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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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In the course of writing this book I have had the support of a great number of people and benefitted from their wisdom. I owe you all a debt of gratitude. I would like to express my appreciation first to Renate Rechtien and Axel Goodbody. Without your dedication, support, advice, and encouragement with the original research that underpins Remembering Rosenstrasse, this book would not have been possible. I am eternally grateful. I would also like to express my thanks to all of my colleagues in the German section at the University of Leeds. To be able to work in such an intellectually stimulating environment is a joy, one that has made finishing this book possible. To my colleagues in the German team at Cardiff University, thank you for being supportive in the early stages of this project.

In addition, I would like to thank Laurel Plapp and the editorial team at Peter Lang Oxford for their support and enduring patience.

I would like to acknowledge the Association for German Studies in Great Britain and Ireland, for so generously awarding me a publication subsidy to help cover the costs of writing this book.

To my students past and present, I would like to thank you all for your enthusiasm. It has been enormously encouraging.

Thank you to everyone who voted for the photographs that accompany this book. I hope you like your choices.

To my many friends in the...

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