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Monday, November 2, 2009

Truth Will Tell

     Anyone who has followed our work for more than half a second knows that a major obstacle to truthful telling of White Rose history is, has been, and for the foreseeable future will continue to be Inge Aicher-Scholl and her heirs. In addition to Inge's still-mindboggling refusal to grant me an interview, the overwhelming majority (about 90%) of Scholl Archives are off limits for the next 20 - 25 years.
     Inge and her heirs have controlled the White Rose story almost mercilessly for the past sixty-four years. They've browbeaten anyone who's deviated from her carefully crafted half-truths, including (but not limited to) Christian Petry, Vincent Probst and the Probst family, and even Fritz Hartnagel, Inge's own brother-in-law and Sophie Scholl's sometimes-boyfriend.
     She controlled photographs, Borg*-ing copyrights from dozens of White Rose friends and associates with her "Copyright Geschwister Scholl Archiv" stamp - even when they had not granted her copyright permission. She refused her own family members (specifically, the Hartnagels)
permission to use their pictures in non-Scholl Archive exhibits, as if she were nearer kin to Hans and Sophie than the rest of the Scholl clan.
     But most of all, she controlled the story, conveniently leaving out facts that did not suit her fiction, adding so-called facts that have no basis in reality. All the while raking in ever more money, ever more accolades, ever more recognition for something she had been excluded from - namely, the heroic resistance her siblings had consciously hidden from her, the Ringfuehrerin.
     Our battle to get Inge Scholl off the White Rose stage, to dim the spotlight she focused on herself by way of her siblings, has sometimes felt impossible. We have done so, not out of spite or malice, but because her fiction excludes real heroes, people and families who actually suffered and sacrificed, yet who dared to cross her. And forever endured her wrath by being written out of the real White Rose story.
     [Wilhelm Geyer was written out because he "called" Inge and Otl on their improper business practices with the "Scholl" Hochschule fuer Gestaltung in Ulm. Eugen Grimminger was written out because he dared to float the idea - one espoused by Hans and Sophie Scholl during the war - that anyone who had aided and abetted the Nazis in any way, directly or indirectly, should never be allowed to teach or hold public office in postwar Germany. Vincent Probst and Christian Petry basically caused Christoph Probst to be written out, by penning a 1968 article suggesting that the White Rose had been too idealistic to be effective. Traute Lafrenz was written out - who knows why? Because she and Werner became close? And Inge never seemed to tolerate her youngest brother. Fritz Hartnagel was written out because he and Elisabeth nee Scholl dared to contradict Inge's story, tried to get her to correct it, and then had the nerve to agree with Eugen Grimminger. And so on.]
     We have felt very much alone in this battle, as few have dared to cross Inge Scholl or her heirs.
     Then this morning, a much-welcome email from Dr. Klaus Krippendorff, Annenberg School for Communication in Philadelphia. He's now published, and has seen uploaded, his essay entitled Designing in Ulm and Off Ulm. [Click on link, then DOWNLOAD to read the 19-page essay.]
     In this essay, Dr. Krippendorff relates not only the neverending battles with Inge Aicher-Scholl, Geschwister Scholl Archives, Otl Aicher, and related, over academic integrity and honest scholarship. He also recounts stories he heard from native Ulmers about Inge Aicher-Scholl, and why her postwar 'conversion' to democratic ideals was so problematic for most people in that city.
     As we have said since 2002 (if not before), Dr. Krippendorff asks the question: Why didn't Inge ever come clean about her Nazi involvement? Why didn't she simply say, "I was wrong, and I am sorry?" - And why did the American government give her so much money after the war, when they should have easily known of her collusion and collaboration with the NSDAP? Marshall and McCloy (and even Ford Foundation) grants were supposed to weed out, not reward, people like Inge Scholl.
     If she had done so, not only would she have made a proper step in the right direction towards true t'shuvah, repentance, atonement, reconciliation, she would have set the example for many others of her generation who likewise followed Hitler blindly during those twelve horrible years.
     Inge died without once recanting the Nazi ideology she taught, without admitting that her anti-Semitic doctrines - which she taught as Ringfuehrerin! - were in error. Let's hope that others of that generation learn from her negative example and before dying, when it becomes impossible to "make it right", will finally say, "We were wrong. I was wrong."
*"Resistance is futile. Your life as it has been is now over. From this time forward, you will service us." - Star Trek. Of course.

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