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Inheritance (2006 film)

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Director  James Moll
Editor  James Moll
Country  USA
7.4/10 IMDb

Genre  Documentary
Language  English
Inheritance (2006 film) movie poster

Release date  25 June 2006 (2006-06-25) (USA)
Cast  Helen Jonas-Rosenzweig, Monika Hertwig
Genres  Documentary, Historical drama
Similar movies  Hitlers Children (2011), Schindlers List (1993), Hotel Terminus (1988), Fire on the Mountain (1996), James Moll directed Inheritance and The Last Days

Inheritance is a 2006 documentary film about Monika Hertwig a.k.a. Monika Christiane Knauss, the daughter of Ruth Irene Kalder and Amon Göth, Commandant of Kraków-Płaszów concentration camp. Monika Hertwig was 10 months old when her father was hanged in 1946 for war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide. She discovered the truth about him only as a young adult, because her own mother told her in childhood that he was a good man and a war hero.


Inheritance (2006 film) movie scenes

The film was produced for PBS by James Moll, film director, documentary producer and the Founding Executive Director of the USC Shoah Foundation Institute focusing on testimonies of the Holocaust survivors. In 2009, Inheritance was nominated by the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences and received an Emmy Award in the category of Outstanding Interview.

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Inheritance commander of camp plazlow 1 3 pov pbs


In the documentary, Monika Hertwig travels to Płaszów on the outskirts of Kraków, Poland in an attempt to learn more about her father, SS-Hauptsturmführer Amon Göth, who was portrayed in Spielberg's Schindler's List. The film had deeply affected Monika, and she claims to have hated Spielberg after watching it. In her search for more information, Hertwig has a meeting at the scene of the former concentration camp with Helen Jonas-Rosenzweig, the Holocaust survivor born in Kraków, who was interned during World War II at Kraków–Płaszów, and forced to work as a maid for Amon Göth. More than 60 years after his execution, the two women first met there in person.

Amon Göth had two Jewish housemaids who stayed with him in the villa: Helen ("Lena") Hirsch (now Helen Horowitz) and Helen ("Susanna") Sternlicht (now Helen Jonas, formerly Helen Rosenzweig). As part of Monika Hertwig's search for more answers, she was given the opportunity to meet the woman from the Kraków Ghetto enslaved and preyed upon by her father during the Holocaust in Poland. He shot Helen Jonas' boyfriend Adam dead in front of her.

Göth was a married man, with a wife Anni, and two children in Vienna, when he met Monika's young, attractive mother Ruth Kalder – a beautician and aspiring actress originally from Gliwice (or Wrocław, sources vary) – through his friend Oskar Schindler in Kraków in 1942 (or early in 1943). She worked as secretary at Schindler's factory at that time. The two had an ostentatious camp affair which Göth's Austrian wife knew nothing about. They were partying, playing tennis and horseback riding together. Ruth saw him hunting humans (in fact, he killed hundreds), but in her 1983 interview with the BBC she attempted to defend him nevertheless, she was shown the transcripts of his trial, and committed suicide a day later. Monika, who was 37 years old at the time of the interview, thus first heard her mother speak frankly on the subject, to total strangers. Monika Hertwig, Göth's illegitimate child, and his camp maid Helen Jonas-Rosenzweig, met for the first time in 2004. Hertwig had requested the meeting with Jonas, but Jonas was hesitant because her memories of the past were so traumatic. She eventually agreed after Hertwig wrote to her: "We have to do it for the murdered people." Jonas shared her sentiment and offered to meet at the Płaszów Memorial Monument in Poland and tour Göth's villa with her for the documentary Inheritance; her own husband had committed suicide in 1980 suffering from survivor guilt syndrome. James Moll, the film's director and an associate of Steven Spielberg, brought the women together in front of a camera in order to make his film.


Inheritance was completed in 2006. It was produced by James Moll's company Allentown Productions. The primary footage was shot over the course of 13 days on location in Poland, but footage was also shot at Helen's home in New Jersey and on the outskirts of Munich, where Monika lived. The film premiered on June 25, 2006 at the Los Angeles Film Festival and was shown internationally as Der Mördervater in Germany, as Förintelsens arv in Sweden, and as My Father was a Nazi Commandant (TV title) in the UK.

Critical response

The documentary received critical acclaim and positive reviews from a number of critics, including David Cornelius of DVD Review ("simple but stunning documentary"), William Lee of DVD Verdict ("a remarkable story"), Prof. Cynthia Fuchs at PopMatters ("they live with the past, each moment a lesson"), and Michael Atkinson of IFC ("a fascinating dialectic for a number of reasons").


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