Review of “My Father’s Secrets”: Unveiling the Suffering of the Holocaust in a Jewish Coming-of-Age Story


Adapted from “Second Generation,” a graphic novel by Michel Kichka, this animated film takes a unique approach to exploring the impact of the Holocaust. Kichka’s father, Henri, survived Auschwitz but remains closed off and guarded, keeping his memories and emotions to himself and his five children. Set in a pastel-colored Belgian town, the story follows Michel as an adolescent, voiced by Ilan Galkoff, while an older Michel (narrated by David Baddiel) comments on the events. Michel and his younger brother Charley (voiced by Skye Bennett) are not fully aware of the horrors of the war, and their Jewish identity only comes to mind when it helps them avoid religious education classes.

However, when the 1960 trial of Adolf Eichmann is broadcasted and becomes a must-watch for all Jewish families in the neighborhood, Michel and Charley become more interested in their father’s story. Interestingly, he chooses not to discuss it with his children due to the painful memories, but he feels a sense of duty to raise awareness about the Holocaust. He becomes a well-known speaker on the topic, making television appearances and leading tours at concentration camps. Meanwhile, Michel becomes more attuned to acts of antisemitism, both subtle and blatant, around him. From being teased by classmates to facing discrimination from his girlfriend’s father who disapproves of him because he is Jewish.

This appears to be targeted towards children who are the same age as those in the movie, using simplified graphics and featuring 12 certificates. It may serve as a teaching tool for discussions about the Holocaust, but it also tells a personal story about a family and their struggles. Expect a sad twist towards the end that is unrelated to the larger tragedy of the Holocaust. This may be upsetting for younger viewers, but it adds depth to the film that sets it apart from typical coming-of-age stories about young Jewish men from the baby boomer generation.