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Inheritance (I) (2006)

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"Inheritance" is the story of Monika Hertwig and her journey to accept the truth about her father, Nazi commander, Amon Goeth, who was portrayed by actor Ralph Fiennes in "Schindler's List.... See full summary »


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Title: Inheritance (2006)

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Credited cast:
Vivian Delman ...
Monika Hertwig ...
Reinhardt Hertwig ...
Helen Jonas ...


"Inheritance" is the story of Monika Hertwig and her journey to accept the truth about her father, Nazi commander, Amon Goeth, who was portrayed by actor Ralph Fiennes in "Schindler's List." As part of Monika's search for information, she reaches out to Helen Jonas-Rosenzweig, a woman who had been enslaved by Monika's father during the war. More than sixty-years after Monika's father was executed for his war crimes, in a historic and painful moment, these two women meet, bringing closure, yet raising new questions. Written by Anonymous

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


A Legacy of Hatred and the Journey to Change It. See more »



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Release Date:

25 June 2006 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Der Mördervater  »

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Did You Know?


BBC Four renamed the documentary to "My Father was a Nazi Commandant" for British television. See more »


Features Schindler's List (1993) See more »

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User Reviews

Very Moving and Unique

Monika Hertwig is the reason to see "Inheritance." She comes across as a very real, lovely woman, someone you'd like to have as a friend or next door neighbor. She's a grandmother and housewife, in her sixties, very tall and slim. She's sensitive and caring. She's also the daughter of Amon Goeth, the commandant of Plaszow, the Nazi concentration camp depicted in "Schindler's List." In that film, Ralph Fiennes played Monika's father. Monika was born in 1945. Goeth was executed in 1946.

Monika reports how she learned, slowly but surely, as a child, who her father was and what he did. Monika contacted Helen Jonas, who, as a child, had been one of two Jewish woman named Helen who had served as Goeth's slaves in his Plaszow home. Jonas lived in New Jersey. Monika and Helen met at the site of the Plaszow concentration camp, and James Moll filmed their meeting.

As several viewers have noted, Monika comes across as the more sympathetic of the two women. Monika allows her emotions to show. She weeps profusely when meeting Helen and appears to be approaching Helen for a hug. Helen rebuffs her. It is clear that Helen was severely hurt by her childhood experiences, and has never fully recovered. She still views the world as hostile, even when it is not. Monika is not an enemy. It is her profound misfortune to be the biological child of a very evil man, but she herself is not evil. One would have liked to have seen Helen express the forgiveness for which Monika so obviously hungers.

Monika never knew her father, and comes to know him from others' accounts, including Spielberg's and Fiennes' depiction of Goeth in "Schindler's List." Helen fleshes out the depiction. Goeth pushed Helen, a mere child, down the stairs in his home several times. He knew that Helen, his little slave, had a boyfriend, Adam. One day Goeth teasingly asked Helen where Adam was, and, then, within minutes, shot Adam. Goeth kept two large dogs at Plaszow. He trained them to maul and kill human victims. He robbed Jews before killing them. Monika has a cigarette case from her father. She suspected that he stole it from one of his Jewish victims.

Most mysterious is Monika's mother, Ruth Kalder. No one in the documentary mentions it, but, weirdly, Ruth looks Jewish; certainly her features are those that Nazis would identify as Jewish. She had abundant, striking black hair and a prominent nose, which Monika inherited. In one photo, Ruth looks very much like Chico Marx. This is not a wisecrack, but a statement of fact. It's more than a little odd that Goeth would select a girl who looked so Jewish, even as he sent thousands of Jews to their deaths for their allegedly obvious "racial inferiority," a racial inferiority that was supposed to be obvious in their dark Semitic features, allegedly so different from blond Aryan superiority. One has to ask, why did Ruth love Goeth? The documentary does not probe this pressing question.

"Inheritance" includes archival film footage of the actual execution, by hanging, of Amon Goeth. It was a grotesque event. Hangmen need to know their physics. Length of rope and drop must be calculated to produce a clean death. The masked executioners in Poland tried to kill Goeth two times before getting it right on the third try. The viewer may question why it is important to view this spectacle of death.

I would like to have seen some harder questions asked of each character. Monika: Point blank, did you inherit any of your father's evil? Where did that evil come from? Where did it go? Is he in hell? Can God ever forgive men like Amon Goeth? What would you do if you were God? Would you send your father to hell forever? If not, why not? Helen: Will you ever be able to forgive? Will you ever be able to move on? Will you always be stuck in victim mode? Why are you so harsh with Monika? What about Helen's children? I would have liked to have heard more about their experience of being children of survivors. I would have liked to have seen some depth given to Poland. The bulk of this film was shot in Poland. There were Germans and Jews but there were Polish victims and heroes and perpetrators as well. Poland isn't even background in this doc and that is a failing. Two suicides and one drug addiction are mentioned, but not explored. In short, I was very moved by this documentary, but I would like to have seen it go deeper into the very big questions it touches on.

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