Aicher: Innenseiten des Kriegs

Otl Aicher. Innenseiten des Kriegs. Frankfurt: S. Fischer Verlag GmbH, 1985.

Be prepared to hate this important little book. Aicher's unrelenting use of bauhaus, with its artificial affectation of lower case, is enough to drive a sane scholar crazy. You rely on those capital letters to differentiate between nouns and verbs in German. With Aicher, that crutch is gone.

And he goes on and on - and on! - about the philosophical and theological implications of every tiny event. He seems incapable of stating that The Sky Is Blue. That four-word declaration could require four chapters in Aicher's world.

But be prepared to laugh and cry and suck in your breath if you can wade past the external annoyances. Aicher tells some of the best tales about the White Rose that have ever been recorded. His memories fill in the crucial gaps regarding who took which side in the debates the friends often engaged in.

Best of all, Aicher does not sanitize the story for sensitive readers. What was ugly then stays ugly now. He refuses to whitewash gaping character flaws, even if found in people he held dear. For that alone, this book is worth a serious read.

Update October 1, 2021: Some of the most controversial stories regarding the Scholl family in our White Rose Histories come from Aicher's book. Remember, he married Inge Scholl after the war. Yet he did not hesitate to paint her as the ardent Nazi she was. Who else would have the nerve to relate how Inge Scholl stepped out in front of Adolf Hitler's car during a parade, earning a salute from the Führer himself?

The devoutly Catholic Aicher also demolishes claims that either Hans or Sophie Scholl were thinking about converting to Catholicism. Aicher details debates he had with Sophie regarding differences between Lutheran and Catholic theology, and admits she generally won.

This book was recommended to us by Franz Josef Müller, so we expected a sycophantic telling of Scholl family dynamics. It's anything but.

(c) 2003 by Ruth Hanna Sachs. Please contact Exclamation! Publishers for permission to quote.