My Grandfather Would Have Shot Me : A Black Woman Discovers Her Family's Nazi Past, Hardback Book

My Grandfather Would Have Shot Me : A Black Woman Discovers Her Family's Nazi Past Hardback

3 out of 5 (1 rating)


'A powerful account of Teege's struggle for resolution and redemption.' IndependentAn international bestseller, this is the extraordinary and moving memoir of a woman who learns that her grandfather was Amon Goeth, the brutal Nazi commandant depicted in Schindler's List.When Jennifer Teege, a German-Nigerian woman, happened to pluck a library book from the shelf, she had no idea that her life would be irrevocably altered.

Recognising photos of her mother and grandmother in the book, she discovers a horrifying fact: Her grandfather was Amon Goeth, the vicious Nazi commandant chillingly depicted by Ralph Fiennes in Schindler's List - a man known and reviled the world over.Although raised in an orphanage and eventually adopted, Teege had some contact with her biological mother and grandmother as a child.

Yet neither revealed that Teege's grandfather was the Nazi "butcher of Plaszow," executed for crimes against humanity in 1946.

The more Teege reads about Amon Goeth, the more certain she becomes: If her grandfather had met her-a black woman-he would have killed her.Teege's discovery sends her, at age 38, into a severe depression-and on a quest to unearth and fully comprehend her family's haunted history.

Her research takes her to Krakow - to the sites of the Jewish ghetto her grandfather 'cleared' in 1943 and the Plaszow concentration camp he then commanded - and back to Israel, where she herself once attended college, learned fluent Hebrew, and formed lasting friendships.

Teege struggles to reconnect with her estranged mother Monika, and to accept that her beloved grandmother once lived in luxury as Amon Goeth's mistress at Plaszow.Teege's story is co-written by award-winning journalist Nikola Sellmair, who also contributes a second, interwoven narrative that draws on original interviews with Teege's family and friends and adds historical context.

Ultimately, Teege's resolute search for the truth leads her, step by step, to the possibility of her own liberation.


  • Format: Hardback
  • Pages: 240 pages, Integrated black and white images
  • Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton General Division
  • Publication Date:
  • Category: Memoirs
  • ISBN: 9781473616226

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This is a book I never normally would have read and only did so because it was selected by my local book club. I found the style of writing overly simplistic, though that may be attributed to the translation from German, and I found the back and forth from Teege to Sommer very disjointed and awkward. I appreciated the historical notes and perspective, just thought it could have been added in a less intrusive way. I loved how on one of the first pages she described the library as having "concentrated silence" which almost seemed to set the tone for the novel about concentration camps and how Amon Goeth seemed to exhibit concentrated evil. Teege's reaction and subsequent journey at learning her Nazi heritage was no doubt difficult, but I found her pre-existing mental health conditions made it seem all the more worse--and a better story--than an average person's reaction to the news. It brought to mind the guilt that descendants of slave owners in the United States go through. One other observation I made was her hurt and anger at her mother not including her in her book or telling her about their past, yet she made no mention of telling her children about it either. Perhaps she did and chose not to write about it, or perhaps she felt they were too young, etc. I just couldn't help but notice how she did the exact same thing her mother did that had previously made her so angry. Is this going to be a generational cycle?