Having a monster for my grandfather

Amon Goeth

It happens in slow motion almost. Steven Spielberg gives you time to steel yourself to what is about to happen.

It is 1943 and the scene is a Nazi concentration camp at Plaszów, a suburb of Kraków in German-occupied Poland. The camp commandant is an SS Captain called Amon Goeth who, through his psychotic brutality over the past 12 months, has earned the nickname ‘Butcher of Plaszów’.

The scene opens with Amon Goeth, standing on the balcony of his bunglow and watching a young boy cross the yard of the camp through his binoculars. Like most of the other camp inmates, the boy is malnourished. He walks along with a shuffling, hesitant gait. On a casual impulse, Goeth picks up a rifle with scope, that was leaning against the parapet. He takes a swig from his wine glass and gets back to following the boy. Only this time, he follows the boy through the cross-hairs of his telescopic sight.

The boy has no idea he has only seconds to live, till another inmate notices and cries out to him. The boy whirls around and sees Goeth with the rifle trained on him and he tries to break out in a panicky scramble to get under cover. But its too late. Goeth enjoys the boy’s panic for a few moments and then shoots him.

Like millions of others throughout the world, Jennifer Teege too watched this scene from ‘Schindler’s List’ in horror. The surname, Goeth, made her squirm. Her maternal surname was Goeth too. That is where the similarity ended.

Or so she thought. Jennifer Teege is black.

Then one day, in the local library, Jennifer was drawn to a book perched on a shelf, written by a woman whose photo looked vaguely familiar. Jennifer took the book home and read it cover to cover. Intrigued, she wanted to learn more. Turns out that the author was Jennifer’s biological mother who had, when a teen, had sexcapade with a Nigerian student, giving birth to Jennifer and offering her up for adoption within weeks. (Jennifer was raised by foster parents who later adopted her).

That’s not all. The author of that book Jennifer chanced upon, her mother, was in fact Amon Goeth’s daughter.

Most of us take our pasts for granted, believing we are who we were given to believe we are. The revelation that we aren’t and instead, directly descended from some monster, can be pretty scary. Jennifer did what you and I would have done. She recorded her story in her book,  ‘Amon – My grandfather would have shot me’.

Jennifer’s book is in German. I’m fluent in German and so reviewing it is not going to be a problem. Unfortunately the book isn’t available here yet. Also, I understand that an English translation will be out soon. Meanwhile, I cannot but notice the irony in the justice of it all. The Nazi demon, hung for his crimes, gets written about by his black granddaughter.

This is one of His doings that must have given the Lord a belly laugh. It bolsters my belief that our Lord is a mischievous Lord. We Hindus have our ‘makhan chor’ don’t we? Why can’t the poor Christians and the Jews have a ‘precocious holocaust cross-breeder’?

Come to think of it. I do happen to have a chocolate-tree bark-cream espresso-vanilla almond-payasam-tal patali complexion. And a fondness for blondes. Wait, I’ll log into an ancestry website. Perhaps I have a blonde in there somewhere in my past.

Maybe Scarlett Johanssen and I are related. Oh my God, we could be brother and sister. And all the things that I fantasized doing to her.

I am traumatized.



ps: I was lying about being fluent in German. The only German I used to know was when I was in my twennies and knew a German exchange student named Brunhilde. On numerous occasions I was forced to tell her, ‘Meine Hoden sind wund, ooooh’.


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