernest Shackleton

I hope you enjoyed part one of the great and inspiring people whom I admire. I will continue this series in the weeks to follow. Do you have any particular person who inspires you? Are there people that you admire and help you on your journey? If so, leave a comment below and let me know. I always enjoy reading your comments.

All Aboard!!

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Final Thoughts

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Works Cited

Lansing, Alfred. Endurance: Shackleton’s Incredible Voyage. Basic Books, 2015.

“Chapter 14 – The Sixth Sense.” Think and Grow Rich: The Complete Classic Text, by Napoleon Hill, Jeremy P. Tarcher/Penguin, 2008, pp. 308–323.