Read My Grandfather Would Have Shot Me: A Black Woman Discovers Her Family's Nazi Past by Jennifer Teege Nikola Sellmair Carolin Sommer Online


An international bestseller, this is the extraordinary memoir of a German-Nigerian woman who learns that her grandfather was the brutal Nazi commandant depicted in Schindler's List.In this powerful story of discovery, a black woman learns by chance the truth about her family's secret Nazi past.Jennifer Teege is 38, married, a mother of two, and ten years into a career in aAn international bestseller, this is the extraordinary memoir of a German-Nigerian woman who learns that her grandfather was the brutal Nazi commandant depicted in Schindler's List.In this powerful story of discovery, a black woman learns by chance the truth about her family's secret Nazi past.Jennifer Teege is 38, married, a mother of two, and ten years into a career in advertising when by chance she pulls a book from the library shelf. The book is about her own family, and its contents will profoundly change her life and lead her down a painful path of self-discovery.Jennifer discovers that her grandfather is Amon Goeth, the brutal Nazi concentration camp commandant who oversaw the clearing of the Krakow ghetto in 1943 as well as the Plasz w concentration camp. He shot hundreds of people and was personally responsible for the deaths of thousands more. Millions of people worldwide know of him through Ralph Fiennes' chilling portrayal in Steven Spielberg's film Schindler's List. Guilty of genocide and war crimes, Goeth was hanged in 1946. Teege is his African-German granddaughter.Raised by foster parents, she grew up with no knowledge of the family secret. Now, it unsettles her profoundly. What can she say to her Jewish friends, or to her own children? Who is she - truly?My Grandfather Would Have Shot Me is Teege's searing chronicle of grappling with a haunted past that is suddenly, irrevocably hers. Research into her family takes her to Poland and to Israel, where she had lived for several years in her twenties, and learned fluent Hebrew. Her story was co-written by award-winning journalist Nikola Sellmair who also supplies historical context in a separate, interwoven narrative. Step by step, horrified by her family's dark history, Teege builds the story of her own liberation....

Title : My Grandfather Would Have Shot Me: A Black Woman Discovers Her Family's Nazi Past
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9781473616233
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 223 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

My Grandfather Would Have Shot Me: A Black Woman Discovers Her Family's Nazi Past Reviews

  • Wanda
    2019-06-13 06:36

    Family secrets are toxic.Everyone wants to know who they are. I think the question is especially keen for adopted children—who are my people and why am I not with them?What if the answer to that question brought unbelievable turmoil?Jennifer Teege is a grown woman with children of her own, part of a loving adoptive family. Despite this, in her late thirties, she is struggling with depression. While in the library’s psychology section, looking for books on depression, she happens to pick up a little red book. On the cover, she sees a photo of a woman who looks an awful lot like her biological mother. She reads the dust jacket—and it is her biological mother, talking about being the daughter of the concentration camp commandant, Amon Goethe. If you’ve seen Schindler’s List, you’ll know of him. Jennifer’s world is torn apart at that moment.Ms. Teege is a Nigerian-German woman, but looking at the photos of her and of her infamous grandfather, you can see distinct resemblances. Ironically, in her twenties she lived in Israel and did her university degree in Tel Aviv. She speaks Hebrew well and has many Israeli friends. And suddenly, she is afraid of who she really is.This memoir covers her struggle to come to terms with her heritage and family genetics. It is wrenching and yet encouraging to see her face the situation, despite her depression, and figure out what it all means to her. It also displays the pain and turmoil caused to German citizens when their past is denied or ignored. If you read this book, I would also encourage you to read Art Spiegelman’s Maus, which is a testament to the psychic damage done to Jews during World War II. Children of both Nazis and Jews have suffered from the silence of their parents and it seems to be the grandchildren and great-grandchildren who will finally be able to speak the truth for all to hear.

  • Lisa
    2019-05-16 09:17

    I struggle between giving this 2 or 3 stars. This was poorly written (possibly because it's a translation?), repetitive, and when all is said and done, I really didn't learn much. She always knew who her birth mother was and had some contact with her in her youth, and had a wonderful family that adopted her and loved her and that she loved, but I found it very odd and sad that the minute she found out who her maternal grandfather was she immediately decided to stop calling her adoptive parents mom and dad? What? I realize how incredibly shocking it was for her to find out the truth about who her grandfather was and that her birth mother never shared that with her, but my gosh, how did that justify her then turning her back on her family of almost 40 years. And why is there no photo in the book of her mother? Not sure why this is supposedly an international bestseller or why so many give it such high ratings.

