Sophie Scholl
Women who move Germany

Courageous, strong, smart

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Anne Frank

Anne Frank – when words survive

It's 12 June 1942. On her 13th birthday, Anne Frank from Frankfurt am Main is given a red-and-white chequered diary by her father – a gift that will move the world years later.

When Anne was four years old, the Jewish Frank family fled from the Nazis to the Netherlands. After the German army attacked there too and occupied the country, the Franks had to hide in a backyard building. There, Anne wrote her diary: about her dreams, her life in hiding, falling in love, and her youth. Two years later the family was found in their hiding place and imprisoned.

Anne Frank died in the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp just a few weeks before the end of the Second World War in the spring of 1945. She was only 15 years old. Her words, her stories and her red-and-white chequered diary survived the war, however, were translated into more than 70 languages, and made the girl from Frankfurt world famous.

Oh yes, I don't want to have lived for nothing like most people. I want to bring joy and benefit to the people who live around me and yet do not know me. I want to live on, even after I die.

Anne Frank, 5 April 1944
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Sophie Scholl

Sophie Scholl – risked her life for her convictions

'FREIHEIT' (freedom) – Sophie Scholl wrote these eight letters on the back of her bill of indictment. Not until decades after her death was the final message on her file discovered.

Sophie Scholl grew up well looked-after in Baden-Württemberg. She was only twelve years old when the Nazis came to power. Just like her brother Hans Scholl, she was initially enthusiastic about the Hitler Youth, but soon turned her back on the Nazis' ideology. They both joined the non-violent resistance group called the 'White Rose' as young people. On 18 February 1943, Sophie and her brother secretly distributed leaflets in front of the lecture halls of the Ludwig Maximilian University in Munich. Sophie ran to the second floor and threw a handful of leaflets into the atrium. A janitor caught the siblings and handed them over to the Gestapo. Four days later, they were both executed.

Such a fine, sunny day, and I have to go. But what does my death matter if, through us, thousands of people are awakened and stirred to action?

Sophie Scholl on the day of her execution
Sophie Scholl
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Alice Schwarzer

Alice Schwarzer – says what she thinks and says it out loud

She called her grandparents mum and dad. Her grandmother was politically active, her grandfather took care of little Alice. This family had already broken through the traditional role models at that time. Alice Schwarzer, born in 1942, is a journalist, publicist, feminist and one of the most controversial personalities in Germany. In the 1970s, she fought against restrictive abortion laws under the motto 'My belly belongs to me'. Her book 'The little difference and its huge consequences', in which she demanded sexuality without power structures, became a global success. She has been publishing the feminist magazine 'EMMA' since 1977.

Women are no longer satisfied with half of the sky, they want half of the world.

Alice Schwarzer
Alice Schwarzer
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Bärbel Bohley

Bärbel Bohley – the woman who already suspected it

Civil rights activist Bärbel Bohley was one of the leading figures in the peaceful revolution in the GDR. She was arrested, deported from the GDR and came back. Bärbel Bohley was co-founder of the 'Initiative for Peace and Human Rights' and the 'New Forum', key groups of the opposition movement in the GDR. She also signed the appeal 'The time is ripe', which called for social change in the GDR.

Right, we can all go now, it's all over. The revolution is irreversible.

Bärbel Bohley after the demonstrations on Berlin's Alexanderplatz on 4 November 1989 – four days before the fall of the Berlin Wall.
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Christiane Nüsslein-Volhard

Christiane Nüsslein-Volhard – always wanted to know all the precise details

Fruit flies made Christiane Nüsslein-Volhard famous. The geneticist from Tübingen was awarded the Nobel Prize for Medicine in 1995 for her work on small insects. She used fruit flies to investigate how insects develop from an egg cell. Nüsslein-Volhard was born in 1942 near Magdeburg and grew up in Frankfurt am Main. She became interested in biology at an early age. Her holidays on her grandparents' farm had a formative influence. As a twelve-year-old she knew all the flowers, bushes and trees in the garden – very unusual for a girl at that time. Today she is a role model for women in research, and her Christiane Nüsslein-Volhard Foundation supports young female scientists with children.

I want to understand nature, I want to know how it came to be that something is like that – exactly and verifiably and not just believed or culturally imprinted in your memory.

Christiane Nüsslein-Volhard
Christiane Nüsslein-Volhard
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