Inheritance (2006 film)

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Inheritance (2006) release.jpg
Directed by James Moll
Produced by James Moll, Christopher Pavlick
Starring Vivian Delman, Monica Hertwig, Reinhardt Hertwig, Helen Jonas
Music by Andrés Goldstein, Daniel Tarrab
Cinematography Harris Done
Edited by James Moll
Allentown Productions
Distributed by PBS (theatrical)
Release date
  • 25 June 2006 (2006-06-25) (USA)
Running time
75 minutes
Country United States
Language English

Inheritance is a 2006 documentary film about Monika Hertwig a.k.a. Monika Christiane Knauss,[1] 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.[1][2]

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.[3]


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.[4][5] In her search for more information, Hertwig has a meeting at the scene of the former concentration camp with Helen Jonas-Rosenzweig,[6] 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.[7]

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.[5] He shot Helen Jonas' boyfriend Adam dead in front of her.[8]

Göth was a married man, with a wife Anni, and two children in Vienna,[1] 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.[9] 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.[1] 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.[6][10][11] Monika Hertwig, Göth's illegitimate child, and his camp maid Helen Jonas-Rosenzweig, met for the first time in 2004.[6] 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."[6] 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.[12] 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.[6][10][11]


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.[5] 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.[7]

Critical response[edit]

The documentary received critical acclaim and positive reviews from a number of critics, including David Cornelius of DVD Review ("simple but stunning documentary"),[13] William Lee of DVD Verdict ("a remarkable story"),[14] Prof. Cynthia Fuchs at PopMatters ("they live with the past, each moment a lesson"),[8] and Michael Atkinson of IFC ("a fascinating dialectic for a number of reasons").[15]

Production notes[edit]

James Moll, the director, said in production notes that he first came in contact with Monika Hertwig in 2003 only to ask her permission to use photographs of Amon Göth for a separate project connected with Schindler’s List video release. He expected the worst but changed his attitude upon hearing her speak. One of her statements became the genesis of Inheritance for him. "I am not my father" she said. Around the same time, Moll was introduced to Helen Jonas-Rosenzweig through Shoah Foundation of University of Southern California. He taped an interview with Helen for Spielberg. He also told Helen about Monika. Helen's own growing sense of higher responsibility made the filming of Inheritance possible for him.[16]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d David Crowe (Aug 1, 2007). "Amon Göth, Oscar Schindler, and Płaszów" (Google books preview). Oskar Schindler: The Untold Account of His Life, Wartime Activities, and the True Story Behind the List. Basic Books. pp. 209–214. ISBN 0465008496. Retrieved April 2, 2013. 
  2. ^ Prof. Livia Bitton Jackson (July 8, 2009). "Monika Goeth: In The Shadow Of Evil" (Cached by Zoom). The Jewish Press. Retrieved April 3, 2013. 
  3. ^ "30th Annual News & Documentary Emmy Awards Winners Announced at New York City Gala" (PDF). Internet Archive. National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences. Archived from the original (PDF file, direct download 50.4 KB) on November 22, 2010. Retrieved May 20, 2015. 
  4. ^ Educational (Sep 15, 2010). "Monika Hertwig talks about her father Amon Leopold Göth". Snippets from the documentary "Inheritance". YouTube videos. Retrieved April 2, 2013. Copyright Disclaimer Under Section 107 of the Copyright Act 1976. 
  5. ^ a b c Allentown Productions Official website Retrieved April 2, 2013.
  6. ^ a b c d e Aleisha Fishman, USHMM (February 26, 2009). "Helen Jonas, the Holocaust Survivor". Voices on Antisemitism — A Podcast Series. Transcript. United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. Archived from the original on September 3, 2013. Retrieved April 2, 2013. Interview also available as: an mp3 file – 8.17 MB 
  7. ^ a b "Inheritance (I) (2006)". Full cast and crew. Photos, storyline, release dates. Internet Movie Database. 2013. Retrieved April 2, 2013. 
  8. ^ a b Prof. Cynthia Fuchs (1 April 2009). "Inheritance". PopMatters Film and TV Editor. Retrieved April 3, 2013. 
  9. ^ Johannes Sachslehner (Mar 11, 2008). "Göths Lebensgefährtin Ruth Irene Kalder". Kalder Der Tod ist ein Meister aus Wien: Leben und Taten des Amon Leopold Göth (in German). Styria. p. 167. Retrieved 26 July 2013. 
  10. ^ a b "Overcoming Prejudice". Harpo Productions, Inc. Retrieved April 3, 2013. 
  11. ^ a b Karin Tanabe (November–December 2008). "Daughter of evil". Film watch. PBS film review. Retrieved April 3, 2012. 
  12. ^ Staci Sturrock, Staff Writer (Jan 25, 2011). "Holocaust survivor: 'I lived in such fear. I experienced such evilness'". Related News. Palm Beach Post. Retrieved April 4, 2013. 
  13. ^ David Cornelius (July 6, 2009). "Inheritance". DVD Video Reviews. DVD Review. Retrieved April 3, 2013. 
  14. ^ William Lee (January 24, 2009). "Inheritance". Releases. DVD Verdict. Retrieved April 3, 2013. 
  15. ^ Michael Atkinson (January 13, 2009). "James Moll's "Inheritance" (2006)". On DVD. IFC. Retrieved April 3, 2013. 
  16. ^ Director James Moll (2013). "Inheritance". Producer's Notes. Allentown Productions. Retrieved April 3, 2013. 

External links[edit]