My Father's Keeper: The Children of Nazi Leaders - an Intimate History of Damage and Denial

My Father's Keeper: The Children of Nazi Leaders - an Intimate History of Damage and Denial

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By (author) Stephan Lebert

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  • Publisher: Abacus
  • Format: Paperback | 256 pages
  • Dimensions: 126mm x 198mm x 15mm | 168g
  • Publication date: 4 July 2002
  • Publication City/Country: London
  • ISBN 10: 0349114579
  • ISBN 13: 9780349114576
  • Illustrations note: portraits
  • Sales rank: 332,680

Product description

There are and always have been ways of escaping one's own past. But there are some who have never had this chance: the children of prominent Nazis. On one hand they have the memories of the nice, kind man who was their father, on the other they are confronted with the facts of history: with the madness, the murders, the personal purgatory. The Leberts, father and son, spoke at an interval of forty years - 1959 and 1999 - to these men and women who bore a tainted name and were crushed by the burden of the past: Gudrun Himmler - 75, runs a network for old Nazis in Munich, denies her father did anything wrong; Martin Boorman (junior) - 70, believes his father was a monster; Etta Goring - 70, will hear no bad word about her father; Nicholas Frank (father was in charge of Auschwitz) believes his father was the incarnation of evil. The result is a series of snapshots of rare intensity and a demonstration of how these destinies have more to do with the twenty-first century than many would care to think.

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Author information

NORBERT LEBERT worked as journalist and freelance writer in Munich after WW2. His son, STEPHAN LEBERT, was born in 1961 and is managing editor of TAGES-SPIEGEL in Berlin. He has been awarded the Egon Erwin Kisch Prize.

Review quote

Fascinating. Professor Eric Hobsbawm Highly interesting ... what emerges not only casts light on the mentality and psychology of "Nazi children" in later life, but also on the wider issue of lingering trauma of the Third Reich. Professor Ian Kershaw MY FATHER'S KEEPER is a worthwhile read. SUNDAY BUSINESS POST It is an absorbing read, told with sympathy and discretion. MAIL ON SUNDAY Amazing stories FINANCIAL TIMES

Editorial reviews

What kind of people are the sons and daughters of the men behind the worst atrocities of World War II? This is a question German journalist Stephan Lebert asks in his book My Father's Keeper. His starting point for this exploration is a series of interviews his own father, also a journalist, conducted with the offspring of various prominent Nazis such as Hess, Bormann, Goring, and Himmler. In 1993, Stephan Lebert tracked down some of these children to see how their lives had progressed. As a result, he found a group of people who each had a fascinating tale to tell. Lebert talks to a woman who was continually refused work because she wouldn't disguise her identity, but who has since assumed her husband's name and lives a relatively normal life, despite keeping secret contact with other Nazis. He discovers a young man who objects to undertaking military service on the grounds that his father is locked up in a Spandau jail as a Nazi war criminal. He also meets a journalist who was so disgusted by the actions of his father that he would write shocking articles expressing his loathing. The reaction to such outbursts turned out to be outrage from people who maintained the belief that whatever your father may have done, fathers must always be honoured. My Father's Keeper explores the relationship between children and their parents, the denial of a nation's past and the nature of evil. Lebert comments on the contradiction of doting fathers who played lovingly with their children on minute, but would be ordering the killing of thousands the next. This book is a fascinating insight into the way children live with their parents' legacy and how the Nazi past still haunts the present. (Kirkus UK)