Film telling the story of a woman grappling with the legacy left by her Nazi father, Amon Goeth, who was responsible for the deaths of thousands at Plaszow concentration camp.
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This programme contains scenes which some viewers may find disturbing
Today, my life is the life of a housewife.
I live in a little village
and my husband works in the Forest Service, as an administrator.
SHE SPEAKS GERMAN
'Our little grandson David is living with us,
'because my daughter had a problem with drug addiction when he was born,
'so she couldn't take him.'
'He is my life.
'And I think I do for him
'what I would have liked to do for my father, when he was a child.
'If you can't change the past,
'maybe you can do something for the future.'
'And I hope that he never will hold a rifle with his hand.'
I was born
in 1945, in a little town
near Munich. Nobody,
nobody in Germany talked about
the Second World War.
"We want to live again", people said.
"We had trouble enough, and misery enough,
"and now we want to live."
I never asked
about my father. Never.
Because I was not aware that every child had a father.
I didn't know anything about a complete family.
I asked my grandmother,
"Grandmother, do I have a father, too?"
And she said, "But, Monika, every child has a father."
And I asked my mother and said, "Where is MY father?"
And she said, "Like millions of men,
"he died for his country, and he is dead - shot down."
I believed her. I didn't know why I shouldn't believe her.
My mother didn't like it that I called her "Mother" or "Mum."
And so, I started to call her Ruth.
We didn't like each other at all. I loved my grandmother,
but I couldn't get along with my mother, not at all.
We were like water and fire.
One day, when I was about 11 years old, it was a very hot day,
and I wanted to go swimming.
"No, you won't go.
"You will do your work and, after that, you will go."
And in this moment, I was full of hate.
And I said to her, "You and your goddamn dog," and everything,
and she looked at me,
and she said, "You, you are like your father,
"and one time, you will die like him."
I said to my grandmother, "What does she mean, I will die like Amon?
"My father died in the Second World War, how can I die like he died?"
After a while, Grandmother said, "Monika, they hanged him."
And I said, "They hanged him? Why?"
And she said, "They killed the Jews."
And I didn't know anything about Jews, I have never seen a Jew in my life.
The only one I knew who was a Jew was Jesus.
..the people around him.
But the Jews had lived in Germany, I didn't know.
Nobody knew from the younger generation.
I wanted to know what happened to the Jews
and I wanted to know how my father was involved.
And so, I had just one person, and that was my grandmother -
my mother's mother.
And so she started to explain.
She told me about the Nazis and the Jews.
In Europe, Germany, in Poland and Romania.
She educated me...
..in a way that I felt guilty,
because grandmother felt guilty, too.
She...she felt guilty, too.
My father was the commander of the Plaszow concentration camp.
He was there for 500 days, exactly.
He was responsible for the death of thousands of people.
I got to Camp Plaszow, and I was assigned to clean barracks.
It was the third day,
when one very tall SS
walked into the barracks.
This was Amon Goeth. And he was the new commandment of Plaszow.
I was cleaning a window.
He stopped in front of me,
and he said to the woman that took care of us, the orderly,
he says, "I want her in my house."
"If a Jewish girl is smart enough to clean a window on a sunny day,
"she'll probably be good for me."
Every day, my grandmother and I, we were talking about these two girls,
The very first day when I arrived,
there was another woman there already.
Her name was also Helen.
He asked me my name, I said, "I'm Helena".
He said, "I have one Helena. Your name will be Susanna."
Yeah, it's like a Nazi to say,
"Your name is Helena, I don't need a Helena, so your name is Susanna."
My first job was to iron his shirt. As I'm ironing the shirt,
he slapped me so hard on my cheek. He said, "You stupid Jew,
"you don't even know how to iron a shirt properly."
He says, "In Vienna, a girl your age
"knows how to iron a shirt, but you're too dumb."
And I started to cry.
And he hit me so hard again.
In that moment,
I realised that I have to grow up.
I'm no more child, I'm no more with my mother...
..I am here - and I have to obey.
