What Our Fathers Did: A Nazi Legacy (2015) Movie Script

Imagine what it must be like
to grow up as the child
of a mass murderer.
To live with such a parent
must impose the most terrible of burdens.
My name is Niklas Frank
I am born 9th of March, 1939.
This is not special,
special is that I'm by chance
the son of Hans Frank.
He was politically responsible
for all the ghettos
and for the concentration camps
on the soil of Poland.
I was researching a book on
the Nuremberg ma! when I met Niklas Frank
and later he introduced me
to Horst von Wchter.
I was born in Vienna on 14th April, 1939.
So I'm still a child of peace.
It was before the war.
As gratitude towards the Nazi party,
my mother proposed the name of Horst,
after Horst Wessel
who was a prominent figure
from the first years of the Nazi party.
Right from the beginning,
my father. he was a commie Nazi.
The material
was all the more relevant to me
because of my own family background.
I'm Jewish and my family
was very directly affected
by the actions of these men.
I'm curious about details and people.
I want to know why things happened,
why people act as they do,
how they can engage in mass killing
and then spend an evening with their families.
Yet, watching these images felt dirty.
As though, I was complicit
in a voyeuristic sort of way
looking on the inside of horror.
Mr. President, members of the court,
uh, ifs an honor...
My day job
is working as an international lawyer
on cases involving genocide
and crimes against humanity
but it was while
working on my book
that I was commissioned to write an article
about Horst von Wchter.
I came with a tremendous anxiety
because I just didn't know what to expect,
and because of this connection with the past.
Here was a man who might have met Hitler.
I was meeting someone
who was directly connected,
not just with abstract history
but with a deep part of my family's life.
How did you find this house?
Here, there was a colony of artists
in the '60s, you know.
Living in the schloss?
- Yeah, yeah.
It was a secret place, you know,
- where they came and made their festivities.
- Yeah.
I love this staircase.
Everything has a meaning,
you know.
Positions of the doors for elements,
for directions.
This room is, hmm, devoted to Trismegistus,
who's the god of wisdom, god of numbers.
Twenty-two windows.
- No, that...
No, 16 windows.
- There are 16, then you have four doors.
- And you have two chimneys, you know.
- Yeah.
And 22 is the number of the letters
in the Hebrew alphabet.
This is really very important.
The Hebrew thing
keeps coming back.
Yes, it is Hebrew.
Here you see we have two lovers, you know.
Are they the same lovers
or are they different lovers?
No, they are different.
They are very different, you know.
I've some to talk with him about
what his father got up to
during the Second World War
and he just wanted to talk about stones
and rocks and buildings,
about history going back millennia,
not just 70 years.
You can see here the two put here,
they are kissing each other, you know.
You told me that this building
was your father's gift to you.
- Oh, yes.
- What did you mean by that?
When you... You said that to me,
what did you mean by that?
This has to do with my youth
and how I dropped out of normality
because of my father.
Because my normality was, hmm,
that was normality between, hmm, until 1945
when I was six years
and that was practically destroyed, you know,
by this whole, by the war more or less
but I see it now like this.
Because everything was finished, you know,
and I was raised like a...
Like a young Nazi boy
and that everything was right
and things like that
and from one day to the other
everything was gone, you know,
and that was... I was really shocked.
I mean, I feel it today,
so that's why I'm here, you know,
more or less.
I do remember moments in summertime
on the lake.
I remember my, hmm, sixth birthday
which was on 14th of April 1945.
Ifs not only that the regime broke down
but everything around us broke down.
The normality broke down for us, for me,
and I was just... I remember
when I was sitting on this, hmm, veranda
overlooking, hmm, the lake
and we had this small birthday party
and then I was alone and just thought that
I should remember this moment
for all my life.
You had this feeling
that everything is finished,
there is no future for you
and whatever you do
it has no sense, you know.
What I remember now is the...
The British and American war planes.
You saw these huge masses
of planes over you
and sometimes they...
Yes, I remember. Yes.
I remember that they dropped.
They dropped the bombs in the lake,
you know.
When they had too much bombs
or they just wanted to get rid of the bombs,
they dropped it into the lake and...
And the whole, uh... The whole house
started to shiver, you know.
Within an hour of sitting in his room
he'd taken out the family albums
and we were going through pages
of summer holidays and winter holidays,
interspersed with pictures of Dachau
images of AH, Adolf Hitler,
and at! that happened
in the first two hours that t met Horst.
And here we have him on the water,
Austrian rowing champion on the Danube.
- Next album.
- As the years move on.
Otto von Wchter played a central role
in the murder of the Austrian Chancellor
by the Nazis in 1934,
as early as that
he was a leading Austrian Nazi.
And he's gone from being
a complete outsider...
- Yeah, into the government.
- Into the government.
So he was named SS-Oberfhrer
on Kristallnacht.
- Yeah, when this... This was Kristallnacht.
- That's Kristallnacht, yeah.
Yeah, I must check it
but then when you say it...
A year later he's now been upgraded
and he's a Brigadefhrer...
That's already in Krakow here.
I recognize that, that's...
- Yeah, that's my mother.
That's your mother
sitting with Niklas' mother?
- Yeah, Brigitte Frank.
- So this must be in the Wawel.
- Yes.
- In the Wawel castle.
And you see,
she was quite a good friend to Brigitte Frank.
I was transported back 70 years
to the heart of an appalling regime
but Horst was looking at these images
with a different eye from mine.
