|Directed by||Margarethe von Trotta|
|Produced by||Henrik Meyer, Richard Schöps, Markus Zimmer|
|Written by||Pamela Katz
Margarethe von Trotta
|18 September 2003 (Germany)|
In the present day, a widow mourns the death of her husband. She covers up the TV set and all the mirrors in the house.
Her grown children are baffled by this behavior, asking why their mother has suddenly gone Orthodox Jewish. The mother will not discuss her past, but her daughter wants to know what happened. Learning of a woman (Lena) who "saved" her mother during the war, she goes to Germany to learn the whole story. She finds Lena, who willingly reminisces about World War II, about her situation and the mother's childhood as a Jew growing up in Germany during the war. Lena herself is a German woman whose Jewish husband was persecuted by the Nazis while the little girl (the widow mother) loses her own mother to the Nazi concentration camps. The principal focus of the film addresses what happened to those who were in a mixed marriage ("Aryan"/Jewish). Amid constant flashbacks, the film pieces together the story of the Rosenstrasse protest, where the women waited for seven days and nights outside of a Nazi jail for their Jewish husbands. The protests took place in Berlin during the winter of 1943.
Rosenstraße was Margarethe von Trotta's first film since 1995. Due to funding problems, she had to choose between retreating to academia (as some of her colleagues did) or doing more TV production work.
The film won a David at the David di Donatello Awards. Franz Rath won for Best Cinematography at the Bavarian Film Awards and the UNICEF Award at the Venice Film Festival.
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Rosenstraße received notable criticism from film critics and historians alike. In particular, the film's explicit claim to give an accurate account of the Rosenstraße protest has caused historians to point out not only a number of minor flaws in the logic of the film, but also some major points where Rosenstraße did not stick to the facts. Among others, historian Beate Meyer compared fact and fiction in a detailed treatment, and came to the conclusion that Rosenstraße was a projection of contemporary hopes and myths on history, resulting in a utopia. The audience would inevitably come to wonder how the holocaust could occur "if only seven days of steadfastness would have sufficed to prevent it from happening."
Contrary to the above, witnesses confirmed that the Christian wives succeeded getting their husbands released, who were sent to dangerous work instead. Minister of propaganda Dr Goebbels wanted to keep the image of a cultured Nazi regime inside Germany, that in any occupied country would have been impossible. By sending the Jewish husbands to dangerous work the Nazis hoped to eliminate this problem. The only person that is fictive is the blond daughter of the general and it is not true that the husbands were released because she slept with Goebbels. It was the determination of the women that did it.
- Margret Eifler, "Margarethe von Trotta as Filmmaker: Biographical Retrospectives" German Quarterly 76: 4 (Autumn, 2003), p. 443 - 448. Review of the books Margarethe von Trotta: Filmmaking as Liberation by Renate Hehr and Margarethe von Trotta: Filmen, um zu berleben by Thilo Wydra.
- Beate Meyer, Geschichte im Film: Judenverfolgung, Mischehen und der Protest in der Rosenstraße 1943. In Zeitschrift für Geschichtsforschung 52 (2004), Pp 23-36