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Hitler's Children [Import]

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4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
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Adolf Hitler did not have children, but what of the families of Hermann G÷ring, Heinrich Himmler and Hans Frank, to name a few? What is it like for the descendants of these top Nazi officials to deal with the legacy left behind by their notorious families? HITLER'S CHILDREN introduces us to the children, grandchildren and nieces and nephews of these infamous men. Among them Niklas Frank, son of Hans Frank and godson of Hitler, who despises his father's past so much that he has spent his entire adult life researching and writing negatively about him, often touring around Germany to lecture against his father and the Nazi regime. And Bettina G÷ring - the great-niece of Hitler's second in command, Hermann G÷ring - who lives in voluntary exile in Santa Fe, NM and together with her brother decided to get sterilized so as to not pass on the G÷ring name or blood. These, and many others, discuss how they have coped with the fact that their last name alone immediately raises images of murder and genocide; and how they have reached a balance between the natural admiration and affection children feel towards their parents, and their innate revulsion of their crimes. Some have been more successful than others at achieving that balance, but each bares, for the first time, the scars that their legacy has left them. "HITLERS CHILDREN is a searing documentary focusing on these tormented souls who look, talk, eat and breathe like everyone else... and yet feel as if they were spawned by the devil." --Allan Hall, The Sun "POWERFUL! A compassionate group portrait of five actual descendants of the Nazi regimes most notorious actors." --Michelle Orange, The Village Voice "A GREAT ACHEIVEMENT! Cunningly structured as a good thriller - and just as taut." --George Robinson, The New York Jewish Week


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4.0 out of 5 stars Bearing the guilt of one's ancestors Aug. 11 2014
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
This is an important documentary that gives us an idea of what it's like to be the child or grandchild of an infamous nazi monster. I wish this documentary had been made 50 years ago so that we'd hear from the immediate family (spouses and children) of the monsters rather than from their grandchildren. Also, I wish the film had featured many more of the descendants rather than just a few. For example, where are the descendants of the monstrous Dr. Mengele? I suspect that a lot of these people were approached and refused to speak. There were thousands of nazi SS men. Why do we hear nothing from their descendants? Nevertheless, the film is good as far as it goes. And the scene where the grandson of Hoess, the Kommandant of Auscwitz, returns to Auschwitz and speaks with a Survivor of that very camp, is absolutely heart-wrenching and stands out as the most memorable scene of the film. We all, to some extent, carry the legacy of our parents' and grandparents' deeds and misdeeds, and the underlying question posed by this film is, to what degree is it normal and /or healthy to carry the guilt for those actions? Each person must search his/her conscience and decide for him/herself. I am very happy that I saw this film and applaud the film makers as well as those brave descendants of prominent nazis who had the courage to appear in the film.
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5.0 out of 5 stars An Interesting View Nov. 6 2013
By Roller
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
This film focuses on the descendants of some of the Leaders of the Third Reich and shows how they are dealing with their legacy. It is very interesting in that it shows how much disdain these descendants have for the actions of their Grandparents. The Climax is when the Grandson of the Commandant of the Auschwitz Camp returns to the camp and meets with some Teenagers from Israel. The film also discusses how the events of the Third Reich have affected German people, and their perception of German Culture.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.3 out of 5 stars  58 reviews
36 of 37 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Cognitive dissonance March 17 2013
By Grady Harp - Published on Amazon.com
Format:DVD
Chanoch Ze'evi Has accomplished the near impossible: he has gathered the descendants of Hitler's regime. Placed them in front of his camera, let them talk, provided subtitles, and let the rest of the film work it's own insidious way into the psyches f all who watch it. Perhaps for the first time we are seeing a full picture of what life in and around Adolf Hitler was like as he terrified the universe with his megalomaniac plan for purification of the Aryan race - a plan that resulted in the deaths and tortures and cremations of millions of Jews, gypsies, criminals, homosexuals, and those who tried in vain to stop the atrocities.

The cast then are the descendants of Hitler's murderous group - now adults, forever tainted by the sins of their forbears, who explaining to us in penetrating eye contacts what it was like to be around the monster's court. Bettina Goering, Katrin Himmler, Eldad Beck, Rainer Hoess, Niklas Frank, and Monika Goeth are the cast members in this unforgettable film.

These six ordinary appearing people were not associated with Nazi leanings and they talk individually about what it is like to carry a name associated with the Nazi Party, being a blood relative to someone associated with hate and murder, being German at a time when that in and of itself was seen as being associated with Nazism, dealing with their family regardless of their allegiance to the Nazi Party, and if they feel any guilt associated with the actions of their infamous ancestor. Bettina Goering is the great-niece of Nazi official Hermann Göring shares her voluntary sterilization she underwent to put an end to her bloodline of horror (she now lives simply in New Mexico). Katrin Himmler is the great-niece of Heinrich Himmler, second in command of the Nazi Party under Adolf Hitler and has written copiously about the evils of the Nazi regime. Rainer Hoess is the grandson of Rudolf Hoess, creator and commandant of the Auschwitz Concentration Camp. Niklas Frank is the son of Hans Frank, Polish Governor-General during WWII, he who was responsible for the ghettos and concentration camps in Nazi occupied Poland. Monika Goeth is the daughter of Amon Goeth, commandant of the Plaszów Concentration Camp. In addition to these musings, Hoess and journalist Eldad Beck - a third generation Holocaust survivor - travel back to Auschwitz to revisit their shared ancestral past. And Frank tells in his writings and in public speaking engagements, most to school aged children, of his past of being the direct beneficiary to many of the Nazi Party's favors which in turn is partly the reason he denounces his parents.