I see a man who has
probably been responsible
for the killing of tens of thousands
of Jews and Poles.
Horst looks at the same photographs
and he sees a beloved father
playing with the children
and he's thinking that was family life.
- More skiing photos.
And this... And now we're in Lemberg.
Now we're in Lemberg.
What is he now?
- The Governor of Galicia.
- Yes.
So they've just occupied it.
Here he is, they've just occupied it,
they are moving east,
this is Soviet propaganda
- and is that your father?
- Yes.
- There was a little photograph.
- Yeah, yeah of the... With the Jews.
That was a visit to Warsaw.
- A visit to Warsaw,
the eye's attention is caught by the little girl
- who is in the middle and.
- Wait, hmm,
the light is not so good here.
- So your father?
- Yeah.
- And this is Himmler.
- Yeah.
It is in '43, must be.
- His Galician SS Division.
- Yeah.
That was his biggest effort there
and because it built up this division
with the help of the Ukrainians.
And that's... That's not you?
That is me, yes, that's me.
You went to stay
in the Franks' summer house?
- I must be sitting behind there.
- You're sitting there. That's you over there.
Yeah, it must be.
I think that's Niklas...
- Yes, it could be.
...in the Schoberhof.
The very first picture I have in mind
I was being washed by my nurse.
It was my first memory
it was here in Schoberhof.
Our rooms were on the back side,
it's now torn down.
The building, it became more and more a ruin
but now it really turned me apart
when I saw they are rebuilding it
in a new way,
that really hurts.
- Because it's my home.
We always had our holidays here,
we loved the mountains around here, skiing.
My beloved nurse Hilda,
she was always with us.
Everything what is human with me,
came from Hilda not from my mother.
And when my mother came back
for instance and said,
Oh, Hilda, go away,
now I am with my children.
You have a free day off.
And after 20 minutes she said,
"No, no, Hilda, you have to stay.
"I can't do it with the children,
I am too nervous.
"Please keep the children with you. "
And she was away with her old Mercedes.
Because I have some memories also of Poland
and she filled in what was left.
For instance, by visiting the Krakow ghetto.
I only had some, few...
And she said
where it was, when it was and what happened.
Did she accompany you?
- Yes, she was with me.
I was never alone as a little child
In the Krakow ghetto.
Together with my mother.
What did you. I mean,
what did you've seen in the Krakow ghetto?
The only thing I remember was
that I was standing inside my Mercedes car,
on the back side
and there were a lot of sad people
around me outside.
And there were some young people of my age,
And to one of them I took out my tongue,
and he went away very sadly looking,
and so I was the winner
and I was laughing aloud.
But Hilda took me back
and was silent besides me,
showing me that was not correct.
Your mother accompanied you on that trip?
Yes, but she was outside of the car
shopping in the ghetto.
What shopping was there in the ghetto?
I mean the imagination...
Furs, furs.
She was always looking for furs.
When you say shopping,
you meaning shopping or stealing?
She's said "surprises" I would say
and everybody who was
selling to her would say,
"Oh, that's the wife of the Governor-General.
I'm lucky I will survive. "
Yeah, and did your father
accompany you on those?
No, never.
They hated each other.
The marriage was gone
and my father wanted a divorce,
my mother fought all the way up to Hitler
and Hitler forbade my father the divorce
'til after the war.
She... She actually contacted Hitler?
Yes, by letter.
She didn't come personally to him
but she wrote a letter, a letter including
a picture of her and the five children.
And the consequence of that was
that Hitler did what? Hitler instructed...
He forbade. Hitler forbade
Frank the divorce 'til after the war.
And why did your father just not ignore that?
He loved Hitler more than his family.
My father,
he wrote a letter and wrote, uh,
I am seeing mountains of corpses,
"lam going into the dark
please don't accompany me,
give me the divorce.
He's using the final solution
to persuade Brigitte to give him a divorce
and she says no.
By the way, if she would have said yes,
we would still keep the show of...
Niklas and Horst,
two men We come to know
whose fathers were very senior
in the Nazi hierarchy.
Hans Frank started as Hitlers personal lawyer
and then ruse to be Governor-Genera!
of occupied Wand.
Otto von Wchter
was only a notch or two down,
he was one of Hans Frank's deputies.
First the Governor of Krakow,
then the Governor of district Galicia.
What a beautiful castle,
full of criminals at this time.
Everybody of those servants,
of those German staff of the government
who worked also here,
they knew exactly
that no day passes by
that we not committed
the most horrible crimes.
My father always wanted to please Hitler
so he gave a shit about really
about the fate of the Jews
or about the fate of the Polish people.
Ah, here it is.
For me it was the most special room
in the whole of the Wawel
because it was a bath
I have never seen before or afterwards.
I always, it was one of my dreams
to have a bath like this,
going down two steps
but this was the only gentle experience
I had with my father.
I came in through this door, very small,
and my father was standing here shaving
and he saw me
and gave a little bit of his shaving foam
onto my nose
and that was the only gentle moment
between him and me which I remember.
And you can see that I remember
how much I was longing
for the love of my father,
otherwise it's quite a normal procedure.
But it burned my soul,
it was the only gentle moment.
Wonderful bathroom.
Why do you think your father
had so little affection for you?
Because he didn't, hmm,
didn't think that I am his son
but the son of his best friend Karl Lasch.
Who was your mother's lover?
At the time, hmm... she could have conceived.
But later I think he believed my mother
that I am his son.
He was five to ten times better educated
for instance than me.
