The story of one woman's struggle to illumine a town's past and the resistance that pushed her to immigrate
Anna Elisabeth Rosmus began her life's work unexpectedly at age twenty when she wrote an essay about her hometown during the Third Reich for a national contest. She never dreamed her youthful research would be the start of a distinguished publishing career and that her life would be the basis for the 1990 Academy Award–nominated film The Nasty Girl.
Born in 1960 to a middle-class Roman Catholic family, Rosmus had lived in Passau, Germany, her entire life, yet she was unaware that the father of Heinrich Himmler had once been a professor at the college-preparatory high school she attended or that Adolf Hitler and other prominent Nazi party members had grown up just across the Danube River in Austria. Since Rosmus had no knowledge of these and other Nazi affiliations and activities in her hometown, she embarked on her essay project confident that the Passau citizenry would be proud of her findings. Rosmus had no inkling she had just begun what would become a lifelong effort to uncover Passau's buried complicity in the crimes of the Nazi state—an effort that would bring overwhelming gratitude from the international Jewish community but contempt and ostracism from the people whom she had known all her life.
A sequel to Against the Stream, Out of Passau is Rosmus's second book about her fateful decision to expose her hometown's Nazi past. In this volume Rosmus recounts her determination after years of persecution, threats, and physical attacks to immigrate to the United States. Despite the praise she had earned around the world, officials and citizens of Passau continued to obstruct her work. In this memoir, Rosmus relives her turmoil over whether to stay in Passau or to leave; describes the more open-minded world she found in Washington, D.C.; and discusses how she has been able to carry on her research from the United States.
Anna Elisabeth Rosmus, an author and human rights activist, is the recipient of many awards for her struggle against bigotry and anti-Semitism. Her writings about Nazism and neo-Nazism have educated generations of Germans and non-Germans, particularly those born after 1945, about the Holocaust. Rosmus lives near the Chesapeake Bay in Maryland.
Imogen Von Tannenberg previously served as director of translations at the Survivors of the Shoah Visual History Foundation established by Steven Spielberg. She is currently an adjunct faculty member at the University of Southern California. Von Tannenberg lives in Venice, California.
"Anna Elisabeth Rosmus's gripping memoir Out of Passau is now available in this excellent English-language translation. The book tells a remarkable story, that of a German woman who has spent half of her young life fighting for justice—for victims of the Holocaust, for American GIs who liberated her hometown from the Nazis, for the targets of neo-Nazi groups, for historical memory. This book is hard to put down; it conveys to the American reader a passion for justice and a bravery that are rarely seen."—Robert E. Herzstein, author of Roosevelt & Hitler: Prelude to War and Waldheim: The Missing Years
"Like Against the Stream, Anna Rosmus's earlier autobiography, Out of Passau takes us on an exciting journey of discovery. Indeed, this book is a most welcome and overdue addition to Holocaust English language publications. Based on thorough research, Rosmus's writing instructs us not only about the intricate connections between good and evil, but additionally teaches us how courage and compassion can diminish the tenacity of prejudice. I am convinced that Out of Passau will find the wide readership that it so fully deserves."—Nechama Tec, author of Resilience and Courage: Women, Men, and the Holocaust