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Editorial Reviews


Of the countless documentaries about the Nazi Holocaust of World War II, Inheritance is surely one of the most deeply personal and emotionally resonant. Oscar-winning documentarian James Moll (The Last Days) collaborated on several Holocaust history projects with Steven Spielberg (including ongoing work with Spielberg's Shoah Foundation), and as he was preparing the documentary "Voices of the List" for the Collector's Edition DVD of Schindler's List, he became aware of Monika Hertwig, a soft-spoken German woman, born in 1945, who had learned as a teenager that her late father was Amon Goeth, the monstrously homicidal commandant of the Nazis' Plaszow concentration camp in Poland, memorably portrayed by Ralph Fiennes in Spielberg's Oscar-winning 1993 film. Hertwig had never confronted the awful truth of her father's history until she saw Schindler's List, and Inheritance focuses its intensely human drama on Hertwig's eventual meeting with Helen Jonas-Rosenzweig, a former maidservant to Goeth and one of the Holocaust survivors whose testimony is included in "Voices of the List."

Linked by a horrible legacy of pain and suffering, these two extraordinarily compassionate women agreed to meet on the grounds of Plaszow (which includes Goeth's former villa, where Helen lived under conditions of slavery), 60 years after Goeth's post-war execution. Their encounter was captured by Moll on high-definition video, and the slickly produced Inheritance follows their brief journey together as they confront the truth about Goeth's murderous legacy. The result is a film that offers considerable healing power for all Holocaust survivors, but it's almost uncomfortably intimate as Moll's cameras eavesdrop on these admirable women and their very personal quest for closure. This is an extraordinary film that deserves the widest possible audience, but it also feels occasionally intrusive, and the music score (by Argentine composers Andras Goldstein and Daniel Tarrab) is unnecessarily lush and manipulative. Those minor caveats aside, Inheritance provides a spiritually satisfying and deeply emotional experience, even as it raises darker questions about the source of Amon Goeth's evil, the mysterious passivity of his wife Ruth (Monika's mother), and the deep psychological scars of the Holocaust, which continues to haunt survivors, perpetrators and their families well into the 21st century. --Jeff Shannon


[And] it is that raw, unfiltered, uneasy, uncomfortable intimacy that makes this, as one audience member later remarked, much more than just another Holocaust movie. Here, in these women's tears and twisted smiles, in their attempt to make sense of events beyond comprehension are the living wounds of history -- terminal and undeniable. --The Los Angeles Times

Special Features


Product Details

  • Actors: Vivian Delman, Monika Hertwig, Reinhardt Hertwig, Helen Jonas
  • Directors: James Moll
  • Producers: James Moll, Chris Malachowsky, Christopher Pavlick, Ryan Malachowsky, Segio Molho
  • Format: NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Region: All Regions
  • Studio: New Video
  • Run Time: 75 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (211 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000NPO3D2
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #379,564 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Inheritance" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Jean E. Pouliot on December 11, 2008
Format: DVD
Monika is the real-life daughter of Amon Goth, the infamous commandant of the Plaszow concentration camp and a main subject of the "Schindler's List." Monika, a tall, rangy and emotionally fragile woman, has spent a lifetime coming to terms with the monster who was her father. In his film, she arranges to meet Helen Jonas-Rosenzweig, who along with her own mother was employed as a cook by Goth at Plaszow. The women hope for a cathartic encounter that will purge them of their shame and horror.

Oddly, Monika comes off as the more sympathetic of the two women. Her emotions are raw, unhealed and close to the surface. Helen has lived for years with the effects of the cruelty experienced and witnessed at the camp, and her story is smoother for frequent repetition. Both women clearly are victims, and both bear the scars and shame of the past. I felt viscerally how passing through the Holocaust changed lives forever, despite the passage of decades. And I saw how the evil of the fathers is visited on future generations.

The film is generally easy to watch, with many Goth family photos interspersed with photos of Jews being herded onto tricks or marched off to work. An exception is a graphic filmed execution, which though bloodless, is affecting. Such such footage is rarely seen on sanitized American television.

