When I first read about this new book and the author, Jennifer Teege, and her very unusual story a few days ago, it immediately struck me that it would be a fascinating film. And I’m willing to bet some of you will think so too.
But first some background...
Teege’s book Amon: My Grandfather Would Have Shot Me, came out last month in Germany, and has caused a sensation, needless to say, once you hear the story. So far no American publisher, to my knowledge, has picked up for the book for an English translation here in the U.S., though I’m sure someone will and it'll probably come out sometime next year.
Teege is the daughter of a German woman and a Nigerian father whose mother gave her up for adoption only a month after she was born and she was eventually adopted by a couple, and raised in a Munich suburb.
She tried as much as she could to live a normal life though, of course, she encountered many difficulties and for a while was a college student in Israel, and did work some study work on the Holocaust, which is ironic when you find out where this story is going.
She eventually married, had kids and lived in Hamburg working as a copywriter. That was until 5 years ago, when, at the age of 38, she was going through a local library looking for anything of interest to read and came across a book written by Monika Goeth telling of her experiences during World War II.
To Teege’s surprise, reading the book, she found out that Goeth is actually her mother, and that her grandmother, who she knew as Ruth Irene Goeth, had committed suicide.
But the story gets even stranger when Teege also discovers from the book that her grandfather was a Nazi. And not just any Nazi, but the infamous Amon Goeth, the Nazi concentration camp commander at Plaszow in Poland - the same person who Ralph Fiennes so memorably portrayed in Steven Spielberg’s film Schindler’s List.
Like I said, ironic.
To put in mildly, Teege was understandably confused, saddened and shocked by this revelation, regarding her family’s brutal history, her status as a woman of color in Germany, and about her grandmother who “decades later spoke enthusiastically about her life at the side of the camp commander. It was a great time.”
And for Teege “this is a shock because she knew her grandmother just as loving people, And I only had good memories of it, but suddenly this was destroyed from childhood.. because I could not see her as a caring woman, but as a woman on the side of Amon Goeth."
So over the next five years, she traveled and researched and eventually wrote Amon - a book about her life and struggles and coming to terms with her family’s past. It’s fair to say that Ms. Teege has quite a lot of issues that she had to, and is still trying to deal with.
Now wouldn’t you agree with me that this would be a really interesting feature film or an HBO movie? Question is, who would you cast in it, and who would you pick to direct it, if you were producing it?
As for lead actress, I haven’t a clue; but for director, the first one who came to mind was Pariah's Dee Rees. Just judging from her previous film, I think she would have the right sensibility and nuance for such a film.
What about you?
Below is sort of a promo video for the book. It’s all in German, but you can adjust the video to play with English subtitles. Although they’re clumsy and obviously wrong at times, so I suggest you just watch it the way it is. You’ll get the gist of it.