He knew Goethe's Faust by heart
and also most of the plays of Shakespeare.
As if it was Hans Frank's
own procession, huh?
I am really happy
that this painting has survived
and is back where it belongs to.
Leonardo Da Vinci's portrait of Cecilia Gallerani
was one of the most famous paintings
in the wand.
Hans Frank took it from a Polish museum
created b y the Czartoryski family
and kept it with him throughout the war.
Do you remember that?
Yes, that I remember
because I thought it was a rat.
- Ermine.
- Ermine.
it's the Lady with Ermine
and the painter Leonardo Da Vinci
described it as a painting that should instill
in any person who looked at it,
feelings of love.
Not to my father.
On a stolen castle, in a stolen country
it makes me really angry.
And there's no sense of pride on your part
that in some way
it could be said that your father's actions
did protect this work?
No, no.
I could not forgive him
he was bought up as a catholic
and he studied law in the Weimar democracy.
So he knew by heart
what was right, what was wrong.
And he went on and on 'til, to the gallows
because I think he was too much of a coward.
He knew that he's committing crimes
and, hmm, he never
had the bravery to say,
"OK, Mr. Hitler, that's it. "
As a family of one of the defendants
we have got the chance
to visit our father in Nuremberg.
First thing what I saw was
Mr. Hermann Goering on the opposite side,
so I was sitting,
looking at my father behind the window,
Hi. Nicki, it's a pleasure to see you,
soon we win celebrate a really great
Christmas together at Schoberhof. "
And I was thinking, "Why is he lying?
"Why is he lying?
He knows that he will be hanged. "
And I was unbelievable disappointed.
My father he was staying
four years in the mountains, always hidden.
My mother brought him food and equipment
for the winter, for the summer and so on.
My mother was of course still a Nazi lady
so when the American soldiers
moved into our house
they asked my mother, "Are you a Nazi?"
And my mother said, "Yes, I am Nazi. "
And then they said, "Oh, you're the first person
we met who said she is a Nazi. "
- 80...
And she was proud?
Yes, of course she was proud.
She was convinced that my father was right
and did the right things,
never one word that she spoke bad about him.
Then he came to live with us,
I think it was two weeks or so
and she said to us, smaller children,
that's an uncle from South America
or whatever.
He had a little mustache
and, hmm, he came up to see us
when we were sleeping in our beds,
I remember.
And that is the only contact
with my father I can remember.
He had good connections to the Vatican.
He found refuge
in some religious institution there
and, hmm. he died very quick there.
- Oh, my God.
- Here she is,
the queen of Poland, my mother.
It was painted in 1935'
- Did they still love each other then?
- Yes.
Or some adultery,
but not so heavy ones, lighter.
And when it was over
it was a big glory of the Frank family,
she said, "OK, now it's over.
"Now I have to work my ass off
to nourish these children,"
and she died at the age of 63,
completely worn out.
A very clear picture about the Frank family
and what I have done
and, hmm, what they have connected to
when I saw the first pictures, photographs
in the newspapers, hmm,
there I saw mountains of corpses
and also children of my age then.
And it was always written, underlined, Poland.
And what happened to me is that,
you really get the shock
because I always thought Poland is ours.
Of course I felt guilty
because of m y father somehow.
Of course, because you knew them.
More or less,
it started all this horrible things,
came into public what happened
and it was not...
After immediately...
Immediately after the war there was...
Nobody talk about this.
Talked and wrote.
The difficulties started later.
My mother wanted me
to become a lawyer, of course,
like my father.
She was very disappointed
because when I said,
"No, finished. I don't study any more.
I go into the woods. Bye-bye, Mother. "
And of course she was very shocked.
Then she got this professor friend
and this friend said to me,
"Oh, Horst, you don't have to do anything,
"you will be professor/doctor.
"You just have to inscribe
in Salzburg at the university,"
and there you had
all these friends of my father's
and well of course I refused this thing
and I said, "I must find my own way. "
I was closing up and I was very insecure.
At this certain moment I said to my friend,
that I want to serve somebody,
I want to... Like a servant.
I really, I have to be of any use to somebody.
And then they said, "Oh, I know
a crazy painter, he needs somebody. "
When I saw Hundertwasser the first time
I knew that he would need me
and! would go along with him quite well
because he was also a shy person like me
and somehow that he was Jewish that was
of course very good for my feelings too.
Then I went sailing the boat to New Zealand,
that was his new paradise.
Perhaps, also with you
because you were Jewish.
Somehow this being Jewish
is something very attractive for me.
And in the beginning
when I met Hundertwasser
his mother was afraid of me of course
because she knew who my father was.
And she was, uh,
with all her experiences in the war,
when she had to run around with
at the start of it.
The question of
the historical responsibility of m y father
is a very complex one
but the racial theory of
Germans being superman
and the others being
one dimension
my father was against this
right from the beginning.
He was absolutely somebody
who wanted to do something good,
and he wanted to get something moving
and find some solution
about all these problems.
Who arose after the first war and tried...
He was a complete optimist.
My father really
had deserved to die at the gallows
for what he has done, he deserved it.
Besides photos of my beloved family,
I always wear with me
the last picture of my father when he was...
After he was hanged.
He has a swollen eye so maybe
he crashed against the trap door.
On the one hand,
yeah, to be sure that he's really dead
but on the other hand,
and this is what haunts me all my life,
the Germans know exactly what can happen
if you are losing civil courage,
if you are losing democracy,
it leads to...
