Last night our students were privileged to attend a special event partially coordinated by our institute, the Strochlitz Institute for Holocaust Research, which featured Jennifer Teege sharing her life story with us.
Teege is the biological granddaughter of Amon Goeth, the legendary and cruel commander of the Plaszow concentration camp. Goeth is often remembered for shooting Jewish prisoners from his balcony as was depicted in Steven Spielberg’s Schindler’s List. Teege was adopted at age 7, and consequentially lost touch with her biological mother and grandmother, so at age 38 she was shocked to discover her biological roots by chance in a public library.
The evening began with a fascinating lecture, from Professor Eli Somer, about children of Aryan citizens in Nazi Germany. Many of the subjects he discussed had moved to Israel and converted to Judaism. While a very different reality from Teege’s, it was a great lecture and opening for Teege’s story.
Teege opened her heart to the audience and shared her story of both discovering her family’s dark secret past, as well as recovering from it, which she recounted in an interview with our faculty member Professor Hadas Wiseman.
Towards the end of the presentation Teege invited up her friend Rena Birnhack, who had contacted her after reading the book. Birnhack lives here in Haifa and survived the Holocaust, along with her parents and sister, through their work assignment with Oscar Schindler. She recalled the experience of going through “selection” in the Krakow ghetto. She gifted two puppies to Amon Goeth, and credits his decision to send her to Plaszow instead of Auschwitz to this exchange. Teege’s book also talks about these puppies sharing that Goeth had given them to her grandmother, and watching the two women tell their stories together was inspiring and moving for the whole auditorium.
To find out more about Teege you can read a recent article published about her and the book here.