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HERITAGE FLORIDA JEWISH NEWS, MARC H 1, 2013 PAGE 17A Lessons today from Sophie Scholl's anti-Nazi resistance By Jud Newborn hewas 16, the Scholls'admira- second leaflet in June 1942, interrogation. Sophie, Hans time, German voters chose thegayswhostruggle forequal NEWYORK (JTA)---Though Sophie Scholl and the students of the White Rose resistance were executed by the Nazis 70 years ago last month, the example they set of courage in the face of authoritarian repression is as relevant today as it was seven decades ago. Their crime: Daring to rouse the consciousness of their countrymen in the face of Nazi Germany's destruction of all civil rights and its mass murder of European Jews. In 1933, when Sophie was 12 and her brother, Hans, was 15, the Scholl siblings rejected their Lutheran upbringing and their parents' Christian hu- manism and instead embraced Hitler's philosophy of racial superiority, becoming leaders in the Hitler Youth. Butwhen Hans was arrested and convicted in 1938 for a same-sex relationship he had had three years earlier, when By Mahmoud Hussein The Media Line ANTAKYA, Ttlrkey--Tens of thousands, if not more, of foreign fighters are making their way into Syria to join the rebel forces as they fight against the regime of Bashar AI-Assad as the civil war en- ters its third year. Among the non-Syrians reported to be fighting alongside the rebel forces are Americans, Syrians, Moroccans, Libyans, Egyp- tians, Bosnians and others. However, in conversations, it remains unclear whether" their addition to the battle will be able to turn the tide against Assad's army, with some already abandoning a battle they're not certain they can win. According to Basel, a Syr- ian living in Egypt with close_ ties to the Syrian military, who asked that only his first name be published for rea- sons of safety, "The Syrian army occasionally captures Egyptians ]fighting with the rebels], but they're not in the hundreds. The majority of [foreign] fighters are Tuni- sians and Libyans, followed by fghans, Bosnians and some Americans. Libya has been providing training and weap- ons and has training camps and the vast desertwhere they can train in secret." However, another source, who also asked to remain anonymous due to his sen- sitive position with Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood, told The Media Line that there are thousands of Egyptians fighting the Assad regime. Citing Damascus-based po- litical analyst Alaa Ebrahim, Iran's PressTV reported that the number of foreign-backed fighters exceeds 10,000. But a Syrian military source, who was not perfnitted.to speak on the record, cited much higher numbers. "There are around150,000 foreigners fighting against the Syrian regime in Syria," he said. "The numbers are increas- ing. Last October,,there were only around 70,000 foieign fighters, mainly from Tunisia, Libya and Afghanistan." Lately the Egyptian riedia tion for Hitler quickly ended. Gradually they became activ- ists against the Nazi cause. By 1942, the siblings were engaging in daring forms of nonviolent resistance. In May 1942, they dubbed themselves the White Rose and joined with a handful of friends at the University of Munich to produce what became a staccato burst of six impassioned anti-Nazi leaflets. Reproducing thousands in their secretheadquartersoveranine- month period--ages before the push-button efficiency of the Internet--they made danger- ous train trips to distribute the leaflets throughout Germany. They mailed them to 16 cities-- Stuttgart, Vienna, Frankfurt, Berlin and Hamburg among them--in a bid to mislead the Gestapo into thinking theirs was a broad-based movement and not just a handful of students. "Since the beginning of the war," they declared in their "300,000 Jews have been murdered in the most bestial manner. This is a crime unpar- alleled in human history--a crime against the dignity of Man. But why do we tell you these things when you already know them? Everyone wants to be exonerated, but you cannot be, because everyone is guilty, guilty, guilty." In their fourth leaflet, they wrote: ',We will not be silent. We are your bad conscience. The White Rose will not leave yo u in peaceI" On Feb. 18,1943, Sophie and Hans climbed a high gallery at the University of Munich's vast atrium. From there they scat- tered hundreds of their sixth leaflet down upon the heads of astonished students below in whatwas called the only public protest by Germans against Nazism ever to be staged. Spotted almost immediately, they were arrested by the Ge- stapo and subjected to grueling and their comrade Christoph Pmbstwere tried in ashow trial in Munich by Hitler's "hanging judge," Roland Freisler. They were condemned to death. Just four days after their arrest, the three were beheaded by guil- lotine. Hanswas 24, Sophie 21. But their message lived