Truly a ‘Missing Chapter’?

To the Editor:

I’ve now had a chance to read “Saskia Sassen’s Missing Chapter,” (The Chronicle Review, December 12) by Marc Parry, which refers to my relation to my father, Willem Sassen, who became a Nazi in World War II, and thereafter connected with Adolf Eichmann in Argentina. I have never denied this nor tried to hide it.

Since Hannah Arendt’s Eichmann in Jerusalem (1963) put the relations between the two men into the public realm, I have been over the years asked about them, and about my own relations to my father. Far from being a “missing chapter” in my life, it’s one which I’ve tried to speak out on as well as I can.

Most recently, I did an in-depth interview this summer with J.B. Silvers on the subject for a WNET and PBS documentary, “Past Reckoning,” now being edited. In 2010, a film about my father and Eichmann, made by Raymond Ley (Eichmann’s End), in which an actress plays me as a child and I do an interview as myself, was shown at the New York Film Festival, where it won a silver medal. My own Wikipedia site of course mentions my father and Eichmann.

Those of your readers who read German might like to consult an interview I gave, at the time widely reproduced, about my father and Eichmann in the June 16th, 2011 issue of Freitag Magazine. Long before that, I gave a long TV interview to Roelf van Til in 2005; he was by then known as the maker of the film, The Man who Sold Eichmann and Mengele, referring to the interviews my father published in Time and Life magazines.

I was interviewed by Willi Winkler in 2006 for his book Der Schattenmann, appearing in 2011, and have been interviewed by and corresponded with Bettina Stangneth for her book of 2011 which has just appeared in English. Let me conclude by thanking her for help on clarifying various aspects of my father’s history.

Saskia Sassen

Robert S. Lynd Professor of Sociology
Department of Sociology and
Co-Chair, Committee on Global Thought
Columbia University

 

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