Can lead to extermination camps.
So we know this by heart because
we have done it, the Germans,
and people of his merciless
kind of living and killing
are still alive in Germany.
The article I had written to the
Financial Times attracted a tot of interest,
the newspaper offered to stage a public event
at which Horst and Niklas could
present their views side by side
and I was surprised when they both agreed.
The two men had much in common
with similar backgrounds
yet, seeing each on his own
I had become acutely aware
that they had very different attitudes
to their fathers.
Niklas is a more polished
and prepared individual,
Horst has just opened himself up,
he's never been through anything like this,
he's never had this kind of scrutiny.
Horst, let's... Let's turn to you.
May I first introduce, hmm, have some words?
Absolutely. Please do.
Yes, I am very grateful that I can be here.
That kind of listening and hearing
would be impossible in Austria,
there would be...
Well we don't know anything about Nazis
and we don't want to know anything and so...
I'd come to learn that Niklas
didn't like to miss any opportunity
to attack his father and to do so publicly.
But Horst on the other hand
it was less clear to me
why he would want to
expose himself publicly.
Both of our fathers were
heavily involved, heavily.
You told me once
I should make peace with my father,
I have peace with my father
because I acknowledged his crimes
and so I could lead a really good life.
And you, you're struggling for what?
To fight also against your father,
sorry, dear friend.
Well, I think I see it different.
I see the structure of the whole
annihilation of Jews
and what happens they are quite different.
And I didn't look for peace
it's just I felt it's my duty as a son
to put things straight with my father
and I see who was really responsible.
But it doesn't make your father innocent
if he's not quite responsible.
They worked together,
all those parts of the German people
were working together
in the annihilation of the Jews for instance.
Well, I think, I don't... I don't agree with you
because I have to swear they protested
and my father protested
even to Hitler that is impossible
how to treat the people there
and how to and he...
His fault was that he believed
that Hitler would change his politics.
In our conversations we've touched on
what you've uncovered about your father,
he ran for example the transportation system
that shifted people to concentration camps
and to their death.
And yet you've resisted in our conversations
ever acknowledging that he himself
is somehow guilty for what happened.
Because it's his character.
I mean, I don't know about transportation
but when the Jewish ghetto
in Lemberg was established
ifs written down below his name,
General-Governor Wchter,
but it's only signed by SS fuehrer...
So my father refused to sign this.
That's ridiculous Horst.
If he has not signed some document
but it happened, it happened.
Do you remember, I showed you a letter
that was sent by Heinrich Himmler
and in the letter Himmler writes
that he asked your father
whether your father would like
to return to Vienna.
They weren't sure whether your father was
fully committed to what was about to happen
and Himmler wrote,
"Victor does not wish to return to Vienna,"
in other words,
he would stay and see through
what he knew was being done.
Can you explain what...
Yes, he had no choice.
He couldn't react like he himself felt
and he was just, hmm,
making, hmm...
He was just employee of his father,
you see, but...
But he chose to stay, he could have gone.
Yes, but he felt responsible for the people.
Well for some of the people.
Yes, for some... For some he could do.
From the first moment he was very close
with the Ukrainians,
with the Galician division
and he actually tried to
do something positive.
Why, Niklas, did you introduce me to Horst?
- it was a trick.
- No, when we had our first conversation,
in this beautiful hotel,
as a lawyer for sure he was always
in the best hotel available.
And, hmm, I told him
we came across Otto Wchter,
and I told him I am a friend of Horst Wchter,
his son is a very nice person.
And you said, "What? You are a friend
of this family and of Horst Wchter?"
I think you will like him, you will like him.
I had nothing to hide
or I did nothing that
you shouldn't know about my father.
And my, yeah, family was very angry.
And still angry.
- And still angry, OK.
Do you regret that we're sitting here
- in an audience today?
- Yes, of course.
What do you want this audience to take away
from this conversation?
What's the message
that you want to leave them?
Well, I think there are many victims
of the holocaust in sitting here
and I want them to have a more concern,
more survey about how things were
and they were,
that there were many different, hmm,
sides about the whole thing
and, hmm, it was not just like a block
like he wants it to be.
There had been many people
who were against this
but that's what I want you to acknowledge
and that's why I'm thankful I can say this
and I think its not...
It's my duty but it's also my right
and it should be said, I mean,
and then that I'm very happy.
Lady over there.
I love my father,
um, and I honor my father
but as far as I'm aware my father has
done nothing to be ashamed of.
Um, and I don't know what it must be like
growing up with a heritage
like both of you have.
I must however say, Horst,
that I think a lot of your arguments
are so extraneous
to the main facts of the issue
to be actually so self-deceiving,
I find it rather frightening.
All this rubbish about Ukrainians,
that's extraneous to the issue.
OK, so...
So that's a clear view that's been put.
Yes, I accept. I accept the view
and I think I can understand it.
The only thing which l...
It's only related between the relations
between me and my father
and what I turned out to be with my father
and that's what I say.
Nik's father sounds to me like
the most horrible father
and you don't come from
a happily married family or anything like that.
You had a happier childhood, is that not,
is it too simple?
Yes, it must have been
something very important
because, hmm,
I was much embedded in the family
and I'm very proud that I had this childhood.
I won't say that I had an unhappy childhood.
As a Prince of Poland
I was really very well off,
the best toys you can imagine.
I've got a question for Horst.
You say that your father didn't sign the paper
and that's why you won't condemn him,
if his signature was on it,
would you condemn him?
