KSMQ to air documentary on war crimes typist from St. Joseph

Categories: Around the Diocese

Nov. 22, 2013, edition
By Sue Schulzetenberg-Gully

Amongst his family and friends Nov. 16, Larry Tillemans, long-time member of St. Joseph Parish in St. Joseph, thanked producers for making his documentary possible.

Applause sounded throughout the community room at the senior living facility in Sartell where the group had gathered to see the first viewing of “The Typist,” a documentary featuring Tillemans.


Larry Tillemans, a typist for the World War II war crime trials, is featured in a documentary — “The Typist” — to air on public television. Sue Schulzetenberg-Gully / The Visitor

He was a typist for the World War II war crime trials. Gerry Boe of Crosslake, Minn., also attended the viewing with his family and friends. He was a regimental sergeant major who made sure everyone was in their proper place during the trials and is featured in part of the documentary.

Over the last 20 years, Tillemans, 87, has given more than 450 presentations. He speaks about the Holocaust, the power of prayer and the danger of addictions. He has spoken in churches, synagogues, schools, jails, prisons and treatment centers.

This week KSMQ is bringing his story to homes in southern Minnesota. KSMQ, based in Austin,Minn., broadcasted the documentary for the first time Nov. 20 and will rebroadcast it at 9 p.m. Nov. 23. Public viewings in several cities, including St. Cloud, are being planned.

Three years in the making

“The Typist” is a three-year project made possible from a grant from the Minnesota Legacy Amendment. The concept for the documentary began when KSMQ production manager Chuck Czech ate at Kay’s Kitchen in St. Joseph. He saw a flyer for Tillemans’ open house birthday party. Czech’s wife suggested Tillemans’ story as a documentary idea.

Czech attended the birthday party and the project began. David Klassen was eventually brought in as a freelancer to coproduce the film.

Over the next three years, the producing process would include interviews with Tillemans, his children, his friends and experts on the Holocaust. The camera crew followed Tillemans to some of his speaking engagements. The footage was excerpted, edited and music was added.

“I hope they see the care we took with Larry’s story,” Klassen said. “The theme is to teach tolerance and understanding.”

The documentary tells of Tillemans’ life, focusing on his experience as a typist for the trials and his mission to tell the story of the Holocaust. It touches on his alcoholism and his prayers to Father Engelmar Unzeitig, who sacrificed his life to minister in Dachau. Tillemans credits Father Unzeitig with helping him to overcome alcoholism. Throughout the film, the importance of paying attention to history so it is not repeated is stressed.

As the years pass, the number of people who can give firsthand accounts of the Holocaust become less and less, Czech said.

“This [documentary] is a way to keep that voice continuing,” he said.

Due to health concerns, Tillemans does not plan on speaking in the near future, but he said he will gladly mail a DVD of one of his talks. Call him at 320-203-7357 or send a letter to him at Country Villa #261, 520 First Street NE, Sartell, MN 56377.