Amon Goeth lived in the most beautiful villa,
that was built specifically for him.
And he ordered us to live there.
We were not allowed to go out and mingle with other people.
He had a woman living with him, her name was Ruth.
She loved this man more than
anybody else in this world.
She was a very pretty young woman with dark hair,
she had a little doggy, a black dog,
that she carried all the time under her arm.
I can't explain that, the feeling Ruth had... my mother had for my father.
He lived like a king. And he had his mistress with him.
And he had those two slaves.
And unfortunately, I was one of them.
I read in the newspaper that Steven Spielberg was making a film
called Schindler's List.
And so I went to this film. And...
I was looking for my father.
THEY SPEAK GERMAN
Herr Kommandant! I'm only trying to do my job.
-Yeah, I'm doing mine.
-Sir, she's foreman of construction.
We are not going to have arguments with these people.
Shoot her, here, on my authority.
It will take more than that.
I'm sure you're right.
I started to hate that Spielberg.
I hated him.
When I came home, I was sick.
Spielberg told me the truth.
And for telling me the truth, I attacked him.
Because I didn't know... I didn't want to know everything.
SHE SPEAKS GERMAN
I found out that Helen was living in the United States,
because one New Year's Eve, there was a documentary
about Schindler's survivors.
I had participated in a documentary made for German TV.
I always wanted to meet Helen.
So I wrote a letter to her.
I didn't write very much, but I wrote to her that
I always would have liked to meet her in my life.
And that is the truth.
I received a letter from Monika, and I'm very touched.
I realise how much she wanted to meet with me,
and I didn't think a few years ago that I would be able to do it,
but I thought it over,
and I understand how important it is for her and others like her
to find out the truth.
She says that she knows how difficult it is for me,
but it is difficult for her as well.
She will be scared to see me.
I know that.
And, in a way...
I'm scared, too, to see her,
because of all her pain.
'I thought it over a lot, and I'm going to meet Monika,
'which years ago, I didn't think that I would be able to.'
'I never thought I would be willing to go back to Poland.'
But I want to go to Plaszow, and go to the villa, if it's still there,
because maybe that will bring some closure for me.
I will be with my daughter Vivian,
at least one of my children will be with me.
I know that it's going to be painful for her,
but she wants to do it.
She wants to do it - she said to me, "I think it's a good thing, Mum."
It's a beautiful area.
I played in the castle, I used to go sled riding with my sisters.
I had a happy childhood here.
I had happy memories from my school, my friends.
I was very fond of this city of Krakow.
I was 14 when the war broke out.
Nothing worried me.
I really didn't think anything bad could happen to us.
But within a short time,
we were told that we all had to move to the ghetto.
We had only a few days to take our belongings, whatever we could,
and walked to the part of Krakow that was surrounded with stone walls.
Within a couple of months, two SS walked into our room,
and took my father away.
They picked him, and dragged him out.
And he, with a smile on his face,
turned around to put us at ease
and he said, "Don't worry, children, they need me,
"they're taking me to work, don't worry.
My father was sent away.
I found out after the war, he was taken to Belzec,
where all the people were gassed.
'Hello, Monika. Good morning.'
Good morning, Helen. Um...
-So are you here somewhere close to the hotel?
Are you here somewhere?
OK, well, I'm here with my daughter.
-And her name is Vivian.
You went to meet at the monument?
-'OK. I would like to say a prayer,'
and I would like to light a candle there.
'and I feel that...'
In 30 minutes, OK?
'Monika, I... I received your letter.'
And you seem like a very sensitive person.
And I have to tell you things that...
are pretty...that, uh...
..are very tragic, and I will refer to Amon Goeth.
I have to disconnect myself when I speak to you,
because I may just tell...
quite tragic things, so I will...
'refer to him as Amon Goeth, Monika.'
He is Amon. I never said "Father". He is Amon.
'I have to tell you that...'
I feel for you.
-And I will see you shortly.
-I am very happy to see you.
-'OK, thank you.'
-I see you soon. OK? Bye bye, Monika.
-'Bye bye, Helen.'
