When I first heard about this new book and the author, Jennifer Teege, and her very unusual story, it immediately
struck me that it would make for a very fascinating film. And I’m willing to bet some of
you will think so too.
But first some background…
Teege’s book, "My Grandfather Would Have Shot Me: A Black Woman Discovers Her Family’s Nazi Past," first published in the USA in April 2015, caused quite a sensation when it was released in Germany. Once you hear the story, you’ll understand why.
Teege is the daughter of a German woman and a Nigerian
father whose mother gave her up for adoption only a month after she was born. She was eventually adopted by a couple, and raised in a Munich suburb.
She tried as much as she could to live a normal life, although she encountered many difficulties. For a while, she was a college student at a university in Israel, and did
work some study work on the Holocaust, which is ironic when you find out where
this story is going.
She eventually married, had kids and lived in Hamburg working
as a copywriter. That was until around 2008, when, at the age of 38, she was going through
a local library looking for anything of interest to read, and came across a
book written by Monika Goeth, telling of her
experiences during World War II.
To Teege’s surprise, reading the book, she found out that
Goeth is actually her mother, and that her grandmother, who she knew as Ruth
Irene Goeth, had committed suicide.
But the story gets even stranger when Teege also discovered from the book that her grandfather was a Nazi. And not just any Nazi, mind you; but the
infamous Amon Goeth, the Nazi
concentration camp commander at Plaszow
in Poland – the same person who Ralph Fiennes so memorably portrayed in Steven Spielberg’s film "Schindler’s List."
Like I said, ironic.
To put it mildly, Teege was understandably confused, saddened
and shocked by this revelation, regarding her family’s brutal history, her status as a woman of color in Germany, and her grandmother who “decades
later spoke enthusiastically about her life at the side of the camp commander," the author noted, adding that he grandmother called those years, "a great time.”
For Teege, who was in shock because she knew her grandmother as a loving person, and only
had good memories of her, but suddenly that was all destroyed. "I could not see her as a caring woman, but as a woman on the side of Amon
So, over the next five years, she traveled and researched, and eventually wrote "My Grandfather Would Have Shot Me: A Black Woman Discovers Her Family’s Nazi Past" – a book about her life and struggles, and coming to terms with
her family’s past. It’s fair to say that Ms. Teege has quite a lot she had to, and still is trying to deal with.
Now wouldn’t you agree with me that this story would make for a really interesting feature film, or an HBO
movie? Question is, who would you cast in it, and who would you pick to direct it, if
you were producing it?
As for the lead actress, I haven’t a clue; but for director, the first one who came to mind was "Pariah’s" Dee Rees. Just judging from
her previous work, I think she would have the right sensibility and nuance for
such a film.
What about you?
If you’d like to purchase a copy of the book, do so here.
Below is a C-Span interview with Teege from last year, talking about her discovery that her maternal grandfather was Nazi commandant Amon Goeth.