Directed by James Moll
Imagine finding out that your father is one of the faces of evil from the Nazi atrocities in Europe. Monika Hertwig didn’t have to imagine when she found out that her father was the mass murderer Amon Goeth. This powerful documentary examines the process of acceptance and understanding that Monika has gone through. From her childhood into her later years Monika has sought to understand the man who was her father. Through interviews she talks about her family who hid the truth.
As a child Monika only knew of her father as someone hanged for killing Jews. It wasn’t until 1993, and the release of Schindler’s List that she began to understand the evil her father had inside him. Her mother and grandmother had left much out of the story they had told her of her father. As she pieced together the life of her father she began to seek out those who knew him. She found one woman strong enough to share her experiences with her. This woman was Helen Jonas, a Holocaust survivor who was closer to Goeth than most.
In addition to Monika’s own experience, the film also documents the experiences of Helen Jonas, one of the Goeth household maids. From Helen’s perspective the truth about Amon Goeth is exposed. Her first hand experiences create a powerful picture of this evil person. Her interview includes graphic depictions of the violence she witnessed and heartbreaking memories of those she lost.
The turning point of the film comes when these two amazing women meet in Poland at the site of Płaszów, one of the German internment camps. Helen makes sure that Monika is hears about the monstrous behavior of her father. While Monika grapples with the truth versus the things she had been raised to believe Helen makes sure to tell her “your father was a monster.” As they travel through the sites of some of the worst violence against the Jews Helen recounts some of the things she saw and did while struggling to survive.
There is more to this film than I could say in words. The emotion of the documentary is powerful and disturbing at times. The strength of these two women is impressive as they seek to understand one another and deal with the awful truths they both live with.The location of the filming is a powerful statement. To bring these two women to the center point of the terror brings out emotions that neither of them could have expected.
Films like Schindler’s List have brought us to a better understanding of the evil of the Holocaust. This movie brings you the reality of some of those left behind. I would strongly recommend this movie to anyone who wants to understand the aftermath of the Holocaust. I give this one 4.6 out of 5 stars.