Are you OK?
-I'll be with you in a minute.
As a mother, I understand
that children somehow suffer
because of their parents' background.
Monika was traumatised by the fact that
she found out who her father was in reality.
I guess I am the one that can tell her a lot about it,
because...I lived under his roof.
'I want to ask her what did Ruth do'
in those times when she was with Amon.
'And at least I would like to know
'how can a young girl survive in this hopelessness, because I know
'I never would have made it. Never.'
-What a beautiful day today.
I guess somewhere, someone is with us.
'But I... I think most important for me is, er...'
to see her. To see her.
This is my daughter Vivian.
Hello. How are you doing?
I need this for myself, too.
I need this, too.
Those are my people here.
I need to come here,
and my mother's... remnants are still here.
I know that she is buried here.
Well, my friend Adam buried her.
I had a boyfriend in Plaszow...
..and he was very active with the underground group.
He felt that we have to fight back when the time comes.
One day I was in the yard...
and there comes Goeth. You know, he used to ride a white horse
and he stopped. He says, "Susanna."
He says, "Where is Adam?"
I looked up at him. I said... I said, "I don't know."
I saw him on his horse...
very quickly down the road.
Before I knew, I hear two shots.
He killed him.
Adam had been by my mother's side all the time she was ill,
and Adam was by her side when she died.
And he told me...
that he, he buried her.
But, you see, because Amon Goeth killed Adam,
I can never find my mum's body.
He was a monster.
He was a living monster.
He enjoyed what he was doing.
But he did it out of pleasure because I saw his face.
After killing, he looked content,
he whistled coming through the yard.
And when he was restless and he didn't sleep,
I could hear his steps upstairs
and that was the first thing, six o'clock in the morning,
when people were marching to work, that he would disappear.
He had a couple of hats hanging near the doorway
and I even knew what kind of hat he would put on that he was going to kill people.
We were very attuned to him.
We lived with this man day and night and, erm...
Do you think something happened to him as a young man
Somebody did something to him, that he was so evil?
And why, when he hit me,
why he stood there, so content.
That he is able to treat two young girls in that way
and...and the fear of these girls.
I think I...
I believe everything, but I can't live with it.
I can't live with Amon and what he did to the girls.
Why didn't Ruth help you? Why didn't she help you?
She covered her eyes to all that was happening.
-She wanted to make believe like none of this is happening.
That was my impression.
-And this was...
-She did say once to me,
"If I could help you, I would, but I can't."
I thought, OK, if Ruth was with him,
she would have helped the victims.
If he would have done wrong, there was still my mother
and she will do something.
Am I better than my father? She told me, "You are like him and you will die like him."
And so I was always looking in my life. Maybe I am really like him.
-But... But I am not.
-You have a choice.
-Yes, I know.
And those people here died because of one man, Amon Goeth, in a cruel way.
We just can't be silent.
We just can't push things away. They are there. They disturb our lives.
My children are affected.
All my survivors' children. We are traumatised people.
-And that's why I made this trip to find to a little peace here.
You know what people tell me in Germany?
I went to school to speak to some children.
"Oh, God, you are a strong person."
-I am not a strong person.
-You will become.
When the children are gone and the teachers are gone, I break down.
You break down? You have a right to break down. It's good.
You have a mission.
Look at those monuments. What do they mean?
There are bodies here, innocent bodies.
HELEN SOBS Good people.
I don't think God wants it.
'When Helen was speaking about Amon,
'I still was able to see all the fear in her eyes.
'And I can't remember to see such fear in the eyes of a human being,
'just about one person.'
I have been to Plaszow before, but never to the villa.
I know it is still there.
HELEN SPEAKS IN POLISH
The same colour door. That's the colour.
That's the colour door.
-The same colour?
-The same colour.
Every... Every room in that house
brings sad memories, unfortunately,
but I want to face them.
This is the kitchen.
This is the kitchen.
This wasn't here. This wasn't here. There was a big table here.
A big table. This wasn't here. This was my room.
