My Nazi Legacy

Review by Sophie Monks Kaufman @sopharsogood

Directed by

David Evans

Starring

Horst von Wächter Niklas Frank Philippe Sands

Anticipation.

Meaty philosophical documentaries are to our taste.

Enjoyment.

As compelling as a thriller. As weighty as a heartbeat.

In Retrospect.

Essential documentary viewing.

Two German men confront the sins of their fathers in this exceptional documentary.

One thing that most sane people do if the subject comes up in serious conversation is distance themselves from the Nazis. That’s the default position. Nazis equals wrong. My Nazi Legacy studies a fascinating exception to this rule and in doing so explores the limits of rational debate, the binds of family loyalty and the network of subjective interpretations that create an individual’s viewpoint.

Horst von Wächter and Niklas Frank are the sons of dead, high-ranking Nazi officials whose signatures are present on paperwork sentencing Jewish prisoners to death. Horst [son of Otto] has made a game out of finding logical loopholes that enable him to sympathise with and so excuse his father’s deeds. Niklas Frank [son of Hanz] renounces his father at all opportunities (“My father deserved to die”). Human rights lawyer, Philippe Sands, who lost relatives in the Holocaust, narrates the documentary while questioning the two men as he escorts them on a tour around increasingly significant historical sites.

Sands is an intellectually adroit compere, Frank provides reassuring moral ubiquity, but it is stubborn, controversial, infuriating von Wächter who gives the film its bite. This old man in a baseball cap repeatedly explains that his father was a good man in a bad situation. It would be easier to dismiss his denial if it was terse, but he is always measured and articulate. Were the subject different, it would be tempting to applaud his analytical ingenuity and the dogged nature of his defence.

Choosing not to is an ideological position that makes von Wächter a source of despair. Otto evaded condemnation at Nuremberg but, as Sands points out, based on the evidence the law would have seen him hanged. Although it can feel like one, this documentary isn’t a trial. Under democracy, there is clearly no subject that creates a consensus. My Nazi Legacy is a confrontational and engrossing testimony to the matter of opinion.

Published 18 Nov 2015

Anticipation.

Meaty philosophical documentaries are to our taste.

Enjoyment.

As compelling as a thriller. As weighty as a heartbeat.

In Retrospect.

Essential documentary viewing.

Read More

Steve McQueen: The Man & Le Mans

By Bekzhan Sarsenbay

This portrait of an icon passes the time without revealing much about its subject.

review

Love

By Jordan Cronk

Gaspar Noé returns with his most controversial and compassionate movie yet.

review

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2

By Sophie Monks Kaufman

The final roll of the dice for Katniss and crew sadly doesn’t match previous instalments.

review

What are you looking for?

Little White Lies Logo

About Little White Lies

Little White Lies was established in 2005 as a bi-monthly print magazine committed to championing great movies and the talented people who make them. Combining cutting-edge design, illustration and journalism, we’ve been described as being “at the vanguard of the independent publishing movement.” Our reviews feature a unique tripartite ranking system that captures the different aspects of the movie-going experience. We believe in Truth & Movies.

Editorial

Design