Review by Danny Gaisin
January 27th is designated Holocaust Memorial Day by the United Nations. The rationale for such an agreement is that the day is also mentioned as a warning that hatred STILL rears its head throughout world!
Jennifer Teege was born in Germany of mixed race, her father was Tunisian. Given up for adoption as an infant, she was only occasionally visited by her biological mother. Much later, through an unintended visit to a library where she came across a biography and noticed an unusual number of personal coincidences, realized that she was the grandchild of Amon Goeth, the vicious commandant of the Nazi concentration camp near Krakow.
The same Goeth who was portrayed by Fiennes in the Spielberg blockbuster -‘ Schindler’s List’. After the Allied victory, Goeth was hanged and his wife; Teege’s grandmother, committed suicide.
After reading the biography, she saw an American TV documentary with an interview with Frau Goeth, then did some research and verification including a half-decade of study in Israel thus becoming certain that she indeed was the descendant of a notorious and completely inhuman killer and torturer. This led to her writing a biography shockingly titled “MY GRANDFATHER WOULD HAVE SHOT ME”. Jews, homosexuals, Poles, the infirm, retarded and Roma were all grist for the Kraut’s insatiable blood-lust; imagine seeing a Black girl exiting a cattle car of ‘undesirables’. Teege has made it her life’s work to keep the memory of how low a civilized community can sink under certain circumstances even going so far as to unsubtly refer to a far-right political situation next door to Canada.
Teege was able to address her audience at the Hamilton Art Gallery only rarely referring to her notes. Her soft-spoken voice bears a slight Deutschish accent with a surprisingly Israeli syntax. Sponsored by Hamilton Jewish Federation; the organization left pens and cue cards on every seat for post-lecture questions for the guest. In response to her mentioning how Goeth had a Jewish housekeeper in his mansion outside the camp, one woman in the audience gave her a signed book from a woman who knew the author and had been a friend of that maid. As my muse oft-times states “there’s only two degrees of separation …not six”
One line that Teege stated was most erudite. She defined humanity as RESPECT. Naturally this means that bigotry or prejudice, even in small amounts, diminishes one’s humanity. Alas, even this scribe felt a little guilt as she spoke her truism. She also exposed some of her own warts; especially discomfort at telling friends about her background. I can understand her unease; just after war’s end, my aunt & uncle adopted a ‘Redeemed Child’ (see note) from Poland. Though we were close growing up, he was (and still is) unable to tell me the whole horrendous story of seeing his entire family massacred, even his pet, before his eyes. The only reason he was spared was that the Wehrmacht needed kids to fold bandages for the soldier’s first aid kits.
Lesson to be learned : –Never Again
*note, ‘Redeemed children’ were those youngsters found in Displaced Persons without any even distant relatives that could be found.