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Friday, May 25, 2012

Hitler's Children

Documentaries with the word Hitler in the title are such a staple of British TV that when we're looking for something worth watching my wife says "what's on the Hitler channel?" Most of them have nothing new to say. This week's BBC-2 film Hitler's Children was different. Its subjects were the son of Hans Frank, the ruler of wartime Poland, the daughter of Amon Goeth, commandant of the Plaszow concentration camp (played by Ralph Fiennes in Schindler's List), the grandson of Rudolph Hoess, commandant of Auschwitz and two middle-aged women who had to deal with being called Goering and Himmler.

Most documentaries with the word Hitler in the title are happy to provoke a satisying shudder. This didn't even bother to do that. There was no recounting of specific atrocities. It was assumed we knew enough to be able to imagine that for ourselves. Instead you had a serious examination of what it's like to live with guilt for things you didn't do. There were elements of the standard 21st century documentary about it - there has to be "a journey to find out" in every film - but it paid its audience the great compliment of not telling them at the beginning of the film all they were going to find out at the end. See it if you can.