Fünf letzte Tage (The Five Last Days) (1982)
Director: Percy Adlon
Starring: Irm Hermann (Else Gebel), Lena Stolze (Sophie Scholl), Joachim Bernhard (Helfer), Ossi Eckmüller (Wachmann 1), Hans Stadlbauer (Wachmann 2), Gert Burkard (Pflichtverteidiger), Michael Cornelius (Hans Scholl).
a few students at Munich University oppose Hitler's fascist regime
The prison in Wittelbackerpalais, the center of the secret police, the Gestapo, in Munich.
First day. Thursday, February 18, 1943. 10 a.m. Students got caught with pamphlets, supposed to have thrown loads down, in the university.
11 a.m. A man with a cart of soup makes some banging noises on the dishes and says: Miss Else . . . lunch. A guard comes in saying that they're going to have some new students coming in. He saw some of their slogans and they said things like: "Down with Hitler", "Hitler Mass Murderer", "Freedom". Down Ludwigstrasse to the university, Swastikas are crossed out. If we have caught the students who did that then off with their heads.
12 a.m. Someone says about a male student, straight to interrogation with him, the lady to Admissions. The guy is taken upstairs. The lady is questioned on the ground floor. She gives her name as Sophia Magdalene Scholl She was born in 1921 and she is 21 years of age. Sophie is a student and a kindergarten teacher. The secretary, Else Gebel, sees to it that prisoner Valentin writes down the personal effects Sophie has.
12:30 a.m. Else has to do a body search on Sophie. Else tells her if she has any pamphlets she wants to get rid of, she can give it to Else. She says she's a prisoner, too. Else also says that Sophie has nothing to be afraid of. Sophie says she's not afraid. After the body check, Else says that the prisoner does not have anything.
Else is told that she is to get her things because she is going to be put in with Miss Scholl. She gets her clothes out of her cell and then she and Sophie are taken to the big cell. Else lets Sophie have the bed by the window. Then Sophie asks Else how long has she been incarcerated? One year is the answer. They caught her on a train. They found that she had a letter with one sentence by Ludwig Thoma that fit Hitler a glove. [Thoma (1867-1921) was a German author, publisher and editor, who gained popularity through his partially exaggerated description of everyday Bavarian life.]
Else says that it's not bad at the prison. She is a book keeper by profession. Sophie has to go to interrogation, and Else tells her to never admit to anything.
3 p.m. Else says that Sophie hasn't done anything. The man in charge says that's why she got the big cell. Else tells him that she would really like to console Sophie. The fellow says that they might release the Scholl mother and sister again. A telephone call comes in and the fellow gets new instructions. The Scholl family is to be interrogated again and they are not to be fed.
On a food run, a fellow prisoner, Philip, tells Else to tell Sophie that her brother has been able to deny everything so far. Else tells Sophie that once her friend got a pamphlet in the mail from the "White Rose". The pamphlet said what they are all feeling: "That every honest German is ashamed of his government these days."
Else asks who's the man in charge of Sophie? Mahr. Else says that's good because he's a decent man. They are interrupted by Sophie having to go to interrogation again.
8 p.m. Else just finished registering the new students who were brought in. She says to her male colleague: "My God! They've been brought in here for picking up a pamphlet." Else now asks her colleague for a cigarette for Sophie and she gets it.
The barking of dogs late at night awakens Else. She looks over at Sophie's bed, but Sophie is not there.
Second Day. Friday, February 19, 1943. 7:30 a.m. Else inquires about Sophie and learns that after 13 hours she is till being interrogated. Then her colleague tells her that the brother is back in prison. He confessed. He took the blame for everything and Sophie's to deny it all.
Else is told to go get some coffee for herself. She gets up and sees Sophie standing on the stairs. The colleague gives Sophie some coffee and Else gives her a cigarette. The guard lights the cigarette.
In private Sophie tell Else that she accepted the blame for everything, so her brother could get off. Else informs her that her brother too accepted blame for everything.
Sophie asks why was Else arrested? Because she was the messenger only for the leftists and communists. Her brother was arrested at about the same time. He believed that people should carry out sabotage wherever possible.
Sophie tells Else about the little debate she had with her interrogator. He told her that's it's just that Sophie's ideology is wrong. She tells him that it's not her ideology that is wrong, but rather it's the interrogator's ideology that's wrong. Else says that the interrogator was trying to build a bridge for her to safety. Sophie says she knows, but she would rather not live after cooperating with the interrogator. Else says that Sophie has a duty to stay alive, and Sophie mustn't give into despair. Sophie will do what she feels she must do.
Sophie goes back to interrogation. She is very down. She asks about her brother. So the interrogator opens up the side doors, then the side doors in the next room, and then the side doors to a third room. There Sophie sees her brother and her brother sees Sophie. They stare at each other.
