The Fascinating Story of Eight Children of Third Reich Leaders and their Journey from Descendants of Heroes to Descendants of Criminals
In 1940, the German sons and daughters of great Nazi dignitaries Himmler, Göring, Hess, Frank, Bormann, Speer, and Mengele were children of privilege at four, five, or ten years old, surrounded by affectionate, all-powerful parents. Although innocent and unaware of what was happening at the time, they eventually discovered the extent of their father's occupations: These men—their fathers who were capable of loving their children and receiving love in return—were leaders of the Third Reich, and would later be convicted as monstrous war criminals. For these children, the German defeat was an earth-shattering source of family rupture, the end of opulence, and the jarring discovery of Hitler's atrocities.
How did the offspring of these leaders deal with the aftermath of the war and the skeletons that would haunt them forever? Some chose to disown their past. Others did not. Some condemned their fathers; others worshiped them unconditionally to the end. In this enlightening book, Tania Crasnianski examines the responsibility of eight descendants of Nazi notables, caught somewhere between stigmatization, worship, and amnesia. By tracing the unique experiences of these children, she probes at the relationship between them and their fathers and examines the idea of how responsibility for the fault is continually borne by the descendants.
"How does one live with the burden of evil ancestry? There is no user's manual. The children of high-ranking Nazis coped in remarkably varied ways. Tania Crasnianski has researched their stories carefully and tells them strikingly."—Robert O. Paxton, professor emeritus of history, Columbia University
"A most interesting read, though at times a grim one."—Susannah Fullerton, author of Celebrating Pride and Prejudice: 200 Years of Jane Austen's Masterpiece
"Forays such as this into the underbelly of human history make for demanding reading, but they are necessary if history is to be kept from repeating itself, and Crasnianski is to praised for her diligence and candor."—Booklist
"A fascinating read . . . Crasnianski is able to tell the story from a unique vantage point, one that distinguishes her book from others on the subject."—Aish.com
"The author brings to light the fate of children who, after the fall of Nazism, found themselves facing the monstrous reality of their parents, as they considered them until then like heroes. . . . A documentation of family, memory and history."—Le Point (France)
"A first successful book on a particularly scabrous subject."—Figaro (France)
"Tania Crasnianski refrains from making judgments about the behavior of the children of the main actors of the Third Reich. [Children of Nazis] reflects the attitude of each child in how they understand a history broader than their own."—Le Journal du Dimanche (France)
"Tania Crasnianski . . . does not make a plea for these voluntary or involuntary criminals, stubborn or repentant. She brews a series of portraits, a mosaic of destinies . . . which draw a fresco of the great History."—Sputnik France
"Enlightening . . . a fascinating investigation."—La Depeche (France)
"A sobering read. These children were raised in the cult of the Third Reich, and were indoctrinated in those Aryan philosophies. Some managed to break free, but some did not."—Switftlytiltingplanet.com