Harald Quandt, Magda Goebbels’ son by her first marriage, center back stands in uniform with his step-father Nazi propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels, bottom front right, his mother Magda, third from left, and the couple’s 6 children, Helga, Hildegard, Helmut, Hedwig, Holdine and Heidrun in 1942. Photograph: Keystone/Hulton Archive/Getty Images
Sins of the Fathers
No one should have to bear the brunt of someone else’s past. On the contrary, people should be judged by their own morals and merit. Yet when something happens that is so horrendous, so horrific and beyond understanding – like the Holocaust – what then? Are the perpetrators’ progeny to blame? Recently two Nazi ‘children’ were in the news with stories that tug at the soul. Their stories beg the question:
“What if that were me?”
Below are links to articles about several children of Nazi war criminals and how they’ve dealt with the burden of their blood. Each has had to live under the pall of his/her predecessor’s name and reputation. Some have tried to erase the stigma. Others have embraced it. Still others have tried to reach out and make amends. But they have all had to come to terms with the stain of guilt and shame of their collective past. This is by no means an exhaustive list but an invitation to look further.
Adolf Eichmann – SS Obersturmbannführer / Facilitator of ‘Final Solution’
Legacy of the Third Reich: Eichmann’s Remorseful Son International Business Times – 01/30/2013 – Synopsis: Otto Adolf Eichmann, one of the major architects of the Nazi Holocaust, met justice in 1962 by hanging. To his oldest son, Ricardo, Adolf Eichmann was an historical figure, a father he didn’t know.
Coffee with Eichmann Ynetnews.com – 07/06/2010 – Synopsis: For years, Ricardo Eichmann has distanced himself from the annals of modern history, where his father, Adolf Eichmann occupies one of the most horrifying places. In order to lead a normal life under the name “Eichmann”, he focuses on archaeological excavations…
Joseph Goebbels – Nazi Propaganda Minister
Nazi Goebbels’ Step-Grandchildren are Hidden Billionaires Bloomberg Business – 01/28/2013 – Synopsis: Harald Quandt and his step-brother, Herbert, would inherit the industrial empire built by their father, Guenther Quandt, which produced Mauser firearms and anti-aircraft missiles for the Third Reich. Among their most valuable assets at the time was a stake in car manufacturer Daimler AG.
Amon Goethe – Kommandant of Krakow/Plaszow concentration camp
When a black German woman discovered her grandfather was the Nazi villain of ‘Schindler’s List’ Haaretz – 02/06/2015 – Synopsis: An odd series of events led Jennifer Teege to discover that her grandfather was none other than the notorious Nazi Amon Goeth.
Heinrich Himmler – Reichsführer of SS
Out of the Attic, Family Memoirs with a Nazi Past Wall Street Journal – 11/07/2007 – Synopsis: As a young girl, Katrin Himmler asked her grandmother about the man in a black suit in a photograph hanging on her living-room wall. Her grandmother didn’t say much, but she cried. The man in the picture was her grandfather Ernst, a brother of Nazi SS chief Heinrich Himmler.
Legacy of the Third Reich: Heinrich Himmler’s Loving & Devotion Daughter International Business Times – 01/30/2013 – Synopsis: Despite the family’s internal turmoil, Gudrun remained close to her father, Heinrich Himmler, and now (at the age of 83) remains a die-hard Nazi who has spent her entire adult life defending his image and reputation.
Rudolf Höss – Kommandant of Auschwitz
The Secret Life as Nazi Leader’s Daughter Seattle Times – 09/14/2013 – Synopsis: Brigitte Höss, a retiree living quietly on a leafy street in Northern Virginia, has a secret that not even her grandchildren know: Her father was Rudolf Höss, the Kommandant of Auschwitz.
The Auschwitz Survivor Who Adopted the Camp Chief’s Grandson The Times of Israel – 01/18/2015 – Synopsis: Since meeting in 2013, Mengele survivor Eva Mozes Kor and Rainer Hoss have formed a close bond. Together they preach understanding and tolerance.
Holocaust Survivor Forgives Captors & Informally Adopts Nazi Grandson WarHistory online – 01/24/2015 – Synopsis: In Auschwitz, Eva was infected with a disease and was seriously ill, but she survived along with Miriam. Seventy years later, Eva is full of forgiveness and has even informally ‘adopted’ the grandson of SS commander, Rudolf Hoess.
Arthur Liebehenschel – Commandant of Auschwitz
Child of Auschwitz Commandant BBC News – 11/16/2009 – Synopsis: She knew early in her life that her German father, Arthur Liebehenschel, was involved in something terrible, something the family did not discuss. Only later, as an adult, did she discover he had run part of the Auschwitz concentration camp for 5 months during World War II.
Hanns Elard Ludin – Hitler’s Envoy to Slovakia
The Encounter that Transcended Years of Horror Independent.ie – 08/24/2014 – Synopsis: A survivor of Bergen-Belsen embraced the granddaughter of a man who was instrumental in the liquidation of thousands of Slovak Jews, including his own kith and kin.
Albert Speer – Hitler’s Architect
I Feel Ashamed The Guardian – 04/17/2005 – Synopsis: Hilde Schramm spent 20 years writing to her father in jail in an attempt to understand his Nazi past. Here, in a rare interview, she tells how it feels to be the daughter of Albert Speer.
German Grandchildren of Nazis Delve into Past CNS News – 05/14/2011 – Synopsis: The Nazis — the first generation — were too ashamed to talk about the crimes they committed and covered everything up. The second generation often had trouble personally confronting their Nazi parents. So now it is up to the grandchildren to lift the curses off their families. (covers Höss, Goering, Boger, Ludin)
The Nazi and his Jewish Grandchildren Aisch.com – 04/06/2010 – Synopsis: My father was an officer in the elite SS killing squad, the Totenkopf (Deathhead Squad). He never talked about his past, and when he was caught, I read about his crimes in the newspaper. It was a bewildering experience to find out he had led such a monstrous life.
This is part of a research project for a novel about WWII & an Auschwitz Survivor. If you have any information or links you’d like to share, please include in the comments section below. Thanks in advance!