Curriculum Vitae [Note 1]
I was born on February 9, 1922 in Pössneck /Thuringia as the daughter of businessman Paul Schertling and his wife Lotte nee Pressler. I lived in Pössneck until I was 16 years old . I went to school and played. I was not very good in school because I did not especially like classes.
When I was 16 , I went to Weimar and attended Dr. Weiss’s Girls Secondary School. I became more alive there. I liked the practical work and I liked being there.
I enthusiastically joined Jungmädel in Pössneck in 1934. I was never in a position of leadership, because I am not a leader personality. I do not have the ability to inspire nor do I have inspiration.
I was in Weimar for two years [1938 – 1940]. But since I was not doing very well in school and particularly had a lot of trouble with natural sciences, I did not know if I would be able to take the Abitur.
Therefore I transferred to the Girls’ Secondary School for Home Economics in Spetzgart near Oberlingen on Lake Constance. I took the Abitur there. I liked being there very much, and I liked the classes there. Working on the land, trips, the entire environment was right for me. I joined BDM while there.
Most of our [BDM] service was led by the School Director. We read “Mein Kampf” together and we experienced it in a lively manner. My school director was truly a National Socialist idealist. She always tried to see the big picture and put all her energy towards that. She was our absolute example and we all liked her very much.
After two years there [Spetzgart], I took the Abitur.
After that, I entered Reich Labor Service (RAD). I entered RAD with great idealism, with the feeling that I would put all my effort into everything [I did]. It could be no other way, since at my school the school director and all the teachers had dedicated themselves with the same idealism that my father exhibited as General Manager and my mother as director of her [NS Women’s League] cell.
I was rather disappointed by our RAD director. None of the girls liked her. She was too hard and unjust.
After I had been there a longer time, I got to know Sophie Scholl better. I was upset about her views. I concerned myself with it, because I had never met a person like that. We talked about it often.
Once on a free Sunday, she took me to her parents’ house in Ulm. On the one hand, I liked her home. It was so pretty and stylish. She was also very nice to me. I was allowed to look at all her books. I saw many writers and books I had never seen before. But on the other hand, I found the entire atmosphere there very oppressive.
The two things I especially noticed about Sophie were that she was very gifted in many things, and that she was very religious. At home, we were Lutheran too, but not very religious. We rarely went to church. My father also criticized the Catholic Church because it tried to be a secular power and got mixed up in secular business. At home, we were not very straitlaced at all. And church doctrine had minimal effect on me. I simply took it as it was.
I was in Siegmaringen (Kapfenburg) for KHD, and after that in Reutlingen as a kindergarten teacher. I was very impressed by the short education at Kapfenburg, which also included ideological education. I wrote Sophie about it. I had the feeling that I would never understand – from either an emotional or a rational basis – how she thought. But I took it all as part of her [personality], almost as something unique about her. I liked her a lot. She always had something fun to do and figured out something special.
I was released from KHD a year early to continue my studies. I started studying in Jena. I liked the harmless, fun life of a student. I did not think about politics any longer. I joined the ANSt., which I liked a lot, because the evenings we were together were always fine and exciting. We had various little dance parties with the students. I did not study very much.
Every once in a while, I would get a letter from Sophie. If a letter contained political sentences, I just took it as something unusual and did not worry about it. Once she wrote me that I should come to Munich the next semester, because her brother was there too. She did not know whether she would be able to go, because her mother was pretty ill and she had to help out at home. But since I actually did not know how much it would really mean to her if I went (because she could be very reserved and one could hardly know whether she really liked you), I went to Freiburg. Several school friends from my days at Spetzgart wanted to study there.
I especially liked the Black Forest, where we could truly enjoy the summer together. I liked being there very much. I liked various lectures a lot. We went bicycling and hiking often. I got to know several nice [male] students. We went dancing several times.
Every once in a while, Sophie would write me from Munich. She wrote that her brother had a very exciting circle of acquaintances, and that they would often talk till late into the night. They read a lot, and weekends they went on nice bike rides. She was only sorry that the semester would be over with so soon, because she would sculpt together a lot with a young sculptor. But she was about the only girl in the circle [of friends]. Wouldn’t I like to study in Munich the next semester? I wanted to, so I left Freiburg.
During semester break [8/42 – 11/42], I was at home. I worked in a nearby munitions factory for 8 weeks. The work was very strange to me. At first, it was very hard. But I tried my hardest to reach our quotas as quickly as possible. I was then very disappointed, because during the afternoons, we had very little to do. I thought they would wring the last little bit out of us and one could pour all his energy into the work. I was always glad when I had the morning shift, because then there was enough work and one could try to meet the quotas of others. I was satisfied once I had done so. I got along well with the workers, supervisors, and master craftsmen. They gave me a good evaluation, which pleased me.