What would it take? What proof would it take
for you to condemn your dad?
Yes, I would have condemned him, of course.
Yeah, but if he had signed?
I think the question is going
you're taking refuge in the fact
that there are not in existence
pieces of paper which say,
"And today I will kill 15,000 Jews"?
If you were presented
with such a piece of paper,
would your position be any different
in terms of saying
as a son you have a duty
to defend your father?
Of course it would be different but it...
It would be different
but I cannot imagine that one paper exists.
My father did everything
what he could do to save the population
and my father is now... In his days
there were difficulties between Ukrainians
is really venerated there.
As we met in the Purcell Room
Ukraine was engaged in its own struggle
as to whether it would look east
towards Russia
or west towards the European Union.
Some of the protesters
voiced an age old hatred of Russia
and for that, they and the group as a whole,
which included writers, students and human-rights activists
were accused of being fascists and nee-Nazis.
R was as if the past had returned
to haunt the present
because there's a link between
contemporary events in the Ukraine
and the period when Hurst's father
was in charge of district Galicia.
This is where Horst's father
was based in what's now called Lviv,
the Germans call it Lemberg,
the Poles know it as Lww.
The city's name reflects the changes
in the region and the tensions.
The city is at the heart of this story
because the killings that link
the three of us, me, Niklas and Horst
are the events of August 1942'
the Grossaktion, as it's called
when the Jewish population
was almost entirely exterminated.
Before 1942 this city was an important
center of Jewish life,
a life that's now totally vanished.
This was my grandfathers hometown.
What I hadn't appreciated was how large
a family my grandfather had left behind,
in fact there was a vast family'
more than 80 individuals
and I didn't know that of those 80
who were alive in 1939
he was the only one still alive in 1945.
The building that we're in
was the Parliament of Galicia,
in the Austro-Hungarian empire,
and then in 1919 when the Poles took over
it then became the, hmm,
Jan Kazimierz University
until September '39, then the Soviets came.
Then on July 1941
the Germans came and in to this room came
your father, Nik, as Governor-General
and your father as Governor of Galicia
and they stood on the platform,
they stood on the stage
and your father made a speech
in which he announced, essentially,
the implementation of the final solution
in Galicia and within a month
75,000 people at least had died.
I would like to have this place
which my father had had
and now, Horst, you have to hear
what he was saying.
And he addressed your father
at first saying,
"Party comrade Wchter,
I have to say, you did well.
"Lemberg is once again
a true and proud German city.
"I do not speak about the Jews
that we still have here. "
And then hear out this.
"We will deal with them of course.
"By the way-f'
Now it's my well-educated funny father,
and he's doing a joke.
"By the way, I hardly saw any of them today.
"What has happened?
"I was told that this city used to swarm with
"thousands and thousands of these
flat-footed Indians
"but I could see none.
"You have not done anything nasty to them,
have you?"
And the protocol wrote great hilarity.
And you are still pretending you didn't find
anything which would accuse
your father of being involved in this.
This I won't understand. As you know,
I like you personally,
but I don't like your brains and your thoughts
you have in your brain.
Horst, what would you need to see
to come to a different perspective
of your father?
I don't think... I think all the guilty ones
have been judged.
And I know that his father was some...
Some... He was a theatre man.
He liked to make himself, hmm...
All these remarks he made
and my father did never
avoided the personal contact with his father.
That was the reason before
and I don't know of any anti-Semitic...
Anti-Semitic speech my father did,
I don't know about.
Maybe he was just more careful?
Well, he was, he... He would...
That was not his style.
He was a completely other style of man,
like his father.
The result was the same.
He sat... He sat there in this room.
Yes, I'm very sorry about this, but, hmm...
Why? Why, if nothing... If he didn't do
anything why are you sorry about it?
What should he have done? He should have
jumped up, as you said and said, "No.
"Hmm, I'm against it and... "
- No one was responsible for what happened.
- Yes.
You have all the names
of who are responsible.
You have all the names, all the details,
they are all documented.
But the lists include your father.
No, they don't include my father.
They don't include my father.
You cannot say this,
that's all imagination for me.
Do you... Do you want me
to show you a document
- that lists your father?
- Yes.
OK, stay there.
- OK.
If you... If you show it to me,
but not speeches.
No, document.
I found it last week.
This is a Polish document.
I just found it on Friday.
- Forty-six.
- "28th of September, 1946."
- Uh-huh.
- "To the military governor,
"United States zone," OK?
"I, being the authorized representative
of the Government of Poland,
"request on behalf of my government
"that Wchter be delivered to Poland for trial
"for the here and after described offences.
"One, subject is responsible for mass murder,
"shooting and executions, under his
command as Governor of district Galicia,
"more than 100,000 Polish citizens
lost their lives. "
- Now...
- Yes. Of course.
That is made in September '46,
I didn't know about this.
But still these are very general, hmm,
superstition of being mass murders, hmm,
under his command as Governor.
Under his command...
That's... That's all generalizations for me.
Horst, like my father,
he was a representative of Hitler
and as a Governor-General,
so he was politically speaking,
responsible for every dead Jew
or every Polish.
It's the same with you, with your father.
He was a Governor of Galicia
and therefore he was
politically responsible
for all the mass murders.
That mass murders were...
They were special things
and he had no influence.
I saw... I see this is Soviet. This is a Soviet...
It's Polish and American.
Yes, but the...
That was... Poland was under Soviet rule
at that time already.
it's a request to the Americans
to assist, and the Americans assisted.
