I am currently reading the nonfiction book AGAINST THE STREAM: GROWING UP WHERE HITLER USED TO LIVE by Anna Elisabeth Rosmus (translated from the German by Imogen von Tannenberg). When I learned about this true story, I had just been in Passau, Germany (along the Danube) and had then no idea of the antisemitic drama that had taken place there years after the end of WWII.
Here is how Amazon describes this book about the town of Passau, Germany:
This text tells the story of a committed young woman who overcame fierce resistance to discover and make public the suppressed deeds of her fellow citizens. First published as part of Germany’s What I Think series, this memoir chronicles the intense backlash Rosmus faced in the form of censorship, lawsuits and death threats. Rosmus’s story, which inspired the 1990 Academy Award-nominated film The Nasty Girl, also follows her attempts to bring home Passau’s expelled Jews and few Holocaust survivors, and to commemorate the forgotten Jews of Passau. Her story recounts her dedication to uncovering anti-Semitism and to fight neo-Nazis and Germany’s extreme right.
Because I had some difficulty following all the real-life characters in the book, I decided to watch (by renting on Amazon) the film THE NASTY GIRL.
Yes, it was easier for me to follow who certain people were thanks to visual images rather than people’s names. Yet what was surprising to me was this information at the start of the film:
This film is based on the experiences of Anja Rosmus in Passau. The story is applicable to all German towns. All characters and events are fictitious. — Michael Verhoeven.
While it is true that the name of the town and the names of the actual people had been changed for the film, I found very little difference between the first half of the nonfiction book (which deals with access to the historic records) and the story presented in the film.
If you watch the above trailer of the film, you may mistakenly believe that THE NASTY GIRL is a comedy. It is, rather, a much-needed reminder of how far people will go to maintain the false version of their own actions in historic events. Once the Nazis had been beaten, the followers of Hitler in Passau had to change the narrative so as not to admit their wrongdoings.
The importance of Holocaust education:
This is why education about the Nazis’ murder of six million Jewish men, women and children in addition to the murder of Roma, homosexuals, Jehovah’s Witnesses, political opponents, and many others is so important today when antisemitic and other hate crimes are on the rise.
We all must speak up against convenient lies that hide the very low levels of “civilization” to which individuals are capable of sinking.
If we do not admit the truth, we are very much at risk of repeating the Holocaust’s horrendous period of inhumanity as well as other horrendous periods of inhumanity.
P.S. New episodes of the NEVER AGAIN IS NOW podcast are coming soon. Listen to podcast guests talk about how they speak up against antisemitism and other forms of hatred.