  • Sandra
    2019-06-16 06:11

    This is one of three books about Amon Goeth that I own and the second one I've read. I knew most of the facts about Goeth but hearing the author's story was interesting and I'm glad I purchased this book. It was well written and I liked the dynamic - several pages about her and then a shorter bit of historical facts. The chapter about Israel was so much fun for me seeing as I spent a couple weeks there last summer. I repeatedly wanted to shout "I know where that is!" and "I've walked down that street!" I really enjoyed this book and I recommend it to anyone who wants to read about people related to Nazi criminals.

  • Lina
    2019-05-18 06:22

    I love this book for various reasons.1: I love fucked up families. It's such a familiar territory.2: I love Jennifer Teege's personal telling of her story. She doesn't focus on her grandfather, she doesn't make the entire book about guilt or victims or something. Instead, she tells the story of her life and her active search for truth after one key incident: Finding a book about her mother, her birth family.Basically, she shows how a Nazi descendant without any prior knowledge of that ancestry deals with that ancestry. And that's exactly what I wanted from this book. Happy customer is happy.3: I love weird biographies. How likely is it that a half-nigerian woman from Germany grows up with an adoptive family and without much knowledge about her birth family, then travels around the world in her late youth and comes to study in Tel Aviv and learn Hebrew, making close Jewish and Israeli friends, only to find out at 38 that she's actually the granddaughter of a Nazi and labour camp leader?4: It's told in two parts, like a body is going on two legs: One step, one part, second step, second part. Part one is Jennifer's personal account, part two is more factual, illustrating for example Jennifer's time in Tel Aviv with some political background. I find this style to be very refreshing.5: Lots of literature and movie suggestions.6: Paragraphs such as this: Maybe Segev's analysis is still to simple: For a good reason did the literary critic and holocaust survivor Marcel Reich-Ranicki protest with the example of Adolf Hitler against the practice to show known national socialists in movies only as monsters. Of course Hitler was human, said Reich-Ranicki, and added: "What else could he have been, an elephant?"*It is very easy to demonise the prominent national socialists. To observe them like animals in the zoo: Aren't they brutal and perverted! In this manner, one doesn't need to look at oneself, at the own family - and with all the people who participated in the small ways: those who didn't greet the Jew in the house anymore or hastily and without looking walked away when Jews were beaten and their shops destroyed.*Note: Marcel Reich-Ranicki said this when he was asked about the movie "Der Untergang"("Downfall")(2004) and if it was okay to portray Hitler as human.Now, I have to find out what my great-grandparents did during the war. Before all my grandparents can't answer anymore.Also, I still am in favour of mandatory therapy for this whole country. Boy, do we need that...

  • Esil
    2019-05-21 09:31

    Thank you to the publisher and to Netgalley for an opportunity to read an advance copy of My granfather Would have Shot Me. The title does not do justice to this book. Jennifer Teege was born in Germany. Her mother was German and her father was Nigerian. Her mother gave her up for adoption when she was around three. She had a happy childhood with her adoptive family, but had good memories of her birth mother's mother and mixed memories of her birth mother. In her early 20's she spent a few years in Israel, where she made a few very close friends and learned about the Holocaust. By 38, she was back living in Germany, married with two sons. And then she found out that her granfather was Amon Goeth, the Nazi leader who ran the concentration camp depicted in Schindler's list. Up to then, she had absolutely no idea. The book is told in alternating parts by Teege who recounts her emotional reaction to this discovery and a reporter who provides a historical context. The title is misleading. It suggests that Teege's story is focused on her mixed race background and the fact that her grandfather would have killed anyone with her background -- which really would only take a couple of paragraphs. Rather, the book is more complex, focusing on how this information leads Teege to readjust her sense of who she is, her understanding of her grandmother who she had adored and her mother who she resented, and her relationship with her Israeli friends. It is well done and a good read. It took me a while to read this book only because I had to read it my ipad, which I find a bit awkward compared to my Kindle. But the book is very readable and interesting.

  • Erica
    2019-06-09 06:22

    What an interesting read!This came across my desk awhile ago and I was arrested by the title so I put it on hold and have just finished listening and my thoughts are all a-whirl because, here's the thing, this could possibly be my story. Not the part about a black woman because I'm white but the part about discovering one's surprise Nazi heritage. I could very well unknowingly have Nazi ancestors and there's no way I would know or even suspect.Jennifer didn't know or suspect until she accidentally stumbled across a book about her mother while searching the mental health area of the library. In trying to help herself battle depression, Jennifer, instead, found her mother's story right there where she never expected to find such a thing and in that book, she also found that she is the granddaughter of Amon Goeth, the vicious Commandant of Płaszów, he who was portrayed by Ralph Fiennes in "Schindler's List." After learning that, she then had to come to terms with her beloved grandmother being a Nazi supporter who lived at the camp and saw what her lover was doing and did nothing to stop it. How the hell do you come to terms with that?Well, that's the point of this book, how she reconciled with her new reality.Most of this book is Jennifer telling the reader her experience, sharing her feelings. She's quite open and honest but also oddly self-involved and unapologetically so. I was wrapped up in her story even as I often rolled my eyes at her actions. But what would I have done differently? I don't know.Parts of this book, though, is comprised of the narratives of her family, friends, people who are in her life, and people who met her briefly. They offer counterpoints to Jennifer's story, helping to create a fuller, more comprehensive picture.It's a somewhat exhausting read; it's hard to follow along with someone's turmoil, with the burden of sudden guilt, of fear of how her story will be received by her Jewish friends, the questioning of family and its importance and who family really is. But it ends perfectly, beautifully, and in a glorious human fashion. I'm glad I listened to this.

