January 31st, 2006
Mark Roseman, A Past In Hiding, Week IV
- In the introduction, Roseman states that “both in Nazi Germany and
in postwar Britain, Marianne’s Jewish identity was imposed on her to
a degree that exceeded her own sense of its significance.” (p. 6). What
examples of this can we find in Marianne’s life before, during, and
after the war years?
- Describe the different ways that Marianne and her cousin Alex experienced
guilt due to surviving their respective families. What additional events
cause particular pain to Marianne as she looks back at the last few
years she spent with her family?
- What drove Roseman during the whole process of researching and writing
this book? Why do you think he was able to be so patient when encountering
individuals such as Frau Sparrer, the woman who did not seem to believe
that the Holocaust had ever occurred?
- How did the Strausses’ wealth and connections affect their relations
in the Jewish community? How did they affect their chances to escape
- On p. 152, Roseman describes how Enrique Krombach (Ernst’s brother)
though living in Argentina as a survivor still uses “German appropriation
[as his] yardstick of success.” What does this say about the state of
mind of the people who managed to escape?
- Roseman gives different examples of how Marianna appropriated other
people’s memories as her own. Why would she have incorporated these
events into her interviews? Are there other ways that Marianne’s memories
differed from the actual events?
- What argument does Roseman give for the fact that religion becomes
a more prominent part of young people’s daily lives during the war years
than before? How does Marianne’s own relationship with God change throughout
her time spent at school in Berlin, back in Essen, and during her years
- An account is given of Marianne playing “Russian roulette” by engaging
in a lively, and flirtatious, debate with members of the Wehrmarcht
on p. 289. Why would Marianne risk being found out during a time when
she was supposed to be protecting her own life and those of the people
who worked so hard to hide her?
- How did the cyanide capsule provide Marianne with freedom? Would
her actions have been considered selfish if she were to be found dead
in a Bund member’s home? Would this have qualified as an act of courage?
- When Marianne writes about the day she found out about the members
of her family’s transport having been gassed in Auschwitz, she calls
the notice “an unforgettable birthday present.” (p. 303). Why would
she have chosen these particular words to describe this event?
- Does this reflect on her relationship with her parents? How might
this have added to her feelings of guilt?