This wasn’t just a book about a murder—it was a cautionary tale about marriage. The Scholls are a textbook example of why communication and compromise are the lifeblood of relationships. When selfish people love selfishly, the core of the relationship deteriorates. The Scholl’s narrative is pieced together carefully from a plethora of accounts by acquaintances, friends, relatives, former lovers, and even Heinrich Scholl himself.
What I liked most about The Scholl Case is that opinions on the case are left open for readers to draw their own conclusions. Even though Heinrich Scholl was ultimately arrested for his wife’s murder, there is still a bit of mystery to the case. Heinrich insists that he’s innocent, and much of the evidence used against him was not the most solid.
“He wanted to be left in peace, and she wanted to show everyone that her world was still intact. That was their arrangement – a ceasefire after forty-six years of marriage.”
At first it’s pretty easy to feel sorry for Heinrich and even see him as a victim in this case. Brigitte genuinely seemed like the worst kind of woman—domineering, self important, vain, insecure, and completely unloving toward her husband. Brigitte treated her husband like a child, this much was evident from all the interviews from both sides. I almost didn’t feel sorry for the victim in this case, and that’s pretty incredible.
The further I read into his life, however, the more it became apparent that many of Heinrich’s accomplishments and major life events may have been grossly exaggerated. The closer I got to the end of his story about his life, the more uncomfortable I felt at his insistence on being nothing but a selfless lover, a multi talented trailblazer, a victim to the cruel and overbearing women in his life. Heinrich portrays himself as this masculine, confident, and capable man that can woo beautiful women half his age and excel at every project he sets himself to, yet he is constantly pushed around by women. I got the feeling that his stories were an attempt to make up for the fact that he felt emasculated by his wife and his inability to stand up to her. He is just as arrogant as his wife.
This book was definitely an example of what I love about true crime as a genre. Not every crime has a clear villain (or victim for that matter), an “ah ha” moment followed by a hasty resolution. Murder is messy, just as relationships are messy.
Title: The Scholl Case: The Deadly End of a Marriage
Author: Anja Reich-Osang
Translator: Imogen Taylor
Publisher: Text Publishing
Publication Date: October 3, 2016
A woman is brutally murdered and buried in the woods. Suspicion falls on her husband—the former mayor of a small town south of Berlin. They had been married almost fifty years and were considered the perfect couple.
Award-winning journalist Anja Reich-Osang covered the trial. She spoke with relatives and friends of the victim and the accused—and with the former mayor himself, who denies his guilt to this day. But there is more to this story than the question of innocence or guilt. The Scholl Case is about a marriage, about a small town, about sex and politics. It is a psychological profile of a man driven to succeed—a man who started with nothing, conquered the world, and then lost all he had gained.