  • Betsy Robinson
    2019-05-20 07:36

    Riveting memoir by a black German woman who discovers that her grandfather was Amon Goeth, the mass murdering Nazi commandant called “the butcher of Plaszow.” Teege, the progeny of a white German woman who was the daughter of Goeth’s mistress and a Nigerian man, was put in an orphanage by her mother and then foster care at age three with a family who subsequently adopted her. Her journey into her past, alternating with the first-rate journalism and history by her co-author, Nikola Sellmair, make this both a highly personal book (about the insidiousness of family secrets and an examination of how we are products of our ancestry) and a vivid multi-generational history. Although the story is unusual, there is something universal about it. I couldn’t put it down and read it in two sittings.

  • Kim
    2019-06-09 07:36

    I wanted to like this book but the writing is very awkward and disjointed, made even more so because Ms. Teege and another person alternate in telling the story. I am not sure if something was lost in the translation but I never connected with the author or understood the feelings and relationships she seemed to be trying to share. I would not recommend this book.

  • Ariel
    2019-05-25 10:17

    Interesting story; bad writing and editing.

  • Amanda
    2019-06-15 09:09

    I went into this book knowing very little about the Holocaust, concentration camps, or the Nazi's involved but I closed the book feeling as if I received an important history lesson, both on an educational and emotional level. Jennifer Teege had gone almost 40 years knowing very little of her ancestry until she sees a picture of her mother on the cover of a book in the library. The book, titled "I Have to Love My Father, Right?", was a detailed autobiography of her mother, specifically that she was the daughter of Amon Goeth, the notorious Nazi commandmant featured in Schindler's List. The knowledge of her grandfather being involved in the killing of tens of thousands of Jews turned Jennifer's world upside down. The book details her struggle to come to terms with this new knowledge and how it has ultimately changed her life.What I loved about this book was it's structure; you get Jennifer's story of the discovery and subsequent actions as well as detailed historical information about the subjects she touches on. Each chapter alternates between Jennifer's words and educational features on Amon, concentration camps, her extended family, and many other topics. Knowing as little as I did, I found the educational parts to really help me understand Jennifer's story. I sympathized with her and was truly interested in what happened next in her story. She experiences so many emotions and asks so many questions of all the people in her life. I would highly recommend this to anyone who loves to learn, has any interest in WWII or Holocaust history, or anyone who wants a stirring and evocative read. Jennifer's story will surely put your past and upbringing into perspective.

