At some point in all of our lives, we have to grapple with the darkest moments of our past — whether it’s personal or historical.
For German author Jennifer Teege, both of those kinds of shame came crashing together one day while browsing through books at the Hamburg library. It led to the discovery that her grandfather was Amon Goeth, nicknamed the “Butcher of Plaszow.” Goeth was famously depicted in Steven Spielberg’s 1993 film Schindler’s List.
The result of that discovery and the personal struggle that followed was her 2015 book “My Grandfather Would Have Shot Me: A Black Woman Discovers Her Family’s Nazi Past.”
Teege tells Detroit Today producer Jake Neher that — although it’s a unique story — it’s also a universal one.
“A lot of people, especially from the Jewish community, are fascinated because they’ve heard survivors speak, and now to hear from the first time from the perpetrator’s side, it gives them a different perspective,” says Teege.
“There was a lot of confusion, because I was almost 40, so I had a life, I had an identity,” she says. “And I felt like I had lived a double life, that I had somehow lived a life that was not mine. There were so many secrets, so many toxic secrets, I felt. And then, of course, there was fear.”
Click on the audio player above to hear the full conversation.