This was my room. HELEN CONTINUES TO SOB
I used to stand here and look out.
This was the window. I used to envy people - they walked to work.
And I was all alone.
They were marching to work. The camp was over there. Now I can understand.
-They were going to Madritsch over there in the factory.
-Where was Madritsch?
Over there. Over there where the factory is, to the right,
they were marching from the left to the right.
This was my room.
When I heard his footsteps... I shivered when I heard his footsteps.
'I feared those steps. I heard those steps upstairs.
'He wouldn't sleep.'
He would walk around first thing in the morning.
He would walk out of the villa at six o'clock and I would hear shooting.
He had the urge to kill. Like an animal.
-OK. Here, you see, I told you, a French door.
OK. There was a big table over there
where all the SS were entertaining, over there.
And this is where he used to go out.
There he used to go out.
And that's where he trained the dog.
-Yeah, in the back yard.
There were two large dogs in the house.
One was black and white spots, named Ralf.
The other one was beige and brown - Alf.
Ralf was his favourite dog that he trained to rip people apart.
The scenes that I have seen those dogs...
..have done to people, I can't explain.
This was a bedroom. This was a large bedroom. They had a round bed.
-A round bed. Right here, OK?
A round bed and this is where she used to lie a lot of the time,
and put the masks on her face.
My mother, she had everything.
I saw her most of the time mixing yolks and cucumbers
and lying on the bed with masks on her face.
Amon gave everything to her. She had no need, not at all.
I mean, this home was incredibly rich in everything.
Fresh fruit, meats, wine, liquor,
anything that one can think of.
But, do you know what, I know Ruth.
It was her house.
-I know my mother.
-It was HIS house.
Yeah, but that was the way she liked to live.
So this was her way with the piano, with people who played for her.
She didn't see anything. She was just in the house. The camp was down.
That's what she said.
-Don't say that.
She saw us downstairs. She heard shots.
-It was very obvious, you could hear.
There was shooting like no tomorrow.
-You know how many thousands of people died?
Now, when you talk and tell me, but what I heard when I was a child,
-he only killed some Jews because of...
-Because they were Jews.
No. Because of sanitary problems. Because...
Because they were just Jews.
-Monika, they were just Jews.
-They wouldn't use the bathroom
and, therefore, there was a disease and then when he saw some men...
-Monika, I have to stop you right now.
-That was my history.
Yes, but from now on, you can see that it's the ignorance.
It was just simply we were tortured and killed because we were Jews.
That's it. Nothing else.
But, you know, Helen, I knew that.
But now you shouldn't even say the other thing, what other people say, because that is just not true.
-This is the wrongdoing. This is why people are misled
and they keep on... If it is repeated like that, it will happen again.
-We have to start something different. It's not true.
-I know that.
I knew it as a child, too. But they were talking and talking...
-Let's just stop thinking that way. It's bad, it's dangerous.
-I didn't think about...
I have a chance with you. I have the greatest chance of my life.
-I know that.
-But don't think back
that what this one said, or this one said.
-They had to have an excuse, they have to...
-RUTH told me.
-It's her denial.
-Denial. Live in denial.
No, we can't allow it.
-Words cannot explain the pain.
It cannot. I can't explain what this room means to me
when I was treated like a criminal!
Like a criminal. Like a dirty Jew!
After being with him, under his command,
I never feared death because I knew that he'd kill me anyhow.
I really was sure that he would kill me.
During the day, I was hardly here.
I came in to straighten out the beds and that was about it.
Because he was sitting here?
They were lying around.
There were loungers here.
A little dog, a black little dog.
There were two or three loungers that they were lying around.
I never had such fear constantly about him
and what he was going to do next.
I saw the shooting and killing.
You know, he was the only one in the camp who decided who was
going to live and who was going to die. He was the only one.
One person told me, "You know, I called your father
"the Emperor of Plaszow."
He could do whatever he wanted to do.
There was no-one else. That's why when they came for him,
it was unbelievable that he was powerless suddenly.
