Amon Goeth came to public prominence as the concentration camp commander in Thomas Kineally’s award winning book Schindler’s Ark, later filmed by Spielberg as Schindler’s List.
Jennifer Teege, a biracial woman who was given up for adoption as a child in Germany has recently discovered he was her grandfather, after finding a book in a Hamburg library, and has now written a book on her life, titled My Grandfahter Would Have Shot Me. This is from an article in i by Aron Heller which raises all sorts of questions about the nature versus nurture debate:
“Discovering that she traced her lineage to a man described as “the symbol of evil” sent Ms Teege into intensive psychotherapy. Her therapist beoke down in tears when she heard her tale, she said.
Goeth was notorious for shooting Jewisgh inmages for sport at the concentration camp in Plaszow, a Krakow suburb, and for geting his ogs to attack them. the German industrialist Oskar Schindler saved more than 1,200 Jews by bribing Goeth and other Nazis to have them work in his factories rther than be sent for extermination in death camps.
Known as the “Butcher of Plaszow”, Goeth was convicted as a war criminal and hanged in 1946.
Ms Teege’s astounding revelation and the book that followed were jsut the latest chapters in her troubled biography, from a childhood spent in foster homes to a prolonged estrangement from both her biological parent, to her struggles with prejudice in Germany ecause of her dark skin and the suicide of her grandmother, with whom she was very close.
It all led to several bouts of depression, but she said that finding out about her ancestry helped bring a “sense of closure”.
“Life is a puzzle, so today I have a lot of pieces that were missing” she said. “It is a story that you would never invent because no one would believe that it is true.”
Ms Teege’s maternal grandmother, Ruth Irene Kalder, was a secretary in Schindler’s factory and it was he who introduced her to Goeth. Their affair produced Ms Teege’s mother, Monika Hertwig, whose memoir I Have to Love My Father, Right? was the book Ms Teege found … that set her on her journey.
Ms Teege’s mother had a brief affair with a Nigerian student but was already in another relationship by the time Ms Teege was born in 1970, and she was sent to an orphanage as an infant. She maintained occasional contact with both her mother and grandmother until she was formally adopted at the age of 7.
In her early 20s, long before discovering her family legacy, she followed a friend to Israel, where she learnt Hebrew and completed an undergraduate degree at Tel Aviv University. she then returned to Germany, married and started a family. She sees a physical resemblance between herself and Goeth but believes he would turn over in his grave if he learnt he had a black granddaughter with close ties to Israel and Jews.
She said one of the things that motivated her to write her book was reading an interview with the grandniece of Nazi leader Hermann Goering, who told AP in 2008 that she had herself sterilised to end her blood line.
Ms Teege rejects the premise of such an extreme measure.
“You decide who you want to be. It is your character and you set an example that you can be different, It is not connected to genes,” she said.
The hardest part for Ms Teege was reconciling herself to how Goeth, a killer of Jews, was also the man her grandmother deeply loved.
“I cannot understand how she could have loved him,” she said.”