Cecilia Perez
History 133Q
January 31st, 2006

Mark Roseman, A Past In Hiding, Week IV
Discussion Questions

  1. 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?
  2. 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?
  3. 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?
  4. How did the Strausses’ wealth and connections affect their relations in the Jewish community? How did they affect their chances to escape from Germany?
  5. 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?
  6. 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?
  7. 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 in hiding?
  8. 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?
  9. 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?
  10. 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?
  11. Does this reflect on her relationship with her parents? How might this have added to her feelings of guilt?

questions by Cecilia Perez, Jan. 31, 2006; prepared for web by H. Marcuse, Feb. 2, 2006; updated:
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