Tom Cruise Film OK'd to Shoot at Anti-Hitler Plotter Execution Site
BERLIN – The German government will allow the makers of a movie starring Tom Cruise as the country's most famous anti-Hitler plotter to film at the site where the hero was executed.
Shooting of "Valkyrie," which has attracted controversy because Cruise is a prominent Scientologist, began in July. At the time, the government didn't give permission to shoot at the so-called Bendlerblock -- part of the Defense Ministry and now a memorial to the anti-Nazi resistance -- citing concerns over "the dignity of the place."
Defense Ministry spokesman Thomas Raabe said Friday that filmmakers had satisfied officials in recent talks that they were "aware of the particular significance" of the former military headquarters.
United Artists Entertainment LLC said in a statement that it was "extremely grateful to the German government for allowing us to film at the Bendlerblock." It pledged to "take special care to respect its dignity and keep our activities there within the guidelines laid down by the government."
"Filming at the Bendlerblock has always been important to us symbolically, creatively and for the sake of historical authenticity," the statement added. "As a result, we have been in constant communication with the government in an effort to dispel any concerns or misperceptions about the nature of `Valkyrie."'
The movie, directed by Bryan Singer and scheduled for release next year, stars Cruise as Col. Claus Graf Schenk von Stauffenberg -- the aristocratic army officer who was executed after a failed attempt to assassinate Adolf Hitler in 1944.
Raabe said it appeared the movie would underline the fact that "barbarism did not win, but rather a democratic Germany finally arose."
Stauffenberg and the other plotters of the July 20, 1944, assassination attempt were caught and executed after Hitler survived the explosion at his headquarters in what was then East Prussia.
The government's initial refusal to permit filming at the place where Stauffenberg worked and died led to speculation over whether Cruise's religious beliefs had triggered the decision. Officials denied that.
Cruise, 45, is one of Scientology's best-known members. The German government considers Scientology a commercial enterprise that takes advantage of vulnerable people, and some critics have said one of its adherents shouldn't be playing one of the Nazi era's few heroes.
But Raabe said experience with previous filming at the site in 2003 had been a factor in officials' initial reluctance to grant permission. He didn't elaborate.
Officials have noted that filming permission was granted at all other sites -- among them, the area around the Finance Ministry, which was once the Nazis' aviation ministry.