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Remembering Rosenstrasse

History, Memory and Identity in Contemporary Germany

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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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Epilogue: Multiple Layers of Memory: Looking Towards Future Remembering

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Epilogue

Multiple Layers of Memory: Looking Towards Future Remembering

In this book, I have explored the competing representations of the Rosenstraße protest and its correlations with memory and identity, attempting to throw light on patterns of identity construction as well as the interrelation between the different media of memory. In so doing the book has sought to augment existing work, showing how memory and identity are socially constructed. By comparing textual, filmic and physical media of memory, this analysis in this book has explored how memories of the Rosenstraße protest have changed and proposed explanations as to why, placing the shifting patterns of remembering in their broader contexts. The findings of this analysis illustrated that memories are multi-layered and interrelated, that they interact with, complement, promote and sustain one another. In short, they do not exist in isolation and are more closely interwoven than they may first appear. My analysis of the Rosenstraße protest serves as a cultural lens through which to understand remembering, showing that whilst memories are multiple and conflicting, they are also fluid. That is to say memories are not fixed and permanent, rather they are subject to change. The most obvious example of this can be found in historiography. The once dominant interpretation of the protest as a successful act of resistance gave way to an understanding of the protest as an act of resistance but one that did not force the Nazi regime to concede and release the...

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