Women without a Past?

German Autobiographical Writings and Fascism


Who remembers, and how? Debates about the role of memory as history – and of literature as memory – have increasingly come to fascinate those interested in how we look at our pasts as a means for understanding the present. Women without a Past? brings together for the first time autobiographies written by seven women who experienced Nazism from different perspectives: Elfriede Brüning, Hilde Huppert, Greta Kuckhoff, Elisabeth Langgässer, Melita Maschmann, Inge Scholl, and Grete Weil. Their autobiographies provoke diverse and challenging answers to questions about who remembers what, when, where, how and on behalf of whom.
This book foregrounds the positive political potential of re-reading well-known texts and seeking out reasons why others have been marginalized. It examines autobiography as a form of writing at the very centre of contemporary debates on the ‘self’, ‘truth’ and ‘history’. Women without a Past? offers new insights into the politics of memory and autobiography, and will be of particular interest to researchers and students engaging with women’s writing and memories of Nazism.

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Introduction: Patterns of Remembering
1. Memories of a Survivor: The Story of Hilde Huppert’s Autobiographies
2. Competing Voices in Inge Scholl’s Die Weiße Rose
3. Intoxicating Transience: Negotiations of Public and Private in Elisabeth Langgässer’s Published Letters
4. “One Must Tear Aside the Flowers…”: Melita Maschmann’s Fazit
5. Clarity and Insight: Greta Kuckhoff’s Memories of Resistance in Vom Rosenkranz zur Roten Kapelle
6. Und außerdem war es mein Leben: Subjectivity, Subjugation and Self-Justification in Elfriede Brüning’s
7. “To Write against Forgetting”: Grete Weil’s Leb ich denn, wenn andere leben
Works Cited