Thursday, December 11, 2008

Inheritance

About a week ago a friend of mine, Camila, sent me a link to this new documentary, Inheritance, that was going to air on PBS. I didn't read the link in depth because I was doing something else and then forgot about it until I got home last night and Kate had recorded it for me (and she didn't even know that I knew about this movie, but she does know that I watch and read a lot about anything related to the Holocaust).

Inheritance is a documentary by James Moll which is about how two women from very different backgrounds were affected by the Holocaust. This is one of the very most powerful, amazing documentaries I've ever seen about the Holocaust. Click here for a preview: http://www.pbs.org/pov/pov2008/inheritance/ but you can also watch the entire movie on the PBS P.O.V. website until January 4th.

One of the two women that Inheritance is about is Helen Jonas, who was a young girl during World War II and part of her story is told in the Spielberg movie, Schindler's List. Helen was the girl that was selected by Nazi commandant, Amon Goeth, to work in his house at the Plaszow concentration camp in Poland. The other woman at the center of Inheritance is Monika, who was born just after World War II in Germany. Monika's father was that same sadistic Nazi commandant, Amon Goeth, who "employed" Helen (in Schindler's List, Amon Goeth is played by Ralph Fiennes, and one of the most disturbing things he did, shooting prisoners at the concentration camp from his balcony, is shown in the movie).

Monika never knew her father as he was hung for his war crimes when the war ended and she didn't get along with her mother, whom as an early scene in Inheritance recounts, doesn't want Monika calling her mother, so Monika at a very early age just called her mother by her name, Ruth. It wasn't until Monika was eleven years old that her grandmother told her what a monster her father, Amon Goeth, was.

When Monika found out that Helen was still alive, she tried to arrange a meeting with her to somehow come to terms with what her father did. Inheritance shows that Helen agreed to this meeting so they both went to Krakow, Poland, where the concentration camp was (Helen has been living in the U.S. and Monika still lives in Germany). Understandably, this meeting was especially difficult for Helen who lived through that horror, but it was also difficult for Monika, who through an accident of birth, still feels guilty of ending up with the father responsible for much of Helen's horror at the concentration camp and throughout her latter life.

It may seem like I've "spoiled" a lot of Inheritance, but seriously, I can't begin to express the power of this documentary and how important records of the Holocaust still being made are because genocide is still occurring in the world we live in, most infamously in Darfur, Sudan. For more information about genocide around the world today and what you can do to prevent this from continuing go to: www.ushmm.org (The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C.) or www.savedarfur.org.

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