Inge Scholl-A Patriot for Democracy

by Giselher Technau

Inge Scholl was born in Ingersheim on August 18, 1917 as the eldest child of the town's mayor, Robert Scholl, and his wife Magdalene. After graduating from the High School for Girls in Ulm, she joined her father in his tax and financial auditing office, working as an assistant, which, she later remarked, was not the job of her dreams. Her younger sister, Sophie, was allowed to study her favorite subjects, philosophy and biology, at university in Munich. In September and October of 1942, her father was unable to work in his office in Ulm because he had been imprisoned, and Eugen Grimminger from Stuttgart took over the office. Grimminger likely had extensive discussions with Inge Scholl, whom he had known when she was a child in Ingersheim. The connection between Grimmenger and Inge Scholl enabled Inge's brother Hans to request money from Grimminger to print flyers for the resistance group, the White Rose.

Inge Scholl mit ihrem Vater Robert Scholl im Büro in Ulm, um 1940
Inge Scholl mit ihrem Vater Robert Scholl im Büro in Ulm, um 1940

Inge Scholl, however, had no part in the activities of the resistance group "The White Rose." She stated later that she only "suspected something." Not until her siblings Hans and Sophie were arrested and executed did she and her family learn that the group's flyers were produced by them and their friends. In 1993, Inge said, "I would have tried to deter them if I could have done so." Her political views were the same as theirs, but she feared for their lives. She added, "I believe I still carry this fear in me today."

Because of the strong emotional tie to her family and to the memory of her murdered siblings, Inge was motivated to write what she knew about their lives and fate when the war was over. She was able to gather information from contemporary witnesses as well. In 1952, at a time when the term "resistance" in the Federal Republic of Germany was generally equated with the events of July 20, 1944, Inge published The White Rose. She refered to it as "a biographical account."

The book became a bestseller. By 1977, 400,000 copies had been sold, and by 2003 it appeared in its 10th edition. Over the years, Inge Scholl expanded the contents of the book, adding detailed documents in an appendix. Today, the public understanding of the resistance activities of the White Rose is shaped by her account, although some historians have sought to make amendments and refinements to it.

Inge Scholl's life work was to draw a retrospective picture of the aspects of the National Socialist era that she experienced. Like her parents and her sister Elisabeth, she was imprisoned in February 1943, but was spared deportation to a concentration camp because she suffered from diphtheria. Fifty years later, in 1993, after the death of her husband, Otl Aicher, Inge Aicher-Scholl wrote again of the time she spent in prison in Sippenhaft. Nachrichten und Botschaften der Familie in der Gestapo-Haft nach der Hinrichtung von Hans and Sophie Scholl. (The Clan: News and Messages of the Family Imprisoned by the Gestapo after the Execution of Hans and Sophie Scholl.) This account is based on secret messages that circulated among family members. It was probably not easy for her to expose personal information open to public criticism and to include letters of an entirely personal nature from her future husband and from Sophie's friend Fritz Hartnagel.

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