Jennifer Teege believed she had every piece of her history. Her German mother had briefly been with a Nigerian student and become pregnant. Once her daughter had been born, she left her in the care of a Catholic home for children in Munich, where Teege grew up to be the only black child in the suburban Munich community. At 21, she reconnected with her younger half sister, as well as her biological mother, Monika Hertwig. Despite the meeting, the truth was hidden. Hertwig thought it best to not bring to surface their dark history.
Nearly 17 years after that meeting, the truth began to unravel itself in front of Jennifer Teege.
Teege came upon a a book entitled, “I Have to Love My Father, Don’t I?” a book written by her biological mother, Monika Hertwig. She opened the book and everything about what she knew changed. Her father was none other than Amon Goeth, the Nazi known for his sadistic tendencies as the commandant of the Plaszow concentration camp in Poland.
The discovery shook the very foundations she walked.
Teege battled being torn by the fact that she shared the blood of a man who was responsible for the deaths of 8,000 Jews. She started to come to terms with this new information, about her identity and how to overcome the past mistakes of her grandfather. She eventually went on to write her own book, “My Grandfather Would Have Shot Me: A Black Woman Discovers her Family’s Nazi Past.”
She felt a guilt so strong but came to realize that his mistakes aren’t hers and that they are not one in the same.
“Today I am not afraid of him. We are two very different people.”
Teege found her mother again, after realizing the truth, and sought answers for many questions she had. Monika Hertwig still lives with the grief and mistakes of her father; she feels the need to make up for her father’s actions.
“The second generation had a lot of trouble dealing with the Holocaust,” Teege says. “My generation, we are different. We know the difference between responsibility and guilt.”