Conspiracy echoes in Charlottesville

US President Donald Trump’s prevarication on calling out white supremacists as terrorists and subversives resonates with the chilling 2001 BBC film, Conspiracy, about the Wannsee conference at which SS General Reinhard Heydrich bullied other representatives of the Nazi German hierarchy to accept the SS’s ‘Final Solution’ to the ‘Jewish question’.

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Conspiracy (2001)


By inexplicable mental process of connecting House of Cards cameo star Ben Daniels to The State Within, and then searching for his other outings, I came across this somewhat obscure but morbidly arresting BBC/HBO co-production from 2001.  The other attractions were, of course, Kenneth Brannagh and Stanley Tucci, the presence of either of whom recommends a film to me almost irresistibly.

All the same, I was both fearfully repelled and magnetically drawn into the unfolding drama, coming to it without really paying attention enough to know beforehand that the Wannsee Conference was the subject matter.

It was at this conference, in suburban Berlin on 20 January 1942, that SS General Reinhard Heydrich chaired a gathering of Nazi officials to discuss a ‘final’ solution to the ‘Jewish question’.

As the film has it, the not yet 38-year-old Heydrich, who had only five months to live at that time, used this meeting to lock in ‘agreement’ from various branches of the Nazi administration to his already concrete plan for mass-scale gassings and cremations of European, North African, and Russian Jews.  The proceedings at the meeting were really about coercing ‘unanimous consent’ to support an SS-led execution of the plan, with some not so subtle threats about SS attentions for anyone not falling in behind Heydrich’s lead.

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