For adopted children, researching their paternal family history can be as emotional as it is enlightening. For Jennifer Teege, her research was downright frightening.
The product of a brief affair between a German woman and a Nigerian student, Teege was put up for adoption by her mother, Monika, whose own life was also the result of an affair, between Teege’s grandmother Ruth Irene and one of the most notorious Nazi officers of World War II.
Amon Goeth was known as the Butcher of Plaszow, a brutal man unforgettably portrayed by Ralph Fiennes in Steven Spielberg’s 1993 Holocaust film, Schindler’s List. Like many people, Teege, 43, saw the film, which went on to win numerous awards, including the Oscar for best picture. She had no idea the villain in the film was her own grandfather. That discovery would happen years later, according to a profile about Teege in the Daily Mail.
She discovered the horrifying truth only by chance when, years later, she picked up a book about the SS captain in her local library.
It was written by Goeth‘s illegitimate daughter, whose picture looked like Mrs Teege‘s own mother, who had given her up for adoption.
‘It was like the carpet was ripped out beneath my feet,‘ said the 43-year-old, who is a mother of two living in Hamburg. ‘I had to go and lie down on a bench.‘
When she got home she read the book cover to cover.
She quickly realised her mixed-race ancestry would have made her a potential victim for her grandfather, who was known as the Butcher of Plaszów.
Now Teege is ready to share her story of exorcising the demons of a past of which she was unaware until late in life. Her book, entitled Amon: My Grandfather Would Have Shot Me, was released in September but is currently available in German only.