Prelude to the Past

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The Autobiography of a Woman

by Rosie Gräefenberg 

Prelude to the Past is the remarkable story of a young Jewish girl growing up in Germany during the years leading up to the First World War. She experienced adulthood during the tumultuous years between the two World Wars, becoming one of the most important journalistic figures of the period.

Born to a prominent German-Jewish family, Rosie Gräefenberg enjoyed an adventurous life as she pursued her career in journalism.  Her travels led her to spend several years in inter-war France, where she experienced first-hand the attempts at Franco-German rapprochement in the aftermath of the treaty of Versailles. She ventured to French Morocco, Soviet Russia, and into the French colonies in Africa, leaving vivid portrayals of her encounters with these diverse societies and with many of the major political and social figures of the day.

Her life of romance and adventure ultimately led her to marry Franz Ullstein, head of the most-powerful publishing dynasty and key representative of the democratic press establishment in pre-World War II Germany. But an unconventional marriage provoked family intrigues and political struggles that soon thrust Rosie into the greatest scandal the German Republic would endure during its death throes before the establishment of the Third Reich – the Ullstein Affair. Rosie Gräefenberg now found herself at the center of European media attention, as accusations of her being a spy brought down the most powerful media mogul in Europe and led to a drawn-out legal battle that exposed the weaknesses of the democratic press in Germany for all to see, helping lay the groundwork for the coming Nazi takeover.

In Prelude to the Past, Rosie Gräefenberg provides a masterful, impassioned account of these events, in a fast-paced narrative, revealing many of the surprising motives behind them. Now, for the first time in more than 80 years this tumultuous era comes to life through the eyes of a powerful, passionate, strong, yet vulnerable Jewish woman who not only recorded the events of the era but also helped to shape them.

Prelude to the Past is a uniquely feminine perspective on a highly male-dominated era. With an introduction by Dr. Ernest H. Latham, Jr., the foremost scholar on the life and work of Rosie Gräefenberg, who later took the name R.G. Waldeck, Prelude to the Past is a must-read for anyone interested in European society in the years preceding Hitler’s domination of Europe.



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