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Die Wannseekonferenz (1984)

A precise, real-time (exactly 85 minutes - the length of the actual event) reenactment of the infamous Wannsee Conference, a meeting called in January, 1942 to map out the implementation of... See full summary »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Robert Atzorn ...
Friedrich G. Beckhaus ...
Heinrich Müller (as Friedrich Beckhaus)
Gerd Böckmann ...
Jochen Busse ...
Georg Leibbrandt
Hans-Werner Bussinger ...
Martin Luther (as Hans W. Bussinger)
Harald Dietl ...
Alfred Meyer
Peter Fitz ...
Wilhelm Stuckart
Reinhard Glemnitz ...
Josef Bühler
Dieter Groest ...
Martin Lüttge ...
Anita Mally ...
The Secretary
Dietrich Mattausch ...
Gerd Rigauer ...
Karl Schöngarth
Franz Rudnick ...
Friedrich Wilhelm Kritzinger
Günter Spörrle ...
Gerhard Klopfer
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Storyline

A precise, real-time (exactly 85 minutes - the length of the actual event) reenactment of the infamous Wannsee Conference, a meeting called in January, 1942 to map out the implementation of the Final Solution to the Jewish Question. Written by Dawn M. Barclift

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

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Drama | History

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Details

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Release Date:

19 December 1984 (West Germany)  »

Also Known As:

Hitler's Final Solution: The Wannsee Conference  »

Filming Locations:

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Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Sound Mix:

Color:

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Most of the conversations at the beginning of the film, in particular the small talk between offices, the dialogue between the SS and the secretaries, and the emergency phone call regarding a transport of Jews in the east, is entirely dramatic license. The actual minutes for the conference begin after Heydrich convened the meeting - exactly what the Nazi officers were doing before Heydrich arrived is not historically known and is dependent on second hand testimony and speculation. See more »

Goofs

Adolf Eichmann is shown in the film wearing a Waffen-SS infantry officer's uniform complete with the SS runes unit patch. Eichmann was in fact a security police colonel and therefore should have displayed a blank security service collar patch with green police piping. See more »

Quotes

Adolf Eichmann: There were women... children...
Reinhard Heydrich: Women and children are Jews too.
See more »

Connections

Referenced in Fatherland (1994) See more »

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User Reviews

A distilled whiff of history
25 October 2002 | by (London, England) – See all my reviews

Far above the bathetic histrionics of Kenneth Branagh in the recent "Conspiracy", this crisply chilling, almost real-time reenactment is among the most convincing works of historical evocation on celluloid.

Not so much because its overall interpretation is historically valid: as I noted in my review of "Conspiracy", there are grave doubts whether the Wannsee meeting can bear anything like the watershed significance historians imputed to it between c. 1960 and 1980. More recent research has pointed to the Conference being more or less what the one remaining "Protokoll" (summary minutes) stated: a second-level pow-wow of bureaucrats to arrange for the deportation of Jews to the German-occupied East, not a master plan for their destruction cooked up by leading Nazis.

But that is by the way. "Wannseekonferenz" ably conveys the peculiar ethos of German (by no means all Nazi) officials and soldiers in the pivotal years of World War Two, when the nation seemed to be on top of Europe but was already getting jitters about its staying power. As the Interior Ministry's moderate Dr Stuckart, between wipes of his nose, points out: neither the British Empire nor the Soviet Union has yet been defeated, America is about to join in (the date is a month after Pearl Harbor) and there is danger in sweeping assimilated Jews and mixed-race people out of the Reich. Some will escape to become mortal enemies of it when they might be co-opted. Other participants crudely call for total banishment of Jewry from the Altreich and the Polish "Generalgouvernement", grumbling about disease; but there are war-production and morale arguments on the other side, and the uniforms who start by seeming to spring wholesale evacuation on the suits as a fait accompli- Heydrich and "my Jewish consultant, Eichmann"- are willing to ponder exemptions.

All this is a far cry from the Goldhagenesque "eliminationist antisemitism" uncritically portrayed in "Conspiracy". The German film is a more plausible picture of the clashes and compromises, the tired banter and one-upmanship, the relief of dirty jokes and the solemn courtesies one would expect of a gaggle of Teutonic bureaucrats who don't feel as assured of victory as they have to pretend. The film is little more than facial expressions and dialogue, batted to and fro across the table; but every actor is right inside his part. The sense of a warped community is potent, and the prowling encirclement by Heinz Schirk's camera reinforces this solidarity instead of just trying to fluff up the monotony of a bunch of men (and one shockable stenographer) talking.

Dietrich Mattausch looks far more like the real Reinhard Heydrich- tall, elegant fencer and violinist with a streak of treachery- than stocky little Branagh. His unfailing politeness, with a hint of cold steel underneath, is more convincing than Branagh's Demon King. This man knows what he wants, but his chairmanship is skilfully emollient.

Gerd Bockmann's Eichmann is assiduous and dispassionate like the real Adolf E, who had no great personal animus towards Jews but was determined to get ahead in his sordid profession of "dispatcher". Peter Fitz as Stuckart, the Jonah of the gathering, hints at distaste for the whole business while manfully arguing a pragmatic case for letting sleeping dogs lie. Among the smaller parts, Martin Luttge as Major Dr Rudolf Lange- intellectual turned persecutor in an SS Special Action Group- stands out for his affectation of rough, half-reluctant practicality, telling civilian papershufflers the score.

Inevitably a few embroideries have crept in: Heydrich's pursuit of the secretary, Lange's dog, the contemptuous anecdote about the Papal Nuncio. As if tacitly admitting the lack of hard evidence for orchestrated genocide from the minutes, the screenplay chucks in a throwaway line: Heydrich speaks of finding a new way of killing Jews fast by "learning to take the Fuhrer literally". Stuckart tells Dr Kritzinger that this refers to a "Mein Kampf" passage about how the Great War could have been won if subversive, high-ranking German Jews back home had been held under poison gas. We are supposed to infer a whiff of Zyklon B from this; but as is clear in context, Hitler meant that those Jews should have had to inhale British poison gas as front-line soldiers, like himself.

Such gaseous garnishings were probably required to make the film an accepted part of the curriculum in the guilt-ridden German system of historical re-education. But they do not seriously detract from this superbly atmospheric chamber piece.


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