Leisner: Sophie Scholl

Barbara Leisner. Sophie Scholl. Munich: Econ Ullstein List Verlag, 2000.

Leisner appears to have attempted to cash in on the Sophie Scholl mania following Brigitte Magazine's poll naming Sophie the Woman of the Century. There is little new in Leisner's book. She does at least mention the real reason for Hans Scholl's initial incarceration (homosexual acts with a minor), which did buck extant trends in Scholl literature.

However, Leisner's book is filled with pap. She misdates events that are easily dated and devotes little time to documenting or verifying her work. For example, she accepted Christian Petry and Richard Hanser's books as gospel, though both were written well before Gestapo archives were opened. While Petry and Hanser got many things right, they were hampered by lack of access to primary source documents.

Leisner did not face this roadblock, yet she took the easy way out by relying on their outdated biographies without apparently thinking to question whether new information challenged their work. I do not fault Petry and Hanser for their writings, but I do fault Leisner for taking the easy way out and giving us a half-baked biography of a very fascinating young woman.

Sophie Scholl deserves much better than this book.

(c) 2002 Ruth Hanna Sachs. All rights reserved. Please contact Exclamation! Publishers for permission to quote.