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Published in American Historical Review 107:2 (April 2002). Copyright 2002 American Historical Association, published by University of Chicago Press. Used by permission.


Conspiracy is a docudrama about the infamous Wannsee Conference of January 20, 1942, at which Nazi officials discussed implementation of the "Final Solution." Chaired by Reinhard Heydrich, head of the Reich Security Main Office (RSHA), the meeting brought together a dozen representatives from state and party agencies involved in the genocide of Europe's Jews. The notoriety of the meeting stems in large part from the fact that a summary of the proceedings- the so-called Wannsee Protokoll authored by Adolf Eichmann, who was also present-survived the war. Historians have used the document to implicate a broad spectrum of German bureaucracies in the mass murder, to demonstrate the leading role played by the SS, and to underscore the cold premeditation with which the killing was conceived and planned. ... "This film," we are informed in the closing credits, "is based on a true story, with some scenes, events, and characters created or changed for dramatic purposes." Although academic specialists will doubtlessly be perturbed by inaccuracies and interpolations, Conspiracy, to its credit, does not stray very far from what is factually plausible. The main danger with this kind of film is that most viewers will not be able to tell the difference between plausible speculation and documented fact.

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