What does it mean to be German after Hitler and National Socialism? Gisela Heidenreich’s memoir Das endlose Jahr: Die langsame Entdeckung der eigenen Biographie—ein Lebensborn Schicksal
(The Endless Year: The Slow Discovery of My Own Biography—A Lebensborn Destiny, 2002), highlights the dependence on physical markers and monuments in understanding one’s place in history. Heidenreich discovers her origin as a Lebensborn child through family secrets, but it is not until she traverses the landscape of her past that she truly begins to understand her place within history. I argue that, along with family photographs and narratives, places play an integral role in the identity process through the metaphor of the palimpsest. In Heidenreich’s memoir, the German notion of Heimat reveals itself as a process, rather than a static and immovable space. Das endlose Jahr
addresses the interplay between memory, places, and space through Heidenreich’s complex relationship with her mother, and her ambivalent sense of belonging through the palimpsest markers that remain. At its core, Das endlose Jahr
is a memoir about the search for Heimat in all the wrong places.
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