Memoir Monday Recommendations WIT

Memoir Monday: My Grandfather Would Have Shot Me

I read this one and originally reviewed it last November but wanted to remind everyone of this interesting story for German Heritage Month this year. This has been the year of heritage months and I’m pretty excited about having a little something for each heritage. I do also have a TBR memoir for next week. Unfortunately this one coincides with Hispanic Heritage Month and neither will end up getting its full due. Maybe I’ll start taking turns in future years…..

Either way, here it is again, a great book from last year about a German woman and her experience of finding out who her family had been.

Review:

My Grandfather Would Have Shot Me: A Black Woman Discovers Her Family's Nazi Past - Jennifer Teege,Nikola Sellmair,Carolin Sommer

I don’t even know where to begin on this one. It’s is not as simple as finding out that her grandfather was a part of the Nazi party, which would still not be ideal. He was among the most well known and those whose deeds were well publicized.

The book follows Teege’s journey as she seeks what this discovery means for her and her life. It may not on the outside seem like finding out something about your grandfather can cause you to question who you are at your core, but I imagine it does. There is a certain amount of ‘nature vs nurture’ that we all question and finding out that your biological grandfather, regardless of whether or not you’ve met him, is capable of the things he did could make anyone question what was inside of them.

Along Teege’s journey, the book also uses the third person occasionally to show the typical progression through this knowledge as it concerns Germans in general. The children of Nazi’s had to love their parents and they had a strange relationship to that era that many of them were born in. The grandchildren of Nazi’s are far more likely to distance themselves from those grandparents with the knowledge of what they did or were complacent in allowing. But not all of these grandchildren are raised with the knowledge of who their specific grandparent was within the party, even when they knew there was involvement.

Teege had no idea that her family had ever been associated with the Nazi party. Her mother didn’t appear to have problems mixing races, as her father was Nigerian. Her grandmother, who was a witness to many of her grandfather’s deeds before he was executed at the end of the war, loved her unconditionally. Then she came across a book with her biological mother’s face on it that was titled I Have to Love My Father, Don’t I? This was when she began to realize there was a bit more to her history than she or her adopted family had been told when they adopted her.

The thing about this story that stands out in a way that is different from her peers is that Teege’s travels had put her in contact with plenty of people who had once been persecuted by her grandfather and his associates. She had been immersed in the other side of the conflict he was in the middle of and had to find a way to reconcile her personal history with her family history. She had to find a way to bring those two worlds together and the result is an interesting kind of healing. It seems like a first step, if nothing else. I’m sure she’s not the only person of her generation to want to find a healing, or even to find one, but her story is exceptional because of the way it happens.

I listened to the audiobook, read by  Robin Miles, and borrowed from my library. If you’d rather purchase, click on the cover image to be redirected to BookLikes for worldwide options, or add to Goodreads for later.

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