16 October, 2015

My grandfather would have shot me by Jennifer Teege and Nikola Sellmair

I was drawn to this book as the story was one that seemed highly impossible. It is a story of a German Nigerian woman called Jennifer Teege. Her story has so many twists and turns that even a script writer would find it hard to envisage it. She goes to a library as an adult, and finds a book called "I have to love my father, Don't I?", written by Matthias Kessler which is about her biological mother Monika and her grandmother. She realises that she has a grandfather called Amon Goeth who was the commandant at Plaszow concentration camp in the Nazi era. She shivers to think how he  would have reacted to her if he had known of her existence. She was born out of wedlock to Monika and a Nigerian man and was given away to an orphanage at birth. She was adopted by a Christian family who loved her. Being black made her feel different to her adopted family and her search for her past becomes all consuming.

She finds her real mother who is still trying to  come to terms with her past, and the bond that had broken between the two when Jennifer was a baby, is hard to bridge. Jennifer finds it hard to understand how her grandmother who she remembers as gentle and beautiful could have lived with a man who committed such atrocities against innocent human beings (Jews in particular). Amon Goeth is portrayed by Ralph Fiennes in the movie " Schindler's List". Her grandmother did not denounce him and enjoyed the "perks" that came with his job though she knew he was wrong.

Jennifer lives in Israel, studies in Hebrew and has close Jewish friends. It is as if she is atoning for her grandfather's sins. Learning about her past starts the healing process. Her husband and sons give her the courage to carry on. Her Jewish friends accept her. She finally understands she was not responsible for all the evil. Sometimes real life is stranger than fiction and this book definitely shows that.

Author: Jennifer Teege and Nikola Sellmair
Reviewed by Kanchan T , Blockhouse Bay Library
Kanchan T is a voracious reader and likes books on travel, true life stories and biographies.

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