Paul Jacob

Tomorrow, February 22, at 5:00 pm, I’ll close my office door and take five minutes to quietly reflect upon heroism, honor, courage and fealty to truth.

And I’ll grieve about the sometimes tragic consequences of correctly answering Patrick Henry’s historic question: “Is life so dear or peace so sweet as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery?”

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Knowing the dearness of life and the sweetness of peace, Mr. Henry’s answer was: “Forbid it, Almighty God!” He then concluded, “I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death!”

Yet, rest assured, cowardly deals with devils were not forbidden then, nor are they today. Spinelessness has been the rage all throughout human history. Saving one’s hide just generally beats out doing what’s right. Even when one’s life is nowhere close to being on the line.

Which is why tomorrow’s date matters to me. Sixty-seven years ago, three German youths — Sophie Scholl, her brother, Hans, and their friend Christoph Probst — were put to death by the Nazis. They were decapitated — guillotined — within hours of being found guilty in a sham trial.

Their crime? Standing up against the most evil crime imaginable.

The charge was treason — treason committed courageously against the Third Reich. Richard Hanser’s 1979 book on the subject is aptly titled, A Noble Treason: The Revolt of the Munich Students Against Hitler. Sadly, it’s now out of print.

The Scholls had a history of standing up to the Nazis. Hans was arrested in 1937 for involvement in the German Youth Movement, an unapproved group. In 1942, Hans and Sophie’s father, Robert, the former mayor of Forchtenberg, was imprisoned for several months for telling his secretary, “This Hitler is God’s scourge on mankind.”


Paul Jacob

Paul Jacob is President of Citizens in Charge Foundation and Citizens in Charge. His daily Common Sense commentary appears on the Web and via e-mail.