The Americans were not friendly
with the Soviets.
Don't hide into the little comers.
- No, but this is a general...
- I'm asking you...
Horst, we'll come back to this.
I'm asking you what is really motivating you?
Why are you resisting
with every fiber in your body,
the terrible evidence
with which you are confronted?
Because I have so many documents,
hmm, from people who knew him personally
and who said he was a decent...
He had a decent character.
And he tried everything what he could do,
to prevent the things that would happen.
I want to know what really was going on...
What was really going on was that
your father was sitting there
in front of his father.
His father was announcing that 100,000 Jews
are going to be murdered and your father
sat there, no expression on his face.
Clapping in this room,
going off and doing his work.
That's what your father did,
that's what he did.
Yes. I presume he did like that.
So that is terrible evidence.
But this is a speech.
This is a rhetorical speech.
A highly rhetorical speech.
Hmm, and this was a political session here,
hmm, from somebody.
Horst, what happened two weeks later?
On the 17th of August?
You've shown... You've shown me the letter
your father wrote to your mother.
"I'm coming back to Lemberg.
"The Grossaktion is beginning?
He knew all about it, and it happened.
75,000 people were killed,
so that's a father to love?
That's a man one can love?
An honorable man? A decent man?
I'm going back to help kill 75,000 people,
that's an honorable thing to do?
Of course it's not an honorable thing'
But it was, hmm... The system was something
for us today which you can't imagine.
The deaths were so near to everybody
that it was nothing to.
Life of man was just nothing.
Horst fills me with despair.
I cannot accept that approach.
It's not just the lawyer in me concerned
with how one treats evidence,
it's much more personal than that.
When I hear him speak of his father's
good character and actions,
I near him to be justifying the killing
of my grandfather's entire family.
This is where my grandfathers family
came from
and this is where most of that family perished.
Do you ask yourself
why we came here together?
Hmm... No, I had no problems to understand.
We com... Commemorate what happened and
we, uh, confronted what happened
and we feel sad and ashamed maybe.
And we ask ourselves questions.
How it could be
that such things happened in the past
and continue to happen today?
It's the point
because they continue everywhere
and we have no means to stop them,
we have to accept them.
Well, that's where you and I disagree,
that's where you and I disagree.
I think.
There are things that can be done
to stop things from happening and it's about
in part individual responsibility.
It's where you and I. You and I disagree.
We have this small... We are smaller...
Just like points in the whole history.
It's like the soldiers who fought here,
they can't stand up and say,
"Oh, I don't want to fight. "
They... They would be executed immediately.
So there's no option
but to kill and carry on killing?
There are options... I mean, there's other ways
which are in your power to do something.
But this was inevitable.
- Your father had no option.
- For him he had no option
to change this thing.
And because it was inevitable
he had no responsibility?
Well, that's a difficult question,
about responsibility.
Well, I don't think that he...
He ordered to burn down this room.
I mean this, hmm, I refuse to say that
he gave orders to burn down here.
I don't see my father in here, I mean...
I can't see walking, my father here,
around here with his uniform
and saying, "Oh, well... Well done"
and things like that.
I can't see him like this.
It's done.
But you.
I mean, in this room you have to have ideas,
great ideas, I'm not pessimistic,
and you have to see,
what was really going on
building this up and...
Because for me this is built for eternity,
you can see the enormous walls there.
The columns, the thickness, and for me
this idea is much stronger
than destroyed surfaces.
300 years filled
with people and singing and prayer and life
and color and hair and jewellery.
- Yes, that is my...
- And it's all gone.
- It all went in a single day.
- No, it's not gone.
It's still there.
It isn't gone because that is my main
interest, why I agreed to come here,
to go back to 300 years ago,
not be stuck in what happened 70 years ago.
It'll never be...
it'll never be filled again, this place.
You don't know.
Maybe it'll, I'm not so pessimistic than you.
This will be filled up.
I can tell you because it's so great
that this period will be gone
and there will be a new period coming up
which can, hmm.
Can see it again, now it's,
hmm, only a few people who can see this.
But I think... I can see it.
See, I don't want to get stuck somewhere.
Full of shame and full of...
Full of...
I'm proud to be here.
I always imagine when was
the last Shabbat celebration before they all
were killed.
What if they talked to each other?
"How can we hide?
How can we go into the woods?"
or "Do we have any relatives who can hide us
somewhere in the countryside?"
All this kind of stuff, always running
through my brain... The only thing.
And this makes me furious
and I will never forgive this.
So it was the synagogue
of my family.
- Yeah?
- Yeah.
- This was...
- Here your family was?
- You didn't know that?
- No.
You always ask me what about my feeling,
you know,
what's your feeling standing here in this
synagogue where your family used to be?
It's a very heavy feeling.
- It's a very, very heavy feeling.
- What means heavy?
It means that my imagination
is running very strongly.
I imagine the moment in July, 1941,
that the Germans came into the town,
and like you, I imagine the fear,
the mayhem and the certainty
that they knew what was coming
because they had contacts with Vienna
and with Germany and they knew
what was on its way,
and so for me it boils down to a number of
individuals that I never met.
I don't even have photographs
of these people.
Nothing, nothing remains, nothing,
but this would have been the place...
Yeah, where they would have been
the last time you have heard about this,
about those family? When...
My grandfather never talked to me about it.
- He refused to talk to me about it.
- You also didn't dare to ask.
I didn't dare to ask.