  • Charles Weinblatt
    2019-05-30 11:16

    “What is family? Is it something we inherit, or is it something that we build? The book was the key to everything, the key to my life. It revealed my family secret, but the truth that lay before me was terrifying. I went to Kraków to get closer to the overwhelming figure of Amon Goeth, to understand why he destroyed my family. I didn’t have the courage to admit who I was to a Jewish tourist I happened to meet. I couldn’t even tell my friends in Israel who I really was.”More than 60 years after the end of the Holocaust, Jennifer Teege selects a book from a shelf at her local library in Germany. In an instant, her life changes permanently. Recognizing names and pictures of her mother and grandmother, she realizes that her maternal grandfather is the vicious Nazi war criminal Amon Goethe, made famous as the brutal SS commandant in Schindler’s List. Teege, whose mother is German and her father Nigerian, enters an emotional chamber of horrors.Amon Goeth is among the vilest perpetrators of the Holocaust. In this book, Jennifer Teege gives readers an opportunity to revisit that dark history and its consequences through the eyes—and with the curiosity of—his granddaughter. Because of this knowledge, Teege’s mental health and emotional security deteriorates rapidly.The book opens old wounds with Teege. She recalls the sadness of living as a black child in a German orphanage and hoping that some family might find her worthy of adoption. This harrowing experience is more deeply explored as Teege continues to research and comprehend who her grandfather was. It reminds her that her mother gave her away and that she could not have a “normal” life as a small child. The trauma ran too deep.Jennifer realizes that her mother has kept many dark secrets from her. With uncertain steps over the next two years, Jennifer reconnects hesitantly with her mother, Monika, who placed her into the orphanage. The foster parents who love her never realized the true identity of the little girl they took home.This memoir offers readers some insight into the Nazi concentration camp at Płaszów run by a ruthless SS officer made famous by his mass murders. At the same time, it reveals the depth of depression that Teege was cast into after becoming aware of this knowledge. She soon fathoms that she has entered a chamber of horrors.Teege states: “Slowly I begin to grasp that the Amon Goeth in the film Shindler’s List is not a fictional character, but a person who actually existed in flesh and blood. A man who killed people by the dozens and, what is more, who enjoyed it. My grandfather. I am the granddaughter of a mass murderer.”Recognizing that her grandfather was the man who enjoyed killing Jews in cold blood sent Teege into an agonizing depression. The realization that she has many of Goeth’s physical features petrifies her as she questions whether she might resemble the mass murderer in some other way.Teege learns that her grandmother once lived in luxury thanks to her relationship with Amon Goeth. She was served by Jewish slaves who were assaulted mercilessly inside the villa. Her grandmother must have understood what was happening to the Jews held captive in forced labor at Kraków and Płaszów and who were indiscriminately murdered by Goeth. She must certainly have witnessed Goeth shooting Jews for the fun of it. Yet she apparently did nothing to prevent it, or to escape from it.Although Teege is raised in an orphanage and later adopted, she has contact as a child with her mother and grandmother. Neither of them reveal anything about her grandfather, the “Butcher of Płaszów.” As a black woman at age 38, Teege comprehends that if her grandfather could meet her now, he would murder her as well.Jennifer returns to Israel, where the thought of telling her Israeli friends who she really is becomes terrifying. This knowledge sends Teege into a severe depression from which escape seems impossible. In a desperate attempt to resolve her despair, Teege begins a quest to revisit the locations of her grandfather’s crimes and then to return again to Israel.Jennifer travels to the Płaszów concentration camp and the former Jewish ghetto in Kraków. There, she tours the decrepit ghetto where Amon Goeth “cleared out the Jews” by murdering hundreds of them over 24 terrifying hours.She walks upon the grounds of the Nazi concentration camp where her grandfather brutalized and murdered innocent Jews for amusement.She tours the villa where her grandmother and Goeth lived in luxury. This is where Oskar Schindler pays Goeth untold riches to rescue his list of Jews, saving them from certain death.The alternating narrative between Teege and co-author Sellmair offers a refreshing and ultimately impartial analysis. Teege’s heartfelt commentary and Sellmair’s objective narrative produce a layer of balanced interpretation and insight. Here we find Teege seeking to understand her grandfather’s horrific crimes against humanity while pursuing her own private absolution. And we absorb Sellmair’s impartial interviews with key figures.Like most books about the Holocaust, My Grandfather Would Have Shot Me leaves the reader with many unanswered questions. It offers a glimpse of the depth of depravity and brutality that Nazis inflicted upon innocent people.Yet the reader is left wondering how millions of Europeans (not just Germans) were pleased or at least indifferent to see their Jewish neighbors disappear and/or die. We are reminded that racism and intolerance continues to exist today.The authors confront us with the certainty that people can change—that tolerance is worth striving for and achieving. Teege eventually travels to Kraków and Płaszów to speak to a group of Israeli students about her experiences. Through that catharsis, she tells us that, “There is no Nazi gene. We can decide for ourselves who and what we want to be.”Charles S. Weinblatt was born in Toledo, Ohio, in 1952. He is a retired university administrator. Mr. Weinblatt is the author of published fiction and nonfiction. His biography appears in the Marquis Who’s Who in America, Who’s Who in American Education, and Wikipedia.

  • Jon(athan) Nakapalau
    2019-06-03 12:08

    Jennifer Teege (a 38 year old woman of African/German ethnicity) discovers she is related to Amon Goeth, the commandant of the Kraków-Płaszów concentration camp. How she comes to terms with this revelation is both heart breaking and uplifting. Her journey to find peace with herself and her family is a version of a journey we must all take.

