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Thursday 23 November 2017

Woman (93) investigated for death camp role after film

Hilde Michnia
Hilde Michnia
Tomi Reichental

Brian Byrne

A TAPE recording sourced by the producers of an RTE documentary led German authorities to investigate whether a 93-year-old woman forced prisoners at a Nazi concentration camp on a death march in which around 1,400 died.

In the documentary, entitled 'Close to Evil', which first aired last September, alleged SS Guard Hilde Michnia admits to taking part in a death march from Gross-Rosen concentration camp in Poland in 1945.

Director Gerry Gregg said there were "gasps of horror" when the documentary was screened in Germany earlier this month, after which a man who organised the screening lodged a complaint with German authorities.

The Emmy award-winner told the Irish Independent: "It was clear from the assertions that she made in the film that she put herself on a death march.

"And then she made the extraordinary claim that while on this death march she was making hot chocolate and soup for the prisoners."

He said: "That just did not chime with any of the testimonies of survivors on other death marches.

"It was clear that any of those on the march who couldn't keep up were murdered."

He also revealed: "We managed to secure, through a source, a tape recording of her making these assertions. That was the key piece of evidence and made the film unique.

"Because she put herself on the march, and because she said nothing basically untoward had happened, once the film was shown in Germany, the gasps of horror …

"Even though it was shown in Ireland, the depth of appreciation for her statements was magnified in Germany."

The documentary, co-produced by 'Sunday Independent' journalist Eoghan Harris, chronicles concentration camp survivor Tomi Reichental's quest to meet Ms Michnia.

Ms Michnia, who is alleged to have been an SS Guard at both the Gross-Rosen and Bergen-Belsen concentration camps, insisted in an interview with German newspaper 'Die Welt' last weekend that she was not involved in any atrocities and only worked in kitchens at the camps.

Ms Michnia was convicted for her work as a concentration camp guard in 1945, after she was put on trial by the British occupying forces, and was sentenced to a year in prison.

Irish Independent

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