Children of Nazis: The Sons and Daughters of Himmler,
Most of the men who ruled the Third Reich were only in their forties, so the children about whom this book is written were very young during the war Most of them were either protected from the knowledge of what their fathers were doing, or lived in Nazi enclaves so completely cut off from the rest of the world that those around them had no reason to discuss it Often they only began to understand when their fathers and sometimes their mothers were arrested, by which time the normative moral Most of the men who ruled the Third Reich were only in their forties, so the children about whom this book is written were very young during the war Most of them were either protected from the knowledge of what their fathers were doing, or lived in Nazi enclaves so completely cut off from the rest of the world that those around them had no reason to discuss it Often they only began to understand when their fathers and sometimes their mothers were arrested, by which time the normative moral framework in which their parents actions would be judged had already changed Still, their individual responses varied widely, from absolute refusal to accept their fathers culpability to being sterilized for fear of passing on evil genes The response depended on a number of factors personality, yes, but also their own memories of their fathers, the attitudes of their mothers and siblings, their experiences in the immediate aftermath of the war, and what they ultimately chose to do with their own lives Like pretty much everything else to do with history, it s a story about how people cope, and that story is invariably interesting.The author met only one of her subjects most of those who weren t already dead by the time she wrote were either far too old to be involved or had long since decided they were done talking about it Thus most of the information presented was carefully pieced together from the subjects writings, earlier interviews, observations by third parties, and whatever other sources she could find As a result, it reads as though it were patched together Nonetheless, I think the topic is one that needed patching together Limited in scoop and not a great deal of depth to it Focuses on the lives of some of the children of senior Nazis Mengele s son, Hess son, Goring s daughter etc , but it s all based on second hand material and doesn t spend a great deal of time on any of them Very little attempt at any kind of real psychological insight on the impact crimes of this nature have on a child Overall an interesting topic but disappointing in execution. I can t even imagine what life was like for those who knew and accepted what their fathers and mothers had done during the war They are victims too As for those living in denial, believing their fathers were great men, that they were heroesno sympathy here. I ve been fascinated by the second world war since I learned about it in eighth grade My fascination centered around the Holocaust, the attempt to exterminate the Jews It seemed so clear who the good people and the bad people were The Germans, Italians, and Japanese were bad the Americans, British, and French were good The Soviet Union was also bad, but it did help beat the Germans Corrie Ten Boom s wrote about hiding Jews in the Holland home she shared with her father and sister in The Hi I ve been fascinated by the second world war since I learned about it in eighth grade My fascination centered around the Holocaust, the attempt to exterminate the Jews It seemed so clear who the good people and the bad people were The Germans, Italians, and Japanese were bad the Americans, British, and French were good The Soviet Union was also bad, but it did help beat the Germans Corrie Ten Boom s wrote about hiding Jews in the Holland home she shared with her father and sister in The Hiding Place Anne Frank wrote her diary about hiding in a similar place And then the Americans entered the war and it ended At least that s what is seemed like in the history books I read in high school Later on I began to see the complexities, the complicity of the French The British who were reluctant to go to war against the Germans The French who collaborated with the Germans The anti Semitism in all the good countries The racism and misogyny in all the countries, good and bad But still, it seemed like history, long past From time to time I would hear about Nazi hunters, but mostly that seemed remote Nazis were mostly gone, weren t they This book challenges that viewpoint, which in retrospect, seems naive The past isn t past Nazi viewpoints didn t disappear with the end of the war Anti Semitism and ideals of racial purity didn t evaporate when Hitler committed suicide How did such recent history get swept into the past while people still lived The author offers this observation By the late 1940s, a majority of West Germans had wanted to turn the page on the war and put an end to the denazification trials, which many resented as both a burden imposed by the Allies and an obstacle to the country s democratization In Germany, people blamed Hitler for everything In the US, we felt moral superiority We fought the Nazis and won Greatest general, and all that This book reviews the lives of the children of prominent Nazis Some of them celebrated their fathers some denied their fathers complicity some have gone to great lengths to separate themselves from their fathers, but have found it nearly impossible The thing is, these children, were living only a few years ago Some still live And there are Nazi sympathizers who celebrate them, who celebrate the ideals of the party These sympathizers never disappeared they just went underground And they live in Germany and the United States I m sure they are elsewhere too, but I really only know my country The author asks, Can the past protect us from extremism, whatever its origins It must be hoped The