Organ of Alliance Marxist-Leninist (North America);
Volume 1, Issue 5; September 2003 $1.00
A L L I A N C E ! A Revolutionary Communist Monthly
SS: ADOLF EICHMANN (1906-1962) FRANK PIERSON’S 'CONSPIRACY'
SS REINHARD HEYDRICH (1904-1942 STANLEY TUCCI & KENNETH
AS EICHMANN AND HEYDRICH IN
FRANK PIERSON’S 'CONSPIRACY' (2001.)
a film by Frank Pierson. Reviewed by H. D. Benoit.
On January 20, 1942 fifteen high ranking members
of the Nazi Party, the SS, the fascist economic administration, and
the government bureaucracy were summoned to a top secret meeting in the quiet
Berlin suburb of Wansee. There was only one item on the agenda.
The meeting lasted all of 90 minutes. At its close, the attendees were
granted time to memorize their notes, as all scratch paper and note pads
were to be collected and burned. There was to be no trace of this meeting
ever having taken place. Hosted by SS-Obergruppen-fuhrer Reinhard
Heydrich, head of Reich Security and second-in-command of the SS, the
meeting had a single purpose: To orchestrate the annihilation of 11
This chilling event, known to historians as the “Wansee
Conference, ” is the subject of director Frank Pierson’s
2001 film. Conspiracy. Pierson, whose other films include The Looking
Glass War (1969), A Star is Born (1976), and Citizen Cohn (1992), bases his
interpretation entirely on the single known surviving record of the Wansee
Conference, a transcript of the meeting which was discovered buried in the
archives of the Nazi Foreign Office in 1947. Headlining Pierson’s cast
are veteran performers Kenneth Branagh as Heydrich, Stanley Tucci
as Heydrich’s chief aide, Adolf Eichmann, and Colin Firth as
Nazi racial “theorist” and author of the fascist regime’s racist legal code,
Dr. Wilhelm Stuckart.
The Historical Background.
The Wansee Conference did not initiate the extermination
of the Jews, indeed, the purpose of the Conference was to secure the active
cooperation of key sectors of the Nazi state apparatus in the extension of
a policy already being carried out. From the earliest days of the war,
as the Wehrmacht occupied conquered territory, the regular army was followed
by SS assassination squads, the Einsatzgruppen, whose stated task
was to pre-empt possible resistance on the part of the subjugated peoples
by murdering any potential leadership: Political activists, writers,
teachers, intellectuals. From the first, the Einsatzgruppen followed
close at the heels of the regular German Army, enforcing submission to Hitler’s
In was, however, only with the Nazi’s invasion of Soviet
Russia, Operation Barbarossa, that the conscious slaughter of civilians
reached gargantuan proportions. In preparation for the invasion
of the Soviet union, Hitler issued a directive known as the Kommissarbefehl,
which ordered the shooting of all Communist Party members, captured Red Army
political officers, and Soviet government employees — these to be added to
already established list of intellectuals and community leaders typically
earmarked for killing. Many Einsatzgruppen leaders claimed after the
War, that it was while being briefed on the Kommissarbefehl that they
first heard of Hitler’s decision to exterminate all Russian Jews, as they
were supposedly “transmitters of bolshevism.” (Ian Kershaw, The Nazi
Dictatorship, 2000, p. 117.)
“The mass crime thereby announced was not, of course, openly
stated. Initially Hitler referred ‘only’ to the annihilation of
Jews in Soviet leading circles; his directive contained not a syllable to
show that in practice every single Jew would be handed over to the extermination
machine — following the Nazi Jew-baiter’s obscure reasoning that Bolshevism
was a typical manifestation of Jewry. Hitler tightened the SS murder
screw only by degrees. At first only Jewish ‘Bolshevist leaders’ were
to be exterminated, but gradually the circle of victims widened; political
functionaries were followed by the intelligentsia, the intelligentsia by
all officials, officials by persons suspected of partisan activity — and
finally the circle spread to every individual Jew.”
Thus, murderous anti-communism was the motive for eventual
murderous anti-Semitism. Indeed, the Nazi policy towards Jews before
the invasion of the Soviet Union consisted of:
(Heinz Hohne, The Order of the Death’s Head, 1989, p. 401.)
1) discrimination and marginalization — as exemplified
by the Nuremburg Laws of 1935 which removed Jews from participating in German
life through confiscating their property, forbidding them to practice their
professions, segregating their communities; and
In pursuing this dual policy of segregation and deportation,
the Nazis found enthusiastic allies in representatives of the Zionist movement,
who felt that Nazi severity would compel their fellow Jews to shed their
European identity and emigrate to Palestine.
2) forcible emigration — initially realized by encouraging Jews to willing
leave Germany, later developing into mass deportation of the Jewish population
to the ‘East,’ typically Poland.
As monstrous as this may seem to contemporary readers,
the fact remains that throughout the
Continued on page eleven.
1930s and up to and into the beginning of World War II there was active collaboration
and partnership between the SS and various Zionist organizations. (Hohne,
pp. 375-83, 392-93.)
