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Conspiracy
Directed by Frank Pierson
Produced by Nick Gillot
Frank Pierson
Written by Loring Mandel
Starring Kenneth Branagh,
Stanley Tucci,
Colin Firth,
David Threlfall,
Ben Daniels
Distributed by BBC / HBO
Release date(s) 2001
Running time 96 min.
Language English
Budget Not known

Conspiracy is a BBC / HBO television film which dramatizes the 1942 Wannsee Conference. The film delves into the psychology of Nazi officials involved in the "Final Solution of the Jewish Question" during World War II.

The movie was written by Loring Mandel and starred an ensemble cast of mainly British actors, including Kenneth Branagh as Reinhard Heydrich and Colin Firth as Wilhelm Stuckart, and American Stanley Tucci as Adolf Eichmann.

Contents

Plot

A secret meeting is held in order to determine the method by which the Nazi government is to execute Adolf Hitler's policy — that the German sphere of influence should be free of Jews, including those in the occupied terrorities of Poland, Latvia, Estonia, Czechoslovakia and France. As the film opens, various officials from different German agencies arrive and mingle at a lakeside villa in Wannsee, where Colonel Adolf Eichmann, SS Officer for Jewish Affairs, has meticulously planned the meeting. Among those present:

It is quickly established by those present that there is a significant "Jewish problem", in that the Jews of Europe cannot be efficiently contained, nor can they be forced onto other countries. Kritzinger interrupts at several points to opine that the meeting is pointless, given that the Jewish Question had previously been settled, but Heydrich promises to revisit his concerns. A discussion follows of the possibilities of sterilization, and of the exemptions for mixed race Jews who have one or more non-Jewish grandparents. At this point, Stuckart loses his temper and insists that a sturdy legal framework is paramount, and that ad hoc application of standards will lead to administrative chaos. He also chides Klopfer for his simplistic portrayal of Jews as subhuman beasts, simultaneously painting his own picture of Jews as clever, manipulative and untrustworthy. Although he is an anti-semite, he recognizes that Jews are human but says that they can never be assimilated into the German race. He believes that even a dictatorship is bound by law, and that the Jews ought to be sterilized en masse rather than killed.

Heydrich calls a break in the proceedings, and takes Stuckart aside to warn him about the consequences of his stubbornness, implying that others in the SS will take an unwanted interest in his actions. When the meeting reconvenes, Heydrich steers the discussion in the direction of wholesale extermination using gas chambers. This causes consternation among many of the attendees, notably Kritzinger, who objects on the grounds that Hitler had given him personal guarantees that extermination of the Jews was not being considered, and representatives of the General Government administration, who are shocked to discover that the SS have been building death camps and making preparations for the "Final Solution" under their noses.

By this time it has become clear to everyone at the meeting that they have been called together not to discuss the problem but to be given orders by the SS, who are intent on wresting control of the operation from other agencies such as the Interior Ministry and the Reich Chancellery.

Eichmann now describes the method that will be used, i.e. the gassing of Jews. Many have already been killed in specially-designed trucks and his figures include tens of thousands of victims. He even describes their bodies as coming out "pink", at which point one of the officials is suddenly taken ill. He later puts it down to a bad cigar.

A break is called and this time it is Kritzinger's turn to be taken aside and intimidated by Heydrich, who warns that Kritzinger is influential but not invulnerable. Heydrich tells Kritzinger that he wants not only consent but active support, and Kritzinger realizes that any hopes he had of assuring livable conditions for the Jewish population are unrealistic. In return, he tells Heydrich a cautionary tale about a man consumed by hatred for his father, so much so that he is sorry to see his father die, for his life seems empty without the antipathy that drove him.

Heydrich then recalls and concludes the meeting, giving clear directives that the SS are to be obeyed in all matters relating to the elimination of the Jews. He also asks for explicit assent and support from each official, one by one. After giving careful instructions on the secrecy of the minutes and notes of the meeting, they are adjourned and begin to depart.

