A PAST IN HIDING by Mark Roseman


Memory and Survival in Nazi Germany
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The compelling story of a young Jewish woman who hid in Germany under the noses of the Nazis from 1943 to 1945.

Roseman (History/Univ. of Southhampton) has unearthed the remarkable life of Marianne Ellenbogen, née Strauss, who grew up in Essen. When the Nazis came to power, the Strausses suffered along with the other Jews of Germany as Hitler instituted the policies that led to Auschwitz. But Marianne, a self-reliant young woman, actually went to Berlin to train as a teacher in Jewish kindergartens. There, she fell in love with a young man named Ernst Krombach. Her family had money (from their grain business) and was initially spared, but the Krombachs were picked up and sent to the camp at Izbica. Incredibly, a young Wehrmacht officer risked his life to serve as a courier between the Krombachs and their friends, carrying letters and supplies into the camp and returning with news from the prisoners. When the Gestapo finally came for the Strausses in August 1943, Marianne managed to slip away in the confusion and spent the next two years hiding, more or less in the open, passing as an Aryan and sheltered by a small leftist group known as the Bund. All her immediate family died in the camps. In 1984 she published her memoirs in a small German periodical, attracting the attention of Roseman, who then interviewed her extensively and chased the elusive threads of her story all across Europe. When she died in 1996, Roseman and Marianne’s son Vivian found a treasure-trove of documents—diaries, letters, photographs, government forms—in her house, thereby permitting Roseman to reconstruct her story in astonishing detail. “I felt like an archaeologist,” the author admits, “stumbling on ancient gold, untarnished and unaltered.”

Living history, written with enormous affection and passion. (1 map, 51 b&w photos)

Pub Date: Feb. 2nd, 2001
ISBN: 0-8050-6326-9
Page count: 475pp
Publisher: Henry Holt
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15th, 2000