The Bureau of Past Management

Each of us has something that feels essential to who we are. For Hans Frambach, it’s the crimes of the Nazi era, which have hurt him for as long as he can remember. That’s why he became an archivist at the Bureau of Past Management; now, though, he’s wondering if he should make a change. For his best friend, Graziela, that past was also her focal point – until she met a man who desired her. From then on, sexual pleasure became the key to her life; a concept she’s now beginning to doubt. Hans and Graziela thought the Nazi crimes were the inheritance that neither could bear, but can we really blame Nazism for everything?

Iris Hanika shows how the crimes of the Nazi era hold the Germans in their clutches to this day, and the absurdities to which institutionalising commemoration leads. Can a country manage its past, or ought we to remain helpless in the face of the horrific crimes of the Holocaust?


A novel that opens up a window. A masterpiece.

Denis Scheck, ARD druckfrisch

It’s impossible to live with this guilt. Making that so emphatically clear by means of fiction, after sixty-five years of intense debate, is this novel’s great achievement.

Andreas Platthaus, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung