Hitler's Children

The documentary Hitler’s Children is not about the life and times of his offspring. In fact, it is presumed he never had any children. Rather, the film portrays a small group of descendants of some of the highest-ranking Nazi leaders.

All of them appeared to be grappling with considerable conflict. One did everything to avoid talking about it. Another broke down at Auschwitz. One traveled the country to speak about his experiences.

An Israeli filmmaker interviewed each of them about their life now and what it meant to be closely related to a high-ranking Nazi leader. All of them found it difficult to answer his questions, there were many long pauses, a few tears, confessions, denials.

Bettina Goering, the grandniece of Hermann Goering, left Germany, changed her name and lives in a house in the desert near Santa Fe, New Mexico. She wants nothing to do with her past.

Niklas Frank, the son of Hans Frank, Governor General of Nazi occupied Poland, travels throughout Germany delivering lectures, many to young students, denouncing his father and the Third Reich. His actions cost him many friendships, including members of his family who disbelieve Frank’s account of what he did in Nazi Germany.

Monika Goeth, daughter of Amon Goeth, commandant of the Nazi labor camp in Plaszow in Poland, spoke eloquently and with considerable emotion about her memories and the guilt she experiences to this day. She quite clearly displays her shame and distress about her heritage.

None of these individuals lives at peace. No doubt their grief and guilt comes and goes. But it is always there, impossible to ignore, a presence of times not so long ago.


Linda said...

I must watch this film.

Some years ago I watched "Inheritance," a documentary about Monika Hertwig, Amon Goethe's daughter. It was very well done, I thought. How does one live with such a past.

Thank you for the review, I look forward to watching it.

Richard Katzev said...

Linda: I think I watched the film on Amazon Instant Video. Richard

Linda said...

I just watched the film. Very, very compelling. I'm sure these children and grandchildren of Nazis have suffered. But they are alive - they have lives to live. They can talk about their experience, write books about it, be featured in documentaries, evoke our sympathy (not undeserved) and bask in our sympathy.

Perhaps I am too harsh, but I agree completely with the Jewish journalist Eldad Beck who accompanied Hoess' grandson to Auschwitz. Our shallow modern culture - sometimes I just want to throw up - everyone wants to think that public tears, public apologies, a big group hug and everyone goes away to live happily ever after, end of story. It's not so easy or simple. Beck is right, this is a story that will never end.

Richard Katzev said...

It will end when no one is left to tell their story and that will be very soon now. That is why these films and books are so important. There record is important if anyone continues to read of watch the films. There are several others I've yet to watch and, of course, a great many accounts I've not read. At times, I just have to take a break from them.