  • Laurie • The Baking Bookworm
    2019-06-15 06:33

    My Review: The title of this book piqued my interest immediately. And when I found out that it was a memoir written about a bi-racial woman who finds out her grandfather was one of the most brutal Nazis I knew I wanted to read this book because it took a look at the effects of WWII from a totally different viewpoint. It brings to light the question of how the family members of Nazi war criminals came to terms with their family member's horrific past deeds. Teege gives her readers a glimpse into the history of her birth family. I assumed going in that I'd get a better picture of her grandfather, Amon Göth, the notorious commandant of the Płaszów concentration camp in occupied Poland (who was also one of the main characters in the movie Schindler's List). But this book isn't about Teege's grandfather because she was adopted at a young age and had never met Göth. Instead the book focuses on how Teege comes to terms with her grandfather's past, her emotional abandonment by her birth mother, her feelings about being adopted (which never felt overly positive) and her time in Israel. I appreciated how Teege struggled to come to terms with the grandmother she loved who had also been Göth's girlfriend. I would have loved to have gone deeper into why and how the grandmother ignored the horrific situations (shootings, beatings ...) that she saw when she lived in an elegant home with Göth just ouside the concentration camp.Unfortunately the pace throughout the book was very slow and I found that quite a lot of the book was reiterated to the reader. In the end, although the book was written sensitively and thoughtfully I thought that the information given could have been written in a short story format. I appreciated the addition of pages of documentary style information that author Nikola Sellmair provided. It added to the story and gave me a broader idea of the history as well as how others in similar situations dealt with this type of revelation.Teege brings up some interesting points - If our grandparents commit heinous crimes do we have to share in their guilt? - but i'm not sure that she really got to the heart of the issues. In the end I wanted more from this book and finished it feeling let down. It didn't feel like Teege herself got a lot of closure from her family history. She still felt lost to me at the end of the book and I never felt connected to her while reading her story. In the end I struggled to finish this book and although the author brings up some interesting points I don't think that enough information was given to the reader to make it a compelling read.My Rating: 2.5/5 stars**This book review can also be found on my blog, The Baking Bookworm ( where I share hundreds of book reviews and my favourite recipes. **

  • Judy
    2019-05-19 08:32

    "Family secrets are corrosive".This is a difficult book to read, because it is a complex story of sadness and abandonment, compounded by the revelation of a horrible family secret. I found Teege to be mired in her sadness, giving insufficient attention to the goodness in her life: her adoptive family, her husband, sons and loyal friends.Without a doubt, Teege's start in life was not ideal. Her mother is cold and gives her up for adoption. She sees her periodically and develops a bond with her maternal grandmother. Her adoptive family is kind and welcoming, but her mixed race background in the Germany of her childhood (1970's and '80's) sets her apart and makes merging into her new family difficult. She feels the alienation from within, her classmates' questions about her skin color and her father, whom she's never met, chip away at her naturally happy disposition; yet she manages to make her own way as an intellectually curious, adventurous and independent woman who struggles with severe depression. After marrying and having her own family, her life gets upended by the terrible source, it seems, of the darkness. She works hard to uncover truths, face the ugliness of her family history, and accept its effects on her family relationships. Ultimately, loss leads her to comprehend the meaning of family. It's a kind of reconciliation for her, a resolution and acceptance of the circumstances of her birth and upbringing.I've struggled with this short book, reading only pages at a time, as I reflect upon this complex, and very sad story. I think the root of the sadness is that this is basically the story of a little girl abandoned by a mother focussed too much on herself and the impact of the awful family history.The last few pages are filled with insight regarding the liberating nature of truth, even revelations about evil in one's family.Teege is someone I'd love to meet or hear deliver a talk. She's quite unique. Her initial academic interests and friendships are all the more amazing, given that her family's past was unknown to her at the time.This short memoir is dense with emotion and facts, sometimes in conflict...but the result is to provoke thought, questions, curiosity, and, I'm sure, debate.Recommend for book groups and academic courses studying the Holocaust and post-war German society.

  • Isis Ray-sisco
    2019-05-25 14:16

    I received this book free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinions or the content of the review. I never read biographies or memoirs but this one caught my eye. Being of mixed race I have often wondered about my lineage because my mom doesn't know much about my biological father at all. It is something that plagues many people. I found My Grandfather Would Have Shot Me: A Black Woman Discovers Her Family's Nazi Past very moving.I could totally identify with her journey, even if hers was different than mine. I laughed with her, I cried with her, I was angry with her. Her journey moved me. I cannot begin to fathom what she went though as I am sure that words cannot fully describe it. I enjoyed reading this book and would highly recommend it to others. I also ended up learning a thing or two throughout the pages of My Grandfather Would Have Shot Me: A Black Woman Discovers Her Family' Nazi Past. I felt the book was well written and easy to follow along her path with her. I also thought the added facts help put some things into perspective along the way as well. I think that anyone who struggles with who they are and trying to connect with their past should read about Jennifer's journey. My only complaint would be I would like to know how her life is now after the journey to find truth. How does it effect her everyday life now? Does it still have a profound effect on her life everyday or was she able to truly make peace with her family's secret?

