A Nazi Legacy: What Our Fathers Did

(UK 2015)

The trailer for A Nazi Legacy: What Our Fathers Did looks promising, asking “What if you grew up as the child of a mass murderer?” British-Jewish lawyer Philippe Sands answers the question by spending some time with two men, Niklas Frank and Horst von Wächter, both sons of Nazi governors. Frank– whose father was convicted at Nuremberg and executed– doesn’t mince words when he condemns his father. Von Wächter on the other hand, is in complete denial that his father committed any wrong, in large part because he held a mainly administrative post and fled to Italy to die before he could be caputured. Naturally, von Wächter’s position does not sit well with Sands, whose relatives apparently were executed under the authority of Gov. von Wächter.

Subject matter and archival footage aside, I found A Nazi Legacy: What Our Fathers Did lacking. The focus on the conflicting views of von Wächter and Sands is initially interesting but ultimately overshadows any intellectual point: the former’s philistine refusal to face the facts and obvious inability to defend his position are both frustrating enough, but the latter’s supercilious browbeating makes a bad situation worse. With so much to work with, it’s a pity that what could have been an insightful commentary or debate degenerates into a pointless quarrel.

(Gene Siskel Film Center) D+