The Women’s Rosenstrasse Protest
Between February 27 and March 6, 1943, a group of non-Jewish Germans protested outside of the Jewish community building at Rosenstrasse 2-4 in Berlin. At the center, 2,000 Jews had been imprisoned, comprised mostly of the Jewish husbands of non-Jewish women and the male children that came from the mixed marriages.
Their wives, many of whom had formed close connections even before the war, started showing up at police stations asking why their husbands had no returned home. As the women learned where their husbands and relatives were being held they started showing up at Rosenstrasse to demand their return. One man being held said that on the first night after the arrest there were perhaps 200 people gathered and the crowd just continued to grow throughout the night and into the second day.
The crowd grew by the hundreds and the women all shouted they would not leave until their husbands had been returned. It was their last stand and even under threats by SS guards they refused to stand down. The station near Rosenstrasse was closed to prevent the arrival of more protesters but the women just walked. On March 1, the protests broke up due to the need to take shelter during a British air raid. To the shock of the Nazi authorities the protests resumed March 2 and were larger than ever.
Women and children, even as guns were held to their heads, refused to leave or back down. The SS were ordered not to shoot because the protests were not viewed by Joseph Goebbels as political, but rather as women desperate to keep their families together. On March 5, men in SS trucks threatened the crowd with automatic weapons but still they remained. On March 6, all of the people imprisoned at Rosenstrasse were ordered to be released by Goebbels, finally ending the protests and going down in history as one of the most substantial acts of resistance in Germany against the Nazis.