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Remembering Rosenstrasse

History, Memory and Identity in Contemporary Germany


Hilary Potter

In February 1943 intermarried Germans gathered in Berlin’s Rosenstrasse to protest the feared deportation of their Jewish spouses. This book examines the competing representations of the Rosenstrasse protest in contemporary Germany, demonstrating how cultural memories of this event are intertwined with each other and with concepts of identity. It analyses these shifting patterns of memory and what they reveal about the dynamics of the past–present relationship from the earliest post-unification period up to the present day. Interdisciplinary in its approach, the book provides insights into the historical debate surrounding the protest, accounts in popular history and biography, an analysis of von Trotta’s 2003 film Rosenstraße, and an exploration of the multiple memorials to this historical event.

The study reveals that the protest’s remembrance is fraught with competing desires: to have a less encumbered engagement with this past and to retain a critical memory of the events that allows for a recognition of both heroism and accountability. It concludes that we are on the cusp of witnessing a new shift in remembering that reflects contemporary socio-political tensions with the resurgence of the far right, noting how this is already becoming visible in existing representations of the Rosenstrasse protest.

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Chapter 4: Competing Biographical Memories: Nina Schröder’s Hitlers unbeugsame Gegnerinnen


Chapter 4

Competing Biographical Memories: Nina Schröder’s Hitlers unbeugsame Gegnerinnen

In 1997 journalist and author Nina Schröder (1961-) published Hitlers unbeugsame Gegnerinnen: Die Frauen der Rosenstraße, a collection of biographical accounts of the protest. A second, revised edition was published in September 2003 under the amended title Die Frauen der Rosenstraße: Hitlers unbeugsame Gegnerinnen. The marketing of the second edition coincided with the nationwide release of Margarethe von Trotta’s 2003 film. Schröder held at least one promotional event in Munich’s City Kino, in which she discussed her book, but distanced herself from any involvement in the film.167 Whether this was merely a disclaimer or an attempt to draw a distinction between her work and the film, which was at the centre of a media generated controversy, remains ambiguous.

Schröder’s text presents the reader with eight competing and at times conflicting narratives. In 1997 they contradicted hitherto accepted aspects of the events. Examining these biographical accounts allows for an insight into the way these personal memories intersect with discourses of memory, identity and generation. What we find is that the competing cultural representations of the protest are in fact reflected in and refracted through these testimonies.

The first edition was timely, drawing on the burgeoning interest in the Rosenstraße protest, as indicated by Jochheim’s popular history, along with grassroots investment in its memorialisation. It also fitted in with the popular and marketable trends in ‘jüdische...

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