Saturday, June 30, 2007

The Scientologist and the German officer who tried to kill Hitler: Tom Cruise attempts to go where some Germans [and I] think he should not

A movie on the leader of the 1944 failed plot to assassinate Hitler is about to start filming in Germany. Tom Cruise is going to play the role of Col. Claus Schenk von Stauffenberg the leader of this plot. He was joined in this effort by other German military leaders, all of whom believed Hitler was leading Germany down the path of ultimate defeat. They wanted to negotiate a peace settlement.

They are great heroes in German WWII lore. In certain quarters their heroism is subtly juxtaposed with the Nazis' brutality. [What is often lost in the adulation about them is that they only rose up to oppose Hitler when they thought military defeat loomed on the horizon. His earlier misdeeds did not prompt them to do this. But that's for another time....]

In contemporary Germany there is a great hostility towards and distrust of [most legitimately so] of Scientology. Germans consider it a totalitarian system that captures its adherents as would a cult.

According to today's NYTimes, there are many people, including some members of the colonel's family who are appalled by the idea of Cruise, Scientology's emissary, playing von Stauffenberg.

The government official who heads the government's efforts to oppose Scientology's expansion got it just right when she said:
Tom Cruise is not just an actor who is a Scientologist. He is an ambassador for Scientology. All totalitarian systems have their celebrities to open doors for them.”
[Another thought about the military leaders who wanted to negotiate peace: Had they been successful we might never have known of the Holocaust. They would certainly have used the opportunity to erase all evidence of it since so many Germans -- and German military leaders -- were implicated in it. There was a novel that used this premise -- Hitler won and the evidence was hidden -- a number of years ago. It's a good read.]


Anonymous said...

Sadly, I have given up on any film ever being able to handle these events with nuance and subtlety and without the pathos and shlock that seems to be inevitable in Hollywood films.

As you suggest, Deborah, Stauffenberg will probably be presented as a hero and the complexity of his motives will be lost.

Now Sophie Scholl, there was a hero. But even that film was heavyhanded.

Ian Thal said...


There are three films portrayals of Sophie Scholl:

Sophie Scholl: The Final Days 2005
The Last Five Days 1982
The White Rose 1982

Which one?


To which novel are you refering? Novels about a hypothetical German victory in WWII have become a rather popular sub-genre.

Deborah Lipstadt said...

Hmm.. I read it about 12 years ago. Have to go through my old paperbacks to see which one. It was by one of the better known mystery writers....

Will get back to you.

R. Gerald Lovejoy said...

I know that I am commenting on an old post, but the novel you are thinking of is _Fatherland_ by Robert Harris. It came out in hardcover in 1992. HBO made a film of it sometime around 1995-6.