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Resistance of the Heart - A Reading

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German Consulate General New York

871 United Nations Plaza

New York, NY 10017

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The German Consulate General Co-Presents:

Elysium – between two continents and the Consulate General of the Federal Republic of Germany in New York present “Resistance of the Heart” in commemoration of the 75th Anniversary of the Rosenstrasse protests. Michael Lahr will outline the historic context; Gregorij von Leitis will read passages of Nathan Stolzfus’ award-winning book.

At the beginning of March 1943, the last remaining Jews in Berlin, especially those from mixed marriages, were arrested by the Gestapo and brought to a collection center on Rosenstrasse, in order to be deported from there. But within a few hours many family members and friends of those arrested gathered outside the building and started protesting. The majority of the 6,000 protesters were women. Again and again they shouted: “Give us back our men!” They defied ice-cold temperatures and were not even deterred by police efforts to intimidate them at gunpoint. Finally the Nazi-Regime gave in. The arrested men were released and even 35 of them, who had already been deported to Auschwitz, were sent back and survived.

They only became famous in 2003 when Margarethe von Trotta’s movie ”Rosenstrasse“ was released. Until then, rarely anybody had taken notice of the story of the courageous women, who in the winter of 1943 had demonstrated against the deportation of their Jewish husbands on the Rosenstrasse in the center of Berlin, and eventually brought the Nazis to their knees.

Many years before Margarethe von Trotta’s film, the American historian Nathan Stoltzfus – who was trained in Harvard and teaches at Florida State University – wrote the ground-breaking book “Resistance of the Heart”. His research was first published in 1996. In 1999, the German edition was published by Hanser in Munich. Nathan Stoltzfus spoke with survivors and even could interview one of the perpetrators, the former undersecretary of state in Goebbels’ propaganda ministry. Those first-hand reports add haunting details and immediacy to the book.

Gregorij H. von Leïtis, Founding Artistic Director of Elysium, has been working as a director at various theatres in Europe and the US for over 40 years. In the summer of 2003, he was awarded the Knight’s Cross of the Order of Merit by German Federal President Johannes Rau for his merits in promoting understanding between peoples by way of art. In April of 2016 the President of the Republic of Austria Dr. Heinz Fischer bestowed the Austrian Cross of Honor for Science and Art on him. In 1983, he founded the Elysium Theater Company in New York, which he headed as Artistic Director till 1990, when he was called to be the Intendant (Artistic Director) of the Landestheater Mecklenburg,Neustrelitz. Since 1993 he has been Artistic Director of Elysium

Michael Lahr studied philosophy and adult education at the College of Philosophy in Munich and at the Jesuit University Centre Sevres in Paris. He is author and editor of the book The Erwin Piscator Award, and a co-author of the volume of essays Bilder des Menschen (Images of Man). As the program director of Elysium he has unearthed numerous works by artists who had to flee their home country under the pressure of the Nazi regime, or who were murdered. Many of these compositions were performed for the first time in concerts in Europe and the U.S. He gives introductory lectures for all Elysium programs.


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