The subtext of "Inheritance" is a meditation on the question of evil. How could the serene and sensitive Monika have been sired by one of the twentieth century's more brutal villains? Her story shows that biology need NOT be destiny. What remains unanswered at the end of the documentary is the question of how Goth's soul became so twisted. Fans of the movie will be interested to see how well Steven Spielberg rendered the Goth villa, Schindler's factory and other landmarks.
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Format: DVD
"Inheritance" is a documentary that tells the story of two women with very different scars from the World War II genocide of European Jews.

Now in her 60's, Monika Hertwig has struggled a lifetime with what she learned at age 11 -- that her father, Amon Goeth, had not been killed in World War II like other soldiers, but was hanged as a war criminal when she was a baby. Over the years, she forced herself to learn more about Amon, but when Steven Spielberg's "Schindler's List" came out in 1993, Monika became sick with the truth.

Helen Jones was 15 years old when she arrived with other Jews at the Plaszow Camp in Poland, which was both a work camp and a death camp. She was singled out by Amon Goeth to live in his house as a servant. Decades after the Holocaust, Helen's appearance in a German television documentary captured Monika's attention, and the two women arranged to meet at the Plaszow concentration camp memorial to the thousands who died there.

Director James Moll ("The Last Days") tells a fascinating story of the effect of the Holocaust on two individuals decades later. We see Monika's compulsion to learn more about her father, a man she had never known, and the pain with which she learns the extent of her father's crimes. The documentary also shows the power of film to move people. It was Ralph Fiennes' chilling portrayal of Amon Goeth in the Spielberg film that motivated Goeth's daughter to come to terms with the kind of man her father was.
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First, I have to say that I thought the film was much better than 1 star, but I'm getting more comments on this post when I call it "1-star," and the whole thread has become pretty interesting. This film should be shown to psych students as a hideous example of transference/countertransference and projection. Indeed, some of the responses to this post are great examples of same. My post seems to have pushed a lot of buttons, but I learned long ago to get out of the way of the crossfire between a person and him-/herself, so I'm stepping aside and letting my detractors illustrate exactly what I'm saying better than I ever could.

Susanna was looking for someone to take blame, and she found it in Monika, who was looking for someone to blame her. A match made in heaven. Susanna has the whole world empathizing, sympathizing. Was it horrific? Of course. It was worse than unspeakable. But she has a form of comfort in her victimhood that Monika does not have. And Monika is a victim, too, because--and I can't overstate this--she didn't do anything. She doesn't need forgiveness. She was not a perpetrator. And despite everyone's insistence to the contrary, she is being treated like one, but she opened the door to this by offering herself up as a sacrificial lamb to Susanna, who got to spit, if not on THE perpetrator, on someone who looked just like him. In the scene where Susanna tears her a new one for saying what she had been told as a child, I did not see someone who actually believed it. I saw a person offering up the only, albeit feeble, explanation for her denial. I saw someone who was regressing to the person she was when she was told that stuff--a child--and was simply offering up an explanation as to why she had taken a lifetime to come to terms with the horror her father was.
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Format: DVD
In director James Moll's "Inheritance", we are introduced to two women who have something in common - they are both connected to an infamous war criminal, Amon Goeth, commandant of Plaszow concentration camp during WW II, who was eventually hanged for war crimes.

Monika Hertwig was Amon Goeth's daughter and only child, though she never knew her father since she was born just before he was hanged. Despite this relative unfamiliarity with her own father, Hertwig is very much affected by his actions, carrying the burden of guilt all these years. Her most intense impression of him is Ralph Fiennes' portrayal of Amon in the movie "Schindler's List." When Hertwig sees an interview with Helen Jonas on television, a Jewish woman and former Plaszow inmate who had been a slave worker in Amon Goeth's household during the war, she decides to meet her to get a better understanding of who her father really was.

The documentary shows viewers these two women's journey - Hertwig from Germany and Jonas from New Jersey to the site of the Plaszow camp. Their meeting is poignant for all the raw emotions it stirs up in both women. Helen Jonas' anger and sorrow at what was done to her and other innocents is evident, but she also shows compassion towards Monika Hertwig who ironically appears to be the more vulnerable of the two, a rather bewildered expression on her face as she listens to Jonas' recounting the events of the past.

Both women are ultimately victims of a ruthless and merciless man, though they have been affected in different ways. Monika Hertwig is the daughter who struggles to understand what kind of man her father was and why he did what he did, carrying the burden of her father's sins.
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