I was happy and liberated to be able to put my energy into that which was a focal point and shook up our nation, after we had had it so good as female university students. When everyone stood at his machine and everyone was working at top efficiency, for me it was a satisfying, directly happy feeling to take my place here. I was especially happy to be employed in heavy armaments work, which required one’s full energy from the very beginning.
I was at home the next 8 weeks and helped my mother. I felt very close to my family. My sister had done work at an armaments factory while she was in school. I thought my father’s work as director of a local school was especially good. He had done that for years.
I went to Munich 14 days before Christmas. I decided I would immerse myself in my studies, because I did not know whether I would stay at the university until I graduated, or whether I would stop studying so I could become a librarian. I actually was counting on studying [in Munich] only that one semester.
I came here. The city and the surroundings were all strange to me. I did not know anyone else there [Note 2]. The first few days, I was completely alone. Then Sophie visited me. The next day, she took me to their apartment. There I was introduced to her brother.
We went to concerts a few times together. I noticed that Hans was very nice to me. He always asked if I would be coming along the next time too, and what I planned to do over the holidays. [He asked me] to return to Munich from Pössneck via Ulm [Note 3] and then return to Munich with them. He carried my luggage to the train station. I was actually surprised that he was so attentive to me, because after all, I had only known him for a few days.
While I was at home over the holidays, I told myself that I did not wish to be infatuated with him. I definitely wanted to pursue my studies.
At the train station, he also said that after Christmas, they had a lot planned. They wanted to go skiing every Sunday. He wanted to organize various literary evenings. We would go to concerts and the theater together. That was very enticing to me, but I did not wish to get too distracted. I wanted to pursue my studies.
I liked the fact that he appeared to be very intelligent. He also told me a lot about his athletic abilities and his trips.
Later, he always tried to set me straight. He showed me his library. Most of the books in it were unknown to me and I had never heard of them. He said everybody should have read those books. He always said that he had experienced many things and that he was mature beyond his years.
He had a very dominating character. He always had to have a circle around him that he could dominate.
I knew how he and his acquaintances, whom I gradually got to know, thought. Initially, such disgust arose in me, an immediate physical discomfort, whenever they would talk. It was so stupid that what they said often was completely opposite to what I felt was true. But they were so smart, and they had such knowledge of history and worked with so many proofs and facts, that although I often knew they were not right and I knew I could not believe what they said, I also could not prove what I believed to them the same way they proved things to me.
I rarely talked about politics with Hans Scholl. He rarely allowed me to talk politics, because he only wanted a physical relationship, even when I refused and had the urgent need to be alone, so I could immerse myself in my studies. I liked him a lot, but I actually could not continue to be with him that way.
I was usually very tired physically at that time. Sometimes when everything came together, I was on the verge of despair. Then I began to hope that the semester would end soon so that I could finally step back and think about things objectively. I kept on telling myself that I needed to separate from them, but I could not.
When Sophie went to Ulm for a week at the beginning of February, we were glad that we could finally be alone together for a few days. I asked him if we could not go away together for a few days and go skiing. I thought it would be best if we could at least get out of Munich. But he said he now really had to work. When I said that I would go by myself then, he urgently asked me to stay. He said he would work it out somehow.
That week, Schmorell came every day. They worked intensively mornings and afternoons. Hans kept telling me that I should go to Sophie’s room and study hard, because now I had time to do so.
When he and Schmorell would come for tea, they did not say a word about leaflets or other such things. But I grew suspicious about their work.
When I read the leaflet that evening, I thought, “This is terribly radical and caustic, something to really be worried about.” I told him that too. But he said he knew what was right, and I could not pass judgment on it.
I then became very indifferent. I had the feeling that I was being molded, that I was no longer myself, and that I could no longer think for myself. It made absolutely no sense to say anything to them.
I only had the feeling that I did not want to have anything more to do with it if possible. I was glad when Sophie returned from Ulm on Sunday evening, because I knew that then Hans could not keep me in the apartment the way he had. The only thing I needed was to be in my room and to bury myself in my textbooks.
And then came that Thursday morning, when I went to Professor Huber’s lecture.
Signed: Gisela Schertling.
Note 1: Not dated. Simply next document in the file. – Note as well that there were no paragraph breaks in the entire document. Paragraph breaks were added simply to aid readability.
Note 2: Dort (there), not hier (here).
Note 3: Gisela would have had to travel through Munich to reach Ulm, so unsure why Hans would have said “via Ulm”.
Source: Schertling/Schüddekopf (53 – 58)