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A story of a woman's discovery of the hideous life of her grandfather. Are there any great truths presented? No. But, it does make one wonder of the past of those in the states who know they are the descendants of Nazis. The past is not that far removed. It is just one generation away. What do they know, and did that impact how they are thinking now? Are any of the neo-Nazis descendants of original Nazis? Jennifer's story still leaves her and us with too many questions.
Our Book Group had a great discussion, and they appreciated the historical details that were included. However, the book lacked organization. The narrative often rambled and repeated itself. Despite this, Jennifer Teege's experience is captivating and many of our readers where able empathize with her situation.
I was a bit intrigued by the title alone, but reading Teege's book, it fell flat very early for me. Hoping she would bring interest into the book I continued reading and albeit nearly found it in the very last chapter of the book! It would have been better if she put that chapter closer to the beginning so that I could "bond" with her more and actually hear her story. Waiting to get to that chapter was an arduous task and it seems like she did just as her mother's writing was to her only with a twist--the book was just her her her and more her. Goodness, I am sure it was a task writing the book, but it sure was a task to read it too.
Interesting perspective of the author having been given up for adoption by a mother who was the daughter of a Nazi War Criminal and not reconnecting with her mother until a married adult. the reunion was a failure and there was no reconciliation and the author depicts this tragedy without me as a reader getting much insight into this. She seemed a little obsessed about this family tragedy which would be more understandable if she had actually known these people growing up which she didn't.
My German parents, grandparents and great-parents all lived through WWII, just about. I heard many stories about that time, all bad stuff.
This extraordinary story about one German woman, born 25 years after the war, has significance for many others, whether their relatives were victimizers, victims, or bystanders.
(Of course, there are other possibilities, such as having relatives who were heroes.)
This book is also for anyone who has ever grappled with the horror of the Holocaust. And it is a book that many others too should read. Soon Germany will hold a national election with candidates running as what could be called Nazi apologists. If this granddaughter of a concentration camp commandant can confront her family's past and find authentic peace, why can't others?
As I read this book, I realized that this is the first time I have read about the Holocaust from the POV of a descendant in a Nazi family. So many of the books I have read in the past have been from the perspective of a victim of Nazi warfare. From time to time I have had fleeting thoughts of what it would be like to be on the Nazi side, especially when reading "Life After Life" and the main character is briefly associated with Eva Braun.
This book opened my eyes to the struggle going on in Germany for the second and third generations as the families find themselves dealing with the skeletons in their closets from the carnage of WWII.
I applaud Jennifer Teege for sharing her journey with us. She is open and honest and we have a front row seat as she works through the trauma of initially discovering her lineage in a library book.
I usually avoid memoirs and autobiographies because I generally find them to be self-serving and self-indulgent (as this one was). Nevertheless, the compelling history helped me to overcome my reservations, and I'm not sorry that I picked it up. I would have preferred that the author had stuck to telling the story of Nazi war criminal Amon Goeth (of Schindler's List infamy), his lover Ruth Irene Kalder, and their daughter and the author's mother, Monika Goeth. However, as this was a memoir, the story was mostly about Jennifer Teege, and as is the case with most memoirists, she is the least interesting character in this tale.
What started as a tight narrative about the author's grandparents and mother, turned into an aimless ramble about life with her adoptive family, her travels to Israel including two days in a kibbutz and an affair with an older married man, and an entirely unnecessary thumbnail sketch of the history of that country. After another lengthy detour into life with her husband and children, and an irrelevant tangent about her biological father, the story finally circles back to its point: the author's coming to terms with being the grandchild of a Nazi war criminal responsible for the deaths of thousands of Jews. Unfortunately, by the time it got to that point, I was long past caring about her state of mind.
P.S. I just finished watching the documentary Inheritance, about Monika Goeth meeting with Helen Jonas, who was enslaved by Amon Goeth to work in his house. The two women confront their respective pasts in his villa next to the Plaszow concentration camp. It was truly moving to watch and only confirms that the important story is not Jennifer Teege's, but her mother's. Monika Goeth wrote a book, "I Have To Love My Father, Don't I?", that inspired this memoir. It's a pity that it is so difficult to find. I would much rather have read that book than this one.
Absolutely stunning and provocative. Can you imagine finding our you're the granddaughter of the Nazi who murdered Jews off his balcony, the very man immortalized in Spielberg's "Schindler's List"? Family, trauma, love and memory: how do you cope with them when you bear that kind of knowledge of your family? I cannot stop thinking about this memoir.
Absolutely fascinating account of one woman facing the unexpected histories of her ancestors and the actions the committed. It begs the question of whether or not we are responsible in some way for the behavior of those who came before us and if not, then how much of the burden do we bear for the things they've done. Very, very good book.
Unique story in the Holocaust genre. Fascinating life and memoir that I would recommend to anyone.
This is a fascinating read. Jennifer Teege struggles most of her life with the fact that her mother left her in an orphanage to be adopted. Then she randomly finds a book written about her mother that tells the story of how her grandfather was a sadistic Nazi concentration camp commandant. She also struggles with the fact that her beloved biological grandmother turned a blind eye on her grandfather. All of this was a family secret. Since Jennifer's biological father was black, she understands that she would have been killed by her own grandfather, if she had been alive during WWII. Ironically Jennifer has close Israeli Jewish friends that she has forged well before she knew the secret of her grandfather. No wonder she is depressed! However, the book itself is not at all depressing. This is quite a story and one well worth reading.
I am third generation after WWII with my mother born in Hungary during the Nazi occupation, so this book is part of the same genre I have read extensively trying to understand how society could become so evil. Jennifer Teege's book is compelling and reveals the complexity we all live with the past and future of families and the horrible secrets that haunt us.
A young woman with a German mother and Nigerian father accidentally discovers that her maternal grandfather was an infamous Nazi concentration camp commandant during World War II. This discovery triggers a profound depression as well as a painful journey to uncover her family's past. The book alternates between the author's first person voice and a journalist's third person account of the author's experiences. The reader also learns how history affects the 2nd and 3rd generations of Holocaust survivors and Holocaust participants.
A compelling and thoroughly engaging book by Jennifer Teege and Nikola Sellmair. Ms. Teege tells her story in the first person, alternating with the objective third person narrative of Sellmair. The story of her struggle to come to terms with dark aspects of her biological family and the impact it has on her, her family, and her friends makes for a thoughtful and courageous book, and brings out the empathy in the reader. A highly recommended book.
Undeniably moving and fascinating. The only problem comes with the alternating narration. Jennifer's story is an emotional one, and the story is told in alternating portions by Jennifer and by a reporter whose style is very matter-of-fact. You might need that factual background to fully appreciate Jennifer's experience, but the translation is occasionally dry and clunky. Still, this is a compelling look at how we define family and how much DNA defines who you are. Lots of additional resources (mostly in German) in the back.
Imagine finding out your parent or grandparent was responsible for executing 10,000, 20,000 or up to 40,000 humans! Truly boggles the mind as well as the spirit. Reminds me of an epiphany I once had while in the military: knew a white cracker from Shreveport, whom I couldn't stand, and a black male from Chicago, also whom I despised, having a remarkably similar personality to the fellow from Shreveport. One day at reveille roll call I overheard them discussing their family backgrounds and it turned out that the black fellow from Chicago shared the same great-grandparents as the white fellow from Shreveport - - one on the slaver side, the other on the slave side! Hope this lady's genetics on the evil side passed her by?