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Documentary Tells Of Woman Reliving Horrors Of Holocaust

'Prisoner Of Her Past'

The Web site for the documentary ‘Prisoner of Her Past.’ (Credit: Kartemquin Films)

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CHICAGO (WBBM/CBS) – A documentary airs Thursday night on Chicago television, telling the heartbreaking story of an elderly Chicago-area woman who’s reliving the trauma of her suffering during the Holocaust.

As WBBM Newsradio 780’s Regine Schlesinger reports, the film, “Prisoner of Her Past,” tells the story of Sonia Reich, a Chicago-area woman who as a child saw her family and her entire Eastern European village wiped out by the Nazis.

LISTEN: Newsradio 780’s Regine Schlesinger reports

The film is based on a book by her son, Chicago Tribune arts critic Howard Reich. He says 10 years ago, his mother suffered a breakdown.

She fled her home in Skokie insisting that someone was out to “put a bullet in (her) head,” and she told anyone who would listen, the synopsis for the film says.

It was later discovered that Sonia Reich was suffering from a rare mental illness known as late-onset post-traumatic stress.

“The past and the present are wound up together. She cannot tell them apart,” Howard Reich said. “She knows she’s in Chicago. She knows it’s 2011. She sees the news on the TV. But now she believes all the terrors from the past have come back in another form. Therefore, she thinks that the doctors in the nursing home are trying to kill her, so she will not take any medicine that could help her.”

As part of Holocaust remembrance observances, the documentary “Prisoner of Her Past” airs at 9 p.m. Thursday and again at 4 p.m. Sunday, on WTTW-Channel 11.