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 including Kenneth Branagh as Reinhard Heydrich, Stanley Tucci as Adolf Eichmann, and Colin Firth as Wilhelm Stuckart.
A secret meeting is held in order to determine the method by which the German 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:
* Wilhelm Stuckart, a lawyer representing the Interior Ministry and co-author of the anti-semitic Nuremberg laws
* Friedrich Wilhelm Kritzinger, deputy head of the Reich Chancellery
* Gerhard Klopfer, a lawyer from the Nazi Party Chancellery
* Martin Luther, Foreign Ministry liaison to the SS
* Reinhard Heydrich, Heinrich Himmler's second-in-command in the SS, who begins by explaining the purpose of the meeting.
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 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. (Hitler is known to have been abused by his father, Alois Hitler, while a child.)
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.
The cast of the 15 participants of the conference were as follows:
* Kenneth Branagh — SS-Obergruppenführer Reinhard Heydrich; Chief of the Reich Security Main Office (RSHA) and Deputy Reichsprotektor of Bohemia and Moravia.
* Stanley Tucci — SS-Obersturmbannführer Adolf Eichmann; Head of RSHA Department IV B4.
* Colin Firth — Dr. Wilhelm Stuckart; State Secretary, Reich Ministry for the Interior.
* Barnaby Kay — SS-Sturmbannführer Dr. Rudolf Lange; Commander of the Sicherheitsdienst (SD) in Latvia.
* Peter Sullivan — SS-Oberführer Dr. Karl Eberhard Schöngarth; SD officer assigned to the General Government of Poland.
* Ben Daniels — Dr. Josef Bühler; State Secretary, General Government
* Ewan Stewart — Dr. Georg Leibbrandt; Head of Political Department, Reich Ministry for the Occupied Eastern Territories.
* Brian Pettifer — Gauleiter Dr. Alfred Meyer; Deputy Reich Minister, Reich Ministry for the Occupied Eastern Territories.
* Kevin McNally — Martin Luther; Undersecretary and SS liaison, Foreign Ministry.
* Nicholas Woodeson — SS-Gruppenführer Otto Hofmann; Chief of the SS Race and Settlement Main Office.
* Jonathan Coy — SS-Sturmbannführer Erich Neumann; Director, Office of the Four Year Plan.
* David Threlfall — Ministerialdirektor Dr. Friedrich Wilhelm Kritzinger; Deputy Head, Reich Chancellery.
* Ian McNeice — SA-Oberführer Dr. Gerhard Klopfer; State Secretary, Party Chancellery.
* Owen Teale — Dr. Roland Freisler; State Secretary, Reich Ministry of Justice.
* Brendan Coyle — SS-Gruppenführer Heinrich Müller; Chief of RSHA Department IV.
For more details on the real-life participants, see the Wannsee Conference article at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wannsee_Conference
A version made entirely in German and equal to this quality is http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0088377/ , although it is not yet available on DVD.