American Rhetoric: Movie Speech

"The Reader" (2008)


Hanna Schmitz Testifies in Court On Her Role at Siemens

Audio mp3 delivered by Kate Winslet and Burghart Klaußner

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  Judge: Miss Schmitz, you're familiar with this book?

Hanna Schmitz: Yes.

Judge: Parts of it have already been read out in court. It's by a survivor.  It's an American publication, which has been translated. It's by a survivor, a prisoner who survived, Ilana Mather.

Hanna Schmitz: Yes I know. I know Ilana Mather.

Judge: She was in the camp, wasn't she, when she was a child? She was with her mother. In the book, she describes a selection process. At the end of the month's labor, every month, sixty inmates were selected. They were picked out to be sent from the satellite camp back to Auschwitz. That's right, isn't it?

Hanna Schmitz: Yes, it's right.

Judge: And so far, each of your fellow defendants has specifically denied being part of that process. Now I'm going to ask you. Were you part of it?

Hanna Schmitz: Yes.

Judge: So you helped make the selection?

Hanna Schmitz: Yes.

Judge: You admit that? Then tell me, how did that selection happen?

Hanna Schmitz: There were six guards, so we decided we'd choose ten people each. That's how we did it -- every month. We'd all choose ten.

Judge: Are you saying your fellow defendants took part in the process?

Hanna Schmitz: We all did.

Judge: Even though they've denied it? But you admit it. You're saying you took part in the process. Did you not realize you were  sending these women to their deaths?

Hanna Schmitz: Yes but there were new arrivals, new women were arriving all the time, so of course we had to move some of the old ones on.

Judge: I'm not sure you understand.

Hanna Schmitz: We couldn't keep everyone. There wasn't room.
Judge: No, but what I'm saying -- let me rephrase. To make room, you were picking women out and saying "You you and you have to be sent back to be killed."

Hanna Schmitz: Well, what would you have done? So should I never have signed up at Siemens?

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