Two civilian walked in to the villa and he came down from the stairs
and I was just standing, just looking up to know what was
going on and I saw them handing the paper and him looking at the paper.
The next thing I knew, he didn't go back,
he reached for the belt and the hat
and he walked in the centre with them out of the villa.
We didn't hear from him any more.
And we were in villa, not knowing what to do... for days.
We assumed that he might be in prison
and then we found out that he was.
He was taken to prison by his own Germans
because he was stealing people's goods.
The belongings from Jews.
All the SS men did it.
All the SS men kept money
and had much for themselves.
He was shipping it himself to Austria
and they found out and they denounced him and they arrested him.
I still don't understand how an educated person like my father was...
..could believe in the Nazi
point of view.
I can understand that.
He was executed by the Polish authorities.
When Amon was hanged, I was still a baby but two years ago,
I saw the footage of his execution,
filmed by the Polish government.
When he was hanged, he was hanged three times.
The third time, when they hanged him, then he was dead.
His neck was broken.
Yeah, now he's dead.
I think he was spared by an easy death.
I mean, I never looked for revenge
but he should have suffered a little...
..how he made people suffer.
Today I felt like I finished a mission.
I felt that actually being there, I will have some peace.
Two days after liberation, I met Joseph Jonas
and we got married before we came to the United States.
He was a very special young man, very bright.
Joseph tried very hard to live a normal life
but he was troubled.
He would sit at the table, read his paper and he'd write
his father's name over and over again, Salomon Salomon.
That's what the Germans did to us.
My husband was affected badly.
He lived with this and tried so hard.
But then he couldn't deal with it any more.
We were together 35 years.
And in 1980, by husband took his life.
He wrote me a letter. And he said...
.."Dearest, I can't go on.
"I'm being haunted every day of my life.
And he was gone.
I thought after I lived through a concentration camp,
my life would be stable but it wasn't.
I miss him.
He would be very proud of me.
In spite of everything, I love life.
I think I was spared for a reason.
I was lucky to have children, such wonderful children
and it's hard to see that my children are affected
by having their parents being victims of those dramatic times.
It's not an easy task for them.
People have said to me, "Vivian, you know, you weren't in the Holocaust.
"Your parents were in the Holocaust."
And I know that, intellectually, I know that.
But emotionally, at times, talking about it,
not that I can picture myself physically there
but I can feel the pain that my parents went through.
In a way, I know that some day when I'm gone, I'll have peace
because I know my parents and my family
and my dear friends will be not forgotten.
For Helen it's time to bring closure
but for me, it was not closure for me.
I think it was the beginning of another life,
a life where I am able to live with the truth.
Tomorrow I'll go home.
I know my husband,
he'll ask me what do you say about Helen?
I know that because he told me to go, go and see her.
Oh, I'll say I will tell you
but we will need a long time till everything is set.
My little grandson, David,
I'm teaching him everybody is the same.
It doesn't matter in what religion you believe.
It doesn't matter if you're black or white.
THEY SPEAK GERMAN
When David is at school and he'll learn
about the Second World War,
I'll tell him about his great grandfather.
But I think for him, it won't be so hurtful.
I am convinced it will be better
for the generation which is growing up now.
I don't have many belongings from my father,
just two cufflinks
and my mother gave it to me when I was about 15 years old.
And beside his photograph,
she had this cigarette case.
And I asked her, "Is this from the Jews?"
And she said, "No, it's from your grandfather,"
but now I don't know, I...
I wouldn't believe anything anymore.
Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd
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The Emmy Award-winning story of a young woman grappling with the terrible legacy left by her Nazi father. Amon Goeth was a prominent Nazi leader and commandant of the Plaszow concentration camp. Utterly ruthless and sadistic, he murdered thousands of Jews and others during WWII. After seeing Ralph Fiennes's portrayal of him in Schindler's List, Goeth's daughter Monika began a quest to come to terms with his evil legacy. Together with Helen Jonas, a survivor of the Holocaust and Goeth's slave, the two women unearth the personal cost of crimes that consumed millions and question whether a parent's actions can ever be truly laid to rest.