'Undoing what my father has done'

  • February 9, 2010
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The first time I met the head of the German Society to Preserve Jewish Culture in 2000, I told him that my grandparents had ‘died’ in the Holocaust.

“They didn’t die,” he said. “They were killed. It is a very big difference.”

Then he told me his history:

“My father and grandfather were strong Nazis. I have tried to understand what made them partners in murder. The more I search the less I understand. I think my father thought that if you go along, you will find a better place in the community and you have a better chance to become rich. He died before I could ask him about why he did what he did. He never told me anything.

“My father’s biography is my own. It is me. I’m haunted by the question, ‘Would I do the same thing?’ I’ll never know. But I try to do all in my power to make sure no one has to be haunted by this question again.

“I’ve gone to Russia more than twenty times to do humanitarian work. I try to find the places where my father was a soldier and undo what my father has done.”

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