Consul-General-in-Residence Programme


Film/Seminar “Humanitarian Aid and Politics”

Date:                         Thursday, 27 Oct 2005

Venue:                      Mini Theatre/Room 109, Jockey Club Academic Community Centre

SCE Tower, Baptist University Road Campus 


14:00 – 14:30              Introduction: The Red Cross

(Its history and its involuntary involvement in the horrors of WW II)

Speaker: François Barras, Consul-General of Switzerland 

14:40 – 16:15              Film

                                    Mission en Enfer (Mission in Hell)

                                    Documentary, Switzerland 2004

                                    Director: Frédéric Gonseth

                                    Language: German

                                    Swiss Film Prize Nomination 2004

16:15 – 16:30              Coffee Break 

16:30 – 17:30              Humanitarian Aid and Politics – Then and Now

                                    Roundtable Discussion with Students                                   


                                    François Barras, Consul-General of Switzerland

                                    Frédéric Gonseth, Film Director

                                    Catherine Azad, Interviewer in Mission in Hell“

                                    Suzannah Linton, Director LLM Program in Human Rights, HKU

                                    Dick van der Tak, Executive Director, Médecins sans Frontières

                                    Michael Müller-Verweyen, Director, Goethe-Institut Hong Kong

H. Werner Hess, Professor, Dept of GIS, HKBU

                                    Holly Liu, MPhil Student, Dept of GIS, HKBU                        

Enquiries:                  Pinky Cheung, International Office

Tel: 3411 5366; Fax: 3411 5568; Email:



Limited seats on a first-come-first-served basis


Jointly organized by the Swiss Consulate General in Hong Kong,

HKBU Department of Government & International Studies (GIS), and International Office



Switzerland will present, as one of its contributions to the 2005 Max! German Language Film Festival, a documentary film  "Mission in Hell" (Mission en Enfer, Mission des Grauens) which is a series of testimonies of doctors and nurses hired by the Swiss Red Cross for humanitarian missions during World War II who were used and abused by the German Wehrmacht.  

The screening of "Mission in Hell" is part of a "History revisited" series of the festival. The film director, Frédéric Gonseth, is coming to Hong Kong for the occasion.



 Two hundred and fifty Swiss doctors and nurses witnessed the horrors of war on the Eastern Front between 1942 and 1943. Believing they were volunteers for the Red Cross, they were in actual fact part of the German Army, following a secret settlement between Switzerland and Germany. When they came back home, they were ordered not to speak about it. Sixty years later, several of these men and women have agreed to share their memories, most of them for the very first time. They tell us not only about commitment and youth idealism, but also about confusion, powerlessness, painful experiences and nightmare scenes, which still haunt them today. There is something vital and of international relevance in this movie. Unwittingly, these witnesses discovered Shoa and other - still widely unknown - episodes of World War Two, such as the genocide of Soviet prisoners-of-war. At the heart of this movie lies the painful and unbearable truth gradually revealed by the detail of these testimonies. Today more than ever there is something essential and relevant in this film, which brings up questions of aid workers, their responsibility and the question how independently of its country an organisation, like the Red Cross, can really act. (Source:

Photo credits: ©


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