Goering. Himler. Goeth. Frank. Hoess. Five names from history that may be recognized in a fairly negative light. These were the family names of some of Hitler’s closest, most notorious associates. Terrible people, guilty of carrying out horrible war crimes during holocaust. The BBC documentary, Hitler’s Children, shows us the life of five people who share the names of their Nazi ancestors, and have to live with the legacy of sorrow and guilt concerning the crimes against humanity committed by their Third Reich predecessors.
Monika Goett, daughter of Amon Goeth who was commandant of the Krakow concentration camp in Plaszow Poland, recalls becoming skeptical of her mother’s rose colored version of her father’s involvement in the holocaust. She was raised under the pretense that Krakow was not like the other concentration camps. Not like Auschwitz, where people were routinely killed. She was consoled by claims of better conditions, and that it was a work camp, rather than an extermination camp. As Monika grew older though, she would ask more questions regarding the nature of the camp, coming to realize that there was no explanation for children or the elderly being in a forced labor camp. She reaches a climax in the development of her understanding for her father’s crimes when she finally confronts her mother about how many Jews her father might have killed and receiving no answer, but a whipping when she presses the question.
In another stomach curdling scene from the documentary, Niklas Frank recalls an outing with father Hans Frank – the Governor General of occupied Poland – as a young child visiting a concentration camp. He expresses memories of watching Jews being humiliated and drinking hot cocoa with German commanders, to an audience of German students. One student swallows nervously as Niklas recalls the story, and telltale expressions of remorse cross the faces of the young adults.
This documentary is a look inside the lives of the families that the Nazis left behind. There will be a look into a grandson, who fears he looks so much like his grandfather that on a trip to Poland people will recognize him as the war criminal who caused so much suffering in Auschwitz, a mere two generations ago. A granddaughter, who discovered her grandmother who she loved was a Nazi who sent packages to escaped war criminals sentenced to death. A daughter who never truly grasps her father’s crimes until watching the movie Schindler’s List. Or two siblings who decide to be sterilized, so that there will be no more Goerings in the world after their generation.