  • Just A. Bean
    2019-05-24 10:16

    I had wondered if the book would be too much what Teege herself calls "Public therapy," but while it had an element of that, it was an effective story. Teege's emotional responses and reflections were well balanced by Sellmair's historical and cultural analysis and interviews. This was especially insightful in the sections about Teege's attempts to reconcile with her her birth family.The story is an emotional journey, yes, concluded with her acceptance and attempts to teach, but I was more interested in Teege's direct look at her past, and her relationship with the atrocities of her grandfather's era, and how they rippled down the generations. I hadn't read about those relationships before, and was intrigued. I also liked her frankness in regard to her struggles with depression (initially not helped by finding out about her birth family's history).The translator did a good job, as it reads very smoothly in English.

  • Kathrin
    2019-06-03 14:14

    This is just such a bizarre family story and it should have been a four star rating for that. But when it comes down to readability and and having a solid structure, this book was just frustrating. On top of it, despite the emotional topic it left me very disconnected for the most part.

  • Liralen
    2019-05-21 12:37

    Everybody wants to know where they come from, who their parents and grandparents are. Everybody wants to be able to tell their complete story, with a beginning and an end. Everybody asks: What is unique about me? (199)Teege had very little contact with her birth mother & grandmother after she was adopted at age 7—a common practice at the time, when it was believed that a 'clean break' was best for adopted children. It was not until Teege was 38 and paging through a book that she learned more about her family's past: her grandfather, Amon Goeth, had been a Nazi; he had run Płaszów and was personally responsible for countless deaths. Teege realised, too (as is clear from the title), that as someone of mixed race, her grandfather would have, at best, considered her inferior. At worst...well.I want to see where my grandfather committed his murders. I want to get close to him—and then put some distance between him and me (27).But Goeth himself is not the focus of Teege's book, and the book is better for it. Teege never knew her grandfather, who was executed for war crimes when Teege's mother was an infant. Teege says: The house must have been beautiful once; I like the style. Did my grandfather redesign the building himself? Was he interested in architecture like me? Why am I even thinking about whether we share the same tastes? Amon Goeth is not the kind of grandfather you want to find similarities with. The crimes he committed override everything else (28).Teege did, however, know her grandmother, and it was much, much harder to reconcile her childhood memories of a loving, stability-providing grandmother with the woman who chose a relationship with Goeth (including living within view of Płaszów). The more research Teege does, the less she can credit the possibility that (as her grandmother claimed before her death) her grandmother knew nothing.Teege's discovery calls into question her entire past, from her birth to her relationship with her adoptive family to the years she spent living in Israel. On the one hand not knowing her family's history opened up space for her to do things like live in Israel without the personal weight of that past; on the other hand, finding out by accident, as an adult, was unquestionably traumatic. She [Teege's birth mother] thinks that it was good for me [after being adopted] to no longer bear the name "Goeth," nor the burden of the family history that came with it. She still doesn't see that not knowing was the greater burden (146–147).Sellmair, the book's second author, contributes sections that are more history- and fact-based than Teege's sections, which wrestle more with the emotional fallout. It's a mix that could have fallen flat, but it works well—although Teege pushes herself to open her eyes and ask hard questions, Sellmair's analysis and background add legitimacy to Teege's account.

  • Melyssa
    2019-06-05 06:28

    A cross between a personal history and a research article, this book gives some insight into how the descendants of survivors (and the Nazi commandants) react to knowing more about the atrocities of the Holocaust. Jennifer is an interesting case, because she grew up in Germany and spent time in Israel, so she has seen how people in both countries have been impacted. It seems like she was able to find peace and understand her mother and grandmother, even if she didn't like what she learned.

  • Rachel
    2019-06-04 08:30

    Jennifer Teege's personal story is interesting. The information about the Holocaust and how subsequent generations of Germans (including her) have processed it is informative. The translation is stellar; I wouldn't have known is wasn't written in English. And, even though the subject matter is intense, the book is easy to read.But, while Teege seems likable, there's something about her viewpoint, or her motive, that puts me off. Was writing the book some kind of reaction to her birth mother's book (maybe competition, or wanting her birth mother to pay attention to her)? Her birth mother says that Teege put too much pressure on her to get closer. I guess she has an intensity that can be a bit off-putting. Given her genetics as well as her upbringing, it isn't surprising that she's intense. The book alternates sections written by Teege and by a journalist who also interviewed the people in Teege's life. It's unusual and just slightly jarring to think of this other woman following her around (she had to have asked things like "What did you think when Jennifer talked to you about that?"), but it works.

