Sins of the Father: Nazi Progeny in the Postwar Era

Friday, October 19, 2012 - 9:30am to 10:30am
Helen S. Schaefer Building, home to the UA Poetry Center and the Humanities Seminars Program, 1508 E. Helen Street (at Vine Avenue), UA campus

Nazi Progeny in the Postwar Era

presented by Thomas Kovach, Department of German Studies 

The atrocities of war are unspeakable, but what of their effects on the offspring of notorious characters in history? In 1985, Rolf Mengele, the son of the notorious Auschwitz “Angel of Death” Josef Mengele, revealed that he had visited his father in Brazil in the 1970s. In 1987, German writer Peter Schneider wrote a story called “Vati” (German equivalent of “Daddy”), which, though fictionalized, was clearly based on the Mengele’s story. Over time, Schneider’s story has come to be regarded as one of the most significant German texts in the 1970s and 80s that thematized the situation of children whose parents were adults during the Nazi years and had varying degrees of complicity in the crimes committed. Schneider’s story was the basis of 2003 film Rua Alguem 5555: My Father. The film is unavailable on DVD, and the story has still not yet appeared in English translation. Kovach will discuss his recent translation of the story, and his ongoing attempt to find a publisher willing to undertake the project.