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Hannah's Dress: Berlin 1904 - 2014

3.91  ·  Rating details ·  66 ratings  ·  19 reviews

Hannah's Dress tells the dizzying story of Berlin's modern history. Curious to learn more about the city she has lived in for over twenty years, journalist Pascale Hugues investigates the lives of the men, women and children who have occupied her ordinary street during the course of the last century. We see the street being built in 1904 and the arrival of the first famili

Kindle Edition, 275 pages
Published April 28th 2017 by Polity (first published 2014)
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Apr 22, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
When author Pascale Hugues moved to Berlin, she had the inspired idea to write the biography of her street. It is unassuming; her apartment in a renovated older building. There is an underground stop, a church, a small, scruffy square, a little alley linking the street to a major road and a pizza shop. Berlin, like so many other cities in Europe, bear the scars of war. The modern and the old live side by side, with new buildings replaced those that were bombed.

This is the story, then, of a stree
Roman Clodia
Jun 28, 2017 rated it liked it
Hugues uses contemporary methodologies of oral and micro-history to think about the history of C20th Germany via a single small street in Berlin. Her focus is narrow and deep but, almost inevitably, becomes unbalanced with most of the material coming from the Nazi era. On this short street alone 106 Jews were deported and that number, far more manageable in human terms than the 11 million, drives home its point with power. One of these was Lilli Ernsthaft, a Jewish woman who survived and returne ...more
Mar 11, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: germany
I see that other Goodreads reviewers agree with my ambivalence about this book, to which I gave 4* rather than 3 because I liked so much of it. This young French writer is living in an apartment in Berlin when conflict arises among the residents about whether to commemorate and memorialize the Jews that lived in the building and were killed by the Nazis. Her interest piqued, she advertises in an international Jewish German paper and receives a surprising number of answers from people who lived i ...more
Tracy Rowan
Oct 04, 2017 rated it liked it
I've learned over the years to tell a story in the small details. The bouquet of plucked dandelions scattered around the place where a child was kidnapped, is a lot more affecting than the screaming and crying and screech of tires. That's what Hughes is doing in this book, she's telling her story in the details, in vignettes about the lives of the people who essentially created the culture of the street she lives on, both while they lived there and afterward. And in doing this, she tells the sto ...more
Mar 12, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
In Hannah's Dress Pascale Hugues, a French journalist living in Berlin, investigates the history of her street which at the beginning of the twentieth century was occupied by wealthy bourgeois families, many of them Jewish. Everything changed with the arrival of the Nazi party, of course. A few of the Jewish occupants managed to get out in time, to America or Israel, abandoning or selling properties and belongings for a pittance, but most ended up victims of the Nazi killing machine.

At the hear
Bonnye Reed
Jan 12, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
GNab I received a free electronic copy of this novel from Netgalley, Pascale Hugues, and Polity in exchange for an honest review. Thank you all, for sharing your hard work with me. This English version was translated by Jon Delogu, with passages from the German translated by Nick Somers.

This proved to be a very compelling book, from an unusual perspective. Pascale Hugues, a French journalist living in Berlin, tells us about the residents, businesses and local attitudes of the street where she l
January Gray
May 08, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A must read. As a Holocaust researcher, I really enjoyed this book. It was a different take on things. Well written.
Aug 08, 2019 rated it really liked it
A delightful non-fiction book retelling the stories of the people who lived in the author's street in Berlin, mainly in the interwar years, through a series of vignettes. Many of the stories are very poignant, told by people who are now in their twilight years but for whom the memories of the street remain crystal clear. One such is the story of Hannah's dress, made by a young Jewish dressmaker for her best friend. The friend manages to escape Nazi Germany with her family; the young dressmaker d ...more
Mar 05, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: eurolit, nonfic
I loved the conceit of this book—the history of Berlin in the 20th century as told through the lives of ordinary people in Schoenberg. (Fair warning: there are a lot of heartbreaking Holocaust stories.) The book is engaging and well written.
I’d love to see someone do something similar with Toronto or Vancouver (my cities).
Danielle Crowley
Dec 22, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Fascinating history of a street in Berlin from its creation to 2014. The author who lived on the street has got to know the elderly characters who have lived on the street and researching others who have left especially the Jewish residents during Hitlers rein. For readers that have an interest in history and genealogy this is a amazing read.
Bill Davidson
Jun 12, 2018 rated it liked it
An excellent oral history of the residents in pre and postwar years but wanders off the point towards the end when she seems to become totally absorbed by the residency of Tangerine Dream and David Bowie (who only stayed there for 48 hours)and detracted for me from the rest of the reminiscences.
Jan 05, 2021 rated it really liked it
Interesting windows into the history of Berlin. Reads somewhat as a long poem. Very intimate and quaint.
Barbara Whitehead
Aug 23, 2018 rated it really liked it
The author decides to research the lives of families who have lived on her street in Berlin. She traces the street from 1904, during the war years, building of the Berlin Wall to present day.
Mary Warnement
Hugues is at her best in this memoir/biography of those who have lived on her street in Berlin when she focuses on the ordinary people's lives. Stretching to find celebrities to talk about, she sounds like a groupie desperate to say Washington slept here.

21 Hugues spends much time studying Berlin city archives, and I appreciate when she writes that time stops in the reading room. But I add, sometimes one travels back in time as well. Or brings the past alive.

I learned some new German words and
Janilyn Kocher
Apr 02, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Hannah's Dress is a very interesting read, but the title is completely inappropriate. The book is about the history of a Berlin street the author resides, from 1904-2014. The dress is just one story out of many included, And completely misleads readers. The author tracked down former residents and revealed their stories, all equally fascinating. How many people actually contemplate the precious owners of their home? This author did and shares a wealth of history about a street that continuously ...more
Mar 24, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Thanks Netgalley for the ARC Kindle version of this book
I enjoy historical fiction about WWI; however, I didn't care for this book.
If you enjoy dates and details of places and areas, you'll enjoy this book.
Mar 07, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A macro history made micro and, in doing so, provides a smart way in to what can be an overwhelming set of circumstances. 20th century Germany is endlessly fascinating - a very enjoyable read.

I received an eARC from the publishers and NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
Michael Cunningham
The writer has moved to Berlin and tries to discover the history of her street through its past occupants. Fascinating and moving. Highly recommended.
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Hannah Polly
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