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My Father's Keeper


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* Review round-ups in the national press * Reading copies available

About the Author

NORBERT LEBERT worked as journalist and freelance writer in Munich after WW2. His son, STEPHAN LEBERT, was born in 1961 and is managing editor of TAGES-SPIEGEL in Berlin. He has been awarded the Egon Erwin Kisch Prize.


In 1959, German journalist Norbert Lebert set out to interview the offspring of former Nazi leaders young adults with surnames like Himmler and Hess, Bormann and Gering. Six years after Norbert's death in 1993, his son Stephan, a journalist, discovered the interviews among his father's papers and set out to re-interview the children, now senior citizens. Gudrun Himmler and Edda Gering refused. But Wolf-Rediger Hess, Martin Bormann Jr., Niklas and Norman Frank, and Klaus von Schirach were all willing. This is a powerful book, masterfully conceived, brilliant and devastating. The original interviews are interspersed between Stephan's conversations with (or in the case of Himmler and Gering, about) the former young adults who sat with his father. Other chapters explore the parent-child relationship and the nature of evil as they emerge from those conversations. The depth and complexity of the parent-child bond is evident throughout the book, whether the child in question has embraced (Burwitz, Hess) or rejected (Niklas Frank, Bormann) the values and beliefs of the father. Because he's viewing events from a greater distance, Stephan is able to raise a number of wide-ranging questions exploring the reasons behind the national outrage when Niklas Frank published a brutal piece detailing the depth of his hatred toward his father, former governor-general of Poland, and musing on the country's collective denial of individual responsibility during the war. There is much more to be written about the psychology and emotional life of the generation of Germans that fought WWII. But the Leberts have done a remarkable job of breaking a trail through the morass of repression and denial obscuring issues that will continue to disquiet future generations. 20 b&w photos. (Sept. 17) Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.

'Fascinating.' Professor Eric Hobsbawm 'Highly interesting ... what emerges not only casts light on the mentality and psychology of "Nazi children" in later life, but also on the wider issue of lingering trauma of the Third Reich.' Professor Ian Kershaw 'MY FATHER'S KEEPER is a worthwhile read.' SUNDAY BUSINESS POST 'It is an absorbing read, told with sympathy and discretion.' MAIL ON SUNDAY 'An astonishing book.' SUNDAY TRIBUNE 'Stephan Lebert has the good novelist's way of noticing some small detail which takes you to the heart of a human being.' JEWISH CHRONICLE 'This is no ordinary story...amazing.' FINANCIAL TIMES 'This book is a fascinating insight into the way children live with their parents' legacy; how the past still haunts the present.' GOOD BOOK GUIDE

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