In Amy O’Connor’s lively doco German New Zealander Helga Tiscenko talks about meeting Hitler and the privileges and subsequent travails of growing up the daughter of a loving father who was also a Nazi General.
Screened as part of NZIFF 2011
German New Zealander Helga Tiscenko’s war story is one few other New Zealanders might have listened to sympathetically when she settled here. Now she talks to filmmaker Amy O’Connor about the privileges and subsequent travails of growing up the daughter of an intelligent, loving father who happened to be a Nazi General. As a child she thrilled to choruses of Sieg Heil! She was chosen to share the eponymous strawberries on the occasion of Hitler’s birthday when she presented him with a bouquet of forget-me-nots and was invited to stay for ice cream. ‘If he had asked me to die for him there and then I would have done so’, she says, ‘unquestioningly’. Her father would eventually be executed for war crimes, and her own escape from the Allied advance was fraught with danger. In her 70s she wrote her memoirs partly to address the conundrum of a good father who became instrumental in an evil regime. With fitting modesty, O’Connor’s film allows Helga’s salutary tale to exemplify the susceptibility of young and old to messianic charisma. — BG