generation of the Hitler Youth is dying out four generations have followed it It is no longer unthinkable to try to understand how any of us might have reacted in that era s social, economic, and legal context I don t think so We see the rise of the far right all across the West We see villification of people of color, of immigrants, of cultures other than our own In the United States, we have never fully dealt with our past, filled with slavery, genocide, Jim Crow laws, discrimination Instead, we condemned Germany and South Africa, eventually As a white middle class woman raised in the US, it has been easy for me to pretend like the past is past, evil has been defeated, justice has been achieved And yet, all around me, I see racist comments becomecommon, even from the president, and good people, people who would never actually say those things, overlook those things in the name of achieving their own political goals Can the past protect us from extremism I wish that were true, but I am not hopeful It was interesting to read about which children still revere their fathers and which have denounced them, and it seems to have quite a bit to do with how close they were to their fathers during childhood I can t imagine having to reckon with a legacy like that. This book was fascinating and horrifying I can t imagine being in any of these people s shoes, but I was aghast at how many of them thought their father s had been treated unjustly and had therefore spent their lives trying to write books and positively promote their father s work An interesting look at how having genocidal monsters as parents impacts the children s lives. I wish I d known beforehand that the author only interviewed one of the children mentioned in this book The information on the others is old and from elsewhere After reading this I can t tell which of the children were interviewed The book reads in a choppy manner of note taking It doesn t always read smoothly and jumps around a bit Before the story of the children, there is a short summary of the fathers lives to give a sense of what each child had to deal with.These children were dealt a I wish I d known beforehand that the author only interviewed one of the children mentioned in this book The information on the others is old and from elsewhere After reading this I can t tell which of the children were interviewed The book reads in a choppy manner of note taking It doesn t always read smoothly and jumps around a bit Before the story of the children, there is a short summary of the fathers lives to give a sense of what each child had to deal with.These children were dealt a bad hand They were young during the events most were too young to think or know politics The war ended and so did their opulent, protected world These kids range from disbelieving what history says about their fathers to believing yet being tied to them Those that led the most opulent, secluded, fairy tale lives were most apt to disbelieve history Although scary and sad, it makes sense in a distorted way Life was good They had fresh air, freedom, servants, good plentiful food, opulent mansions, their fathers doted on them This was the only life they knew Then, from one day to the next, it ended They were on the run, hungry, living in small apartments often in crowded conditions many siblings , their fathers were gone, schools people rejected them because of their names From a child s point of view, National Socialism must have seemed good, therefore their fathers are good and history lied Those in this book that most defended their fathers led a truly opulent life during the war and never again Sadly, these people who disbelieve history continue to endorse a National Socialism party and want to go back to the old ways Those who turned away from their fathers had cold, distant relationships with them during the war All in all, old interviews rehashed Interestng if this is the first book read on the thoughts of the children but otherwise short of detail and repetitive One quarter of the book is notes from the annotations No real revelations and the writing felt disorganized. In , the German sons and daughters of great Nazi dignitaries Himmler, Goring, Hess, Frank, Bormann, Speer, and Mengele were children of privilege at four, five, or ten years old, surrounded by affectionate, all powerful parents Although innocent and unaware of what was happening at the time, they eventually discovered the extent of their father s occupations These men their fathers who were capable of loving their children and receiving love in return were leaders of the Third Reich, and would later be convicted as monstrous war criminals For these children, the German defeat was an earth shattering source of family rupture, the end of opulence, and the jarring discovery of Hitler s atrocitiesHow did the offspring of these leaders deal with the aftermath of the war and the skeletons that would haunt them forever Some chose to disown their past Others did not Some condemned their fathers others worshipped them unconditionally to the end In this enlightening book, Tania Crasnianski examines the responsibility of eight descendants of Nazi notables, caught somewhere between stigmatization, worship, and amnesia By tracing the unique experiences of these children, she probes at the relationship between them and their fathers and examines the idea of how responsibility for the fault is continually borne by the descendants I thought the thorough research work made by the author on this book contributes to making it one of the best testimony of one of the rather unknown consequences of the third reich I came to know the book trough the great media covering it was offered in France while I was on a business trip there and was not disappointed by this powerful historic essay on guilt I strongly recommend it to anyone looking for a good historic book or that is simply interested by the subject.