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Jewish Journal

Descending into His Past

by Tom Tugend

July 24, 1997 | 8:00 pm

Since actor Brad Pitt and his producers completed shooting the upcoming film "Seven Years in Tibet," they have made an embarrassing discovery: The hero of the movie, Austrian mountaineer, explorer and human rights activist Heinrich Harrer, was also a one-time member of Hitler's SA storm troopers and his elite, black-clad SS.

The film is based on Harrer's autobio-graphical book, which chronicles his stay in Tibet from 1944 to 1951. While there, Harrer became the favorite tutor of the then-youthful Dalai Lama.

After the Chinese occupied Tibet in 1950, Harrer photographed the conquerors' human rights abuses; he continued to agitate for Tibetan freedom well after his

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