Jens: At the Heart of the White Rose

Inge Jens, ed. At the Heart of the White Rose: Letters and Diaries of Hans and Sophie Scholl. New York: Harper & Row, 1987.

Jens's reputation was firmly established long before her White Rose phase, when she edited the letters of Thomas Mann. This edition of the letters of Hans and Sophie Scholl was her initial contribution to White Rose research, and thankfully, not her last.

Inge Jens was perhaps the first writer to apply true standards of scholarship to White Rose research. She refused to repeat old legends verbatim, insisting on checking out sources and verifying (so-called) facts. This collection of Hans and Sophie's letter and diary entries provided an unusual look at these two persons as human beings, not minor deities.

The book's only limitation was not a result of any failing of scholarship on the part of Inge Jens, but rather by restricted access to Scholl Archives on the part of Inge Aicher-Scholl. You will understand just how severely Aicher-Scholl has censored the story through the years if you pay close attention to the ellipses in Jens's book. Jens did not willingly edit out those gaps; they were caused by Aicher-Scholl's refusal to supply complete, original documents.

It should be understood by anyone using this book - whether in English translation or in the original German - that Inge Jens was never allowed to see the original manuscripts when working on this edition. Inge Scholl required her to depend solely on her typewritten, censored manuscripts, excerpts from the original.

Despite the obvious sanitization effort on the part of Inge Aicher-Scholl and Scholl Archives, this book ranks high on the list of must-reads for anyone interested in the White Rose.

Personally, I can hardly wait for a "second" edition of this same work, with the gaps filled in. A person can dream, can't she? Update as of October 1, 2021: Still dreaming.

PS: The translation by J. Maxwell Brownjohn is pretty ... awful. When you read the book in English, remember that Sophie and Hans wrote "naturally", not in the stilted words that Brownjohn used. (I cannot imagine Sophie ever having used the German equivalent of "torpid" when she simply meant "tired".)

(c) 1999-2000 Ruth Hanna Sachs. All rights reserved. Please contact Exclamation! Publishers for permission to quote.