Synopses & Reviews
Winner of the Mark Lynton History Prize
A Los Angeles Times Best Book
A Koret Jewish Book Award Finalist
A Past in Hiding is a survivor story and historical investigation that offers new insight into daily life in the Third Reich and the powers and pitfalls of memory. At the outbreak of World War II, Marianne Strauss, the sheltered daughter of well-to-do German Jews, was an ordinary girl, concerned with her studies, friends, and romance. Almost overnight she was transformed into a woman of spirit and defiance, a fighter who, when the Gestapo came for her family, seized the moment and went underground. On the run for two years, Marianne traveled across Nazi Germany with false papers, aided by a remarkable resistance organization, previously unknown and unsung.
Drawing on an astonishing cache of photographs, letters, diaries, and documents, as well as interviews on three continents, historian Mark Roseman reconstructs Marianne's odyssey and the fortunes of her friends and family, revealing aspects of life in the Third Reich long hidden from view. Here are letters from Marianne's fiance, deported to the little-known Izbica ghetto; Gestapo records of the special protection that the Strausses and other well-placed Jews received from the Wehrmacht's intelligence division, and of Adolf Eichmann's decision to deport them nonetheless; Marianne's diary of her years on the run; and rare communications from Thereisenstadt and Auschwitz that track the fate of her parents.
As Roseman excavates the past, he puts forward a new and sympathetic interpretation of the troubling discrepancies between fact and recollection that so often cloud survivors' accounts. A detective story, a love story, a story of great courage and survival in the harshest conditions, A Past In Hiding is also a poignant investigation into the nature of memory, authenticity, and truth.
"An act of great generosity, unbridled curiosity, relentless research, and abiding respect for the persistent individuality of a human life, mind, and memory."—Michael Frank, Los Angeles Times Book Review
"In telling the incredible tale of a Jewish woman who survived Nazi Germany, [Roseman] considers the difference between memory and evidence . . . Exceptionally admirable . . . Roseman creates a detailed picture of life among assimilated German Jews who tried to carry on a normal existence while poised at the edge of an abyss."—Scott McLemee, Newsday
"I don't know of any other book about a Holocaust survivor which is able to provide documentation from so many angles . . . wonderfully rich, detailed, and vivid, with an extraordinary and gripping narrative."—Richard Evans, author of Lying About Hitler
"Among the many memoirs and accounts of survival, this is surely the most amazing story to have come to light. No less remarkable is how Mark Roseman, the historian in search of truth, has crafted the unusual documents he's uncovered into an outstanding study of German society under Nazism."—V. R. Berghahn, Seth Low Professor of History at Columbia University
"Mark Roseman's astonishing account is like seeing in color a past we have only seen in black and white. With its seamless interweaving of diaries and letters, Gestapo records, and painstaking investigation, this work gives us more than history, biography, or memoir can ever deliver on their own."—James Young
"A riveting story told by a master . . . fascinating."—Publishers Weekly
"Compelling . . . [A Past in Hiding is] living history, written with enormous affection and passion."—Kirkus Reviews
"This stunning biography deals not only with the life of an exceptionally brave young Jewish woman who manages to survive throughout the war in Nazi Germany, but also with the complexities, variations, and gaps of memory she experienced in her later years."—Stanley Hoffman
Includes bibliographical references and index.
About the Author
teaches modern history at the University of Southampton in England and has published widely on many aspects of twentieth-century German history. He lives in Birmingham, England.