Book to Film Possibility: 'A Black Woman Discovers Her Family's Nazi Past'

April 20th 2017
Amon   Speaking of the black German experience, under Nazi rule through today (see my post on Mohamed Husen from last night)... Read about this new book and the author, Jennifer Teege, and her very unusual story, it immediately struck me that it would make a fascinating film. And I’m willing to bet some of you will think so too. But first some background... Teege’s book "Amon: My Grandfather Would Have Shot Me," was first published in Germany in 2013, where it caused quite a sensation; once you hear the story, you will understand why. It took a few years, but it was finally released in the USA just last year (2016), under the title "My Grandfather Would Have Shot Me: A Black Woman Discovers Her Family's Nazi Past." 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 and 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 though, of course, she encountered many difficulties and for a while was a college student in Israel, studying the Holocaust, which is ironic when you find out where this story is going. She eventually married, had kids and lived in Hamburg (Germany) working as a copywriter. That was until around 2008, when, at the age of 38, she was browsing through shelves at 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 discovers from the book that her grandfather was a Nazi. And not just any Nazi, 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, an incredble discovery and ironic. To put in 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. "It was a great time,” her grandmother told her. For Teege, it was a shock because she knew her granny as a very loving person, as she put it, and only had good memories of her; but suddenly those memories were destroyed, as she could no longer see her as a loving, caring woman, but as a woman "on the side of Amon Goeth." So over the next five years, she traveled, researched and eventually wrote "Amon" - a book about her life and struggles, and coming to terms with her family’s past. It’s fair to say that Ms. Teege had quite a lot of that she had to, and is still trying to deal with. Now wouldn’t you agree with me that this would make fore a really interesting feature film or, even an HBO movie? A question is, who would you cast in it, and who would you pick to direct it, if you were producing it? For the lead actress, I haven’t a clue; but for director, the first name that 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 pick up a copy of the English language version of the book, click here. In the video below, Teege gives an inspirational talk at the 2016 Beyond Conference, speaking about the series of events that led her to discover that her grandfather was the notorious Nazi Amon Goeth. Check it out and then pick up the book. It wouldn't be a surprise if there is already some kind of screen project in the works that's based on the book:
by Sergio Mims on April 20th 2017

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