02/27 – The Rosenstrasse Protests

Women and children gather to protest the arrest of 1,800 Jewish men in “Rosenstraße“, a 2003 German film recounting the 1943 protests. (Margarethe von Trotta)

On this day in 1943, officials from the Gestapo secret police arrested over 1,800 Jewish men in Berlin. The men had been allowed to remain in Berlin because of their marriages to German “Aryan” women, but by 1943, the Nazi party wanted them gone. Days before, Nazi Propaganda Minister Joseph Goebbels had announced a commitment to total war against the Allied powers, and soon, truckloads of Jewish men were being rounded up and dropped off at 2-4 Rosenstrasse, a Jewish community centre converted into a temporary prison. Quickly, scores of German women began crowding around the building, demanding to see their husbands and antagonizing the Gestapo guards.

The site of the Rosenstraße protests in the modern day, commemorated by statues. It’s next to impossible to find imagery of the actual protests due to Nazi censorship rules. (Pinterest)

The protests wore on well into March. Known as the Rosenstrasse Protests, the passive resistance of the German women – which remained strong in the face of Gestapo violence, freezing weather and British air raids – was remarkable not only for its persistence, but also for the success of their actions. Fearing a general uprising, Nazi authorities released the Jewish men from 2-4 Rosenstrasse, instructing them to remove their Yellow Star of David armbands and keep a low profile. The effects of the protests were felt in France, too, where a number of planned Jewish deportations were halted for fear of public unrest. The Rosenstrasse Protests are a remarkable point in German history: not only were they the only significant protests against the Final Solution, they were also successful in saving the lives of Jewish people.

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