In the opening scenes of Rosenstrasse, a Jewish woman named Ruth (Jutta Lampe) living in contemporary New York is mourning the loss of her husband by means of strict Jewish customs. Her children, who have come for the funeral, do not understand why she is doing this, since her husband was German. What's more, she seems more hostile than usual and refuses to talk much about anything, including her past.
Ruth's daughter Hannah (Maria Schrader) knows that her mother was in Berlin during World War II but she wants to know more. So, pursuing a tip from her Aunt, she travels to Berlin to track down an elderly woman named Lena (Doris Schade) who took Ruth (Svea Lohde) in when her mother was one of the thousands of Jews interned during the war.
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