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1/5
Sophie Scholl Sophie Scholl was a member of an anti-Nazi resistance movement in Germany until, at the age of 21, she was arrested and executed. As a student before the war broke out, she is often pictured smiling and having fun, but suffering and evil revealed her to be courageous in the face of certain death and quietly heroic in her defense of goodness. There are two movies about Sophie, " White Rose " and " Sophie Scholl: The Final Days, " both of which depict the tense horror that closed in and her bravery in the midst of the madness of the Nazi interrogators. We too, might seem ordinary and quiet, but don't underestimate the hidden strength hidden within just waiting to be revealed.
2/5
Anne Frank Anne Frank is famous for the diary she kept while hiding from Nazis. Eventually, she was caught and died in a prison camp, but through her writing she emerged victorious. Through the two-year period of her hiding, her writing grows in subtlety and maturity and she makes peace with her sister and her mother, with whom she had previously been at odds. Through her suffering, she gains wisdom beyond her years and becomes a talented writer even at the age of 14. She opens up about human relationships, spirituality, and becomes herself a sort of open book, a work of living art. The Nazis took her life, but her courageous words are still read and studied by schoolchildren today. When we contemplate and struggle with difficult situation, we too grow in spiritual insight.
3/5
Edith Stein Edith Stein was a Jewish convert to Catholicism, and although the war found her ensconced in a Carmelite monastery, the Nazis still considered her to be Jewish. Eventually she was arrested along with her sister and sent to a death camp. Here, she lost all thought of her own comfort and safety as she spent her final days caring for the needs of others. As a young woman, Edith Stein was anxious and tentative about her future and the meaning of her life, but later she had a spiritual awakening which was vastly strengthened through Nazi persecution. She came to see her life as a gift to be given away, and the suffering she experienced gave her the opportunity to live out her destiny. Suffering often creates love and compassion in us.
4/5
Sofka Skipwith Sofka Skipwith started life in 1907 as a Russian princess named Sofia Dolgorouky. After the Russian Revolution in 1917, life as a princess was no longer safe and Sofka ended up emigrating and living in various places in Europe, but in May 1940, she was in the wrong place at the wrong time. While taking care of her mother in Paris, the Nazis conquered the city and she was sent to an internment camp. While there, she learned that her husband's plane had been shot down by the Germans and he had died. Tragedy didn't slow her down, though, and Sofka devised numerous clever plans to help other prisoners escape, including passing secret messages written inside of cigarettes and shoving a baby in a basket underneath a hole in the fence. She was responsible for saving hundreds of lives during her imprisonment. If suffering creates empathy and selflessness, then we have emerged from it stronger and better.
5/5
Etty Hillesum In the concentration camp of Westerbork, Etty had a spiritual awakening. She writes, "Those two months behind barbed wire have been the two richest and most intense months of my life, in which my highest values were so deeply confirmed. I have learnt to love Westerbork.” She refused to become a victim and, in suffering, found a new inner life she had never known before. Times of adversity teach us to rely on and develop our inner resources.
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