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Hostages of the SSOn a Razor’s Edge (eps. 2)

The hostages and their SS-henchmen traverse the Brenner Pass unscathed – despite the danger of allied bombers and Italian partisans. On April 28, 1945 the convoy reaches the Puster Valley and stops just outside the small town of Niederdorf. Hours pass as the SS – Sturmführer Stiller and Bader try to reach their superiors for new orders. Finally the prisoners leave the busses on their own accord and mix with the townsfolk, thus forcing their stay in Niederdorf. It has now become impossible for the SS to inconspicuously liquidate their prisoners. The transport halts in Niederdorf for the time being. But the SS-guards now have no contact to their superior command – communications with Berlin and other bureaus have collapsed. This makes them increasingly unpredictable and leads to a very uneasy and fearful first night for the prisoners.

Oberst Bogislav von Bonin’s initiative is the turning point. The German Wehrmachtofficer, who is also a prisoner due to insubordination, manages to dupe the local garrison headquarters into sending a call for help to the German High Command for Italy in Bozen. The Wehrmacht is now alerted to the prisoners’ situation and ready to prevent a bloodbath. And so the unique situation arises that a company of Wehrmacht soldiers led by Captain von Alvensleben faces off with the SS unit in Niederdorf, weapons drawn. The prevailing circumstances lead Obersturmführer Stiller to hand over the responsibility over the special prisoners and prisoners of kin to the Wehrmacht. The prisoners are lodged in the nearby Pragser Wildsee Hotel where US forces liberate them on May 4th, 1945. Yet the fate of their family members is still uncertain.

 

 

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Gebrueder Beetz Filmproduktion in co-production with ZDF, Arte, RAI and ORF - Österreichischer Rundfunk
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