The History of History by Ida Hattemer-Higgins

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The girl stumbled out of the forest, empty and fearful; when she searched for answers, she found a Berlin transformed to breathing flesh, secretive, alive and indifferent to her questioning. One thing alone was clear: the path to understanding leads not forward, but back.

Margaret is an odd girl in a strange city, staring a foreign century in the eye and displeased with what she sees. For the twenty- five-year-old graduate student and tour guide, post-Wall Berlin is a city of metaphors in a country surviving on cultural amnesia, and Margaret spends her few waking hours exploring its cobblestone geography and painful history. At the center of her obsession is Magda Goebbels, the propagandist’s wife who poisoned her six children as the Russians took Berlin in 1945, and Regina Weiss, a Jewish woman who killed herself and her three girls to escape deportation in 1943.

As Margaret delves ever deeper into the past, she loses more and more of herself in the present: she sleeps more than she wakes, and long periods of time disappear from her memory. When she seeks help, an unwelcome procedure from a dubious ‘memory surgeon’ inverts Margaret’s subconscious and conscious mind, casting her into a topsy-turvy ghostworld of urban transformation. In this strange new landscape, Margaret must navigate the moral labyrinth of Nazi Germany’s darkest chapter in order to come to terms with her own lost history and the evils we cannot atone for, but only forget.

About the Author: Ida Hattemer-Higgins is 28 years old and has lived in Berlin for the past five years, where she worked for three years as a tour guide. She is a graduate of Barnard College where she was two-time winner of the German Prize, and has published interviews and articles on Salon.com and in The Exberliner. This is her first novel.
 

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