25 February 2010
The launch of Dr Frank McDonough's paperback version of his popular biography: “Sophie Scholl: The Woman Who Defied Hitler” took place in Hope Street Hotel recently.
The event was attended by over a100 invited guests and also journalists of the media locally and nationally. The launch was given support by the History Press, Dr Margaret Edwards, Director of the School of Social Science, Professor Roger Webster, Dean of the Faculty of Media, Arts and Social Science, Dr Tamsin Spargo, Director of Media and Cultural Studies, Dr Tony Webster, Head of History, Dave Brewitt, the owner of the Hope Street Hotel, and the “Backbeat Beatles”.
Dr Tony Harvey, Senior Lecturer in Law at LJMU, and also the Chairman of Hope Street Hotel, acted as Master of Ceremonies. Dr Andy Price, Lecturer in Politics in the School of Social Science, opened the proceedings by telling the audience about the new MA in Rights and Humanity, a new pioneering collaborative programme he is leading, run in association with the international human rights organisation, Rights and Humanity. Andy, who described Sophie Scholl as a “great role model for all human rights activists, said he was "honoured to be invited to speak at the event."
Guests were then treated to an inspirational key note speech by Dr Jakob Knab, a leading German scholar on the religious influences on Sophie Scholl and a well known fighter against Fascism in post-war Germany. Dr Knab had flown especially from Munich to attend the event. He was instrumental in getting the names of Third Reich generals removed from army barracks in Germany after the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989. His campaign won support from the German Defence Minister and the leading German periodical Der Spiegel. He received thousands of letters of support from all over the world for his campaign - and also predictable hate mail from Neo Nazis in Germany and Britain.
Dr Knab, who, like Sophie, was educated at Munich University, said in his speech: "Sophie's Scholl's inspirational and life affirming story by Dr.McDonough is not just a story about the past, but a story of vital importance today. It is a story of bravery, of personal conscience and human rights. We must never forget that she was a young 21 year old university student who was executed by the Nazis using a guillotine for just printing words in leaflets. Her death bravely defending basic human rights and fighting against Nazism is a real inspiration to the youth of Germany to-day and I must praise Dr McDonough for making her story better known in Britain. He has done a great service for my country."
Dr Knab's speech was followed by an equally poignant reading of Sophie's leaflets and letters by Lizzie Kitely, a Level 2 History student at LJMU. The evening concluded with three emotional performances by 'John' and 'Paul' of The Backbeat Beatles, who sang 'Yesterday', 'Imagine' and 'Hey Jude'. The Backbeat Beatles gave their time for free to support the book launch - even though they had appeared at the Liverpool Philharmonic Hall before a paying crowd of 1,600 people in the sell out 'Sgt Pepper Show' the previous evening.
In his speech, Frank said: "This event is a celebration of Sophie's life - not her murder by the Nazis. It was very important to me to have one of our current history students to read Sophie's words out, as this shows that Hitler's fascist regime killed young university students who dared to protest too.
"My university has a large number of academics who are researching into and raising awareness of human rights issues. Many LJMU academics and students organise human rights and anti-racist and anti fascist events within and outside the university each year. That is something our university can be very proud of."