As the servants at the villa tidy away the remains of the meeting, and the officials depart, a brief account of the fate of each one is given.

Inaccuracies

  • Heydrich arrives for the conference in his Fieseler Fi 156 aircraft, an overhead shot of the aircraft shows it with swastika markings on the upper surfaces of both wings. Luftwaffe aircraft bore the swastika on their vertical tail surfaces only. The wings and fuselages were correctly marked with the traditional Balkenkreuz. However, the Army itself maintained the "Storch" aircraft for VIP transport and liaison, and markings were different. [1]
  • Klopfer is portrayed as overweight, while in reality he had a much thinner figure.

Cast

The cast of the 15 participants of the conference were as follows:

For more details on the real-life participants, see the Wannsee Conference article.

See also

References

External links


Quotes

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiquote

Conspiracy is a 2001 film directed by Frank Pierson and starring Kenneth Branagh, Stanley Tucci, and Colin Firth.

Contents

Reinhard Heydrich

  • Today, each of us becomes a bearer of secrets.
  • We will not sterilize every Jew and wait for them to die. We will not sterilize every Jew and then exterminate the race. That's farcical. Dead men don't hump, dead women don't get pregnant. Death is the most reliable form of sterilization, put it that way.

Adolf Eichmann

  • This meeting is not taking place. You are to take no further phone calls from anyone — anyone — unless the Führer calls. And he won't.
  • Well, I lived among them, I worked among them, and I picked up a few words; Jewish, Yiddish, not enough to speak. So I went in search of a rabbi — rabbi means "teacher", I came to find out. Look, may I tell you the Lord's honest truth? So many of our highest-ranking officers, whose responsibility it is to deal with the Israelites, they make no attempt to get inside the Jewish head. I went to visit this rabbi — old man, long beard — in his one-room flat. And when he saw me, his eyes grew as large as hen's eggs. I asked him to teach me his language, and he agreed, and he said that he would, but that he would charge me — of course. So, I applied to my commander for funds, and I was denied; now, I've run into this opposition all my life, so I paid my own money. Very little, not much. And he taught me some vocabulary, letters of the alphabet. But looking back, I realize it was poor judgment on my part, because I could have so easily had the old man arrested, put into prison, and demanded lessons from him, in his cell, free of charge. One day, he was rounded up and shipped off because he had gone out unadvisedly. And I thought "That's so stupid... why are they so stupid?" Didn't he know that I would have protected him? At least until my lessons were complete.
  • Now, last summer Reichsführer Himmler asked me to visit a camp up in Upper Silesia, called Auschwitz, which is very well isolated, and close to significant rail access. And we are turning that camp into a major center, solid structures (and here's where your Jewish labor comes into play, Herr Neumann, the Jews haul the bricks and they build the buildings themselves). And when the structures are complete, we expect to be able to process 2500... an hour. Not a day, an hour.

Dr. Roland Freisler

  • The Russian is not a communist, my friend. The Russian does not give a damn who runs things, as long as he has a bottle of vodka to suck and some domestic animal life to fuck, then he will happily sit in shit his whole life. I would know. I lived amongst them. That is his politics. I absolve the Jews of that!

Lange

  • I have the real feeling I "evacuated" 30,000 Jews already, by shooting them, at Riga. Is what I did "evacuation"? When they fell, were they "evacuated"? There are another 20,000, at least, waiting for similar "evacuation". I just think it is helpful to know what words mean... with all respect.

Dialogue

Undersecretary Martin Luther: Sir, this is Neumann of the Four Year Plan, a close associate of Reichsmarshal Goering. Neumann, I introduce Dr. Klopfer, a close associate of the Brown Eminence.
Erich Neumann: Brown... excuse me?
Klopfer: I represent Martin Bormann, the Party Chairman of the Thousand Year Plan.

Heydrich: Emigration. The policy that will take the place of emigration, and we have collected enough practical experience to do it well, is evacuation.
Hofmann: Which differs from emigration in what way? Evacuation to where?
Heydrich: Let us postpone that question for a while.
Klopfer: To hell, one hopes.
Lange: Many already have.
Luther: Do they even have a hell?
Heydrich: They do now. We provide it.

