ZEIT ONLINE: Ms. Bosch, you live in a small, idyllic community that doesn't exude wealth at first glance. Does money not play a large role in your life?
Ise Bosch: You know, I've never had a particularly large house in my life. My parents' lifestyle was also rather modest. They did own a vacation home or two; my grandfather was a passionate hunter. My mother grew up with little money but a lot of education. I went to a Waldorf school and lived at the edge of the forest in Stuttgart – that influenced my life more than money did. That's how I was raised and it is something I like to hold on to.
ZEIT ONLINE: From the outside, your house, with its ivy-covered façade, looks just as simple and northern German as those of your neighbors. A passerby wouldn't think that a granddaughter of Robert Bosch lives here.
Bosch: Does the house next door tell you anything about who lives there? Seriously, other things are more important to me than money.
ZEIT ONLINE: Do you think that your view of wealth is broadly representative of the affluent in Germany?
Bosch: I have developed a large circle of acquaintances through the Pecunia Association, a network for heiresses like myself. Among them are many wealthy people who place great importance in showing off their money. But there are also many who live a lifestyle similar to my own.
ZEIT ONLINE: Why do you think the public has such an inaccurate image of the rich?
Bosch: Wealth is linked to many clichés, the executive driving the S-Class Mercedes, for example. But are we really so shortsighted to think that all wealthy people live like that?
ZEIT ONLINE: Is that why you speak so openly about money? To counteract stereotypes?
Bosch: Yes. It all began in 2006. That year, (German public broadcaster) ZDF couldn't find any wealthy people willing to discuss the issue of poverty for a feature they were filming. I thought that was wrong.
ZEIT ONLINE: Why?
Bosch: The poor are put through the wringer wherever they go, in official agencies, for example. But the rich are normally allowed to just skate through. I wanted to do something about that.
ZEIT ONLINE: Perhaps you really are the exception to the rule.
Bosch: I don't think so. There are many rich people who do lots of good with their money but who maybe don't speak as much about it publicly. And there is really nothing special about it. In our constitution, it says property entails obligations. That applies to me, too.
ZEIT ONLINE: You are the only one in your family who speaks so openly.
Bosch: That is correct.
ZEIT ONLINE: Why don't non-stereotypical rich people speak out more?
Bosch: Often, they are afraid of being misunderstood or of getting into trouble with their parents, children or siblings. They are afraid of being overwhelmed by requests for help. And I know from experience that such requests do come, but many fewer than I had expected.
ZEIT ONLINE: You personally are active on behalf of sexual minorities. What would your grandfather Robert Bosch have said?
Bosch: He was a human-rights activist. He took risks during the Third Reich that are well beyond where I am today. Since then, the issues may have changed, but I believe he would have continued to defend minorities. My efforts to oppose racism would certainly have been to his liking as well. My great-grandfather was part of the 1848 movement, an early adherent of democracy, and his children were too. They were never tempted by racism or anti-Semitism.