Brazil, Winter 1985. In a small cemetery on the outskirts of Belem, a
long-buried corpse is being exhumed. Journalists, photographers and
camera-crews from around the world are there to record what is clearly a
sensational event. The onlookers include the chief of police, an elderly
couple, a young man called Hermann and an American lawyer, Paul Minsky, all
of whom watch the scene with quiet composure. The remains were buried under
a false name - but they are thought to be those of the world's most wanted
man, the Angel of Death - Hermann's father.
A short while later Hermann has an unnerving encounter with Minsky. The
latter has been hired by New York's Jewish community to negotiate
compensation for the twins who miraculously survived the criminal doctor's
unspeakably cruel experiments at Auschwitz.
Belem, October 1977. A dusty heat has settled over Rua Alguem, a wide,
pot-holed mud track running through the centre of a vast favela. Here,
under the relentless sun, thirty-five-year-old Hermann is about to meet his
father for the very first time.
He has managed to evade capture for more than thirty years, most of them here in
South America. He is a charismatic and cultured man, but his unqualified
lack of remorse is astounding, to the point where he believes himself to be
a victim. By contrast, his son Hermann has grown up a fragile, insecure
man, unable to escape from the ever-present and looming shadow of his absent
father. He has come to Brazil hoping to persuade him to give himself up to
the authorities, hoping to discover the truth about what really happened -
hoping against hope that he is an innocent man.
After an inconclusive confrontation, in an unforgiving, poor land forgotten
by time, the son leaves. He knows he will never see his father again. But
he is fated to carry with him until his dying day the burden of a guilt he
does not deserve; for in the end Hermann could not betray his own father and
he will never be free...
From the book "Vati" by Peter Schneider.