Do you know why the anvil — the metal plate near the front of your stapler — turns? It’s so you can temporarily join pieces of paper, or “pin” them together. With the legs of the staples pointed outwards instead of inwards it makes them easy to remove without causing too much damage to the paper. Isn’t that amazing? Did I just blow your mind?
Ye gods, it’s so slow today.
Thankfully, the FAM is here to rescue you from the doldrums leading up to Fuck-It-O’Clock. Today, the 23rd day of October in the year of our Lord two thousand and nine we present the 2001 HBO movie, Conspiracy, starring Stanley Tucci, Kenneth Branagh, and Colin Firth giving his best National Socialist Fitzwilliam Darcy performance. It details the proceedings of what would come to be known as the Wannsee Conference. Held on the 20th of January, 1942 at an Italian styled villa at 56–58 Am Grossen Wannsee — Wannsee being a suburb of Berlin — it was attended by 15 senior Nazi officials, presided over by SS-Obergruppenführer Reinhard Heydrich and organized by SS-Obersturmbannführer Adolf Eichmann. The purpose of this meeting was to come to discuss “the final solution to the Jewish question”.
Conspiracy is actually a remake of a German television movie, Die Wannseekonferenz (The Wannsee Conference), shown in 1984. Based upon the minutes for the meeting that were found by the Allies in 1947, it ran for 85 minutes, roughly the length of the actual meeting. Most of what we know about what transpired comes from these minutes and from deposition given by Eichmann during his trial in Israel in 1961.
Some have suggested that Heydrich’s purpose for calling the meeting was to impose his authority on the various heads of the agencies involved with Jewish affairs; and Eichmann suggested that Heydrich also wished to implicate the other ministries represented should Germany lose the war. The mass extermination of Jews had already begun in places like Lithuania and Latvia and it was in his best interest to not only quash any dissent over these actions but, more importantly, establish a better system of extermination, one that didn’t demoralize the German soldier the way shooting women and children did. To that end, it should also be noted that, while the conference lasted 85 minutes, Heydrich’s opening speech took up 60, the remaining minutes taken up by various members raising concerns regarding compulsory divorce of Germans married to Jews, the sterilization of half Jews among other things. The “final solution” had already been decided, in other words. The Wannsee Conference simply served to clarified some of the finer points.
In this way Conspiracy is a little misleading. In reality, despite the enormity of what was being discussed, few of the attendees would have attached much importance to the proceedings; one meeting of many on the schedules of those gentleman that week what with the Eastern revealing itself as a disaster, seemingly by the day. In that regard, the facts trump the fiction in almost every way. Here we have men discussing an assembly line model of genocide, requiring a vast network of people and resources, in the most bureaucratic and banal terms soon after to be filed away as the participants were shuttled to their next appointment.