Author: Anja Reich-Osang
Genre: True Crime, Nonfiction
Age Group: Adult (18+)
Rating: 3,5 stars
Review copy provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
In December 2011, a corpse was found in a forest in Ludwigsfelde, a small and peaceful town south of Berlin. The body was hidden between pine trees, covered with leaves. The victim was Brigitte Scholl, sixty-seven, cosmetician and wife of Ludwigsfelde’s former mayor Heinrich Scholl. There were rumours that Brigitte was raped and killed by a serial killer. While the police hunted for the murderer, parents kept their children indoors, and joggers avoided the forest. Three weeks later, the police arrested the victim’s husband.
The residents were shocked. Heinrich Scholl was well-respected in his community, regarded as the most successful mayor of East Germany after the fall of the Berlin Wall. This charming man had it all: a successful career, influential friends and a marriage of almost fifty years. But behind closed doors, it was a very different story. Friends and family were staggered at the picture that emerged during the trial.
In 2012, Heinrich Scholl was pronounced guilty of murder and sentenced to life in prison. To this day, he pleads not guilty. Journalist and author Anja Reich-Osang followed the trial and talked to family, friends and Heinrich Scholl himself. She tells a gripping story about marriage, sex and politics, where nothing is as it seems.
The Scholl Case is the true story of the murder on Brigitte Scholl, a sixty-seven-year-old cosmetician and wife of former mayor Heinrich Scholl. One day, Brigitte took her dog for an afternoon stroll in the woods and never returned home. Her husband, son and police officers searching the area found her body and that of her dog. In the weeks after the murder, Heinrich Scholl showed behavior police classified as bizarre, and was later apprehended for the murder and put on trial. He was convicted, but still pleads his innocence to this day.
In this book, author Anja Reich-Osang investigates the Scholl family, their past, their present, their relationship with each other, friends and neighbors. I enjoyed reading about small time life, and was particularly impressed with the way Heinrich Scholl, despite having a horrible childhood, managed to climb the ranks and become mayor, and very succesful in practically everything he did. Marriage seemed like his least succesful endavor, although going from there to suggesting he killed his wife is a far stretch.
Based on this account, I certainly wouldn’t classify the Scholl marriage as a happy one, but just because you’re unhappy about the state of affairs, you don’t just go and kill your wife and dog. Despite reading the book and getting to know Heinrich and his wife, even if just a little, I’m nowhere closer to deciding whether he’s guilty or not – often at the end of true crime I can make up my own mind about what I think is the truth, but here I’m still in the dark. That’s nothing bad on the author’s side, though, the research was well-done and very detailed.
I also enjoyed the writing style, which was fluent and practically swept me through the events and life history of Heinrich and his wife.
What I will say is that the case left me kind of perplexed: I could not believe they’d convicted this man on such flimsy evidence, and conflicting testimonies.