Thought-Provoking Television

If you ever get a chance to watch the Inheritance episode of the PBS show POV, I encourage you to watch it. Monika Hertwig never knew her father. When she was eleven, she found out that he had not, in fact, been shot down and killed in WWII. She found out that he had, in fact, been hung to death. Executed. For Nazi war crimes. As an adult, she saw Schindler's List, knowing that her father was portrayed in it. Imagine watching Schindler's List and knowing the sadistic Nazi camp commandant, Amon Goeth, was your father. Because of the movie and subsequent related documentaries, Ms. Herwig was able to track down a woman, Helen Jonas, who had been enslaved by Goeth as a house servant.

They meet at the memorial site for the camp and visit the commandant's villa, which still stands. Very graciously, Helen does not hold Monika's father's actions against her and she is willing to talk to Monika about her father. Monika wants to know about her father and, at the same time, is horrified to be related to him. Her whole life, Monika has tried to separate herself from her father and his actions. Visiting the villa brings back vivid memories to Helen, which she recounts. Monika learns that her mother knew a lot more about the operation of the camp than she admitted. She also learns that the history she learned about the camp and about Jews was completely false. Monika has since seen the footage from Goeth's execution. She still cannot understand how an educated person such as her father would have or could have followed Nazi precepts.

I cannot imagine being either of these women and what they must have felt or thought about meeting and visiting the sites. It is an incredible story.

The complete episode will be streamed via the internet between December 11, 2008 and January 4, 2009. The link is available here.


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