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When Jennifer Teege, a German-Nigerian woman, happens to pluck a library book from the shelf, she has no idea that her life will be irrevocably altered. Recognizing photos of her mother and grandmother in the book, she discovers a horrifying fact: Her grandfather was Amon Goeth, the vicious Nazi commandant chillingly depicted by Ralph Fiennes in Schindler's List - a man known and reviled the world over.
Although raised in an orphanage and eventually adopted, Teege had some contact with her biological mother and grandmother as a child. Yet neither revealed that Teege's grandfather was the Nazi "butcher of Plaszów", executed for crimes against humanity in 1946. The more Teege reads about Amon Goeth, the more certain she becomes: If her grandfather met her - a black woman - he would have killed her.
Teege's discovery sends her, at age 38, into a severe depression - and on a quest to unearth and fully comprehend her family's haunted history. Her research takes her to Krakow - to the sites of the Jewish ghetto her grandfather "cleared" in 1943 and the Plaszów concentration camp he then commanded - and back to Israel, where she herself once attended college, learned fluent Hebrew, and formed lasting friendships. Teege struggles to reconnect with her estranged mother, Monika, and to accept that her beloved grandmother once lived in luxury as Amon Goeth's mistress at Plaszów.
Teege's story is cowritten by award-winning journalist Nikola Sellmair, who also contributes a second, interwoven narrative that draws on original interviews with Teege's family and friends and adds historical context. Ultimately Teege's resolute search for the truth leads her, step by step, to the possibility of her own liberation.
Customer ReviewsMost Helpful
By Desiree Bradish on 08-21-15
Readable.. but barely.
The story is an interesting look at the psychological reaction to her discovery of her geritage. however, I feel it didn't live up to the summary. The way the author portrayed herself did not make her likeable to me. friends described her as happy and exuberant. however, she is downtrodden the whole book. If it seems like she should be because of the subject let me warn you. more than 50 percent of it is her life before finding out her relation to the commandant. The mother seems to be a much more compelling character.
I was turned off by the title which seemed attention grabbing and trite. Unfortunately, the editor continued to fail with this book. The story jumps around in time far too often, and also jumps to a third person narrative, while still using the same voice, accent etc
Overall while I was interested enough to listen in its entirety, I'm not sure it was worth one of my coveted credits.
3 of 3 people found this review helpful
By Amazon Customer on 07-22-16
Moving! Intense! Informative!
I had read many books about the Holocaust over the years. But this was the first from this perspective. I really appreciated the author's willingness to share her struggles, her pain, her growth so openly. Excellent book.
2 of 2 people found this review helpful