So, and when they perished,
so they were still living around here
using this synagogue.
Yes, well, the synagogue was burnt down
in July '41.
The ghetto was created, hmm, in the autumn
and they lived in the ghetto in '42
and they were then rounded up,
taken to a wood, where there were sand pits
that were used to repair the road
from Zolkiew to Lemberg
and they put a plank at the end of the sand pit
and each of the 3,500 walked along the plank,
they were shot and they fell in.
But the story doesn't end there.
That's a kilometer from where we are
standing now, they're still there.
Nothing's changed'
All the bodies are in the spot
that we are going to right now.
This our fathers did.
So everyone remains here.
Nothing has been moved.
- Horst, you've seen the date over here?
The 25th of March, 1943.
So I'm afraid there is no escaping
that this action took place on the territory
and with the support of your father.
And it contains 3,500 people.
Including my family.
Horst, please accept it.
Recognize it.
It's also the responsibility
of my father in first,
but your father was as well involved
in this horrible crime.
Here in this place.
He was involved in the system I know,
this is why we're here.
The system was very, very obstructive.
- This is...
- I never...
...the place of a mass killing,
our fathers have been responsible for.
I want to have the exact date and who were,
was responsible,
who was present here and the name
of the police officers and I will.
Why you always want to flee?
I dont want to flee.
I want to see the...
The reality.
And we are standing in the midst of a death,
that is all deaths around us.
There must be tens of thousands of Austrians
lying around here.
But, Horst, we're not talking...
We're talking about these 3,500 people.
We're talking about these...
I see all of them around here,
it's not only those.
Well, I'm talking about these.
I'm asking you to focus on these people
who on the 25th of March, 1943,
walked from the place
where we have just been to this place,
with the support of the auxiliary police
under your father's authority.
They were made to walk
to the end of the plank,
each person got a single bullet to the head
and they are in there now.
There's simply no escaping
the issue of responsibility.
Not your responsibility,
never your responsibility.
The responsibility of Otto von Wchter.
There is no escaping,
you simply cannot run away from it.
You are confronted here with the reality.
And then I want the exact following
of the orders
from the smallest soldier
up to the civil government.
Do you know who paid the salary
of the auxiliary police?
Your father.
That was paid by your father.
He signed off on it,
that's called command responsibility.
Doesn't matter
who did the individual act of killing,
doesn't matter who put the individual
bullet in, doesn't matter.
Well, it matters for me.
Yeah, but as a matter of moral responsibility
and as a matter of legal responsibility
it's totally irrelevant. Totally irrelevant.
He signed off on everything.
Well, he wouldn't have
signed much coming here.
These people I think...
I see this as a battlefield, you see,
because at the beginning
of the first war in 1914
there were these big battles
and the soil was full of blood.
There have been so many killings going on.
The annual commemoration of
Otto von Wchter's Waffen SS Galicia division
created by him in 1943 includes a ceremony
to rebury newly discovered remains
of German and Ukrainian soldiers
who fell in the fields near this chapel.
So am I right in thinking the historical role
of the division
remains important today in modern Ukraine?
We hear Putin say that Ukraine
is full of the fascists and Nazis.
Why are you wearing this swastika?
- Now?
- Now, yes, he used this.
19th of February.
19th of February.
You don't feel if you have... Wear this helmet,
you don't feel like a German soldier
in the memory of the SS?
You don't feel ashamed knowing exactly
what happened under the swastika?
Did he ever see
Otto von Wchter speak?
If he was to meet the son of Wchter,
what would he say to the son of Wchter?
So can I present him to the son of...
Horst von Wchter.
Well I must say this day
was the best day for me
because so many people wanted to
shake my hands
because of my father
and saying he was a decent man
and that's all what I want, nothing else.
How you would like to introduce yourself
beyond your name?
My name is...
For sure he is an apologist
for the actions of his father.
What still have in mind,
maybe also in his heart
is a picture of a wonderful man
who tried the best for the Ukrainians
and it's just a lie.
He is not accepting that his father
was involved in mass murder.
He should know better.
I really despise him like my lather.
In my opinion Horst will become
a new Nazi in the end.
That is serious.
Not so serious
because he's an old man like me,
so he can't do
only some damage around with his friends
and so...
But not in the... Really not in the public,
but I don't know exactly if they started
also in Austria to invite him
for public events, delivering a speech,
showing the pictures,
this, the Austrians really would like.
How far does Horst have to go
for you to say I can no longer
have a relationship with this man?
I think ifs nothing left,
just my decision and I give him last
email to say that's not...
For me not endurable any more.
Do you... Do you think Horst is a Nazi?
Now I would admit he is really a Nazi.
Well, I think that Nik,
hmm, is an egotistic maniac,
he's just focused on his father, you know,
and he makes his father most criminal being
on Earth and so on.
But it's because it's his father,
it's only because it's his father
otherwise he wouldn't do this, you know.
For me, his life is practically
annihilated b y his father.
When my father fled in 1945,
he went with the last members
of his government,
his adjutant and his secretary and the cook
to this house.
There he was arrested,
the last room on the right-hand side
was his so called...
his religious room or something like this
and there he had hanged all the paintings,
this Leonardo Da Vinci, two Rembrandts,
one Raphael, they are the most famous four.
I found it all my life, I found it very crazy
that my father was sitting in this small house
in the end waiting
to be arrested from the Americans
and there were
American soldiers who some days before
had liberated camp of the...
Dachau concentration camp outside,
have seen all the corpses
and say I have heard
that the Butcher of Poland
which was his nickname all his life.