on. Their last leaflet, smuggled out to the West, was dropped by the tons over Germany. Nobel laureate Thomas Mann broadcast back to Germany from American exile, praising the "splendid young people" who "at the time when Ger- many and Europe were still enveloped in the dark of night, knew and publicly declared" the ugly truth about Nazism in an attempt to bring about the "dawning" of a "new faith in freedom and honor." Today, the White Rose stu- dents are icons in Germany. In a nationwide TV competition to choose the Top 10 most important Germans of all Sophie and Hans Scholl for fourth place--beating out Goethe, Gutenberg, Bach, Bismarck, Willy Brandt and Albert Einstein. A German film, "Sophie Scholl: The Final Days," was nominated for an Academy Award in 2006, the same time that "Sophie Scholl and the White Rose" was published. Its Hebrew edition just appeared in Israel in time for the 70th an- niversaryoftheir extraordinary protest and executions. Despite all this, the story of the White Rose resistance remains barely known by the general public outside Germany. But heroism like th.eirs is being replicated in countries around the world. There is MalalaYousafazai, the now-13- year-old Pakistani children's rights activist who was shot in the head by the Taliban last October and now says she's ready to fight on. There are Influx of insurgents boosts rebel numbers but not confidence has begun running stories of its martyrs who were killed in Syria. One of them was Mo- hammed Mehrez,an Egyptian political activist and doctor who died fighting in the Ashrafieh region, and is the brother of Yasser Mehrez, a leading figure in the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood, who according to the Egyptian daily Al-Wafd, is a member of its media team. According to recent media information, Mohammed Mehrez, like other Egyptian fighters, entered Syriavia this town on the Turkish border and joined JabhatAl-Nusra, a radical group fighting against the Syrian regime. Antakya, Turkey, is a bor- der town with subtle Syrian ties and Arab atmosphere located12 miles from the Syrian border. Here, Firas, a former Syrian army special forces captain who holds dual Dutch-Syrian citizenship and now supports the Free Syrian Army, is f6und. A year ago, during the Libyan uprising, he was heard directly lobby- ing for the Syrian revolution among Libyans--raising money to fund the transport- ing of weapons from Beng- hazi t() Misrata, from where they made their way into the hands of the rebel forces. Now, Firas is a "transport- er'--someone who arranges ' for weapons, food, medicine and even people to cross into Syria illegally. He has also helped rebels wanted by the Assad regime to escape. His main customers are insur- gents from Bosnia, Serbia, Egypt and Tunisia who are seeking to cross the border into Syria, along with jour- nalists. He said he uses his skills honed in Syria's special forces unit to help journalists differentiate between good and bad transporters. "'Good' transporters won't trade journalists for money offered by the regirfle," he said. Firas told The Media Line that Salafi Muslims are now in control of the checkpoints, stopping foreigners they sus- pect of being spies, for ques- tioning. Touting his services to would-be customers, Firas says, "We ju't have to agree that you have to come with me, since ] know the way and know how to deal with the Salafis at the checkpoints. We want to avoid any conflicts." Anticipating possible trouble, Firas asks his potential cli- ents whether their passports contain Iranian or Israeli stamps. "I remembered these same issues from my time in Egypt and Libya during their revolutions, where many journalists were accused of being spies," he said. The presence of the al- Qaida terror network was seen in the revolutions in Libya, Egypt, and Lebanon," and its presence is now being felt in Syria as well. A1-Qaida is hoping to mark their ter- ritory in the Arab Spring, to re-establish their Caliph- ate's legacy, creating Islamic states. Firas said there was discomfort among the Syrian rebels due to the presence of jihadist and al-Qa'ida ele- ments. "Rebels aren't feeling completely safe." Syrian National Television calls Firas an arms trader, with his picture aired under the heading "terrorist" and termed a "traitor to Syria." He shied away from openly admitting that he smuggles weapons, some of the rebels he was transporting offered stark confirmation. One claimed that each time she crossed the border, she hid six Kalashnikov assault rifles un- der her abaya, the cloakworn by veiled women in Syria. Firas says he's no longer al- lowed back in his hometown. of Latakia, and that Syrian intelligence has issued a war- rant for his arrest. On a flight from Antakya to Egypt, The Media Line correspondent encountered a rebel fighter from Morocco, two from Libya and a Syrian: all claiming to have fought