9 p.m. The two women talk. Neither of them have a man waiting for them on the outside. Sophie says her father was held in prison for two months because he called Hitler a scourge of God. His secretary squealed on him. Else says both of her parents are dead, but she has two brothers. Sophie says in her family there are three sisters and two brothers. She says she had to work in a munitions factory and she and some Russian prisoners fouled up lots of fuses.
Third Day. February 20, 1943.
12 p.m. Else tells Sophie that this Saturday and Sunday there will be no interrogations. Isn't that nice? Sophie says she's not sure, because she finds the interrogations challenging.
Mr. Mahr comes to Sophie's cell and gives her some things he bought her. She says that was really kind of him. Two male colleagues, Philip and Valentin, come to eat with the two women. One has brought some butter. His mother owns a farm. They put the two beds close to each other and put the table in the center. So they have graham crackers, butter, chocolate and two apples. They have a little prison picnic. They also have some sausage and bread, and they have some good tea to drink. Valentin was an amateur radio ham and he was arrested for "meddling". He picked up all the foreign stations, and people came from far and wide to listen to the stations.
Now they wish they could see a play or a cinema. So Philip gets on a pantomimes with some sound effects The skit makes fun of Hitler. Afterwards, Sophie thanks him for the performance. He thanks her by saying that they are all impressed by Sophie in here, both the prisoners and the Gestapo. She gives them all hope for a better day.
Fourth Day. February 21, 1943. Else thinks that someone else from Sophie's group was brought in last night. She tells Sophie about it. This makes Sophie a little despondent. She tells Else that her brother Werner should be home on leave from Russia. Else asks if he was in Stalingrad? Sophie says not her brother, but her fiancé is in Stalingrad.
Else comes to Sophie and tells her that the student brought in last night was Christoph Probst. Sophie screams out: "No!" Else inquires about this Christoph and Sophie says he's the one who designed the new pamphlet. He's the one they wanted to protect. She cries, saying that Christoph has three young children with another one on the way. Else tries to calm Sophie down.
Else learns that the trial in the People's Court will begin tomorrow morning.
3:30 p.m. Sophie gets a copy of the court papers and reads the charges against them. She is at least relieved that it's only Hans, Christoph and her that are being charged. Sophie's lawyer is allowed into Sophie's cell. He asks her if she has any defense and Sophie says no. She also says that if the men are executed, she too wants to be executed.
5 p.m. Sophie says she often thought about just wanting to be a piece of bark on a tree. She hopes she and the other two with their deaths can shake up the students and they will rise up in waves.
6 p.m. The interrogator comes into the cell and tells Sophie to write to her parents today.
The interrogator speaks frankly to someone. The letters from the three people are to be kept in a file and never shown to anyone because the letters may be used for propaganda against the government.
Sophie is psychologically prepared for martyrdom.
The authorities are going to keep the lights on all night. The guard comes in every half hour to check on them. Sophie talks about her happy childhood days, especially the times she spent with her father. She regrets that now she will make her family sad.
2 a.m. The guard comes in and Else asks the guard can't they just let Sophie sleep now?
Fifth Day, February 22, 1943.
7 a.m. Else awakens Sophie. Philip comes with the coffee. He says goodbye to Sophie and she says goodbye to him. Later, Else says they will be coming for her, so she wants to say goodbye to Sophie now. Sophie asks Else to speak to her parents in better days. Else says: "In better days I'll tell your parents how well we got on in these few days." Sophie wonders what she would have done if Else hadn't been here? She kisses Else on the cheek. Else now kisses Sophie on the cheek. She adds: "I'll always think of you,."
9 a.m. The three condemned go into the trial.
2 p.m. All three are condemned to death by decapitation by guillotine. Herr Mahr comes out and Else asks if it's really true that all three will die? Mahr hesitates for a long while, then says: "Think of her in half an hour Then she'll be at rest." Else bends over in pain and asks to be taken to her cell. She runs down to her cell.
In her cell, Else prays for the three condemned.
Else writes: "In the Hartwimmer-Olschewski trial on 20th April 1943, I was sentenced to 15 months imprisonment, which I'd already served in custody, awaiting trial. On 30th May 1944 my brother was executed in Berlin-Plotzensee. Later I went to see Sophie and Hans Scholl's parents, and told them about my encounter with Sophie."
Very moving story about a young woman who willingly goes to her death rather then cooperate any more with the fascist system in Germany. It's also about the bond made between an older woman prisoner and the condemned girl, Sophie Scholl. The older woman tells Sophie that she will always be thinking of her. Sophie's bravery and willingness to die was an inspiration to the other prisoners. Even some of the Gestapo admired Sophie's courage. Irm Hermann (Else Gebel) and Lena Stolze (Sophie Scholl) were both very good in their roles.
Patrick Louis Cooney, Ph. D.
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