Hitler's Children

Chanoch Ze'evi, Israel, 2011, color, video, 60'
Synopsis

The Hoess family did everything they could to ignore the horror. The windows were boarded up so that they couldn't see the chimneys and the gas chambers from their mansion. Family photos show children playing outside and other idyllic scenes that don't betray the presence of the camp. The only things they couldn't ignore, explains Rainer Hoess almost 70 years later, was the stench of burned bodies and the thick layer of ash that covered the garden. His grandfather was the commander at Auschwitz, and his father grew up there. After a long time, Rainer finally managed to summon up the courage to visit the former concentration camp together with a Jewish friend. Hitler's Children introduces us to close family members of prominent figures from the Nazi regime. They explain what it is like to have to live with the weight of their family history. Himmler's great-niece married an Israeli Jew, Göering's great-niece had herself sterilized, and the son of the camp's executioner attempts to process his family's past through writing. We watch Hitler's traumatized children filmed in a suitably austere style - there are no eye-catching camera movements, no fast edits, and no dramatic musical flourishes. This style underscores the utterly earnest tone of the film and the fact that the German soul still bears deep scars two generations after the events.

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