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Cruise Ban

DW staff (th)June 26, 2007

A movie about an assasination attempt against Adolf Hitler has been barred from filming at German military sites because of US actor Tom Cruise's membership in the Church of Scientology.

Hollywood star Tom Cruise will play Claus von StauffenbergImage: picture-alliance

Cruise is a producer of the movie "Valkyrie," and will play the movie's leading character, Claus Schenk Graf von Stauffenberg. On July 1944, the German colonel attempted to assasinate Hitler with a bomb hidden in a briefcase. Hitler wasn't seriously injured in the attack, codenamed Operation Valkyrie.

The filmmakers "will not be allowed to film at German military sites if Count Stauffenberg is played by Tom Cruise, who has publicly professed to being a member of the Scientology cult," German Defense Ministry spokesman Harald Kammerbauer said.

The Church of Scientology is not recognized as legitimate by the German government.

Kammerbauer said the ministry had not yet received official filming requests from the producers of "Valkyrie."

Cruise "perfect for the part"

Premiere des Films "The Last Samurai" in Madrid
Cruise is a controversial figure in GermanyImage: AP

The ban on filming at military sites drew criticism from Cruise's film producing partner, Paula Wagner, chief executive of United Artists Entertainment. She said "Valkyrie" is a "historically accurate thriller" and that Cruise was offered the role because the movie's director, Bryan Singer, "thought he was perfect for the part."

"Aside from his obvious admiration of the man he is portraying, Mr. Cruise's personal beliefs have absolutely no bearing on the movie's plot, themes, or content," Wagner said in a statement. "And even though we could shoot the movie anywhere in the world, we believe Germany is the only place we can truly do the story justice."

Scientology's biggest star

Scientology Logo
Scientology is not an officially recognized religion in Germany

Hollywood star 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.

Stauffenberg's family has also expressed their displeasure with Cruise portraying their father.

Stauffenberg's oldest son, Berthold, said in a recent interview with Süddeutsche Zeitung newspaper that he objected to a practicing Scientologist playing his father.

"I hoped for a while that it was all just a publicity stunt by Mr. Cruise," said the 72-year-old retired major general of the German Bundeswehr. He added that Cruise "should keep his hands off my father."

"It's sure to be crap," he said of the movie. "Of course I could be wrong -- I would like to be."

Historical figure

Claus Schenk Graf von Stauffenberg
The movie will focus on Stauffenberg's failed plot to assasinate HitlerImage: AP

"In general, the Bundeswehr (German military) has a special interest in the serious and authentic portrayal of the events of July 20, 1944 and Stauffenberg's person," Kammerbauer said.

Stauffenberg had deeply opposed to the Nazis' treatment of the Jews.

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.

The film's action will center around the Bendlerblock memorial inside the Defense Ministry complex in Berlin. Stauffenberg and his co-conspirators planned the assassination there. It's also the spot where they were executed after the plot failed.

The movie is scheduled for release next year.