Scientologist and Hollywood actor Tom Cruise will play the role of Claus Schenk Graf von Stauffenberg, who participated in a cowardish but futile assassination plot to remove Hitler in July 1944.

Family of German Resistance Hero Condemn Cruise Casting

Film | 28.03.2007

Tom Cruise is set to play the role of a war officer who tried to assassinate Hitler. But relatives of Claus Schenk Graf von Stauffenberg have criticized the casting, fearing Cruise will bring Scientology into the film.

Caspar Schenk Graf von Stauffenberg, one of the officer's 12 grandchildren, told Germany's Bild am Sonntag newspaper that he had nothing against new films about his grandfather. However, he said he and "other family members are worried that the picture will be financed by (Scientologists) and be used to get across its propaganda."

"Unfortunately the family Stauffenberg can do nothing about this," he was quoted as saying. "My grandfather is a figure from history."

Resistance hero

Claus von Stauffenberg was a German Wehrmacht officer who joined the resistance against the Nazis because he believed Hitler's military ambitions would destroy the country.

On July 20 1944, Stauffenberg planted a bomb in a briefing room next to Adolph Hitler. The bomb exploded and killed several high-ranking officers but the Führer survived because a massive oak table took the brunt of the explosion.

The assassination of Hitler was supposed to trigger a military coup, named "Operation Valkyrie". Stauffenberg was subsequently caught and shot by firing squad the same night. The plot's failure led to the arrest of more than 5,000 people, and the execution of some 200 others.

Cruise advocates Scientology

Hollywood heavyweight Tom Cruise is one of the best-known members of the Church of Scientology. The cult is based on the writings of the late science-fiction author L. Ron Hubbard, who began Scientology as a self-help discipline.

Cruise has lobbied German officials in the past over the country's refusal to recognize Scientology as a legitimate church. The German government views it as a fake religion based on making money from its followers.

The German weekly news magazine Focus said United Artists, which is backing the film, had confirmed Cruise would play the role. Focus reported that it was not yet decided who would play Hitler.

Brian Singer of X-Men and Return of Superman fame has been signed up to direct the historical recreation. Filming is supposed to begin in the middle of the year, with release planned for 2009.

The drama of Stauffenberg's assassination plot was previously filmed in 1990 under the title "The Plot to Kill Hitler".

DW staff (kh)