Monday, January 20, 2014

Flick Pick: Conspiracy

(HBO, 2001)

Seventy-two years ago today, Reinhard Heydrich and his deputy, Adolf Eichmann, both of the Nazi SS/RSHA, convened a baker's dozen of mid-level German ministers and bureaucrats. All were hard-corps Nazi true believers, to a man. At a fine house in a quiet Berlin suburb, they all sat down to a pleasant buffet lunch and cheerfully agreed to the outlines and skid-greasing to undertake the extermination of nearly 6 million Jews, 3 million Russian POWs, 2 million Poles, 1 1/2 million gypsies, as well as the crippled, Freemasons, Jehovah's Witnesses, Slavs, homosexuals, German communists, and the few remnants of anti-fascism in Spain. Dramatized in this chilling presentation (the actual dialogue of the meeting minutes were deliberately edited and coded into inoffensive sounding vagueries) by a pantheon of talented actors (Kenneth Branagh won an Emmy for this portrayal as Heydrich, Stanley Tucci as Eichmann received a Golden Globe), shot in the very rooms where it actually took place, the off-handed casualness of plotting the mass genocide of some 11-14 million people inspires jaw-dropping awe at the depths of human depravity. The message isn't only that the Nazis were evil then; it's that any such group could be again.


Anonymous said...

You don't actually happen to know the name of the German TV movie which used the actual meeting notes as the script, do you?

Aesop said...

1) That'd most likely be Die Wannseekonferenz from 1984, which was tightly edited to take exactly 85 minutes, the same as the length of the original conference.
2) There are no "actual meeting notes". There is the one, surviving copy of the transcribed and redacted conference discussion summary, discovered in 1947 in Martin Luther's Foreign Office files. It, along with Eichmann's recollections shortly before his hanging in 1960, are the sole records of what occurred there.
The original meeting transcripts and recordings were destroyed by Eichmann shortly afterwards in 1942. reference is made to this in Conspiracy both in the dialogue, and in the after-notes onscreen.

Kevin R.C. O'Brien said...

I've gotta see this… Branagh rocks (his Henry V for one example, when he was still 20-something).

I used to run into little Holocaust reminders all over Europe. Nothing pisses me off like H deniers. Well, except for Stalin apologists, maybe.

The amazing thing is that moderns think they are immune to the kind of national delusion that leads to these barbarities. The German iteration was especially horrid not because their concept was anything special, but just because they applied Industrial Age technology to the task with Teutonic diligence.