Many viewers will find hearing these tales (basically related in German) unsettling and that is the film's purpose. Never ever forget that period in history and yet realize the agony of the descendants of those beasts that hopefully will never be duplicated. Grady Harp, March 13
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Goering, Himmler, Frank, Goeth, Hoess: What it's like to live with an infamous Nazi surname April 6 2013
By Sharon Isch - Published on Amazon.com
Format:DVD
If you're Herman Goering's great niece Bettina, who sees a resemblance to the Luftwaffe leader's infamous face every time she looks in a mirror, you distance yourself by moving to America, where you cast off the surname you were born with and take that of your new husband; then you and your brother get sterilized to ensure that no trace of that monster's blood will ever again run through German veins. Eventually that distance will enable you to revisit and relish the best of your German heritage...especially its food and music....

If you're Katrin Himmler, you'll marry an Israeli Jew and research and write a book about Himmler brothers' history, and if that makes you unpopular with other kin of the man who ran Hitler's SS, Gestapo and death camps, so be it. And you'll work very hard at losing your German accent, in hopes that when you go abroad you'll be mistaken for a Dane or Swede....

If you're Niklas Frank, son of Hans, the former Hitler-appointed Governor General of Poland, who ran its death camps, you'll check in with your brother before being interviewed for this documentary to make sure you're right that your parents never, ever, not even once, gave their kids a hug, a kiss or any other sign of affection, and your brother will confirm that. And you'll write a book about the Third Reich monsters who were your parents and give readings in schools where you know full well the teenagers there don't want to hear any of this, but you do it anyway....

If you're Monika Goeth, you'll grow up being assured that your father runs a "work camp" for Jews which, she was told, was "a good thing". "But why, if it's a work camp, Mama, are there old people and children there?" And "Has papa ever killed any Jews, Mama?" "Well, maybe a few," she was told. "What's a few, Mama?" she asks. Mama's answer? A whipping. Then came the day Monika went to see "Schindler's List." She couldn't get anyone to go with her--total fiction, they all said--so she went alone and found out to her horror who her father really was--the sadistic death camp commandant of Plaszow...

If you're Rainer Hoess, born into a family devoid of warmth, whose father beat him if ever he cried and whose grandfather ran Auschwitz, stashed his family in a beautiful adjacent villa with a vast green yard full of bikes and toys made by prisoners headed for the death chambers--some two million of them, you know the only way you'll ever be able to find peace of mind is to go see that Gate to Hell for yourself. You're petrified of doing that and letting visiting Jews know who you are--but you have no choice if you want to be able to live with yourself.

This documentary is presented as a mixed bag of excerpts from individual interviews with these five very interesting people. I find it somewhat puzzling that the filmmakers chose to jump back and forth and in and out of these very different individual stories this way. Maybe they were trying to give some sense of what it might have been like to have had all five together in one room sharing their stories in bits and pieces as people tend to do in a group setting. At any rate, I had to watch this documentary a second time to be able to mentally reassemble those bits and pieces into five distinct stories. But it was well worth it. Definitely a must see for this viewer. And you, too, I hope.
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars MUST SEE documentary: "where to draw the line to love those parents?" Aug. 7 2013
By Paul Allaer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:DVD
I am a big fan of Film Movement's library of foreign and indie movies, and in fact am a subscriber to their DVD-of-the-month club. However, this is one of those releases that fell outside that DVD-of-the-month subscription, so I am just now catching up on it.

"Hilter's Children" (2011 German-Israeli co-production) brings the amazing story of several of the survivor's of Hitler's closest officers and confidants (Hitler obviously has no offspring himself). Just in the first 15-20 min. alone, we got to know Bettine Goering (Herman Goering was her great-uncle), Katrin Himmler (Heinrich Himmler was her great-uncle), Rainer Hoess (Rudolph Hoess, who ran the Auschwitz concentration camp, was his grandfather), and Monica Goeth (Amon Goeth, who ran the Plaszow concentration camp, was her father). Later on we get to know some others too. I was floored by all this. These are REAL people. The beauty of the movie is that the director asks a question (off-camera) and then lets the subject talk, and talk, and talk. There is no need to provide additional voice-overs with comments or admonitions, as the interviews speak for themselves. Best of all for me was the Hoess story. Rainer, who looks to be in his 40s, had never dared to visit Auschwitz although he had seen countless pictures of his family (including his dad as a young boy) living a sheltered life next to the concentration camp. Rainer's visit to Auschwitz will move, if not shock, you to your core. (I had the opportunity to visit Auschwitz in 2009 and to state that it left an impact on me would be a huge understatement.)