  • Bosorka
    2019-06-15 06:24

    Zajímavý pohled na nacistický vliv na další generace. Tady z pohledu té třetí, tedy vnuků, konkrétně vnučky velitele koncentračního tábora Płaszów. Hodně mě zaujalo, jak zatížení svých předků nese různě jejich druhá a třetí generace. Celá knížka působí trochu neskutečně. Považte, míšenka, která studovala a žila několik let v Izraeli, zjistí již ve zralém věu, že její děděček byl brutální nacistický vrah. Vydává se po stopách jeho, ale i svojí babičky, matky (která ji odložila do dětského domova) a nakonec i po stopách svých. Snaží se dobrat toho, jak je možné, že babička "zvěrstva" svého milence prostě neviděla, jak rodinnou zátěž nesla jeho dcera a jak s touto informací má naložit teď ona sama. Vrací se i do svého dětství, kdy je pro ni velice důležité pochopení, proč ji matka nechtěla a ona se tak dostala k adopci. Knížka je psaná možná malinko stroze, ale je to dokument, který si vlastně dost dobře dovedu představit i filmově. A nedivím se Jennifer, že chtěla svoje kořeny dopodrobna prozkoumat, i to je terapie, ač trnitá a bolestná.

  • Jmberger
    2019-05-18 09:13

    This book is less about the Holocaust and her grandfather and more about how Teege is compelled to explore and test her relationships with family and friends, with this new information. Teege's journey is told in an almost documentary-interview style. I liked both the directness of the style and Teege's changing sense of herself. Strong lady.

  • Ashley
    2019-06-05 08:07

    This was an amazing memoir . Jennifer Teege gave an interesting and unique new perspective on the holocaust which is being a 3rd generation ancestor of a war criminal. I can't imagine how I would feel if I found out that a person in my family tree was a war criminal or took part in any crime . How seriously would that affect me? A great book and I definitely recommend reading it .

  • Nancy
    2019-05-18 14:33

    Truly a different perspective / one of a black grandchild of a Nazi commandant. I liked how story was presented by 2 narrators. Fascinating discovery finally of her family's secret & her growth out of silence and depression.

  • Karen
    2019-05-26 07:21

    This is a fascinating story. Jennifer Teege, a German woman of mixed German and Nigerian descent, was browsing books in a library one day when she happened to pick one out because of its intriguing title: I Have to Love My Father, Don't I? Its author was a woman named Monika Hertwig, writing about her father Amon Goethe, the infamous Nazi commandant of the labor/concentration camp fictionalized in Schindler's List. Teege flipped through the book and was faced with photographs of her own grandmother. Her grandfather, she realized, was Amon Goethe. The author of the book was her mother.Needless to say, that discovery packed a wallop. Teege, who was adopted by a white German family as a young girl, learned Hebrew and studied Middle Eastern and African Studies at Tel Aviv University. She knew her father was Nigerian, and that her white German mother had put her up for foster care and then adoption in her early years, but she had never learned her family's full story. She remembered her German grandmother as a kind, gentle woman, not as the wife and enabler of a genocidal sociopath.Teege writes about her horror, anger, and depression after learning her family's history, and about her travels to Goeth's camp in Kraków-Płaszów, as well as to Auschwitz. She struggles with deciding how much to tell friends and acquaintances, particularly those who are Jewish. While she rightly concludes that to assume any of Goeth's guilt herself would only be to validate Nazi eugenics theories about personal characteristics traveling "through the blood," she still must find a way to live with the knowledge that her grandfather might well have ordered the torture, imprisonment, and death of her friends' grandparents, great-uncles, great-aunts, family friends, and loved ones. It's a terrible thing to contemplate, and tough material for even the most accomplished writer. Teege, at least in translation, doesn't come across as the most accomplished writer. Her text is interspersed with lengthy asides by her co-author (Nikola Sellmair, whose role is never completely clear in the book itself and who is uncredited here on Goodreads.) Sellmair writes at a remove, providing context for Teege's personal memories and experiences, reminding us of the historical background. Sometimes Teege and Sellmair cover exactly the same ground, bumping into each other a little awkwardly. Sellmair might inform us that Goeth, for instance, liked to shoot prisoners from the window of his home, and Teege might then immediately muse over a photograph of the man smiling at home with his rifle, wondering what kind of monster he was and how her grandmother could claim she didn't know what was going on.A sizable chunk of the end of the book is given over to Teege's experiences living in Israel, figuring out her early romantic life, and trying to find an intellectual and professional direction. Teege's prose never rises past the level of the college-years memoir, and none of this is as interesting as the deep questions of heritage and internalized guilt that seeded the story. It's clear from Teege's own passages, as well as Sellmair's glossing, that Teege has struggled her whole life to make her place with her adoptive family, as well as in Germany's largely homogeneous and white culture. Her mother, Monika, is a fascinating cypher too--a woman raised by Nazis who had a child with a Nigerian man, who had a desultory relationship with her mixed-race daughter, who seemed to cling to a nostalgized, sentimental version of her parents even as she acknowledged their unforgivable crimes. I wanted more of Monika--but Monika is ambivalent and elusive, and largely declined to re-engage with her grown daughter or explain any of this, which is a heartbreaking story on its own.This is a book of fascinating threads knotted together, many of them leading off in promising directions but few of them actually terminating in much. The Holocaust, family secrets, race, guilt, forgiveness--there's so much here to unknot. Maybe the problem is that there's too much.

