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Die Wannseekonferenz (1984)

At the Wannsee Conference on January 20, 1942, senior Nazi officials meet to determine the manner in which the so-called "Final Solution to the Jewish Question" can be best implemented.

Director:

Heinz Schirk

Writer:

Paul Mommertz
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Cast

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

Genres:

Drama | History

Certificate:

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Details

Country:

Austria | West Germany

Language:

German

Release Date:

19 December 1984 (West Germany) See more »

Also Known As:

Hitler's Final Solution: The Wannsee Conference See more »

Filming Locations:

Berlin, Germany See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Sound Mix:

Mono

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The film takes place on January 20, 1942. 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

Version of Conspiracy (2001) See more »

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User Reviews

 
"Women and children are Jews Too."
17 November 2002 | by Dennis LittrellSee all my reviews

(Note: Over 500 of my movie reviews are now available in my book "Cut to the Chaise Lounge or I Can't Believe I Swallowed the Remote!" Get it at Amazon.)

What I want to do here is to note that The Wannsee Conference is a German language film with white English subtitles. Sometimes the subtitles are superimposed over a white background and the words disappear. That is why state of the art subtitles are yellow so that they don't get lost in the background. Otherwise the subtitles are very good, translating what needs to be translated and ignoring the extraneous.

I also want to note that the somewhat miraculous script by Paul Mommertz is very much like a stage play with most of the action essentially confined to one set with the various players delivering their lines as the camera focuses on them, much as a spotlight might. I say "miraculous" because Mommertz forged his screenplay from the banal, bureaucratic and often euphemistic language used by the historical Nazis as they formulated the so-called "Final Solution." How to make such material dramatic was the problem Mommertz and Director Heinz Schirk faced. They achieved the nearly impossible through the subtle use of what I might call everyday "reality intrusions": the dog barking, the vainglorious Reinhard Heydrich tripping over a briefcase as he is posturing as the grand architect and fuhrer of the Holocaust, the stenographer flirting (and Heydrich's calculated, chilling affirmative response), the greedy drinking, the "Nazi rally" thumping of the table, the turf wars, the boorish jokes, etc. These served to highlight by contrast the horror that these men were so bureaucratically entertaining. Note too that when the stenographer asks if a verbatim report is desired, she is told that a detailed report will suffice. Thus the dumb brute reality could be edited later in a George Orwellian manner to further bureaucratize and euphemize what they were doing.

What a truly verbatim report might have revealed is the point of this film.

This is a work of art, and I want to say that real art, to the extent that it is didactic, fails. If the artist tries to teach a lesson or show us the way and the light through a human story, to that extent he or she loses control and becomes an advertiser, a propagandist, a preacher. We as audience or readers become not participants anymore but objects. A work of art is always a two-way street of participation between the artist and those viewing the art. We might agree with the message or we might not, but we are no longer equal participants in the experience.

Yet what a work of art does is demonstrate a human truth through form. It is almost always an emotional truth. The Greeks emphasized tragedy because they understood the cathartic emotional experience that tragedy brings. What Mommertz and Schirk have done is present the truth as best they could discover it, and then they ran the closing credits. What we as audience experience depends on how well we participated, and what we brought as human beings to the experience. How well we concentrate, how aware we are of what is going on, how alert--these too are important. The Swannsee Conference is a demanding film, but it is surprising how quickly it moves, how engaged we become. The tension is not in what will happen at the end, of course. Instead the tension is in how it happens. We are held in thrall of discovering the essential nature of this most horrific and incredible evil done by the Nazis. And what we find out is that it was above all else banal and bureaucratic.

This is its essence: the dehumanization of the objects upon which the evil is worked. It can be done no other way. It has been said that for good men to do evil it takes religious commitment. For ordinary men it is necessary to dehumanize. When Stuckart complains that women and children are being killed, he is told, "Women and children are Jews too."


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