”Bitch of Buchenwald” inspired Kate Winslets role in The Reader

January 18th, 2009 - 2:26 pm ICT by ANI  

London, Jan 18 (ANI): Kate Winslets award-winning role in The Reader is inspired by ”Bitch of Buchenwald”, according to a professor.

The woman Winslet portrays in the Oscar-tipped movie has been unmasked as one of Germany’’s most notorious war criminals.

Concentration camp guard Ilse Koch, known as the Bitch of Buchenwald, was sentenced to life imprisonment before she committed suicide, just like Hanna Schmitz, the fictional character played by the British actress.

Bernhard Schlink, whose controversial book examining German post-war guilt was adapted for the film, has always declined to reveal the basis of Schmitz’’s character.

However, Professor Bill Niven at Nottingham Trent University, an authority on Schlink and on his book, believes the parallels between Schmitz and Koch are unmistakable.

“No other known female camp guard comes close to matching up with Schmitz,” the Guardian quoted him as saying.

In the film, which begins in 1958, German teenager Michael Berg meets tram conductor Schmitz.

The pair get involved in a passionate affair, with Schmitz becoming abusive. Then she disappears and Michael is left fixated on their relationship.

After eight years, Michael attends a war crimes trial in which a number of German women face justice for their actions as concentration camp guards.

To Michael’’s horror, Schmitz is one of the defendants and is sentenced to life in prison. Michael begins to send taped books to the illiterate Schmitz. The day before her release from prison Schmitz commits suicide.

Koch also killed herself while serving a life sentence.

Like Schmitz, Koch came from a poor background and became an early devotee of Hitler, joining the Nazi party in 1932. (ANI)

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