Hirzel: Vom Ja Zum Nein

Susanne Hirzel. Vom Ja Zum Nein: Eine schwäbische Jugend 1933 - 1945. Tübingen: Kloepfer & Meyer, 1998.

First impression reading this book: "What a waste of time! Such self-glorification! This book only serves Hirzel's best interests!" Second impression reading this book: "Hmm, maybe I misjudged her. I can learn a lot from her."

By the time I finished translating Hirzel's work for my Access database, I understood that hers is one of the most significant memoirs by a person associated with the White Rose. She makes herself completely vulnerable, leveling piercing accusations against herself, her family, and her community, even while defending same.

Hirzel takes you inside the Münster while the congregation sings A Mighty Fortress Is Our God ... in a service dedicated to Hitler. She recites the poetry that was part of the un-initiation ceremony when she and Sophie and Elisabeth Scholl were removed from their posts as BDM or Jungmädel leaders. In short, she puts you in her shoes and makes you walk more than a mile or two.

By the end as you follow her to prison for her illegal and treasonous activities, and as you stand with her on the burning streets of Ulm, you have a much clearer picture of life in the Third Reich.

If only every historian were as painfully honest as Susanne Hirzel...

Note added August 31, 2009: We initially intended to publish Susanne Hirzel's memoirs as a companion book to Lilo Fürst-Ramdohr's memories. But over the years, Susanne and her brother Hans Hirzel have drifted ever right-ward. These days, she repudiates much of the material in her own memoirs, such as her prior assertion that Hitler did in fact know exactly what was going on. Now she writes in his defense.

We've therefore shelved this project. If you want to read what she wrote (in English translation), you will either have to buy our White Rose histories or come visit our archives.-RHS.

(c) 2000 Ruth Hanna Sachs. All rights reserved. Please contact us for permission to quote.