500 escaped prisoners of the Mauthausen concentration camp were hunted down, shot, beaten to death, and killed in savage ways by the SS, Hitler Youth, Volkssturm (home guard), and the local population of the surrounding Mühlviertel region on the night of February 1st, 1945, and over the following weeks. In 1994, the Upper Austrian writer and director Andreas Gruber made a movie about these events, entitled “The Quality of Mercy.” During the Festival, Andreas Gruber will take us on a hike to the original sites along the escape route of the “Mühlviertel rabbit hunt,” talking about his sources and eye witnesses and about the strenuous shoot and the international reactions to the film. During the festival, the film will be presented in different locations with the presence of the director.
Filmscreenings in cooperation with KZ-Gedenkstätte Mauthausen, Kino Grein and Kino Katsdorf. Please reserve directly at https://www.stadtkino-grein.com/kontakt/ and http://www.kino-katsdorf.at/ticketreservierung/ for the Cinema screenings.
Departure from the Train Station Mauthausen. Limited seats, please reserve in advance at firstname.lastname@example.org or after 15th of June at +43(0)670 4059029.
500 escaped prisoners of the Mauthausen concentration camp were hunted down, shot, beaten to death, and killed in savage ways by the SS, Hitler Youth, Volkssturm (home guard), and the local population of the surrounding Mühlviertel region during the night of February 1st, 1945 and over the following weeks. Just a few weeks after the event, hardly any factual evidence remained of what had taken place on that night and over the following days and weeks at the Mauthausen concentration camp and the surrounding villages of the Mühlviertel.
While eliminating clues, the SS also performed the “clean-up” with “German diligence.” Maybe a bullet hole in a credenza here, a torn striped jacket repurposed as a rag there. Nearly all of the 500 escaped concentration camp prisoners were shot or beaten to death, with the dead collected and burned. The snow from that bitter cold night had melted, and everything seemed to have been wiped out. What was referred to as the “Mühlviertel rabbit hunt” – ever so cynically by the SS – which hardly had any presence in history books, was actually a savage manhunt that had hardly been chronicled. Those 500 Soviet officers that escaped Death Block 20 of the Mauthausen concentration camp were hunted down by the SS and brought to death in every way imaginable on that February night – just a few months before the end of the war. Moreover: Camp Commander Ziereis had personally summoned the local population of the surrounding townships and markets to take part in this manhunt and to “take care of” the escaped “criminals” on the spot. The Volkssturm, Hitler Youth, and SS combed the forests and recesses of the region for a couple weeks, weeding out the escapees. Nevertheless, a few were lucky enough to be taken in and hidden by brave locals. That’s how the Langthaler family hid Michail Rybtschinsky and Nicolai Zemkalo in Schwertberg, risking their lives until the end of the war, thereby becoming important witnesses of what took place.
In 1994, the Upper Austrian writer and director Andreas Gruber made a film about these events in and around Mauthausen, entitled “The Quality of Mercy.” On a hike along the escape route of the “Mühlviertel rabbit hunt,” the director will lead people to the original sites of the events, talking about his reference material and his conversations with eye witnesses. He will clarify the film’s concept and talk about the strenuous shoot and the international reactions to the film.
Andreas Gruber is a freelance screenwriter and director. He studied Screenwriting and Directing at the University of Music and Performing Arts Vienna and has held a Professorship at the University of Television and Film Munich since 2002. He has received numerous awards and distinctions for his comprehensive filmography both within Austria and abroad.
Andreas Gruber is a freelance screenwriter and director. He studied Screenwriting and Directing at the University of Music and Performing Arts Vienna. He is trained as a social worker and was the chairperson of SOS-Menschenrechte Austria for 15 years. He has received numerous awards for his films and television films in both Austria and abroad, e.g. the Special Jury Award of the San Sebastian Film Festival and the German Kritikerpreis for “The Quality of Mercy,” which was also nominated for the European Film Award, the Golden Romy, the Max Ophüls Award, among others. He is Professor of Screenwriting and Dramaturgy at the Academy of Media Arts Cologne and has held a Professorship for Directing/Dramaturgy/Production at the University of Television and Film Munich since 2002. He founded Provinz-Film International and is an acting partner. His comprehensive filmography has been endorsed through numerous publications.
Photo: Andreas Gruber