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New Book: 'My Grandfather Would Have Shot Me'

02/20/2015 02:42 pm ET | Updated Apr 22, 2015

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"I am the granddaughter of Amon Goeth, who shot hundreds of people - and for being black, he would have shot me, too." - Jennifer Teege

When Jennifer Teege, a German-Nigerian woman, randomly picked up a library book off a shelf, her whole life -- her whole sense of self -- changed forever. Recognizing images of her mother and grandmother in the book, she discovered a horrifying fact that no one had ever shared with her: Her grandfather was Amon Goeth, the vicious Nazi commandant so chillingly depicted by Ralph Fiennes in Schindler's List -- a man known and despised the world over.

I have entered a chamber of horrors. . . . Slowly I begin to grasp that the Amon Goeth in the film Schindler's List is not a fictional character, but a person who actually existed in flesh and blood. A man who killed people by the dozens and, what is more, who enjoyed it. My grandfather. I am the granddaughter of a mass murderer.

Despite being raised in an orphanage and adopted at a young age, she had had some contact with her biological grandmother and mother. Yet neither ever mentioned their family legacy--one indelibly marked by her grandfather, the notorious Nazi "butcher of Płaszów." Over the following months, Jennifer's research takes her to Poland, to Israel and deep into her family's past.

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Image Credit: The Experiment Publishing

Jennifer's life turns upside down as she begins to grasp the scope of her grandfather's crimes--and uncovers some unsettling truths about the woman she remembers as her kindly grandmother. She tentatively reconnects with her estranged mother Monika, explores the sites of the Płaszów concentration camp and the former Jewish ghetto in Krakow and returns to Israel, where she had lived for four years in her twenties and learned fluent Hebrew.

Jennifer's story is cowritten by award-winning journalist Nikola Sellmair, who also provides fascinating additional context (in part drawn from original interviews with her family and friends) in a second, interwoven narrative. Ultimately, Jennifer's resolute search for the truth of her family's history leads her, step by step, to the possibility of her own liberation.

Holocaust Remembrance Day is April 16, 2015, and also the book's publication date and the launch of Jennifer Teege's US book tour. 2015 also marks the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II in Europe, in April-May 1945, and with it an end to the Nazi atrocities that claimed so many millions of lives.

The chronicle of Jennifer Teege's struggle with her haunted past unfolds in My Grandfather Would Have Shot Me: A Black Woman Discovers Her Family's Nazi Past ($24.95; 978-1-61519-253-3; hardcover; April 15, 2015). You can pre-order your copy today.

-Reprinted with Permission.

Originally published on Literatigurl.com