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Talking Germany

Blog with Peter Craven

What about a guest like Jennifer Teege?

Or: Suffering and grief, doubt and qualms

OK, I’ll admit it: I often spend the last couple of days before the Talking Germany recording tortured by qualms about how far I can or should probe into the guest’s private life – into his, or her, private sphere.

Yes, I know it’s my job. It’s expected. Go on: ask the next question. The one that so obviously leads on from the previous one. And, yes, I know that if you go on a talk show, you’ve signed up to talk. I shouldn’t, anyway, be making too much of all this because a lot of our shows are in essence made up of informed and hopefully entertaining chat about the (normally extremely interesting) job that somebody does. But what about the shows where you have to talk about grief and suffering?

What about a guest like Jennifer Teege? Who, one fine day, discovered that her grandfather was the murderous concentration camp Kommandant Amon Göth. The one depicted in the movie Schindler’s List. The one who, in real life, played target practice with the Jews of the Płaszów camp in the Polish city of Kraków. This discovery also meant that Jennifer Teege’s grandmother, the one she had loved so dearly, had been Göth’s lover. Too much to bear, you’d think. And all compounded by the fact that she is black. No wonder, therefore, that her book about all this is called Amon: My Grandfather Would Have Shot Me.

Yes, I was nervous. So, when I walked into our make-up suite and bumped straight into Jennifer – tall and athletic, smiling warmly – I was, I have to say, relieved to sense that it was going to be all right. To know that I could and would ask all the questions. And, somehow, be on her side at the same time.


August 30, 2014