The butcher?
The Butcher of Poland,
hmm, was arriving
and so I've beaten him up heavily
so he tried twice to commit suicide,
but he didn't succeed.
He was brought to a hospital
and then prison and then it was over.
He wrote in a letter,
hmm, to us whenever we came we should
go over to this little chapel to pray for him.
I never did it.
Does it ever make you
want to cry though
when you come back to a place like this?
No, never.
- You've never cried about him?
- No.
Does that not seem... Does that not seem
strange, he was your father?
He wasn't my father.
He was your father.
Biologically, but not...
So in the real trial like it was in Nuremberg,
hmm, I don't think that my father
would have been condemned...
I don't think so because, hmm,
who would have speak...
Spoken up against him?
Hmm, maybe it would only be, hmm, Jews,
because of the holocaust,
but the SS took all things
which concerning Jews on their side.
Horst's father Otto von Wchter
was indicted for mass murder
but died in 1949 under the protection
of the Vatican.
He was never tried and that allows Horst
to take refuge in his own long view of history.
This is my grandfather,
Joseph von Wchter,
General of the, hmm,
Imperial Army in the first war.
Two times he prevented the Russian Army
to break through the Austrian lines in Galicia
where we've been around Kiev.
My father expressly wrote that
he wants to continue
what my grandfather did there
and he chose at the moment he...
He knew that he was going to Galicia,
my father chose his coat of arm as a
crusade order so this fighting crusade
mentality is somewhere in the family.
The man who built this castle
was a crusader connected with the Templars.
And the ground plan corresponds
to the temple in Jerusalem.
(CHUCKLES) I feel like a descendant of Aaron.
I read the definition of a Jew,
a Jew is somebody
who makes service in the temple.
And then I said I would be a real Jew here.
There's an image from Krakow
ghetto footage that I can't get out of my mind.
You see a time girl,
she's wearing a beautiful red dress
and I look at that girl
and I think of my own children.
I think of my own family,
I think of my grandfather's family
and I imagine if he had been in that ghetto
he wouldn't have left
and I wouldn't be here today.
We're all prone to feelings of group loyalty,
a sort of tribal instinct
that lumps people together.
We tend to see people as victim
or perpetrator. as us or them,.
I understand that tribal instinct
and indeed I feel it myself
when I see that girl in the red dress.
But as a lawyer I've learnt to mistrust
being swayed by such feelings,
to try to avoid a tribal instinct when it comes
to dealing with issues of justice.
That's one of the reasons we have courts.
those four great nations,
flushed with victory and stung with injury
stay the hand of vengeance
and voluntarily submit their captive enemies
to the judgment of the law
is one of the most significant tributes
that power has ever paid to reason.
But it is also true
that Frank was a willing
and knowing participant in the use of terrorism in Poland
which led to the death by starvation
of over a million Poles
and in a programme involving the murder of at least three million Jews.
Frank didn't kill anybody personally,
yet the Nuremberg judgment
was unequivocal in finding him guilty
of the murder of four million individuals,
ifs called command responsibility.
I don't think that Horst is a Nazi,
but he's completely wrong about his father
who was a senior Nazi leader.
And if he'd been apprehended and tried,
he would certainly have suffered
the same fate as Hans Frank.
Otto von Wchter's name is on the order
authorizing the construction
of the Krakow ghetto, game over.
Intention, having a decent character,
as Horst puts it, are totally irrelevant.
Nuremberg was the first time
that the political leaders of a state
were hauled up in front
of an international court of law.
Churchill wanted them to be lined up
and shot, but President Roosevelt preferred
that a court should dispense justice
and justice is what Hans Frank got.
It's the only room in the world
where I'm a little bit nearer to my father.
Sitting here
and thinking of being him.
For about a year to be in here,
coming from a big castle,
driving a big Mercedes,
having a lot of uniforms
and suddenly he's sitting here.
There's an open toilet with a small table.
With a small bed, nothing else.
There is right now in me a little kind of pity.
Yeah, here he sits.
Maybe it's the same place to us.
So it's a momentary feeling of pity,
is it amplified today,
the anniversary of his execution?
No, it's not a special day of the 16th.
Around this time he was already dead.
In a lot of hours,
shortly after 1:00 in the morning
they got him and, hmm,
the funny thing about when they caught...
Took my father to the gallows,
when they opened the door
my father was kneeling like this
and he said to the priest,
"Father, my mother...
When I was a boy, my mother used to
"give me the cross every morning
when I was leaving for school.
"Please do this also now. "
And I think this catholic priest
was very, very much enjoyed
and he did it.
From behind you have all these people
and he was kneeling here
and I used to say that's
a ham actor's exercise.
Jesus Christ personally has shown himself
to my father
and so maybe...
Maybe he... And it wasn't a ham actor's...
Decision to do this,
maybe it's really in those moments
very near to the gallows,
very near to the death...
lam now about 30 years older than him
so he was very young,
he was 46 years and you know
you will not survive the 16th of October
and hmm, maybe it was really an honest,
the only and last honest thing he did.
He wanted to go back
to being an innocent child again.
What he was when his mother
make the sign of God on his brain'
Maybe, the first time I think about it,
I think he wanted to be a little boy again
and having done nothing of all those crimes.
What a last stand.
Ah, it's a happy room for me,
and for the world, I would say.
And then he's sitting here doing
this and that and he starts like...
Maybe he was thinking why I didn't stop it.