In My Grandfather’s Shadow

In My Grandfather’s Shadow

A story of war, trauma and the legacy of silence

Summary

In 1987, Angela Findlay walked into a prison and instantly but inexplicably felt at home. For years she had wrestled with a sense of 'badness' within her. But working with prisoners was just the beginning of her search for answers that took her to Nazi Germany and the life of her dead grandfather, who, it emerged, was a decorated general on the Eastern front. In a rare confluence of memoir, psychology and historical detective story, this is Findlay's account of her unflinching quest for the truth about her German family, one that breaks through the silence surrounding many of the Second World War's perpetrators.

In My Grandfather's Shadow explores the heritability of unresolved experiences, questions deeply held perceptions of good and bad, and uncovers the lesser-known history of the war's losers, a post-war culture of apology and atonement, and the lingering legacy of shame. Using her own family story to explore an episode in history that continues to appal and fascinate, Findlay reveals that it is possible not only for the scars of trauma to be handed down through generations, but also for them to be healed.

Reviews

  • A compelling journey through guilt and shame that asks fundamental and painful questions about the extent of a family member's participation in one of the biggest crimes of the 20th century.
    Derek Niemann, author of A Nazi in the Family

About the author

Angela Findlay

Angela Findlay is an Anglo-German artist and public speaker who has spent much of her career teaching art in prisons. Her time 'behind bars' in Germany and later as Arts Co-ordinator for the London-based Koestler Arts charity informed her research into the intergenerational consequences of unresolved trauma, guilt and shame. For over a decade, she has been lecturing and writing on the topic as well as on post-war remembrance, resolution and reconciliation. In My Grandfather's Shadow is her first book.
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