In fact, Feivel Polkes, one of the founders of the Zionist terrorist
organization, Haganah, is quoted as having said that “in Jewish nationalist
circles people were pleased with the extreme German Jewish policy, since
the strength of the Jewish population in Palestine would be so far increased
thereby that in the foreseeable future the Jews could reckon upon numerical
superiority over the Arabs in Palestine.” (Ibid., p. 382.)
Hence, isolation and expulsion not extermination, was
the Nazi policy towards the Jews before Barbarossa. It was only with
the marriage of anti-communism and anti-Semitism, that fascist policy turned
to wholesale murder. Moreover, it was only with the Red Army’s fighting
the German invaders to a standstill at the end of 1941/beginning of 1942
that the fate of European Jewry was sealed.
“The summer and autumn of 1941 were characterized by a high degree
of confusion and contradictory interpretations of the aims of anti-Jewish
policy by the Nazi authorities. It was a period of experimentation
and resort to ‘self-help’ and ‘local initiatives’ in liquidating Jews, particularly
once the transportations from the Reich and the west of Europe had (in this
case clearly on Hitler’s orders) started rolling eastwards in autumn 1941,
persuading Nazi bosses in Poland and Russia to adopt radical ad hoc measures
— liquidation — to cope with the countless numbers of Jews from the West
pouring into their domain and randomly deposited on their doorsteps.
Meanwhile the killing process was escalating rapidly — and not just in the
‘Jewish Question.’ . . . The Wehrmacht willingly collaborated in the
multiplying ‘war of annihilation’ through its close co-operation with the
Einsatzgruppen and by its direct involvement in the liquidation of almost
two-thirds of the Soviet prisoners of war to fall into German hands.
It was initially to house Soviet captives that the then small concentration
camp at Auschwitz was expanded, and the first experiments with gas chambers
there had as their victims not Jews but Soviet war prisoners.” (Kershaw,
In the meantime, Nazi officials, such as Hans Frank,
German governor of occupied Poland complained with increasing desperation
of the intense overcrowding, and the problems of disease control caused by
the mass deportations to Poland. As Frank stated,
“We can’t shoot these 3.5 million Jews, we can’t poison
them, but will have to somehow take steps leading somehow to annihilation
in connection with large-scale measures under discussion by the Reich.” (Ibid.,
The last remark was a reference to the Wansee Conference.
The Wansee Conference was, thus, not the orchestration
of an existing plan of the “Final Solution;” rather, it ushered in the final
stage of escalation of the extermination policy originally directed at Soviet
communism — the incorporation of the whole of occupied Europe into a comprehensive
program of genocide.
This, then is the backdrop to the Wansee Conference.
It is also the point-of-departure for Frank Pierson’s film, Conspiracy.
Written by Loring Mandel, and produced under the
auspices of the cable TV network, HBO, Conspiracy unfolds in real time as
the various Nazi officials sit at a conference table — in between sessions
of cognac, cigars and hors d’oeuvres — and argue over the new policy of extermination.
Pierson’s direction is brilliant. In it's own quiet,
sometimes even amusing way, this film steps forward and seizes the viewer
by the shoulders (and intestines) and draws them down into a vision of horror
that far surpasses any fiction writers imagination. Don't just listen to
what these gentleman are saying...LISTEN to what is not shown as well. Watch
their faces as they talk, their body language. Rarely has one seen a movie
where what is not taking place on the screen is just as chilling as what
is. One needn’t be shown snapshots of concentration camps, or bodies burnt
or starved. There isn't a single drop of blood oozing anywhere. Yet
as the characters speak, and look, and speculate, the full horror of what
they’re discussing begins to sink in. That a group of men could sit down
one afternoon and casually chat about gas chambers and pink bodies, and eat
lunch while doing so, is perhaps the most disturbing image conceivable.
CONSPIRACY individualizes the Nazis at the conference,
and shows the different faces of fascism. The attendees’ reactions
range from insisting that Jews must be oppressed only according to the strict
letter of the law to zealously uncritical compliance with orders, to cheerful
indifference, to a sort of put-upon resentment that the work of extermination
is falling on them.
Shrewd direction, sharp writing, outstanding performances, and a meticulous
dedication to historical detail make Conspiracy a powerful, potent film.
Quietly, almost gently, it succeeds in capturing the evil of fascism.
Put Garbage Where it Belongs!
— A Public Service Announcement from ALLIANCE (M-L)
LINKS: SEE ALLIANCE FOR FURTHER DETAILS REGARDING
ZIONIST COLLABORATION WITH THE NAZIS IN WORLD WAR TWO AT:
Number 30, Oct 1998
MARX, LENIN & STALIN
-PLUS THE JEWISH AUTONOMOUS REPUBLIC OF BIROBIDZHAN IN THE USSR
-THE USSR RECOGNITION OF ISRAEL
-THE JEWISH ANTI-FASCIST COMMITTEE
-THE DOCTOR=S PLOT
See in this context, notably Part Three at: http://harikumar.brinkster.net/AllianceIssues/All30iii.htm