The interviews deal with issues of guilt, remorse, fear of 'bad genes', how to try and live life anyway, etc. At one point one of the interviewees asks (either to her self or to no-one in particular) "where do you draw the line to love those parents, knowing the terrible things they have done?". Indeed. I know it's never going to happen, but this movie should be required viewing for all high school kids in this country when they study WWII. Bottom line: "Hitler's Children" is a MUST SEE documentary and I rate it 5 stars for historical and humanitarian reasons. (The DVD also contains the usual bonus shortie, in this case a 24 min. documentary from Israel called "Kun 65", focusing on a Holocaust survivor. I saw it immediately after seeing "Hitler's Children" and that was probably a mistake as I was emotionally gutted from that movie, and really couldn't get into "Kun 65".)
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars What If Your Family Legacy Was Evil Personified? A Powerful, Yet Effectively Understated, Documentary Explores The Answer March 28 2013
By K. Harris - Published on Amazon.com
Is it possible to escape the onus of evil? The crimes of the Third Reich are indelibly printed on our mass consciousness even as we've struggled to put them into perspective. I've seen a lot of films that deal with the aftermath of World War II and the shame it brought on the nation of Germany. Those who survived, those who sacrificed, those who suffered, and those who were merciless--there are a lot of stories to tell when considering genocide and torture on a global scale. But there is one group of survivors that I've never considered before and this is the angle taken in the strong, but understated, new documentary "Hitler's Children." What if someone in your immediate family played a significant and horrifying role in what happened? What if your family legacy was evil personified? It's a chilling notion and the participants interviewed for this presentation all cope in varying ways.

The filmmakers have assembled a handful of Germans with very recognizable and notorious names such as Himmler, Goering, Hoess, Goeth and Frank. These children of Hitler, so to speak, have had their own demons to reconcile and this is their opportunity to have a voice. The interviews are candid, sometimes unpleasant, but enlightening as well. Some are still actively pursuing answers, some are more settled. For me, the most harrowing stories come from the two men participating. Rainer Hoess is the grandson of Rudolf Hoess, creator and commandant of the Auschwitz Concentration Camp. He struggles to understand that his father lived adjacent to the Camp and how his family could be indifferent to the horrors right next door. His pilgrimage to Auschwitz was the emotional centerpiece of the film. Niklas Frank's father was responsible for the ghettos and concentration camps in Nazi occupied Poland. His anger led him to write a book about his family. He has been ostracized from them but still continues to pursue public readings of his work. These are the two stories that really resonated with me.

The movie, in my opinion, is a must-see for serious minded film-goers. Although elements are harrowing, this is still a survival story. It just has a different vantage point. Imagine if you're father was portrayed as a monster (by the brilliant Ralph Fiennes, no less) in "Schindler's List." Not an easy thing to watch! As with all Film Movement DVD releases, there is a bonus short (not with the on-demand option). This month's entry is a 24 minute feature from Israel called "Kun 65." It tells the story of a Holocaust survivor who the filmmaker discovered quite by accident. Although I wanted to embrace the short, it is rather amateurish. And instead of hearing from the subject herself, the narrative device is done in complete voice over narration. As we never hear the survivor's voice, the film loses some impact. Still a strong month! "Hitler's Children" is certainly a 5 star experience, with "Kun 65" at about 3 1/2. KGHarris, 3/13.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Sins Of The Fathers Are Visited Upon The Children March 14 2013
By John D. Cofield - Published on Amazon.com
Format:DVD
Imagine going through life with a surname like Goering, Goeth, Himmler, Hoess, or Frank. Try to understand how a child might feel if his or her parents never speak of their own parents or other relatives and actually get angry when they are mentioned. Finally, think of what it would be like to realize that your close relations instigated the Holocaust. The brave souls we encounter in Hitler's Children don't have to use their imaginations to understand these things, they grew up with them.

This moving documentary, directed by Chanoch Ze'evi, an Israeli, actually brings some humanity to the Nazis depicted here by depicting their family members. That doesn't lessen the horror of what they did but intensifies it, similar in some ways to Hannah Arendt and her "banality of evil." All of the stories told here are compelling, but I found the most moving one to be that of Niklas Frank, the son of Hans Frank who governed Poland during World War II. He has spent his life speaking out against his parents and the regime they served. Similarly, I was deeply moved by the journey back to Auschwitz made by the grandson of Hoess, the camp's commander. Armed with old photographs, he was able to identify his father's old playground, within sight of the camp's infamous front gate.

There are a number of scenes showing some of the family members holding talks and seminars with students and in one case coming face to face with a Holocaust survivor. There are other scenes depicting Goering's great-niece attempting to lead a normal life with her American husband in Santa Fe, serving German food to her guests, not in an attempt to disguise her heritage but in order to better come to terms with it.

The documentary is about 90 minutes long and is primarily in German, with English subtitles. I found it very moving, not just for the reminders of the Holocaust (which become ever more necessary as the years pass and some attempt to deny that it happened,) but also for the bravery shown by the family members who have spent their lives coming to terms with a great horror.
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