When Inheritance filmmaker James Moll was working on a film for the Schindler’s List DVD about Oskar Schindler’s survivors, he needed to obtain permission to use a photograph of Nazi commander Amon Goeth. The photograph was owned by Goeth’s daughter, Monika Hertwig, and when James called her at home in Germany, they began having a conversation about the photograph.
Inheritance airs on select PBS stations on Wednesday, December 10, 2008 at 9 PM. (Schedules vary, so check your local listings.) The film will also be available in its entirety online from December 11, 2008 to January 4, 2009 on the POV website.
As James recounts in his filmmaker interview with POV, in the middle of their conversation, Monika suddenly said, “You know, I am not my father.” For her, living as the daughter of Amon Goeth has been extremely difficult. She asked James if he knew of any way to meet Helen Jonas, who had been enslaved by her father.
After James put the two women in touch with each other, they decided to meet at the Plaszow concentration camp in Poland, where Helen had lived as a servant in Goeth’s villa, and where she had witnessed his cruelty and murderousness firsthand. Inheritance documents the extraordinary meeting between Monika and Helen as they delve into the past, into the question of family history and legacy, of guilt on the part of the children of perpetrators and of the question of forgiveness.
For James, Inheritance is “a film that raises questions about what our parents did and how we each carry with us the consequences of our parents’ actions.” Do you have a question for James about the film? Leave your question in the comments below, and he will answer select questions on the POV Blog.
Added December 12, 2008: If you have a note that you would like to send directly to Helen or Monika, please leave a comment in this entry and we will make sure to pass it along to them.