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Bi-racial granddaughter of Nazi portrayed in ‘Schindler’s List’ reveals horrifying moment she discovered her ancestry
The bi-racial granddaughter of a Nazi concentration camp leader has revealed the horrifying moment she discovered the truth about her ancestry after she was given up for adoption.
Jennifer Teege was 38 when she came across a book in a Hamburg library written by her mother – a name she recognized – and learned that she was the granddaughter of SS Commander Amon Goeth, who was portrayed by Ralph Fiennes in the 1993 Oscar-winning movie ‘Schindler’s List’.
‘It really turned my world upside down,’ said Teege, now 44.
She has now penned a book – due out next month – about the life-changing discovery and how her adoptive parents and therapist helped her find peace with who she was.
‘A Nazi gene doesn’t exist,’ she told People magazine. ‘We can decide for ourselves who and what we want to be.’
Teege was the result of a brief relationship between her German mother and Nigerian father; by the time she was born, her mother was in another relationship and she was given up for adoption.
By the age of seven, she had been taken in to a foster family but she reconnected with her mother, Monika Hertwig, when she was 20. Her mother told her nothing of her ancestry.
By nearly two decades later, she came across her mother’s book, ‘I Have To Love My Father, Don’t I? The Life Story of Monika Goeth’ and recognized the author as her mother.
‘The moment I had that book in my hand, I knew it would give me so many answers,’ she told People.
She learned that her grandfather had ran a concentration camp in Plaszow, Poland in World War II.
Goeth was known for shooting Jewish inmates for sport at the concentration camp and for training his large dogs to attack them, and was a central character in the film ‘Schinder’s List’.
The German industrialist Oskar Schindler saved more than 1,200 Jews by bribing Goeth and other Nazis to have them work in his factories rather than be sent for extermination in death camps.
Goeth, who was known as the ‘Butcher of Plaszow’, was convicted as a war criminal and hanged in 1946.
After learning about her grandfather, Teege was overwhelmed with emotions, knowing that her mother had gone public with her story while failing to tell her own daughter the truth.
Hertwig also featured in a 2006 documentary about Goeth entitled ‘Inheritance’.
Teege, who had spent several years in Israel and had met with Holocaust survivors before finding out her family secret, was also haunted by the thought that her grandfather would have killed her because she is bi-racial.
She also felt betrayed by her grandmother, whom she had known as a child.
Her grandmother, Ruth Irene Kalder, who had an affair with Goeth while working as a secretary in his factory, called him ‘the most important man in my life’.
Kadler took her own life when Teege was 13.
‘I could never have stayed with him like she did,’ Teege told People.
‘But if I say I love her would it mean that I too close my eyes to what my grandfather did.’
She has now written a book about her experience entitled ‘My Grandfather Would Have Shot Me’ and said she plans to tell her own two young sons about their heritage when they are older.
She told the Associated Press that one of her motivations in writing the book was an interview with the grandniece of Nazi leader Hermann Goering, who had herself sterilized to end her blood line.
Teege said she would never do anything so extreme.
‘You decide who you want to be,’ she said. ‘It is your character and you set an example that you can be different. It is not connected to genes.’