on the front lines in Syria and now traveling first-class for a few days of rest and relaxation and family visits. They said they received cash' stipends from their rebel command- ers, who are responsible for distributing the money "from the top down." "We don't get much, just enough for our expenses," one said. "I just get $200 a month. The commander of our battalion receives the money, and he takes care of giving it to us," he'explained. The fighters told about [heir experiences in Syria. Basel, the Syrian, said hewas twice detained by Syrian Air Force intelligence; "another time by the Syrian police. He was released by the air force after being forced toexclaim that, "There is no God but [Syrian President] Bashar [A1-Assad]." Others would bribe their ways out. He presented his release docu- ment in which he vows not to fight against the Assad regime again. Basel said that he fought in the early months in Libya and received some battle instruc- tion, and was trained to use an anti-aircraft machine gun, rocket-propelled grenades), and surface-to-air SAM-7 missiles. "I went to support my Libyhn brothers," he said, adding that he participated in battles at both Benghazi and Brega. Abd AI-Duhaimi, one of the two Libyans, told me that they were inside Syria for about three weeks, where they went on reconnaissance missions to identify targets for the rebel forces. He said it was difficult to engage the Syrian National Army be- cause of their advanced train- ing and weapons superior to those used by the rebels. Basel said opposition troops were able to capture four 22 mm. artillery pieces from the Syrian army, but they were low on ammunition for them, "so they're useless." He said Idlib in the north- west is the only liberated city in Syria. "They are totally free. They have their own police force, court system and traffic police. The city is totally independent and the Assad regime cannot enter due to the mountain- ous nature of the city, with the rebels controlling the mountain tops," Basel said. According to the rebels, morale is down despite the large number of foreign fight- ers. Libyans Abd Al-Duhaimi Hamza opined that the fight "wasn't worth it. There [was a] huge gap between our strength and that of the Syrian army. We just had Ka- lashnikovs and night vision goggles. They are an orga- nized force. They made us go back to Libya." He mentioned that compared to Libyan government forces during its revolution, the Syrian regime has better weapons, more expertly trained fighters, and a stronger determination to end the uprising. - According to a Libyan Gen- eral National Council advisor in charge of Libya's disarma- ment program, who spoke on condition of anonymity due to the sensitive nature of the subject, "getting weapons and radical Islamists out of Libya is our main concern, so now we have a disarmament rights in countries where they are despised and even put to death. There are Chinese dissi- dents like Liu Xiaobo, who was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in October 2010 but is languish- ing in a Chinese prison. Given the oppression, vio- lence and threats such men and women face--and the costs they often are forced to pay--we who live in democra- cies owe it to them not to stay silent. "Somebody had to make a start," Sophie Scholl told Fre- isler, l.ooking the judge straight in the eye on that fateful day in February 1943. Seventy years on, we are still" that somebody. Jucl Newborn is co-author of "Sophie Scholl and the White Rose,'ustpublishedinHebrew by Penn Publications. He also served as founding historian at New York's Museum of Jewish Heritage. His website is jud- newborn.posterous.com. program where part of it in- volves transporting weapons and fighters to Syria." The question now is wheth- er the rebels can continue to make progress. If Assad is to suffer the same fate as former Libyan President Muammar Al-Qaddafi, the rebels clearly must continue to attract, and even increase, their interna- tional support. But as the Syrian civil war stretches far longer than expected, some among the hunkered-down rebels seem to be losing their momentum and foresee defeat. For the moment, though, according to one fighter, they are "going home to see family. When the revolution is over, I will come back, but this isn't working at the moment. It's much tougher than Libya." ES E BUYER i i! i iii!ii;iiiiiliii Silver. ( Gold )nds I Daniel Montesi"00 407-831-8544 i www.winterparkcash.com YANMAN photography Weddings Bar & Bat Mitzvahs All Events & Simchas Timeless Images, Real Value. 407.341.3451 edicor@yanman.com www.yanman.com /j Development Corporation for Israel State of Israel Bonds 12600 South Belcher Road, Suite 101A iE  aONOS..,.,,r; Largo, Florida 33773 Reva Pearlstein Monica DiGiovanni Assistant Director Registered Representative 727-539-6445 800-622-8017 tampa@israelbonds.com www.israelbonds.com