  • Melinda Elizabeth
    2019-05-19 14:35

    The problem with books such as “My grandfather would have shot me” with such personal insight into a situation is precisely that – they are too personal. How can I critique the words and narrative of such a tale? Do I have the right to do so? And with a topic such as the Holocaust, there is a lot riding on any book that touches it’s genre. High expectations and a sensitivity to the victims and their families must weigh heavily upon the writers of these types of books. However, as a book, and a book of any other topic, there are certain issues that need to be addressed. The narrative is oftentimes lacking a coherency – long paragraphs about strange events in the authors life that lead nowhere or have a personal meaning to the author but not to the story overall are interspersed throughout this book. There are repetitive chapters about her shock, her humiliation, her confusion, her pain. And yes, these are all valid ideas, but I got the picture the first time she told it. The personal accounts of her own history were the most valuable. I enjoyed the second half of the book where she looks to the future rather than the first part of the book where she struggled with her family history. The last chapter especially was well written and poignant. There’s a definite feeling that Jennifer did not want to provide more fuel to the fire in terms of her grandfathers deeds – he is mentioned as a notion rather than a human. Other books of this genre (e.g. “Downfall”) comprise a balance between the inhumane and human elements of a personality. Amon is demonized – and rightly so, but there is a lack of understanding from Jennifer towards her grandmothers life long devotion to her grandfather. Jennifer’s book documents her struggle to find her place in the world, but her place is not just about her grandfather and his crimes. A large component of her life is being displaced and adopted, with her adoptive family cutting ties with her blood relatives. This makes Jennifer’s story, already complex, even moreso, but also identifies that Amon is not her biggest issue. The guilt of generations for crimes committed by families is indeed a topic that requires additional understanding and reflection, and Jennifer’s book is useful in that regard. I’ll concede that perhaps her tone and personality was lost in translation, and that the book is still worthwhile to read.

  • Jay
    2019-06-11 09:22

    Interesting, thought provoking, yet not what I expectedThe style of writing is rather plain, and the alternating voices between Jennifer & her co-author broke the flow for me.That aside, I don't think I was prepared to read about Jennifer's issues surrounding her adoption, specifically. I picked up the book as I've long been interested in history, the Holocaust being one catastrophe about which I've never stopped trying to learn more about. I had seen Monika Goeth in the documentary mentioned, yet it took me a bit to make the connection. I suppose I had expected the reaction of trying to reconcile a grandfather's actions under the most basic of circumstances—I hadn't realized there would be so much more to it.Full disclosure: I am an adoptee. It was incredibly painful for me to read about Jennifer's choice to give up calling her parents mama & papa. I don't say this out of obligation to my family; I simply have a hard time wrapping my mind around that... Perhaps more than trying to reconcile a criminal's actions. Clearly, this book struck a wound of my own. I'm not sure if I'd have read it had I known. This is a book I can take or leave. I'd hoped for some further insight into the psychological aspects, likely in a way that could be explained in a way that I could understand. I came away feeling as if I learned far more about a woman's experience as a transracial adoptee as opposed to being a living relative of a Nazi commander. It wasn't wrong, it just wasn't what I expected. 3.5 stars.

  • Kathryn
    2019-06-03 08:12

    Interesting most of the time. Some of it was repetitive. Jennifer Teege was born to a German mother and a Nigerian father and was put up for adoption when she was about 4. Although she always knew who her biological mother was, he finds book about her biological mother many years later in the library and learns that her bioogical grandfather was Amon Goeth, a commandant at Plaszow concentration camp.

  • Anna Maria Ballester Bohn
    2019-05-26 06:27

    A very personal and thoughtful account of what it means to be the direct descendant of someone who committed unspeakable crimes. It does make you question the whole notion of destiny, because really, what are the odds of being German, knowing not a thing about your Jew-murdering grandfather, and with twenty discovering your love for Israel and deciding to study Hebrew?

  • Manda
    2019-06-13 13:16

    The audiobook was nice as I tend to get hung up on names of places I can't pronounce correctly and initially I found the story interesting but around disc...four maybe, it *really* started to lose my interest. I did finish it and there were things I genuinely liked about it but the narrative just dragged in the middle to the point that I had to force myself to put that last disc in.