A Nazi Legacy: What Our Fathers Did

Can a man’s character be separated from his role in history? From his role in mass murder? With the volume of Holocaust material out there, these questions have certainly been touched on before. What makes David Evans’ documentary A Nazi Legacy: What Our Fathers Did particularly fascinating is how close he brings us to the men that have become an almost abstract symbol of ultimate evil: He has us meet their sons. Niklas Frank and Horst von Wächter are the sons of Nazi governors Hans Frank and Otto von Wächter. Despite their opposing views of their respective fathers, the two have formed a friendship in their challenging lineage. Their vastly different views of history are addressed head on by the film’s catalytic figure, Philippe Sands, human rights lawyer and descendent of a Holocaust survivor whose family was murdered at the orders of these specific men. It’s this peculiar, unavoidable involvement in father/son relationships that momentarily muddles notions of justice, of humanity versus history, before bringing us back to what we know about right and wrong. It’s that unique journey back, muddled and frustrating, that makes the film a profound examination of a moment examined so many times before. —Neha Talreja
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