Inge Scholl-A Patriot for Democracy
by Giselher Technau
"In general, my siblings strongly influenced my life, not in the sense that their deaths caused me perpetual sorrow, but rather by the example of the path that they forged." In 1946, Inge Scholl, with the help of the citizens of Ulm, began to build an adult education center and took on its leadership. She believed that young people, especially, should be included in the activities of the center: "I know the hardships and the hunger of often-misunderstood young people who seek a home in this world and need to see themselves confirmed as human beings." The center became a pioneering institution by including social, cultural, and literary topics along with vocational instruction.
With the same purpose in mind, the Geschwister Scholl College, planned in 1950, took as its motivating force the ideals of the White Rose: "We aim to educate a democratic elite that acts as a counterbalance to the emerging nationalistic and reactionary movement. The resistance that drove the Scholl siblings and their friends must continue to be an impetus for the triumph of peace." In 1953, Inge Scholl, with the help of donations from the United States and also from German corporations, succeeded in raising funds for a College of Design. This college was supported by the Geschwister Scholl Trust in order to remain independent of the state. Until it closed in1968, it was second in reputation only to the Bauhaus, and became Germany's best-known school of design. The products its students produced were designed to be long-lasting and functional, and to be socially, economically, and ecologically justifiable. The college, with its 637 students, including 278 from 45 foreign countries, represented a cultivated, cosmopolitan Germany.
For Inge Scholl, a meaningful democratic enlightenment also included taking a public stand and, if necessary, speaking out concerning political developments in the Federal Republic of Germany. During the German election year of 1961, she and her husband criticized the concept of the Cold War and the glorification of the postwar German economic boom: "The challenge is not 'more arms' and not even 'more affluence.' First, social action should be undertaken in all areas that foster humane ideas in a technological society. This action requires initiative and a willingness to take risks." She continued, "Freedom is not a condition. It is an achievement that must be constructed continuously." Inge Aicher-Scholl was ahead of her times; her ideas anticipated many that were to become widespread among Germans of the "Generation of 1968." These ideas appeared in Martin Walser's anthology, The Alternative, or, Do We Need a New Government? Walser's thoughts, however, represented an even more radical interpretation than Scholl's concerning reformation of the Federal Republic of Germany.