In one segment of Felix Moeller’s documentary about Veit Harlan, the director of the Third Reich’s most notorious anti-Semitic film, Christiane Kubrick, Harlan’s niece, recalls that when her husband, Stanley, first learned who her uncle was, he wanted to make a film about him.
Kubrick never did, and no doubt his film would have been better than this talking-heads account, but the story still provokes and fascinates. Moeller mixes archival footage and interviews with Harlan’s surviving children and grandchildren, whose attitudes range from the condemnatory to the defensive.
Most poignant are the recollections of Jessica Jacoby, whose mother — Harlan’s daughter — married a Jewish survivor of the Holocaust and later committed suicide. Her family, Jacoby reflects, is divided into “victims and perpetrators”: at the same time that the Nazis were regaling one grandfather for his Jew-baiting movie, they were murdering another for being a Jew.