My Nazi Legacy: What Our Fathers Did.
Posted 22 January 2019 about Holocaust Memorial Day 2019: My Nazi Legacy + Intro.
This Sunday, to commemorate Holocaust Memorial Day, the Showroom Cinema are screening the thought provoking documentary My Nazi Legacy: What Our Fathers Did.
The film traces the contrasting attitudes of the elderly sons of two high-ranking Nazi officials towards the wartime crimes of their fathers.
The fathers in question are Hans Frank, Governor-General of Nazi occupied Poland (who was tried and hanged at Nuremberg in 1946) and Otto von Wächter, Governor of Galicia in Ukraine who avoided prosecution by taking refuge at the Vatican in 1949. Together, they implemented the Final Solution in Galicia that annihilated almost all Jewish life there in August 1942.
While German journalist and author Niklas Frank denounces the actions of his father (who was nicknamed the ‘butcher of Poland’) Austrian former artist’s assistant Horst von Wächter denies his father’s role in the mass murder of 100,000 Jews in Galicia.
My Nazi Legacy takes the viewer on a journey back in time to the two men’s respective childhood homes in Bavaria and Vienna. We also travel to present day Ukraine, home to the family of Philippe Sands, a human rights barrister, prize-winning author and co-director of the film. We learn that Phillipe, as a Jewish man who lost many family members as a direct result of Niklas and Horst’s fathers, also has his own story to tell through the film.
With its intertwining of Niklas and Horst’s family photographs (some of which include Hitler) and previously unseen private footage of the Krakow ghetto, the film provides a disturbing juxtaposition of the seemingly happy family life of the sons with the simultaneous suffering and murder of European Jews for which their fathers were responsible.
The themes of familial duty and the complex interplay between the personal and the historical central to the film are what make it so engaging. In particular, the question of whether or not Horst is himself a Nazi for his self-deceiving perspective on the past raises questions around how we categorise those who think differently to ourselves based on notions of ‘Good’ and ‘Evil’.
My Nazi Legacy is showing at the Showroom Cinema at 3pm on Sunday 27 January. The screening will feature an introduction from Emily-Rose Baker, a Holocaust Studies researcher from the University of Sheffield. There will also be refreshments and a breakout space available after the film for further informal discussion.