Heydrich: Yes! In my personal opinion, they are evacuated.
Kritzinger: Explain!
Heydrich: I have just done so.
Kritzinger: No, that is not, that is contrary to what the Chancellory has been told! I have been told, I have... Purge the Jews, yes. But, to annihilate them... That we have undertaken to systematically annihilate all the Jews of Europe? No, that responsibility has personally been denied, to me, by the Fuhrer!
Heydrich: And it will continue to be.
Kritzinger: [Long pause] Yes, I understand. Yes. He will continue to deny it.
Heydrich: My apologies. Do you accept my apologies?
Kritzinger: Of course.

Klopfer: I take it you don't get good food like this up in Krakow?
Dr. Joseph Bühler: If all of Berlin eats like you, it's no wonder we have shortages.

Lange: I studied law as well.
Kritzinger: How do you apply that to your profession?
Lange: It has made me distrustful of language. A gun means what it says.

Müller: Perhaps the judge has a special love for them?
Klopfer: Yes, yes a special love for them... very good...
Dr. Wilhelm Stuckart: For whom? For Jews! Wonderful, you don't have my credentials. Forgive me, from your uniform I can infer you're shallow, ignorant and naive about the Jews. Your line and what the party rants on about how inferior they are, some... some sub-species, and I keep saying how wrong that is! They are sublimely clever. And they're intelligent as well. My indictment to that race is stronger and heavier because they are real, not uneducated ideology. They are arrogant, they are self-obsessed, and calculating and they reject the Christ and I will not have them pollute German blood!
Heydrich: Please, doctor...
Stuckart: He doesn't understand! And neither do his people. Deal with the reality of the Jew and the world will applaud us. Treat them as imaginary phantoms, evil inhuman fantasies, and the world would have justified contempt for us! To kill them casually without regard for the law martyrs them, which will be their victory! Sterilization recognizes them as a part of our species but prevents them from being a part of our race. They will disappear soon enough. And we will have acted in defense of our race, and by the law! This fellow here mentioned the laws for the protection of German blood; I wrote that law! When you have my credentials then we'll talk about who loves the Jews or who hates them. Pigs don't know how to hate. I know too, when it comes to the half-mixed, that to kill them abandons the half of their blood which is German.
Klopfer: I'll remember you.
Stuckart: You should. I'm very well known.

Erich Neumann: I've done the arithmetic. The real size of the labor force is already a million less than the figures show.
Dr. Georg Leibbrandt: The economic considerations are not the only considerations, you see.
Erich Neumann: I'll say they're not. Have you done the extrapolations?
Dr. Georg Leibbrandt: My friend, with due respect, may I say, "Fuck the extrapolations?"

Lange: What was that story he told you?
Heydrich: Story?
Lange: Kritzinger.
Heydrich: Yes, he told me a story about a man he had known all his life, a boyhood friend. This man hated his father. Loved his mother fiercely. His mother was devoted to him, but his father used to beat him, demeaned him, disenherited him. Anyway, this friend grew to manhood and was still in his thirties when the mother died. The mother, who had nurtured and protected him, died. The man stood at her grave as they lowered the coffin, and tried to cry, but no tears came. The man's father lived to a very extended old age, and withered away and died when the son was in his fifties. At the father's funeral, much to the son's surprise, he could not control his tears. Wailed, sobbed, and was apparently inconsolable. Lost. That was the story Kritzinger told me.
Eichmann: I don't understand.
Heydrich: No? The man had been driven his whole life by hatred of his father. When his mother died, that was a loss, but when the father died and hatred had lost its object, the man's life was empty — over.
Lange: Interesting.
Heydrich: That was Kritzinger's warning.
Eichmann: What, that we should not hate the Israelites?
Heydrich: No, that it should not so fill our lives that, when they are gone, we have nothing left to live for. So says the story. I shall not miss them.
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