A Past in Hiding: Memory and Survival in Nazi Germany

Mark Roseman, Author Metropolitan Books $27.5 (491p) ISBN 978-0-8050-6326-4
HPart detective story and part tragedy, this retracing of one Jewish woman's survival in Germany during the Holocaust is a riveting story told by a master. A professor of history at the University of Southampton in England, Roseman first learned about Marianne Strauss's experiences in the late 1980s. He contacted Strauss and interviewed her, but he was unsatisfied with the results, in part because of Strauss's reticence about her past. So after her death in 1996, he journeyed across the world to find those who knew her in order to flesh out Strauss's recollections. What comes through in his interviews and readings of Strauss's extraordinary letters and diaries is the desire of a strong, graceful woman to preserve normalcy in the face of despairDduring the early years of the war, Strauss attended teacher training and passed her licensing examsDand the mixed motivations of Germans who helped Jews like Strauss survive. He argues, for instance, that Strauss's well-off father used his connections, and his money, to persuade the counterintelligence unit of the German army to protect his family. Roseman builds the tension regarding the ultimate fate of Strauss's family with the skill of a novelist. And using extensive oral history, he retraces the private lives of Strauss and her friends and family as they attempted to grapple with painful decisions, most notably, Strauss's own decision to escape by herself as her family was being arrested. By comparing the accounts of people who knew Strauss with her own account, he also offers a fascinating behind-the-scenes glimpse of how historians operate. Photos. (Feb.) Forecast: Roseman will visit the U.S. to do national publicity. The publisher will do targeted mailings to those with an interest in Judaica and psychology, which should boost sales.
Reviewed on: 02/01/2001
Release date: 02/01/2001
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Paperback - 512 pages - 978-0-312-42065-9
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